Santa Cruz – Isabela – External and Internal
The program can change due to National Park rules or meteorological conditions without prior notice.
ITINERARIES – SANTA CRUZ, ISABELA. 4D / 3N
- DAY 1 Santa Cruz
You will be picked-up at the airport by your private certified guide. Then, you will take the public bus to the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross on a ferry.
Afterwards, you will go with our taxi to a Ranch in the highlands to see giant tortoises in their native environment! You will continue to Garrapatero Beach where you will have the opportunity to swim. In the evening, you will be free to wander around Santa Cruz. You can choose among a lot of restaurants in town for dinner. The Kioskos are a great option as well to enjoy a delicious typical meal. Every night, a street in the center of Puerto Ayora is closed to traffic where restaurants put tables and chairs so the guests can eat outside.
We recommend you a walk at night along the pier where you can often spot juvenile black tip sharks swimming!
- DAY 2: Santa Cruz – Isabela
At 6:30 am we will pick you up at the hotel and accompany you to the harbor, where the speed boat will take you at 7:00 am with other passengers to Isabela (approx. 2-hour ride). Our staff will welcome you and accompany you to your hotel. Morning free, you can walk to the Tortoise Breeding Center or to the Flamingo Lagoon. After lunch you will visit Tintoreras, a small islet at 10mn navigation away from the port. No plants or animals have ever been brought to this island. First you will have a panga ride looking for the small Galapagos penguins and sea lions then you will hike on the islet looking for marine iguanas, and sometimes you can even see white-tipped sharks resting in a lava tunnel. Afterwards you can snorkel in the bay to spot different fishes, sea turtles, rays and penguins (order of activities depending on the tides). The evening is at your free disposal. You can have a drink at the beach front bar de Beto, for sunset, or at the Casa Rosada. For dinner we recommend the Coco Surf, Red Lobster or Isabela Grill, but you have other several options in town to choose.
- DAY 3 : Tintoreras
Tour 1 – Sierra Negra Volcano: You will go with a bus to the highlands and hike to Sierra Negra and Chico volcano. Sierra Negra has the second largest active crater in the world, around 10kms, it is very impressive. As you continue to Volcano Chico, you will pass through impressive lava sceneries, and you will have breathtaking views of the north side of the island and of Fernandina island. In total it’s a 16kms hike (not steep but long hike, duration approx. 6 hours).
Tour 2 – Cabo Rosa (“Tuneles”):is a beautiful site 45 minutes boat ride from the port. This site is a lava formation of tunnels going under and over the sea level, in a shallow bay where you can usually spot the Galapagos penguins and sometimes some blue-footed boobies. However, the highlight is snorkeling. You will have a chance to see sea turtles, reef sharks, rays, sea lions, seahorses and many tropical fish. This is one of the most beautiful sites of the archipelago. The tour takes about 5 hours.
The rest of the day is at leisure. You can enjoy the beautiful beach in Isabela or you can snorkel in the Concha de Perla Lagoon (snorkel equipment in the free time is not included, but can be hired locally).
- DAY 4 : Isabela
At 5:20 am we will pick you up at your hotel and accompany you to the pier, where you will take the shared speed boat at 6:00 am to Santa Cruz (approx. 2-hour ride). At the harbor our staff will welcome you and accompany you for breakfast. Afterwards, your driver will bring you to the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross on a ferry. For the last part of your trip to the airport, you will take the public bus. Your driver will accompany you to the check-in at the airport, where your programs ends with the flight back to the mainland. Baltra is the only 100% ecological airport in the world!
Please take in account that your flight does not depart before 12:30 pm. There is the option to take a small plane straight to Baltra for an additional cost, let us know if you are interested.
Shared boat to Santa Cruz and private transfer to airport.
- English – Spanish guide
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- Air tickets to/from the Galapagos Islands
- Galapagos National Park entrance
- Transit control card USD 20
- Isabela Municipal tax USD 10
- Personal expenses
Daphne MayorThe National Park service restricts visitors allowed to visit Daphne and it is a select few that are able to visit this special place. Visitors venture up a steep trail to the crater rim. Finches, masked boobies, short-eared owls and Galapagos martins are visible along the way. Red-billed tropicbirds nest in the cliffs near the summit. Magnificent frigatebirds build their nests in the little vegetation that occurs on the Island’s slopes and near the crater rim. Highlights: Intense bird watching opportunities including nesting blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and tropicbirds Animals: Finches, masked boobies, short-eared owls, Galapagos martins, red-billed tropicbirds, frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, great blue herons
Sullivan BayThe Sullivan Bay lava field has a variety of interesting patterns made by the shapes and textures of trees that once existed there and hornitos caused when pockets of gas or water trapped under the lava exploded. The low-lying mollugo and the lava cactus are the only plants that have managed to take root in this harsh environment. On the shoreline black and white oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and molluscs in the tide pools. Highlights: Geology and volcanology Animals: Oystercatchers, great blue herons, lava herons, lava lizards, marine iguanas, mockingbirds
Puerto EgasPuerto Egas, with its black sand beaches, was the site of small salt mining industry in the 1960s. A hike inland to the salt crater is an excellent opportunity to sight land birds such as finches, doves, and hawks. A walk down the rugged shoreline will turn up many marine species. Iguanas bask on the rocks and sea lions laze in the tide pools. At the end of the trail there is a series of grottoes or sea caves where fur seals and night herons are found. Highlights: Salt crater; tide pools Animals: Finches, doves, hawks, iguanas, fur seals, night herons
Espumilla BeachThis large coffee-coloured sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers. A short walk inland will take you through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt. Sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. Sea turtles often lay their eggs on Espumilla Beach. Highlights: One of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands; great place for swimming and snorkeling Animals: Common stilts, sea turtles, pink flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, Galapagos finches, vermilion fly catchers, lava lizards, mockingbirds
Buccaneer CoveBuccaneer Cove is a testament to the fact that Santiago Island was once a refuge for British buccaneers. These pirates would anchor in the protected bay to make repairs and stock up on tortoise meat among other things. The steep cliffs, where hundreds of seabirds perch in front of the dark red sand beach, are a magnificent site. Highlights: Sea birds, historical site, snorkeling, rock formations Animals: Galápagos seahorses, octopuses, hammerheads, Galápagos sharks, green sea tortoises, eagle rays, barracudas
Espinosa PointPunta Espinosa is a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of marine iguanas gather largely on black lava rocks. The famous flightless cormorant inhabits this island and Galápagos penguins, pelicans and sea lions are also abundant. Different types of lava flows can be compared and the mangrove forests can be observed. Highlights: Galápagos snakes, marine iguanas, lava cactus, lava Animals: Marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, pelicans, sea lions, Galápagos snakes, great blue herons, green sea turtles, lava herons, lava lizards, Madeiran storm petrels, mockingbirds
Las TintorerasA short distance from Puerto Villamil is the small island known as Las Tintoreras. Here a colony of white tip sharks can often be seen resting in a lava canal. You can snorkel or swim in the unique habitat of these animals. On the nearby sandy beaches, sea lions play and relax in the sun. This is one of Isabela's most beautiful visitor sites.
Highlights: SnorkelingAnimals: Sea Lions, white-tip reef sharks, marine iguanas
Tortoise Breeding CenterThis center was created to protect animals in their first years of life from the threats of foreign species such as pigs and donkeys. Giant tortoise eggs are collected and brought to the center where they are hatched and kept for five years before being released to their natural environment. Highlights: Two of the five sub-species of the giant tortoise. Animals: Tortoises
WetlandsThe Wetlands of Isabela Island are located just outside of Puerto Villamil. The Wetlands consist of lagoons, swamps and mangroves and are home to a variety of unique bird species such as common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails and gallinules. The Wetlands can be visited on foot via a path that winds through the swamps. Highlights: Giant mangroves, shore birds Animals: Common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, gallinules
The Wall of TearsBetween 1946 and 1959 Isabela was a penal colony, where prisoners were made build a wall with huge blocks of lava as punishment. Due to the arduous labour and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as the wall of tears. A set of stairs provides a bird's eye view of the wall and the surrounding landscape. You can still see the foundations of a USA base from the Second World War. Highlights: View of the wall Animals: Lava lizards, Galápagos finches, hawks
Tagus CoveNamed after a British warship which anchored here in 1814, this cove is located to the west of the island and you can take a panga (zodiac) trip below the high cliffs. Here there is an opportunity to see penguins as well as marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions. Blue-footed boobies are also in abundance. Highlights: Pirate graffiti on the rocks Animals: Penguins, marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, green sea turtles, lava lizards, mockingbirds
Vicente Roca PointHere the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay well protected from the ocean swells. The spot is a popular anchorage from which to explore the cliffs, where masked and blue-footed boobies perch while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galápagos give rise to an abundance of marine life, which make Punta Vicente Roca one of the archipelago’s sough after dive spots. Highlights: Sheltered coves and abundant marine life Animals: Masked and blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, sea lions, pelicans, penguins
Urbina BayThe waters of Urbina Bay are a good place to see turtles and rays and ashore is a short trail leading to a coral reef, which is evidence of an uplift from the sea which occurred in 1954. This provides the rare experience of walking in the middle of a bed of coral. Marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and pelicans can be seen at this site. Highlights: Walking on a bed of coral Animals: Giant tortoises, rays, marine and land iguanas, flightless cormorants, pelicans, lava lizards, mockingbirds
Sierra Negra VolcanoThe Sierra Negra Volcano boasts the largest basaltic caldera in Galapagos at 9 x 10km. The site offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe up to 7 species of finch and a rich display of vegetation. The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005 Highlights: Basaltic caldera, stunning views, finches
Cormorant PointNoted for the volcanic green olivine crystals found in the beach, Cormorant Point offers a trail overlooking a saltwater lagoon that is a favourite of flamingos. Beyond the lagoon the trail leads to a magnificent white-sand beach. Green sea turtles lay their eggs in the sands here during the night and their tracks leading to and from the sea mark the beach. Highlights: Flamingos Animals: Flamingos, green sea turtles
Devil’s CrownArguably the best snorkeling site in the islands, Devil's Crown is a collapsed volcanic cone that boasts an extraordinary number and variety of fish. It is a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans, and frigates. In addition, sharks, sea lions, sea turtles and eels can be found amongst the rocks and corals. Highlights: Snorkeling Animals: Boobies, pelicans, frigates, sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, eels
Post Office BayThe best known site on Floreana is Post Office Bay, a white-sand beach where in the past sailors used to leave and receive their letters in a barrel. The tradition continues - leave your postcard in the barrel and see how long it takes to be delivered, and at the same time if there is a postcard with an address close to your home, please take it with you. Highlights: Post office barrel Animals: Sea lions, great blue herons, Madeiran storm petrels
Suárez PointThis is one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago, with a long list of species found along its cliffs and sand or pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds there are the curious and bold Española Island mockingbirds, Galápagos doves and Galápagos hawks. Several types of reptiles, including the marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard, are unique to this island. Highlights: High concentration of wildlife Animals: Española Island mockingbirds, Galápagos doves, Galápagos hawks, marine iguanas, lava lizards
Gardner BayGardner Bay has a magnificent beach with turquoise waters. Around the small islets nearby, snorkellers will find lots of fish and sometimes turtles and sharks. The bay is also frequented by a transient colony of sea lions which like to swim with you. Birds, like the endemic Hood-mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent. Highlights: Beach; snorkeling Animals: Madeiran storm petrels, marine iguanas, sea lions, turtles, sharks
Osborn IsletThis small island to the southeast of Española Island is a marine visit where you can enjoy fantastic snorkeling and swimming. Highlights: Snorkeling and swimming Animals: Colorful fish
San Cristobal Island
Interpretation CentreThe Galápagos National Park Interpretation Centre has a series of interactive exhibits providing information about the history and biodiversity of the Galápagos Islands. The self-guided walking tour will take you through the history of the Islands in the context of nature, humankind and conservation. Highlights:Interactive exhibits Animals:N/A
Isla Lobos (Sea Lion Island)This small island is named after the sea lions that rest and play on its rocky shores. It is also home to blue-footed boobies, great frigate-birds, brown pelicans, lava gulls, common noddies, yellow warblers and small and medium ground finches. There is good snorkeling in the clear waters of the channel and this is one of the best sites at which to swim with sea lions underwater. Highlights: Swimming with sea lions Animals: Sea lions, boobies, frigate-birds, pelicans
León Dormido (Kicker Rock)This small, distinctive island comprises two rocks which jut out of the ocean and is home to a large colony of sea birds. Kicker Rock is an excellent dive site where you could see many reef fish as well as hammerhead and Galápagos sharks. Sightings of large rays and turtles are common but not guaranteed. Highlights: Diving; snorkeling Animals: Boobies, reef fish, sharks
Cerro Brujo (Wizard’s Hill)One of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin, Cerro Brujo is a beautiful white-sand beach where brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and marine iguanas can all be found. An onshore version of nearby Kicker Rocks, Cerro Brujo is a very striking, eroded tuff cone. There is also fantastic snorkeling in the turquoise waters. Highlights: Snorkeling; beach Animals: Sea lions, pelicans, boobies, marine iguanas
Punta PittPunta Pitt is located on the northeastern corner of San Cristóbal Island. The trail includes an olivine beach approximately 90 meters/295 feet and a trail that ascends to the top of a volcanic tuff hill passing through several natural viewpoints The walking trail is 1,400 meters/nearly one mile, with an estimated time of two hours, round trip. Punta Pitt is composed of volcanic tuff substrate. High winds present there have led to a unique form of natural erosion.. Highlights: Hiking Animals: Three species of boobies and 2 species of frigates, sea lions
La GalapagueraAt this information centre in the highlands you will learn about the giant tortoise breeding programme established by the National Park. You can see giant land tortoises living in a semi-natural habitat and also learn about their origin, evolution and the threats from introduced animals. Highlights: Giant tortoises Animals: Giant tortoises
Santa Cruz Island
Tortuga BayTortuga Bay is a pristine location with a beautiful white-sand beach. It is a great place for swimming and even surfing. Tortuga Bay is also a favorite place for sea turtles (which gave the beach its name), sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, flamingos and lava gulls which are endemic to the Islands and are commonly found along the shore of most beaches. Highlights: Pristine white-sand beach with sea turtles Animals: Sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, flamingos, lava gulls
HighlandsThe highlands are located in the northern part of the island and can reach elevations up to 1500 meters. On a journey into the higher elevations of Santa Cruz you will experience all seven different vegetation zones. The vegetation here is abundant and lush and the weather moist. Highlights: Vegetation Animals: Galápagos flycatchers, small tree-finches, woodpecker finches
Los GemelosLos Gemelos, Spanish for The Twins, are two volcanic depressions on the highest part of Santa Cruz. The larger of the two volcanic pits is featured here. In contrast to the dry coastal lowlands, the highlands are covered by mist in the garua (foggy) season and receive thus much more moisture and support a more luxuriant vegetation. Highlights: Luxuriant vegetation Animals: Vermillion flycatchers, woodpecker finches, short eared owls
Whale BayWhale Bay is the site of one of the oldest whaling camps on Santa Cruz Island. It was to here and the other similar camps that the giant tortoises were brought before being loaded onboard the whalers and pirate ships. The semicircle beach is green in color, due to a high volume of olivine crystals. The curious Galápagos hawk can also found here. Highlights: Green beach Animals: Galápagos hawks, Galápagos sea lions, marine iguanas, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies
Bachas BeachLocated on the north shore of Santa Cruz, Las Bachas is a swimming beach. One of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II presence in the Galápagos, a floating pier, can be seen here. You may see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach. Highlights: World War II remnants Animals: Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, whimbrels, sea turtles
Dragon HillThe Dragon Hill (Cerro Dragon) visitors’ site was established by the Galápagos Islands National Park administration. A hypersalinic (saltier than the ocean) lagoon behind the beach is often frequented by flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks and other species of birds. There is a short walk to the hill, which has rewarding views of the bay and a nesting site of land iguanas. Highlights: Hypersalinic lagoon Animals: Flamingos, common stilts, pintail ducks, land and marine iguanas, great blue and lava herons, lava lizards, mockingbirds
Charles Darwin Research StationThe CDRS is an international not-for-profit organization that provides scientific research, technical information and assistance to ensure the proper preservation of the Galápagos Islands. Visitors can learn about natural history, issues concerning the islands, and see the tortoise breeding and rearing project at work. Highlights: Tortoise breeding Animals: Giant tortoises, great blue herons, land iguanas, lava lizards, mockingbirds
Carrion PointCarrion Point creates a sheltered lagoon with beautiful, turquoise water. During this visit you can snorkel and see a variety of fish, rays and perhaps the harmless white-tip reef sharks. The point is on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island at the entrance of Channel of Itabaca. Highlights: Snorkeling Animals: Fish, rays, white-tip reef sharks
Darwin BayThe beach is a coral beach where a 750m trail takes you through more seabird colonies. You get to see the cliffs from the seaward side, which are home to a large red-footed booby colony. Once ashore the number of birds seems overwhelming – Nazca boobies soar overhead, great frigatebirds display their pouches while resting on the nearby rocks and plants, and mockingbirds scamper quickly across the sand. Highlights: Incredible birding opportunities Animals: Nazca boobies, great frigatebirds, mockingbirds, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, turnstones, yellow-crowned, black-crowned and lava herons, white and yellow warblers, red-footed boobies, sharp-beaked finch, large cactus finches, large ground finches, Galápagos doves, swallow-tailed gulls, Madeiran storm petrels, marine iguanas
Prince Phillip’s Step (El Barranco)An extraordinary, steep path leads through a seabird colony full of life, up to cliffs that are 25m high. At the top the trail continues inland, passing more seabird colonies in a thin palo santo forest. Leaving the forest you can overview a rocky plain. You could get a view of masked and red-footed boobies, great frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds and hundreds of storm petrels at the edge of the cliff. Highlights: Seabird colony Animals: Masked and red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, Madeiran storm petrels, Galápagos fur seals, lava gulls, marine iguanas, mockingbirds
Rabida Island (San Salvador or James)The high amount of iron contained in the lava at Rábida gives it a distinctive red color. White-Cheeked Pintail Ducks live in a salt-water lagoon close to the beach, where brown pelicans and boobies have built their nests. Up until recently, flamingos were also found in the salt-water lagoon, but they have since moved on to other islands, likely due to a lack of food on Rábida. Nine species of Finches have been reported in this island.
Bartholomew Island (Bartolomé)Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island in the Galápagos Islands Group. It is one of the "younger" islands in the Galápagos archipelago. This island, and Sulivan Bay on Santiago island, are named after naturalist and life-long friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, who was a Lieutenant aboard HMS Beagle.
North Seymour IslandThe 2km trail crosses the inland of the island and explores the rocky coast, passing colonies of blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. Daphne Major and Minor can be spotted in the distance and body surfing sea lions play close to the shore. Along the shoreline marine iguanas, white coral and black lava rocks complete the visit to North Seymour. Highlights: Rare Galápagos snakes, nesting frigatebirds, swallowtail gulls and blue-footed boobies, land iguanas Animals: Galápagos snakes, land iguanas, lava gulls, lava lizards, magnificent frigatebirds, marine iguanas, mockingbirds
Mosquera IslandLocated between North Seymour and Baltra is the small island of Mosquera. The island consists is a long narrow stretch of white sand, rocks, and tide pools. Created by geological uplift the island has a flat look to it rather than the conical shape of the volcanically formed islands. Mosquera is a great place for visitors to wander without the typical restrictions of the other islands. It is ideal for snorkeling, strolling on the beach, and enjoying the animal life. Highlights: Large population of sea lions Animals: Great blue herons, lava gulls, lava herons, lava lizards, marine iguanas
Santa Fe IslandSanta Fe is a volcanic uplift and hosts a forest of Opuntia cactus, which are the largest of the archipelago, and palo santo. Weathered cliffs provide a haven for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropic birds, and sehar-waters petrels. The Santa Fe species of land iguanas are often seen, as well as lava lizards. There is a picturesque turquoise lagoon and calm waters where you can snorkel amongst sea lions. Highlights: Land iguanas, Galápagos hawks, playful sea lion pups Animals: Frigate birds, Galápagos hawks, land and marine iguanas, manta rays, sea turtles, sea lions, lava lizards, mockingbirds
Santa Fe (Barrington)Santa Fe (Barrington) is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island's northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff, and the others Highlights: Land Iguanas, giant Opuntia cacti panning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest
South Plaza IslandSouth Plaza has one of the largest populations of land iguanas in the Galápagos. It is also home to marine iguanas and a hybrid iguana whose fathers are marine iguanas and mothers are land iguanas. There are cliffs with spectacular views and a rocky trail circumnavigates the island displaying the combination of dry and coastal vegetation zone. The island is home to enormous prickly pear cactus and the endemic succulent sesuvian. Highlights:Land iguanas, nesting swallow tail gulls and snorkeling with friendly sea lions Animals:Land iguanas, lava lizards, Madeiran storm petrels, marine iguanas