At a glance: From the airport, head directly to the highlands of Santa Cruz to explore sink-holes and giant tortoise reserves ▪ Arrival at Baltra airport
Your Galapagos Safari begins when you meet your bilingual naturalist guide at the airport. To maximize your day, you will be taken to a number of visiting sites in the highlands on the way to Galapagos Safari Camp. Your baggage will be sent ahead to Galapagos Safari Camp. Upon exiting the airport, you are driven to a small dock on Baltra Island (keep an eye out for the land iguanas!). Here you will transfer to a boat to cross Canal Itabaca, the narrow passage of water separating Baltra Island from Santa Cruz Island. Once on the other side, you will transfer again to a private car for a 30-minute drive through various vegetation zones to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz. The first stop is Los Gemelos (The Twins); two colossal, volcanic sinkholes (the larger of the twins is 2,300 feet deep and almost 1,300 feet wide). On a short hike around the rim, your guide will point out the birds of the endemic Scalesia forest such as Galapagos doves and the eight species of Galapagos finches. From Los Gemelos you continue to a giant tortoise reserve. Here you will learn how the physiology of these ancient reptiles is different, depending on the island they inhabit. There are currently 12 species of the giant tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, two of which are native to Santa Cruz. Your tour of the reserve will take you on a gentle circuit trail where you get within meters of these iconic Galapagos creatures. Keep a look out too for short-eared owls, if you are lucky they can be spotted in the trees. The reserve also contains a network of underground lava tubes, formed centuries ago when lava flows cooled at the edges but kept flowing in the middle, leaving cave-like tunnels in their wake. Some of these tunnels on Santa Cruz go on for miles and are thought to have been used by pirates as hideouts or to store supplies. Descend into the cavernous tubes with your guide for an introduction to the islands’ formation. To fully appreciate the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands and its wildlife, it’s important to first understand the archipelago’s geology and volcanic history. For some, the experience may be a little daunting in spots where the tubes get narrow, but it’s a worthwhile trek into the geological past of the island. After stopping for lunch, the group makes way back to the camp. Enjoy a dip in the pool alongside the finches, or a hot shower in your tent before unwinding on our Viewpoint with a sunset cocktail. End the day with a four-course dinner under a starry sky.
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