David Rodriguez Breeding Center
A visit to the David Rodriguez Breeding Center provides information about the origin and evolution of the giant tortoise and explains why the center is so vital in safeguarding the future of these incredible creatures.
Walking through the trails of the reserve, you can see baby tortoises being reared in semi-natural conditions – a brilliant demonstration of the commitment the local people have to preserving the wildlife that makes the Galapagos so special.
Española / Suarez Point
Suarez Point is packed with wildlife and is best explored by following the circular walking trail. This memorable walk will take you past nesting sites of large colonies of nazca and blue-footed boobies and mockingbirds.
Unique to Española island are also the beautiful waved albatross, that can be seen majestically launching themselves out across the ocean from the cliffs and the red and green marine iguanas.
A geological highlight are several blow holes, capable of shooting water 25m into the air, that make for a spectacular photo.
Gardner Bay, Gardner and Osborn Islet
The pristine white sandy beach of Gardner Bay dotted with sea lions provides a perfect spot to relax and kayaking or paddle boarding is a fantastic way to observe the large number of waved albatross who use this beach as a breeding site.
A short panga ride will take you to the Gardner and Osborn Islets, which are superb locations for snorkeling with young sea lions and a variety of colourful tropical fish and corals.
Floreana – Cormorant Point / Devil’s Crown
Cormorant Point features two contrasting beaches: one with olive-green sand due to the high content of olivine crystals, and another with pure white sand (commonly known as ‘Flour Beach’) derived from pulverized coral.
The saltwater pond is a must-see as it is frequented by one of the archipelago’s largest populations of Galapagos flamingos as well as other shorebirds such as stilts, white-cheeked pintails and large-billed flycatchers.
Afterwards, guests will take a zodiac ride to Devil´s Crown, an underwater volcanic crater that is almost completely submerged – in fact, just a small portion of the rock formation can be seen from above, and it looks like a crown. Snorkelers will discover a vast underwater world full of coral reefs and a myriad of marine species. Birds are also part of this visitor point due to its location in open waters.
Post Office Bay / The Baroness’ Lookout
Post Office Bay is a man-made site that offers an insight into a remarkable mailing tradition developed by British whalers in the 18th century, that visitors can still take part in today. The beach here provides for good snorkeling and kayaking and it is also possible to descend into and walk through a lava tube.
Next, take a panga ride to the Baroness’ Lookout, a volcanic rock formation named after an Australian baroness, who visited the island in the 1930’s and is believed to have mysteriously disappeared.
A short trail leads to a brilliant vantage point with panoramic views of the surrounding mangroves and coastline.
Baltra / Mosquera Islet
Mosquera islet is a small, flat, sandy islet located between Baltra and North Seymour islands.
With no fixed trail, you are free to explore the beautiful surroundings on foot, where you will encounter a large population of sea lions, shorebirds and the striking Sally Lightfoot crabs that cling to the dark rocks.
The numerous coral reefs also make it a fantastic site for snorkeling and catching sight of a range of marine life including sharks, turtles and rays.
Santa Cruz – Bachas Beach
Bachas Beach is a beautiful white-sand beach on which the remnants of a rusted barge, thought to have been abandoned by the Americans during WWI, can be seen. It is a popular nesting site for turtles, so if you go for a snorkel, you might find yourself sharing the water with these wonderful creatures.
The beach is also full of vibrant Sally Lightfoot and hermit crabs, and elegant pink flamingos that frequent the saltwater pond located just behind the beach.
Genovesa – Prince Philip’s Steps / El Barranco
El Barranco, also known as Prince Philip’s Steps, is a rocky stairway that will lead you past a colony of nazca and red-footed boobies leads up to a plateau of dried lava. Continuing through the thin Palo Santo forest and looking out over the plain, visitors are often treated to sites of storm petrels launching out over the ocean.
A panga ride or kayaking/paddle boarding along the edge of the cliffs provides a good chance to see the elusive Galapagos fur seals nestled on the rocks, and snorkeling is a great activity if you fancy a dip with a variety of shark species.
Genovesa / Darwin Bay
Darwin Bay has a small sand and coral beach that provides the perfect spot for snorkeling, kayaking or paddle boarding in calm, sheltered waters in the company of hammerhead sharks, rays and a plethora of colourful reef fish. Onshore, a short trail leads along a tidal lagoon and mangroves, home to a variety of land bird species, including Nazca and red-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls.
The trail culminates at a viewpoint that offers a stunning view overlooking the cliffs and the bay below.
Santiago – Espumilla Beach / Buccaneer Cove
Espumilla beach, located on the northern coast of Santiago island, is an exquisite white sand beach, whose name refers to the meringue-like trails of foam left by the lapping of the waves. Sally Lightfoot crabs are in abundance here and as a result, it is common to see predatory birds such as hawks, herons and pelicans.
This idyllic location is perfect for snorkeling or kayaking/paddle boarding amongst a raft of marine life, including species of octopus, eels and sharks. Buccaneer Cove has an interesting history as it is where sailors, buccaneers and whalers frequently anchored their vessels in search for food and water. In more recent times it has become an important nesting site for turtles and is also popular with sea lions.
A panga ride along the eroded shoreline provides views of intriguing rock formations that provide excellent ledges for boobies, pelicans and gulls.
Egas Port was once the site of a salt mine, but now this impressive black sand beach is an excellent location for snorkeling and observing shorebirds, Sally Lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas.
A stroll along the wide trails inland leads you past tidal pools and rocky volcanic formations known as grottoes where it is possible to spot fur seals enjoying a spot of shade.
Black Turtle Cove
The first visit of the day is to Black Turtle Cove, which is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz. It is a living illustration of how mangroves alter the marine environment to create a rich and unique habitat. Three mangrove species crowd the area from the shore out into a shallow lake which reaches almost a mile inland.
As you drift through quiet waters in the zodiac, you are likely to see spotted eagle rays and diamond-shaped mustard rays, which swim in a diamond formation. White-tipped reef sharks slip beneath the boat and Pacific green sea turtles come to the surface for air and to mate. Waterfowl, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. It’s a peaceful place where visitors often have up-close encounters with Galapagos wildlife, often making it a highlight of the trip!
Highlands and Charles Darwin Research Station
On the highlands of Santa Cruz, you’ll have the opportunity to see the famous giant tortoises in the wild. So renowned are these endemic animals that they gave the archipelago its name. Birdwatching is also one of the activities do to in the Santa Cruz highlands, since this area is home of finches and other Galapagos birds.
After the visit to the highlands, we continue to the famous Charles Darwin Research Station that provides guests with a unique opportunity to find out about the vital work that is being carried out to preserve the archipelago’s ecosystems.
The Research Center is also home to a significant breeding program for Galapagos tortoises, whose numbers have been in decline since the 1970’s.
These captivating reptiles are very accustomed to humans, so be sure to bring your camera for some close-ups.
Lobos Island / San Cristobal
Accessed by panga, Lobos island gets its name from the herds of sea lions that have made their home here.
Snorkeling in the calm clear water provides a unique opportunity to see these inquisitive and playful animals up close and it is also common to be accompanied by green turtles and rays as well.
Inland there is a trail where you can expect to encounter nesting sites for blue-footed boobies and frigates.
San Cristobal Airport
Depart from San Cristobal Airport.