A- Day Tours
All day tours include bus transfer, boat tour, English speaking naturalist guide, visits, lunch.
This small island located just off Sullivan Bay east of Santiago. Bartolome, a desolate island with few plants is the most visited and most photographed island in the Galapagos. The island consists of an extinct volcano and a variety of red, orange, green, and glistening black volcanic formations.
The best known of the island’s features is the tuff cone known as Pinnacle Rock. This large black partially eroded lava formation was created when magma expelled from the volcano reached the sea. When the seawaters cooled the hot lava it caused an explosion. The exploded particles eventually fasten together forming a rock composed of thin layers.
Bartolome’s Pinnacle Rock has become one of the best-recognized and most photographed sights in the islands. A prominent sight it was used as a target for US airmen during WWII. Lying beside the Pinnacle Rock are twin half moon shaped beaches.
The northern beach is a popular snorkeling site where visitors have the opportunity to swim with sea lyons fish and Galapagos penguins. Much larger animals can be found near the southern beach including stingrays, spotted eagle rays, white-tipped sharks, and black-tipped sharks.
Little vegetation grows in this barren place. Mangroves border the beach and the small shrub tiguilia grows in the volcanic sands. The seeds and tiny white flowers of the chamaesycae provide food for the island’s finch. These plants are common to arid regions and are able to survive in these harsh volcanic conditions.
Seasonally Bartolome is the mating and nesting site for the green sea turtles. Very little was once known of these enchanting creatures of the sea, they lived secretive lives only surfacing to breathe. In recent years, sea turtles have been the subjects of a variety of international studies.
The Galapagos Green Sea Turtle frequents the Galapagos Islands mating in the waters and laying eggs in the sands of the beaches. Green sea turtles do not mate for life or form bonds with their mates. Both the males and females of the species have many partners each season. Peak mating occurs between November and January.
Females come ashore at night during high tide to lay more than 80 eggs at a time. The female may lay eggs 8 times per season. The female comes ashore and digs a pit with her flippers near the high water mark. After laying the eggs she covers them with sand before returning to the sea. The process takes 3 to 4 hours.
The temperature of the incubation determines the sex of the young turtles. Eggs incubated at 82 F will be males and those incubated at 90 F will become females. The eggs hatch in approximately 2 months. Very few of the hatchlings survive their first year of life. Eggs are vulnerable to pigs and goats, as well as the natural predator the trox suberosus beetle. Sea birds prey on the young turtles making their way from their nests to the sea. Once in the water orcas, sharks and crabs feed on the turtles. With the high mortality rate and disappearing nesting grounds around the world green sea turtles are now an endangered species and the Galapagos breeding grounds is an important area for the preservation of these creatures.
South Plaza is a small island off the east coast of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands. It has an area of 0.13 km˛ and a maximum altitude of 23 meters.
The island south plaza was formed by lava up streaming from the bottom of the ocean. Despite its small size it is home to a large number of species and it is famous for its extraordinary flora. That is why this island is very popular with visitors. On the steep banks it is possible to see a great number of birds such as nesting Red-billed Tropicbirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls, but most of all, enjoying the beautiful view from atop the steep banks or strolling along the base of the cliff is an extremely pleasurable experience. Very attractive are the beautiful prickly pear cactus trees and of course the large colony of Galapagos Land Iguanas. Depending on the season, the Sesuvium ground vegetation changes its color from intense green in the rainy season to orange in dry season.
Seymour is an uplifted (as opposed to volcanic) island and so is generally flat and strewn with boulders. There are good nesting sites here for a large population of magnificent frigate birds. It hosts one of the largest populations of frigate birds, with their magnificent red pouches. Blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance in the more open area, and swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges. Despite the tremendous surf that can pound the outer shore, sea lions haul out onto the beach and can be found together with marine iguanas. Watch the beach for body-surfing sea lions.
Its name was given after an English nobleman called Lord Hugh Seymour. It has an area of 1.9 km² and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This islet is located just north of Baltra.
Santa Fe Island (Barrington)
Santa Fe (Barrington), has an area of 24 km² and a maximum altitude of 259 meters. It is located in the southeastern portion of the archipelago, between the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal. Santa Fe is a volcanic uplift.
Santa Fe hosts a forest of Opuntia cacti, which are the largest of the archipelago, and Palo Santo. Weathered cliffs provide a haven for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropic birds, sehar-waters petrels.
Santa Fe species of Land iguanas are often seen, as well as lava lizards. There is a picturesque turquoise lagoon and calm waters where snorkeling can be done along sea lions.
The trail on this Island features the opportunity to see a species of land iguana endemic to Santa Fe. This species has a beautiful yellow color and can grow to be five feet long.
It is one of the most picturesque anchorages within the archipelago. Its beauty is best appreciated from the trail which climbs the fault cliff overlooking the southern half of the bay. This plateau is also the best place to find the large land iguanas that are endemic to this island. Often they can be seen beneath the imposing Opuntia cacti that are also particular to Santa Fe. The two beaches are the sleeping grounds for sea lions, and snorkeling near the small islet by the entrance of the bay can also be rewarding.
B – Day Excursions to inhabited Islands
The island has a total area of approximately 67 square miles, and its highest point, at 2100 feet, is a now-extinct volcano. Floreana has been inhabited the longest of any of the Galapagos islands, having been used as a water and food source by whalers and pirates as far back as the 1600’s. The human history of the islands includes caves and shelters used by early buccaneers, as well as the first official settler of the Galapagos, an Irishman named Patrick Watkins who was stranded in 1803 and then settled to sell supplies to whalers. Later residents included convicts, pirates and colonists, and as recently as the 1930’s there have been intrigues involving love, hate, and even mysterious deaths, as chronicled in the book A Galapagos Affair.
In recent years tours visits to the Floreana Highlands and the black beach have become a new destination.
Floreana Highlands and Black Beach Visit Information
The visit to the Floreana Highlands begins with a bus ride to the upper elevations of the islands followed by a 1 hour walk passed a giant tortoise coral, natural springs,pirates caves, Scalesia forest and farm land.After lunch in the town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra on the northwest side of the island visitors will have lunch and afterwards they can snorkel at the black beach with sea lyons.
1-LAND VISITOR SITES
Wetlands are places with water; this can be pools or lagoons, streams, mangrove swamps, islets and during low tide includes marine waters less than 6 meters in depth. The wetlands route is a 5km series of trails that you can explore on foot or by car choosing between the various pedestrian visitor sites. Each visitor site is clearly marked with signposts that indicate its name and distance.
When walking the trails you will see wooden posts with numbered markers. Each numbered marker represents an interpretive station. Find the corresponding number in the guide: ‘Walking through the wetlands of Isabela’ that you will find in Puerto Villamil.
Poza de Los Diablos
The Poza de los Diablos located next to the road that leads from Puerto Villamil to the Wall of Tears is the largest lagoon in Galapagos, and is also one of the main reproduction sites for flamingos. Here it is common to see these svelte birds next to the many mangroves found in the wetlands.
Wall of Tears
The Wall of Tears is a historic site in Isabela. Between 1946 and 1959 Isabela was a penal colony, where prisoners were made build a wall with huge blocks of lava as punishment. The wall is 100 metres long and 7 metres high. Due to the arduous labour and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as the wall of tears.
A set of stairs provides a bird’s eye view of the wall and the surrounding landscape. You can still see the cement foundations of the USA base dating back to the Second World War.
Concha de Perla
This is the perfect spot for those who love swimming or snorkelling! Concha de Perla is a shallow, calm bay with crystal clear water that allows you to enjoy the fascinating marine life of Galapagos. If you are lucky you will be able to swim with sea lions and penguins.
A short distance from Puerto Villamil is the small island known as ‘Las Tintoreras’. Here a colony of white tip sharks can often be seen resting in a lava canal. You can snorkel or swim in the unique habitat of these animals.
Nearby hundreds of marine iguanas can be observed, as ‘Las Tintoreras’ is one of their main breeding sites. On the nearby sandy beaches, sea lions play and relax in the sun. This is one of Isabela’s most beautiful visitor sites.
Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre
A 1.2km trail passes from Puerto Villamil to the Breeding Centre through various ecosystems. Along the trail you will see many different types of plants and animals in the lagoon and mangrove, dry forest and lava ecosystems that are found only on Galapagos.
In the Breeding Centre you will be able to observe tortoises of all ages and sizes. You will also learn about the reproduction and rearing of giant tortoises and see all the work that is being carried out to help recover the wild populations of these species. There is also a visitor’s centre and a gift shop where local handmade products are sold.
La Playa Grande
Right in front of Puerto Villamil you will find one of the most spectacular white sand beaches found in the Galapagos Islands. The majority of this beach is located within the National Park so it is totally unspoiled. Populations of ghost crabs and sea birds abound on this stretch of beach. This is an ideal spot for swimming, walking and surfing.
The Volcanoes : Sierra Negra
It is located 13 miles from Puerto Villamil and boasts the world’s second largest volcanic crater, measuring 6 miles in diameter and 300 metres deep. This volcano has three visitor sites:
This is one option for taking in the landscapes of the Sierra Negra crater without walking a great deal. This site is located approximately 2 miles from the resting point ‘Paradero Sierra Negra’. On clear days you will have a panoramic view of this spectacular crater.
Located in the north-eastern part of Sierra Negra. Upon arriving at ‘Paradero Sierra Negra’ you can rent a horse or go on foot to ‘El Jaboncillo’. From there you will descend a short trail that is designated solely for pedestrian use.
Once you arrive at Volcán Chico,you will see various formations of petrified lava of many different colours and textures. You will also find fumaroles scattered throughout this area. On a clear day you will be greeted by a majestic view of the Perry Isthmus and other surrounding islands.
If you would like to camp near the volcano, you have to request permission from the Galapagos National Park office in Puerto Villamil and contract the services of a local guide.
Volcán de Azufre
this site is located in the western part of the Sierra Negra crater. From ‘Paradero Sierra Negra’ you can rent a horse to take you the 6 miles to the Volcán de Azufre. After arriving by horse to the edge of the crater, you will be able to descend on foot to the fumaroles that are located on the back side of the crater a local guide.
2- MARINE VISITOR SITES
Located approximately 30 minutes from Puerto Villamil, you find the small island of Tortuga. This is an old volcanic crater. This island is one of the main nesting sites for Galapagos sea birds. From your boat you will be able to observe an infinite number of frigate birds, boobies, gulls and the tropic bird among others. You should not try to disembark as it is quite dangerous and may interrupt the breeding pattern of these impressive birds. Tortuga is an excellent dive site. In order to visit this site you must contract the services of a local guide.
Islotes Cuatro Hermanos
Cuatro hermanos is located 50 minutes by boat from Puerto Villamil. These four small islands are a very important sanctuary for the reproduction of hundreds of marine birds. This area is an excellent place for scuba diving. Do no try to disembark as tidal conditions are dangerous. In order to visit this site you must contract the services of a local guide.
Los Tuneles are located approx. 60 minutes by boat from Puerto Villamil. This site is one of the most spectacular places for snorkelling in Isabela as the water is shallow, clear and calm. This marine sanctuary is characterized by its unique geologic formations.
A series of lava flows have produced a number of arches and tunnels both under and above water, where you find a number of animal species that have taken up residence in these magnificent formations. The entry into this site is shallow and the waves can be quite strong, for this reason it is not always feasible to enter this site. The best season to visit is between the months of January and May.
To get to this site you will need to hire a speedboat from town and contract the services of a local guide.