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THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS and "Galapagos visitor sites"



The Galapagos Islands are in total 13 islands, 17 islets and 47 rocks that gives a total surface of 7,964km², the islands belong to the country of Ecuador in south america. With 40.000 inhabitants. Five of the Islands are inhabited. They make a living mainly from Galapagos tourism, fishing and farming. Puerto Ayora the most populated place located south of St. Cruz Island. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the provincial capital located in San Cristobal Island.

In the small Baltra Island is the airport , used during the second world war as great military base that the North Americans settled down for the defense of the  Panama canal.

Bachas Beach and Punta Carrion in Galapagos
Visit Bachas beach in the morning to walk along the beautiful white sand beach. Here the sally lightfoot crabs are abundant and the beach is also a nesting site for sea turtles. Many different species of birds can be seen here as well, with a nearby lagoon playing host to pink flamingoes which is bordered by mangroves and other typical vegetation to the region.
Visit Punta Carrión in the afternoon to see the bird and marine life. Take advantage of the time to go snorkelling in the diverse and nutrient waters.

Bartolome and Puerto Egas Galapagos Islands
Arrive at Bartolome Island early and disembark for a short hike. Listen as our naturalist outlines the geological history of Bartolome, explaining its dramatic features, including the unusual splatter cones. We may see the rare Galapagos penguin, of which only 800 pairs exist!
Bartolome Island (also called Bartholomew) has 2 main areas of interest. A hike to the summit of the island provides a clearer perspective of the islands' not-too-distant volcanic origins, and the panoramic view is one of the best among the islands. From here are visible the double-sided beach of Bartolome directly below, the volcanic tower rising out of the water next to it, and Santiago in the distance. After the summit hike, stop at the beach to relax in semi-tropical tranquility. There is great snorkelling among the submerged volcanic rock and around the base of the tower. A short hike to the beach on the opposite side is worth the minimal effort. It is not unusual to see sharks in these shallow waters, and marine turtles nest here from January through March.
Visit Puerto Egas on Santiago Island in the afternoon to see the salt crater as well as a dark sand beach and tidal pools.

Baltra and Santa Cruz Galapagos Islands
Early flight to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival meet our naturalist guide who will assist with the transfer across Santa Cruz Island to our catamaran, the g6. In the afternoon we will visit the Charles Darwin Station
The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 km (620 miles) off the Pacific coast of South America. The archipelago is comprised of 13 major islands and scores of islets that served as a living laboratory for Charles Darwin, the renowned evolution theorist. Long before Darwin arrived in the Galapagos, seafarers knew these isolated islands as home to some of the strangest and most wonderful wildlife imaginable, including birds that could swim but no longer fly, aquatic iguanas, dragon-like lizards left over from prehistoric times, and the giant Galapagos tortoises for which the islands were named.
Covering nearly 5000 square km (3100 square miles), the Galapagos Islands are now a National Park. The Galapagos National Park is the institution that controls the preservation of this environment, assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. Inaugurated in 1964 and based in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is the one place where visitors can easily see the famous Galapagos Tortoises, which may live up to two hundred years. This is also the training centre for naturalist guides who accompany all visitors landing at more than 40 approved sites on the islands, and members of the international scientific community often come to study at the station.
The National Park charges a visitor fee of $100 USD, payable on arrival, which funds Park maintenance and supervision in the Galapagos, as well as ecological study, conservation and infrastructure development in Ecuador's other National Parks. Entry fees and the funds they generate for the National Park System are among measures taken by the Ecuadorian government to protect its natural heritage.

Black Turtle Cove and Cerro Dragon in Galapagos Islands
In the morning we take an excursion by "panga" to Black Turtle Cove, to witness the extensive mangrove system and interesting waterway canals. Sea Turtles and different species of rays can often be seen in this cove, offering a peaceful and fascinating glimpse into the diversity of the area.
Visit Cerro Dragon in the afternoon on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island, to see land iguanas and a salt water lagoon frequented by flamingoes and other species of birds.

Chinese Hat and Rabida Galapagos Islands
In the morning the boat arrives to a small little island off the southern tip of Santiago called Chinese Hat, for it's unique shape. Here it is often possible to see Galapagos penguins and the marine life is fantastic for snorkelling. There is also a large sea lion colony here as well as many marine iguanas that can be seen on our guided walk amongst the volcanic scenery, with good views to the cone of the island's volcano.
In the afternoon we will make our way to Rabida Island, where we land on a red sand beach. From here a short trail leads to a salt water lagoon, often home to wading flamingos. Another trail goes past the lagoon to the interior, where the revered palo santo trees grow. When burned, the branches of this tree give off a pleasing aroma and ward off mosquitoes. Back on the beach among low-lying bushes nest the prehistoric-looking pelicans. This is the best area for close viewing of these nesting birds, and it's a rare treat to watch parent pelicans return with gullets full of fish for the squawking youngsters.

Daphne Galapagos Islands
Visit to Daphne Island, located between the islands of Santa Cruz and Baltra. Here we will see much birdlife including a number of finch species, masked boobies, Galapagos Martins and frigate birds.

Espanola Galapagos Islands
Sail to Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. This is the southernmost island in the Galapagos archipelago, and home to several wildlife species, including masked and blue-footed boobies. Optional hike to the top of a cliff for spectacular views and photos.
Punta Suarez on the western side of Espanola Island (also called Hood) is spectacular: gargantuan waves break on jagged cliffs and large bird colonies thickly populate the interior of the island; there is a distinct feel of desolate wilderness here. The Waved Albatross is seen here from April to December during its mating/nesting season. This bird leaves land between January and March each year to make its annual odyssey far out to sea. Amazingly, Espanola is the nesting site to virtually the entire world population of this species, with more than 12000 pairs residing here. Large numbers of Masked and Blue-footed Boobies are also found here, Red-billed Tropic Birds dash madly through the air, and both Marine Iguanas and sea lions are common. A huge blowhole, where the surf is forced through a natural rock formation spouting seawater 15 to 20 m (49 to 66 ft) into the air, adds to the island impression of untamed beauty.
Follow the trail through a rookery and learn the geological history of the island from our naturalist, including its dramatic volcanic features, climate, flora and fauna. Sail in the afternoon to Garner Bay, an excellent swimming and snorkeling site.

Fernandina Galapagos Islands
Morning landing at Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, the youngest in the Galapagos Islands. Witness the largest colony of marine iguanas and a variety of bird life before continuing to Bahia Urbina back on Isabela Island to observe the giant land iguanas, bird life and with some luck some Galapagos tortoises in the wild.
Fernandina Island is the youngest in the Galapagos Islands (approximately 700,000 years old) and is also one of the most volcanically active. A fascinating mix of mangroves, rocky shores, black sand beaches, and wildlife that have had relatively little human contact, Fernandina boasts some of the most diverse marine, wildlife and vegetation in the Galapagos.
The Island has erupted several times in the last 30 years, which has resulted in dramatic changes to the geographical landscape, even shifting the lake in the caldera from one side of the crater to the other.

Floreana Galapagos Islands
Reach Floreana Island in the morning. The history of Floreana Island (also called Charles) has gradually evolved to reach near mythic proportions. The story begins when a baroness and her two lovers, a German doctor and his mistress, and a German couple and their young son all came to settle on this land. Their dalliances and disasters, shrouded in mystery, were chronicled in John Treherne’s book The Galapagos Affair. Descendants of the German family, the Wittmers, still live on the island in the small community of Puerto Velasco Ibarra. Mrs. Margaret Wittmer has also written a booked entitled "Floreana" and this can be purchased at the airport in Baltra or at a local bookstore.
In the morning we land at Punta Cormorant, on the northern part of Floreana. The landing is on a beach of green sand, colored by olivine crystals, volcanic-derived silicates of magnesium and iron. The trail leads to a lake normally inhabited by flamingos and other shore birds and continues to a beach of fine white sand particles known as “Flour Beach”, an important nesting site for turtles. Around the point, Devil's Crown derives its name from the broken remains of a partially submerged volcanic cone. This is a perfect spot to go snorkeling from the boat, as the waters are home to a multitude of colourful fish and sea lions. Please make sure you are a comfortable swimmer, however, as despite the protection from the open sea provided by the "crown," the water here can be rough and the currents strong.
Post Office Bay has an older and less mysterious history. A barrel was placed here in the late 18th century by English whaling vessels to be used as a post office. Passing ships would stop to leave mail for loved ones, collecting at the same time any mail destined for ports on their itineraries. Today the box is used mainly by tourists, who may drop off and pick up unstamped letters to be carried to far destinations. The remains of a Norwegian canning factory are the only evidence of the Island’s history prior to its designation as a protected area. A short hike up past the post barrel takes you to an interesting lava cave. With the aid of a flashlight, you can descend about 80 m (262 ft) to the point where the sea enters the cave.

Genovesa Galapagos Islands
Land at Genovesa Island, an old imploded volcano, to observe the massive colonies of Frigate Birds, Boobies and other seabirds as well as striking volcanic cliffs rising from the ocean.
Well to the north of the main Galapagos Island group, Genovesa Island itself is the shape of a horseshoe given it's volcanic history. The first landing is at a place called "El Barranco," otherwise known as Prince Phillip's Steps, on the southern tip of the island. This site is a major breeding ground for red footed boobies and masked boobies can also be seen. Other birds like various species of finches can be seen as well as the Galapagos Mockingbird.
In the afternoon there will be an excursion to Darwin Bay for some fantastic snorkelling opportunities within the a partially eroded crater on the south side of the island.

Isabela Galapagos Islands
After a snorkelling excursion in the morning to Las Tintoreras, we will visit the historic The Wall of Tears, on Isabela Island. From 1946 to 1959 Isabela was designated a penal colony by the Ecuadorian government for prisoners who were obligated to build a wall with enormous blocks of lava. Due to the arduous labor and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as El Muro de las Lagrimas.
In the afternoon we will take a tour to the highlands of Isabela to witness the striking volcanic landscape and diverse vegetation.
Distinctively shaped like a sea horse, Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos archipelago at around 4590 sq km. that is lined with a chain of active volcanos, with the highest peak (Wolf Volcano) standing at 1700m. Not many tourists visit this Island, even though it has the largest colony of Galapagos tortoises and the beach is beautifully set with coconut palms and a good selection of small seafood restaurants in it's only main town, called Puerto Villamil.
Isabela is relatively young island (approximately 1 million years old), and boasts fascinating geological evidence of the island's volcanic past that left it as we see it today. There is also fantastic flora and fauna, particularly on some of the island's volcanoes, which support completely different ecological zones than other islands in the archipelago. Many wild tortoises roam the highlands of Isabela, more so than any other island, and the rich waters surrounding the island provide plenty of nutrients for vast marine life, which allows for fantastic snorkelling opportunities.

North Seymour and Mosquera Galapagos Islands
Set sail for North Seymour, just north of Baltra, home to sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies. Seymour Island is probably the most exciting island photographically. Bird life abounds, and close to the trail you will find many nesting pairs and young chicks. Seymour is also home to the Galapagos’s largest colony of Magnificent Frigate Birds. Their mating ritual is an ostentatious display: males expand the red sack at the base of their throat and perch atop a bush with wings fully extended, flapping furiously. Interested females circle overhead, and if so inclined, may join the male on terra firma. Further along the trail we can observe a colony of sea lions.
Afternoon excursion to Mosquera Island to stroll on the beach and see the vast sea lion colonies.

Santiago and Cerro Dragon Galapagos Islands
Visit Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island in the morning to witness the striking and fascinating giant lava formations. Very few plans have managed to survive on this island due to the harsh environment and relatively new lava floe. Enjoy a walk along the lava formations before coming to a white coral sand beach, where plentiful sally lightfoot crabs and sea lions can be seen.
Visit Cerro Dragon in the afternoon on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island, to see land iguanas and a salt water lagoon frequented by flamingoes and other species of birds.

San Cristobal Galapagos Islands
Morning landing at Isla Lobos on San Cristobal Island to see the sea lions and have a snorkelling excursion before visiting dramatic Kicker Rock. Continue to Cerro Brujo in the afternoon to observe the sea lions, marine iguanas and seabirds along the beach.
San Cristobal is the easternmost island of the Galapagos and also one of the oldest. Its principal town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos. On San Cristobal we will visit the interpretation center,and we will have the chance to visit Ochoa beach for some fantastic swimming and snorkeling possibilities. A short distance away and visible from shore is an island called Leon Dormido, or "Kicker Rock," which resembles a sleeping lion. It is quite striking and if conditions are right we may be able to sail through a narrow channel which splits Kicker Rock in half. We will then have the opportunity to visit the highlands of San Cristobal, to see such things as impressive volcanic rock formations, various species of birds, and possibly even some giant land tortoises in the wild if you are lucky!

South Plaza and Santa Fe Galapagos Islands
Set sail and reach South Plaza Island in the morning. One of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, South Plaza has one of the largest populations of Land Iguanas. Walk along a path through a cactus forest and view a combination of dry and coastal vegetation.
In the afternoon, we explore Santa Fe Island, a fairly small and dry island. Also called Barrington, Santa Fe Island is well-known as a great place for watching (and swimming with) sea lions. Along the island's northern shore you can view the forest of giant Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia). Santa Fe is also home to a number of endemic species which have bounced back from various threats to their survival. You may get a chance to see the Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, a variety of finches and the Galapagos mockingbird.

Galapagos wildlife - native Galapagos animals

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