Saturday PM:Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking.
Santa Cruz Highlands: Reached by bus from Puerto Ayora, the highlands of Santa Cruz are a deep green contrasting beautifully with much of the dry, lower islands. The dominant vegetation in the highlands is the forest of Scalesia trees creating the lush green color. The lava tubes, over half a mile long, are underground and walking through them is a unique, surreal experience.
AM: The Tintoreras Islet, located a short distance from Puerto Villamil, is home to a great variety of wildlife. Its turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tip reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches surrounded by mangroves is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.
The Sierra Negra Volcano boasts the largest basaltic caldera in Galapagos at 9 x 10 km. 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.
PM:The 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.
This 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.
MANGLE POINT, AM: A visit to Mangle Point allows visitors to witness the amazing views and wildlife on the Coast of Fernandina Island. This is a small inlet on Fernandina’s coast where you can snorkel to your hearts delight and watch playful sea lions, curious penguins, and also catch a glimpse of where flight less cormorants reside.
URBINA BAY, PM: Located on the northwestern coast of the island and comprised of two separate coves, this site is a large bay with spectacular sea life. Seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating Mola mola (sunfish) may be spotted here. This bay is great for diving and snorkeling.
ESPUMILLA BEACH / BUCANEER COVE, PM: Espumilla Beach is a popular place for marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract the hunting herons performing the dance of predator and prey. With an abundance of marine life including octopi, moray eels, and sharks, snorkeling is highly recommended.
Buccaneer 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.