Name your adventure! You’ve travelled thousands of miles, and likely crossed the equator for the first time. It’s time to address the sensory overload that comes with arriving into the Galapagos. This is a bucket list adventure, so it’s time to start filling up the bucket with some unique and memorable adventures!
The good news is that you do not need to be a on a liveaboard to see all the Flora and Fauna in the Galapaogs. San Cristobal has it all! Blue Footed and Red Footed Boobies, Tropic Bird, Tortoises, Iguanas, Sea Lions (lots of sea lions!), and more. Including the only Island that provides tours to Espanola Island where you see and photograph the Albatross bird. Tours include
Tour the Interpretation Center where you will learn about the Galapagos Island amazing ecosystem including why the archipelago has such a special fauna, how the islands were formed, and how people came to live in Galapagos. Hike up nearby Frigate Bird Hill, with its massive bronze statue of Charles Darwin overlooking his namesake bay. From here you can observe and photograph the frigate birds from above with the backdrop views of Charles Darwin Bay. Then hike to Loberia Beach where you can spot sea lions resting on the beach and marine iguanas camouflaged with the lava rocks. Throughout the hike, you can spot blue footed boobies, frigate birds, swallowtail gulls and shearwaters petrels. For those interested in snorkeling the hotel can have mask and fins ready for you as you cool off in the clear waters spotting sea turtles, sea lions, and starfish. Loberia is known as a top surf destination so when the swells start rolling in, it is a perfect venue for capturing images of locals catching some waves.
Explore the highlands of San Cristobal first visiting the Junco lagoon, an extinct volcano that sealed naturally and collects rain water in its crater basin. This fresh water lake is a natural bird bath for frigate birds, who use to pool to clean off their wings from the salt that they collect while out at sea. And curiously, it is also home to the Bahamas ducks. After Junco Lagoon, you will visit the National Park’s Galapaguera (tortoise breeding center) where park naturalists breed endemic tortoises to release them back into the wild at Punta Pitt, helping to expand the San Cristobal tortoise population. Next you will visit Puerto Chino one of the nicest beaches in San Cristobal with its white sand and crystal clear water. Puerto Chino is an ideal place to frolic with sea lions, sea turtles, and the occasional schools of juvenile bonito that show up. The surrounding rock cliffs are home to colonies of Blue Footed Boobies.
Backtracking up into the highlands towards Junco Lagoon, lunch will be served at one of the islands newest and most scenic restaurants, Otoy, set on the grounds of its sprawling organic farm. Here, every imaginable fruit and vegetable is grown, giving true meaning to a “farm to fork” experience, enjoyed dining al-fresco overlooking the farmland and Pacific Ocean beyond. Otoy also offers showers for those looking to change out of their shorties and swimsuits, and for a quick siesta, plenty of hammocks to slumber in. For others, Otoy has a hiking trail that meanders through its farm and bamboo jungle, with its colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Grab your GoPro or underwater camera, it is time to explore the underwater world of the Galapagos. Lobos Island (Isla Lobos) is an Island that is inhabited by a large colony of sea lions. On this outing, you’ll hike and snorkel around the island, spotting blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and frigate birds. Often you can see the marine iguanas eating, as well as rays and sea turtles on the sandy bottom. After Isla Lobos we will return to town for lunch and the afternoon you will have free to explore San Cristobal.
Kicker Rock and Leon Dormido, taken together, are a truly spectacular Galapagos landmark; two volcanic rock uplifts towering some 450 feet above the sea. When viewed from the south, the formation looks like a sleeping lion, hence the Spanish name, Leon Dormido. The 19-meter-deep channel that separate the two towers makes for one of the best snorkel sites of the Galapagos. You have a good chance of spotting the native Galapagos Shark, hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, eagle rays, sea turtles and many species of fish. You will snorkel two areas of Kicker Rock and snorkel gear will be provided. With the late afternoon sun during the return to town, the colors and shadows of Kicker Rock and Leon Dormido offer endless photo opportunities.
At the northernmost end of San Cristobal, far beyond the end of the island’s limited road system you will find Punta Pitt, home to all three types of boobies: red, blue, and nazca. It is also the nesting and breeding grounds of the Galapagos tortoise native to San Cristobal. Only accessible by boat, we’ll journey here riding alongside the shoreline. On arrival, we’ll beach the boat and set off on a hike around Cerro Brujo, the natural Galapaguera. We will provide mask and fins in case you would like to snorkel around nearby Pitt Island, teeming with marine life that in turn draws schools of tuna and wahoo.
Española is on the southernmost and is one of the oldest Islands in the archipelago. Because of its geography, Española has a very dry climate, and despite this, the island is the only known nesting site for the majestic Waved Albatross (Galapagos Albatross) from April to December. From the cliff top of Espanola, at the so called “Albatros Airport”, the Albatross line up single file, march to the edge, spread their wings and take flight. It’s a truly remarkable scene. Blue-Footed and Nazca Boobies mingle with the Albatross, sharing the island with numerous other bird species. You will also find many marine iguanas around Española. For the snorkel portion of the tour you will visit Gardner Bay where you will see many marine species endemic to the Galapagos. Whales are also known to visit these waters while on your voyage to and from Española. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on the boat.