|Day 1||Sunday||Flight to Baltra Airport||L D|
|Dragon Hill (Santa Cruz)|
|Day 2||Monday||Rabida||B L D|
|Day 3||Tuesday||Prince Phillip's Steps (Genovesa)||B L D|
|Darwin Bay (Genovesa)|
|Day 4||Wednesday||Bartolome||B L D|
|Sullivan Bay (Santiago)|
|Day 5||Thursday||Highlands (Santa Cruz)||B|
|Tour ends. Transfer to Baltra Airport.|
At Baltra Airport you have to pay your Galapagos National Park entrance fee and your luggage is inspected .In front of the arrival hall you will meet your naturalist guide and fellow passengers, and be transferred to the landing dock by airport shuttle. Our inflatable dinghy brings you the last stretch to the yacht.
Dragon Hill offers two key-species very liked to be seen during each Galapagos visit, though not too common distributed throughout the islands: Galapagos land iguanas and American flamingos. You will climb a hill with giant opuntia cacti where these ‘dragons’ feed and breed. By 1975 this was one of the last populations of land iguanas on Santa Cruz, threatened by wild dogs. A rescue plan was executed and the iguanas even had to be dislocated to nearby undisturbed Venice Islets for over a decade, where they successfully reproduced. In 1990 the population was replaced; just three years before this scenic site was opened to tourism. Although they are quite shy and elusive, you stand a fair chance to see the success of this project with your own eyes.
The anchorage-site at the northern headland of Rabida is the only point in its shoreline that is not guarded by a barrier of rocks and armed with giant prickly pear cacti. The sharp corner of the bay holds a striking red beach that adds color to your photo album. Walk to the end of the beach, blocked by spectacular brick-reddish cliffs that contain oxidized iron. Especially short after sunrise and short before sunset, colors become more intense, and the rusty sand and rocks seem to blaze!
Chinese Hat is a 52 m / 170 ft. high volcanic cone, forming another islet right out off the coast of Santiago. Approaching from the north you certainly will agree with its name. Because the primordial fire has been extinguished recently, you can learn more about volcanism, lava bombs and lava tunnels. On the beach there are also curious pillow-type lavas with coral heads on top! These spheres have a submarine history and were uplifted above sea level.
Genovesa has a royal touch. And that’s not only because of its former English name Tower (after the Royal Palace in London). The often used English name of the visitor’s site El Barranco commemorates the 1964 visit of the Duke of Edinburgh, a Galapagos lover since the first hour and patron of the Charles Darwin Foundation. In his footsteps (and in those of Prince Charles) you will be able to admire one of Galapagos’ favorite birding spots with largest breeding colonies of Nazca and red-footed boobies.
Inside the submerged caldera of Genovesa lies Darwin Bay, with a diameter of more than 1,5 km / 1 mi and it is almost 200 m / 650 ft. deep. Confusingly the beach deep inside the caldera has been called Darwin Bay as well… This quiet site is Galapagos in miniature! The small-scaled area will surprise you again and again, walking along a coral sand beach, crossing barren lava formations and creeks, passing tidal pools, shrubs and further ahead following the top of some cliffs. In this extremely varied and peaceful ambience, every single species has occupied its own ecological niche (or preferred habitat) without disturbing others.
To enjoy the postcard view of the idyllic ‘Pinnacle Bay’ you have to cross a third, dramatic type of scenery, climbing the stairs to the viewpoint on top of the island (114 m / 375 ft). During this geologically and botanical interesting climb, you will find yourself in the middle of several very close spatter cones, craters, and lightweight lava droplets, that where spewed out by spectacular fountains and cooled and solidified in the air. Bartolome is among the youngest of the islands, and on a geological scale just recently born out of fire. The Summit Trail is ideal to witness how scanty pioneer vegetation such as lava cactus is struggling to cover the lunar-like volcanic landscape of primarily virgin lava fields.
Sullivan Bay is incomparable to any other visitor’s site; the miraculous reliefs you will observe in the crust of the lava flow are unique to Galapagos and Hawaii. Those who are interested in geology and volcanology really should not miss the opportunity to witness earth formation in process, although it is unlikely that you will notice real fireworks and lava fountains on spot. Anyway, the power of volcanic activity will impress you forever. Setting foot at the Sullivan lava stream is like landing on the moon.
Because wild Galapagos giant tortoises don’t stop at official National Park boundaries, dozens of them also roam and even mate on the adjacent woodlands in the populated agricultural zone of Santa Cruz. Thanks to the semi-open pastures and scalesia-woodlands, and their concentration around muddy pools, these farmlands are best place for a quick visit. Armed with a rain poncho and (provided) rubber boots you will get good chances to approach wild Galapagos giant tortoises just within a few meters.
Assisted by the guide and some crew-members the inflatable dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra, where we take the airport shuttle. Your guide will accompany you to the check-in counters in the departure hall.