ITINERARY B + A + C: 15D / 14N
DAY BY DAY
Sunday to Sunday (every 15 days)
AM. Flight to Galapagos from Quito Airport.
The flight from Quito to the Galapagos is approximately 2 ½ hours on a Boeing 727. Upon arrival at Baltra travellers pass through an airport inspection point to insure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless prepaid), and $10 for the INGALA card which is an identity card that you need . Guides will meet you, collect your luggage and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbour. Motorized rafts, called ‘Pangas’ will transport you to the Odyssey and our crew will welcome you onboard. After departure and lunch, the first island visit is made.
Santa Cruz Island
PM. Bachas Beach. These two small beaches are found to the West of Turtle Cove. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white and soft, making it a favourite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small brackish water lagoon, where occasionally is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer, but it has two old barges that were abandoned during the Second World War, when the USA used Baltra Island as a strategically point to protect the Panama Channel.
AM. Bartolome Island is situated across Sullivan Bay. It has an altitude of 114mts, from where we can observe one of the most beautiful scenes of the Galapagos Islands: volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields and the famous pinnacle formed of Toba eroded by the sea. There is very little vegetation on this island.
It has two breathtaking beaches where marine turtles exist and at the base of the pinnacle, is a very small colony of Galapagos penguins.
PM. Sullivan Bay. Santiago, also called James, or San Salvador Island, is located in the west central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). With the exception of some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, it is the also most volcanically active, with many young lava flows and cones to be seen, particularly along the south, west, and east coasts. These may even be seen from the summit of Darwin Volcano and from space. A number of historic eruptions have been reported over the last two centuries. Santiago actually consists of two coalesced volcanoes: a typical shield volcano on the northwest end and a low, linear fissure volcano on the southeast end.
AM. Sierra Negra Volcano. Isabela Island is the largest and one of the youngest islands in the Galapagos. We will arrive at Puerto Villamil, which has the second smallest population in Galapagos with around 3000 habitants. We will then head up to the highlands from Puerto Villamil. For those who chose to horseback ride here we will meet our horses and start the trip to Sierra Negra. Upon arrival the horses will rest whilst we take a hike on uneven terrain until we arrive at the Sierra Negra volcano rim. Sierra Negra is the second widest crater in the world. From this viewpoint you have fantastic sights to the 6 x 5 -mile-wide crater, the rest of the volcanoes, and the Perry Isthmus. From here we can hike to Chico Volcano to watch the striking lava formations, a great example of the geological occurrences that created the Galapagos Islands.
PM. White Tipped Reef Shark Canal (Tintoreras). A delightful place that will be reached by a nice zodiac ride, "Tintoreras” are small islands located in front of the Puerto Villamil coast.
Herons, Galapagos Penguins, sea lions and white-tipped reef sharks are fairly common in the archipelago. White-tipped Sharks Spanish name is tintorera, thus the name of this site as they are always found here resting in the shallow waters.
Santa Cruz Island
AM. Highlands. The trail to the highlands leaves from Bellavista and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather (unpredictable) this area affords beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round.
PM. Charles Darwin Station. Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. Some of the principal attractions of the Research Centre are: Information Centre, Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, Breeding and Rearing Centre for young tortoises, Lonesome George (tortoise from Pinta), adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.
San Cristobal Island
AM. Leon Dormido - Interpretation Centre
In the morning we visit Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) also known as the Sleeping Lion because of its resemblance. It is located off the coast of San Cristobal. The remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea, the two vertical rocks rising 500 feet from the ocean form a small channel that is navigable by small boats. This Galapagos Islands natural monument has become a favourite sight for cruises due to the many Tropicbirds, Frigates and boobies that fill the surrounding air and beneath the sea the nearly crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colourful tropical fish and invertebrates.
Later on we head to the Interpretation Centre. It was built with the cooperation of the Spanish Science Centre and gives a very good introduction to the Galapagos islands, its marine and land life, fauna and flora. It is located in the outskirts of the small city of Pto. Baquerizo Moreno, which is the capital of the Galapagos Province.
PM. Loberia. In the afternoon we will visit the Lobería, which can be found a short 10 minute bus ride or a nice 30 min. walk south from Puerto Baquerizo. Traveller’s frequently note the unusual colour of the plants as they near the beach. La Lobería is home to a large sea lion colony and nursery. There are frequently dozens of sea lions visible at any time. Low tide is one of the best times to visit however, since it is when the mother's bring the pups into the tide pools for swimming lessons.
Here you'll enjoy the sea lions, marine iguanas, bird watching, and even Galapagos giant tortoises. You have to always stay on the path and try not to disturb the wildlife!
AM. Gardner Bay. Located on the north-eastern coast of Hood, Gardner Bay provides an excellent beach for relaxing, swimming and an opportunity to observe sea lions. Here we can also observe sharks on the crystalline waters of the ocean
PM. Punta Suarez. This rocky point of land sustains one of the most impressive and varied colonies of sea birds in the Galapagos. Along its southern shore, high cliffs rise up from the sea affording the visitor spectacular views of soaring birds and of the blow hole, where water spouts up to 50-75 feet into the air according to the intensity of the surf.
AM. Punta Cormorant. This site probably, offers one of the largest and the best flamingo lagoons in the Galapagos. It is situated between two tuff cones that give the area a special atmosphere. There are various species of shorebirds to be seen besides flamingos, the most frequent are common stilts, white-checked pintail ducks and other migratories. This is a unique zone due to the high percentage of endemism in the plant life. Is also very interesting due to its two distinct beaches: the “green beach” (due to the high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the “Flour sand beach” made up of decomposed coral.
PM. Post Office Bay. Historically, this site is the location of a wooden barrel that was placed in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. It has been used since this time by mariners and tourists as a post office. The idea is to carry letters or postcards to their destination by hand. Apart from being the Post Office Barrel, this site was the landing area for some of the first colonists.
North Seymour Island
AM. North Seymour is an uplifted (as opposed to volcanic) island and so is generally flat and strewn with boulders. There are good nesting sites here for a large population of magnificent frigate birds. Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open areas and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges. Watch your step, as the boobies don't worry much about where they nest, and you might just step on one. The trees are dotted with male frigate birds trying to attract the attention of the ladies by inflating their bright red skin flaps. They sometimes fly in the air to call more attention to themselves, which is in itself a funny display, as the puffy flap throws off their sense of balance!
Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found bodysurfing.
After your visit to North Seymour Island, transfer to Baltra airport.
Flight back to Quito