|Day 1||Thursday||Flight to Baltra Airport (GPS)||L D|
|Highlands (Santa Cruz)|
|Day 2||Friday||Las Tintoreras - Sierra Negra||B L D|
|C.C. Arnoldo Tupiza, Wetlands (Isabela)|
|Day 3||Saturday||Punta Moreno (Isabela)||B L D|
|Elizabeth Bay (Isabela)|
|Day 4||Sunday||Tagus Cove (Isabela)||B L D|
|Punta Espinoza (Fernandina)|
|Day 5||Monday||Las Bachas (Santa Cruz)||B|
|Transfer to Baltra Airport (GPS)|
Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, travelers pass through an airport inspection point to make sure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands, and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless it has been prepaid). A guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage, and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbor.
The road to the highlands leaves from Bellavista, a small village located a 15-minute drive from Puerto Ayora, and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone, and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather, this area boasts beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round. Here you will visit the Twin Craters, which are two pit craters, as well as a local ranch where we can observe the giant tortoise of Santa Cruz Island in its natural habitat.
“Tintoreras” are small islands in front of the Puerto Villamil coast. As well as herons on the lookout on mangrove branches, Galapagos Penguins and sea lions often pop out on the shore. White-tipped reef sharks (in Spanish: Tintoreras) are common on the archipelago and are very commonly found resting in the shallow waters.
In the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center you can see hundreds of giant Galapagos tortoises of all sizes. Vulnerable hatchlings are not gigantic at all, even smaller than the size of your hand! This project just outside Puerto Villamil was created to rescue the endangered populations of Isabela’s both southernmost volcanoes. From the almost incredible estimations of 250,000 giant tortoises in the 16th century, by the 1970s there were only about 3,000 individuals remaining. One thing becomes clear on your visit: it’s hard work to save these creatures from extinction by reproduction in captivity and re-population. The good news is that these programs are successful and have already saved several species from extinction so far.
Moreno Point is located on the west coast of Isabela Island between the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The trail runs along a solidied lava ow called “Pahohoe”, into a complex of coastal lagoons. Its main attraction are several species of birds, which are found around the lakes and mangroves.
A tour along the cliffs will give visitors a good chance of seeing the Galapagos penguin, the flightless cormorant and other seabirds. From the landing dock, it is about a 30-minute hike along the trail up to the top of the cliff from where you can view Darwin Lake, an uplifted lake saltier than the sea. You can also see several volcanoes from this location. Look carefully at the graffiti on the surrounding cliffs of the cove, done by pirates, whalers and buccaneers in past centuries!
Fernandina is the third largest island on the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza, located at the northeastern tip of the island. Here, marine iguanas gather in larger groups than on any other island. They bask around in the sand, swim near the shore and sometimes block the way at the landing dock. Among the unique species found here, we can find the flightless cormorant.
Assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra Airport, where we will take the shuttle back to the airport.