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Baltra Island, Galapagos – Doorway to the volcanic islands
Apart of Ecuador, the archipelago of Galapagos is a popular holiday destination. Speaking from a geological perspective, these pieces of land are newly formed and are known to be volcanic in nature. Most of the tourists would have first heard of Galapagos from the references made by Charles Darwin, in his research. Even before this time, there is a legend of pirates and buccaneers who are credited with producing the first navigation chart of the archipelago. Although Ambrose Crawley, the buccaneer, initially named the islands after his mates, the Spanish names have been given recently by the Ecuador government.
Baltra Island, also called South Seymour, is one of the main islands and is one of the gateways to the islands that are to be visited by anyone who enjoys a nature vacation. Baltra is connected to the rest of world mainly via 3 Airlines, TAMLAN, Avianca and TAME. It is also the place where the main airport of Galapagos was built by the US Military for the protection of the South Pacific during World War II. It is observed that there had been fauna local to the island before the base was installed. Only recently, new sightings of iguanas have been reported. Baltra Island is still the main naval base and the sightings of wildlife are not as rich as those reported in the rest of the Galapagos National Park. Baltra Airport, until 1986 was the only one catering to the needs of the peoples.
Past this year, a new airport in San Cristobal was built to add to the connectivity. The main airport is still the one with the maximum facilities, catering to most landings and private charter planes as well. Visitors of Baltra, however, will find it is here where there adventure starts, with the boat docking at the island and being met by an exclusive tourist guide who is knowledgeable in the local flora and fauna. He/she would have many tales to tell about the history, culture, Nature and other interesting features of the archipelago. There are ferries and buses to help tourists get across the place. After crossing the Itabaca channel to reach Santa Cruz, many farms and highlands can be sighted along the way while one travels to the main town Puerto Ayora.
Upon arrival, Galapagos Park Fees (or the receipt of paid Park Fees) is collected at the Kiosk.
Transfers to Santa Cruz Island: Land transfer services are available from Baltra to nearby Santa Cruz. Those visitors planning land-based visit Staying on Santa Cruz board the bus departing the airport for the Itabaca Cannel (approximately a 10-minute ride). A ferry takes passengers and their belongings across the water to the CITTEG bus waiting at the other side. Then an hour-long bus ride crosses Santa Cruz, cutting through the highlands and passing many farms before finally reaching Puerto Ayora.
Cost: The total cost is about $2.50, including the channel crossing and buses on both islands. It takes a little over an hour to get to Puerto Ayora.
Note: Baltra does not have any visitor sites.