Another option to discover the Galapagos Islands is being based at a hotel in Santa Cruz and doing day tours to nearby islands. This is a perfect budget option for independent travelers who want to visit the Galapagos and also want to have the flexibility and freedom to explore the islands.
The best known feature of Bartolomé is the tuff cone known as Pinnacle Rock. This large eroded lava formation was created when magma expelled from the volcano reached the sea. In Bartolomé we find the Galapagos penguins, the only penguin found north of the Equator. The dry landing is the entrance to a 600 meter trail with 300 stairs up to the summit of Bartolomé, from where visitors can observe a variety of volcanic formations, spatter and tuff cones, lava flows and lava tubes.
The moon like landscape provides the most scenic panorama in the archipelago. Under the ocean’s surface, tropical fish hide between the rocks. It’s also possible to observe sea stars, marine turtles and the Galapagos penguin.
North Seymour and Bachas
North Seymour was formed by uplift of a submarine lava formation. A little silver colored forest with Palo Santo trees is located very close to the disembark place. On this island it is possible to see sea lions and marine iguanas.
The blue footed boobies’ nests are close to the trail; the males do their ritual dance to impress the females. Further along the trail we will find a rocky beach with white sand, here a big colony of pelicans will be waiting for you and we will see a colony of magnificent frigate birds. Additionally we will visit Bachas, a white coral beach; marine turtles come here to lay their eggs in the sand. On the beach you can see marine iguanas and in the lagoon you can observe flamingos.
Santa Fe was formed from an uplift giving the island a relatively flat surface rather than the typical conical shape of the other islands. Santa Fe is home to endemic land iguanas. These iguanas are the largest in the islands and resemble small dinosaurs. Santa Fe is also home to the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and the Galapagos mockingbird. Large numbers of sea lions are found on the beach in the bay. This island is considered to be one of the oldest islands. It has volcanic rock formations that are believed to have come into existence about 4 million years ago.
South Plazas and Punta Carrion
South Plaza is one of the smallest islands, but it has one of the largest populations of land iguanas. The iguanas seem to be everywhere once you land. South Plaza is also home to a large number of birds such as nesting red-billed tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls. Depending on the season, the Sesuvium ground vegetation changes its color. It changes from ‘intense’ green in the rainy season to orange and purple in the dry season.
The trail continues gradually to the highest part of the island where the swallow – tailed gulls have their nests. Red-billed tropicbirds, Nazca Boobies and blue footed boobies follow the wind currents. The coast of Plazas is perfect for snorkeling with a colony of sea lions with reach almost thousand sea lions.
Floreana is located in the south of the archipelago. Upon arrival we disembark at Puerto Velasco Ibarra, where the guide will give a short introduction about the history of the island and here we can observe a small colony of marine iguanas. We continue to the highlands, where it is possible to see Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat. We also will visit the caves that were used by pirates years ago, the Asilo de la Paz view point, and the antique home of the Wittmer Family, the first habitants of Floreana. After lunch we will navigate to Champion Bay where you will snorkel with sea lions, tropical fish, reef sharks, sea turtles and rays.
Puerto Villamil is the main settlement area on Isabela. Behind Puerto Villamil are several lagoons where you can observe flamingos. We will visit the tortoise breeding center and the Wall of Tears which was constructed by prisoners on Isabela Island in the late 40's and 50's under very harsh conditions. In the afternoon we go to Tintoreras islet. This is a small bay where you can see sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas and rays. The bay is connected to a crevice of crystal clear water. In this crevice, you can see how reef sharks swim along with other small fish and sea lions. Throughout the trail you can see many marine iguanas in the rocks or under the mangroves. In this area you are also able to see the Galapagos penguins!
Highlands of Santa Cruz
Watch the famous Galapagos land tortoises in their natural environment and learn how the private ranches protect these special animals and their habitat. You can hear their sounds while they are eating the leaves of the trees. Tortoises of all different ages and sizes are gathering here. The well-known Lava Tunnels are another amazing experience! Formed by the lava floods of the volcanoes they range from the highlands down to the sea level. The track is collapsed on several spots. Nevertheless a track of about a 30 minutes hike is intact and gives the observer an impression of their formation.
Academy Bay Tour
We first navigate to La Lobería, the sea lions home. Here we will snorkel with sea lions and colorful fish. After that we visit Canal del Amor, where it’s possible to see sharks. The guide takes you through a cactus trail for 30 minutes to Playa de los Perros, a beautiful place where we will observe blue footed boobies, red crabs, pelicans and marine iguanas. The last place to be visited is Las Grietas, a wonderful sandy lagoon in the middle of high rocks, where you can snorkel and swim.
We also have Hotel Packages available which include accommodation, activities and visits to different islands. You can choose the accommodation based on your budget.
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