Monday: Santa Cruz: Highlands
Departure from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Island (2 ½-hour flight). Arriving in the Galapagos, passengers are picked up at the airport by our natural guides and taken to a ten-minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend.
PM: Santa Cruz: Highlands
In the afternoon, we will visit the Santa Cruz highlands. In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kinds of birds, such as tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos giant tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a bird watchers’ haven since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.
Tuesday:Genovesa Island: El Barranco
Be marveled at the variety of sea life that uses the crevices of the lava cliffs for shelter. Red-billed tropicbirds fly overhead switching between their nests and the bay, and a small colony of fur seals may be found near the landing site. You will be dropped off at a steep stairway that begins on rocks at the foot of a path that leads through a seabird colony full of Nazca and red-footed boobies. At the plateau, the trail continues inland allowing you to see more nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. Near the end of the trail, over a rocky lava plain, Wedge-romped Storm-Petrels can be observed flying in all directions. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a short-eared owl.
Disembark onto a small sand and coral beach. A short trail heads west along a tidal lagoon and then up a rocky hill that leads to a point overlooking the cliffs and Darwin Bay. Along the trail near the tidal lagoon, visitors will see pairs of swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, and yellow crowned and lava herons. The trail continues through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and Saltbushes inhabited by Great Frigate birds and red-footed boobies. This is one of the few places in the islands where visitors are guaranteed to see red-footed boobies. It is estimated that more than 200,000 red-footed boobies live in the trees and bushes of Genovesa.
Wednesday:Santa Cruz Island:Dragon Hill
AM: Santa Cruz Island: Dragon Hill
Dry landing. Walk by a brackish lagoon to see flamingos in Dragon Hill. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation keeping up until Dragon Hill, see an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the anchored boats and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, and Galapagos doves.
PM: Santa Fe Island
Wet landing. Santa Fe shows white sand beaches surrounded by sea lion colonies; through the island path, an endemic cactus forest is passed, home the Santa Fe land iguanas (the largest in the islands). This island is the habitat for a number of species, including the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, rice rats (one of the few endemic Galapagos rodents), a variety of finches and one of the four mockingbird species of the archipelago.
Thursday:Bachas Bech & Tranfer out
AM: Bachas Beach & Transfer out
Wet landing. On the north side of Santa Cruz; behind the beach lies two small flamingo ponds were iguanas sunbathe, see coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native vegetation like red and black mangrove, salt bushes. This beach is one of the main sea turtles nesting sites in the Galapagos. A turtle can lay eggs 3 or 4 times per season with an average of 70 eggs each time. At this paradisiacal site, we will also find the remains of barges that sank a long time ago, when the United States Navy operated a base during World War II on Baltra Island. Local people modified the word barges to
After the visit, passengers will be transferred to the airport for their return flight to Guayaquil or Quito.