Schiff: Isabela II
Following our morning arrival at Baltra Airport, we transfer to the Itabaca Channel, taking a small ferry across the channel to the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. We board our bus to the highlands, where we’ll learn about Santa Cruz’s unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Lunch is served at a local restaurant.
After lunch, we continue by bus to reach a reserve that is one of the best places in the archipelago to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The tortoises are easy to spot, lumbering around, eating grass and leaves and wallowing in the small pools. There are several lava tunnels in the reserve, too. A short bus ride takes us down to Puerto Ayora to board Yacht Isabela.
A stunning anchorage provides our jumping-off point for our visit to Santa Fe Island, this sandy white beach with many sea lion harems. Galapagos hawks are often easily observed. The endemic land iguana, unique to this island, may be spotted during the walk. Snorkelling and swimming from the beach, kayaking or a ride in our glass-bottom boat.
The turquoise waters of the South Plaza Island channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline, while a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus beyond, populated by yellow-gray land iguanas.
The morning starts with an enjoyable walk along the coast and the interior of North Seymour Island, observing numerous bird colonies as well as sea lions and marine iguanas. There are opportunities for snorkelling, coastal exploration or glass-bottom boat for great views of the underwater world.
After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, Bachas is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. We can swim and/or snorkel from the beach.
This morning, a Galapagos icon awaits for us: Bartolome Island. A great way to start the day, with a steep climb up a wooden staircase: the view from the top is worth the effort! Following the walk, we take the dinghies for a ride around colossal Pinnacle Rock.
After lunch, we get on board the inflatable dinghies to land at Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, a white coral sand beach great for swimming, and with a trail over a lava field that flowed here less than 100 years ago. This is the perfect place to see and feel the volcanic origin of Galapagos.