Galapagos Alta Day By Day Itinerary
Sample cruise itinerary
Sunday Morning: Arrive at Baltra, Galapagos
The flight from Quito (via Guayaquil) to the Galapagos is approximately 2 ½ hours on a Boeing 727. Upon arrival at Baltra travelers pass through an airport inspection point to insure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands and to pay the park entrance fee of $100 (unless prepaid). Guides will meet you, collect your luggage and escort you on the short bus ride to the harbor. Motorized rafts, called ‘Pangas’ will transport you to the M/S Alta and our crew will welcome you onboard. After departure and lunch, the first island visit is made.
Sunday Afternoon: Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island—Black Turtle Cove and/or Las Bachas Beach
At Black Turtle Cove the panga will take you into a tidal lagoon to see three kinds of mangrove plants, red, white and black. White-tipped sharks, spotted rays, mustard rays and Pacific marine turtles frequent the waters here. (AND/OR) Las Bachas is a white sand beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles, and the name Las Bachas refers to the indentations left in the sand by laying turtles or departing hatchlings. On the shore there are marine iguanas and in the lagoon flamingos are common.
Monday Morning: Tower (Genovesa) Island—Darwin Bay Beach
Tower is a collapsed volcano and ships sail directly into its large breached caldera to anchor at the foot of the steep crater walls. Tower attracts vast numbers of pelagic seabirds that come here to nest and breed: great frigate birds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and storm petrels. A trail leads from a coral beach past tidal lagoons where lava gulls and yellow-crowned night herons are seen, then along the low shrubs populated by frigates and boobies, and eventually to a cliff edge where seabirds soar.
Monday Afternoon: Tower (Genovasa) Island—Prince Philip’s Steps
A second trail called Prince Philip Steps, leads to an open area for masked boobies, frigates, and red-footed boobies. At the end of this trail are thousands of band-rumped storm petrels at the cliff's edge, where they nest in crevices. Short-eared owls can sometimes be seen here, hunting the storm petrels during daylight hours.
Tuesday Morning: Fernandina (Narborough) Island—Punta Espinosa
Fernandina is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galapagos with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools and marine iguanas dot the sand.
Tuesday Afternoon: Isabela (Albemarle) Island—Elizabeth Bay
At Elizabeth Bay enjoy a panga ride through the mangrove area to see the rays, turtles, sea lions, and, circling overhead, Galapagos hawks. A colony of penguins inhabit a rocky islet at the entrance to Elizabeth Bay.
Wednesday Morning: Isabela (Albemarle) Island—Urbina Bay
Urbina Bay is an easy wet landing on a gentle sloping beach. This area is very interesting in that it is a perfect example of the geological activity of the islands. In 1954 over 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the marine reef at the edge of the shore were uplifted by 13 feet (4 meters).
Wednesday Afternoon: Isabela (Albemarle) Island—Tagus Cove
On the towering cliffs of Tagus Cove, 19th and early 20th century ships’ graffiti can be seen. After hiking beyond Darwin Lake, a saltwater lagoon above sea level, you will be rewarded with extraordinary views of Darwin and Wolf volcanoes.
Thursday Morning: Santiago (San Salvador, James) Island—James Bay
This island has several sites to visit at the western end of James Bay. Puerto Egas with its black sand beaches was the site of small salt mining industry in the 1960s and a hike inland to the salt crater is an excellent opportunity to sight land birds such as finches, doves, and hawks. A walk down the rugged shoreline, especially at low tide, will turn up many marine species as iguanas basking on the rocks and sea lions lazing in the tide pools. At the end of the trail there is a series of grottoes or sea caves where fur seals and night herons are found resting on shady ledges. Just north of James Bay is Buccaneer Cove, a particularly scenic area of steep cliffs and dark beaches.
Thursday Afternoon: Bartolome (Bartholomew) Island
Bartolome is a small island that has beautiful white sand beaches, luxuriant green mangroves and a colony of penguins. Activities will include swimming and snorkeling and a climb to the summit of the island for one of the most breathtaking views in all the Galapagos. From the summit you will have the best view of the often-photographed Pinnacle Rock.
Friday: Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island—Puerto Ayora Town
Santa Cruz is the only inhabited island to be visited during this Galapagos cruise. Puerto Ayora, with a population of about 10,000 people is the location of the Charles Darwin Research Station, world famous for its tortoise breeding programs. After touring the Station, journey by bus into the highlands to Los Gemelos the two deep pit craters situated in the Scalesia forest with lots of interesting bird life. Go for a walk through the giant lava tubes, visit the Tortoise Reserve to search for giant tortoises in their natural surroundings. There will be some free time to explore the town of Puerto Ayora on your own.
Saturday Morning: Hood (Española) Island—Punta Suarez
One of the oldest of the islands, Hood is small and flat with no visible volcanic crater or vent. Punta Suarez is one of the most outstanding wildlife areas of the archipelago, with a long list of species found along its cliffs and sand or pebble beaches. In addition to five species of nesting seabirds there are the curious and bold Hood Island mockingbirds, Galapagos doves and Galapagos hawks. Several types of reptiles, including the brilliantly colored marine iguana and the oversized lava lizard, are unique to this island. When heavy swells are running, Punta Suarez is also the site of a spectacular blowhole, with thundering spray shooting 30 yards into the air.
Saturday Morning: Hood (Española) Island—Gardner Bay
Gardner Bay is on the eastern shore and has a magnificent beach. This beach is frequented by a transient colony of sea lions, and is a major nesting site for marine turtles. Around the small islets nearby, snorkelers will find lots of fish and sometimes turtles and sharks. On a trail leading to the western tip of the island you'll pass the only nesting sites in the Galapagos of the waved albatross, huge birds with a 6-foot wingspan. These huge birds nest here from April to December and represent the majority of the world’s population of this species.
Sunday Morning: South Plazas (Plaza Sur) Island
South Plaza is one of the smallest islands visited, 426 feet wide (130 meters) and just over ½ mile (800 meters) long. Here there is a large colony of sea lions, numbering about 1,000 bulls, cows and pups, occupying the smooth rocks. The small cactus forest is populated by land iguanas, which can be seen sunning themselves or feeding on Opuntia pads and fruits. Along the cliff edge nesting swallow-tailed gulls are the predominant seabirds, along with tropicbirds and shearwaters. Generally between the months of January to June, the dormant ground cover undergoes a drastic change; the red Sesuvium turns bright green and the leafless evening-blooming Portulaca bursts into large yellow flowers relished by the iguanas.