An exploration of the some of the Galapagos’ smaller northern islands, with plenty of opportunities to view exceptional wildlife on hikes or panga rides.
This memorable journey begins with a visit to the glorious white beach of Las Bachas on Santa Cruz Island, where you can see stilts and flamingos feeding in the lagoons. Buccaneer Cove on Santiago Island will delight you with its large number of marine birds and sealions. Your trip continues with a visit to the red-sand beach of Rábida Island, with some lovely walking trails along the cliffs, followed by some swimming or snorkelling on Bartolomé. From there you will sail north to the sunken crater that is Genovesa, a wild place home to thousands of marine birds, before ending your voyage with the giant tortoises of San Cristobal.
A typical Northern Islands itinerary is shown below, on board Santa Cruz II, however we offer a variety of other voyages, durations and vessels.
Arrive at Baltra and transfer to vessel
After settling in to your cabin, you’ll make a landing at Las Bachas on Santa Cruz, a glorious white sandy beach with a couple of brackish lagoon only a few steps from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos.
After breakfast explore the coastline of Santiago along the impressive cliffs of Buccaneer Cove and learn about its distant and recent history. The cove is home to a large number of marine birds, sealions, and inter-tidal organisms. This is also a great site for snorkelling or a panga ride.
You’ll then move on to Puerto Egas to swim or snorkel along the rocky shoreline, usually in the company of green turtles. From here, you’ll head off to a walk, offering a great opportunity to see land and marine birds amidst a landscape of tuff-stone layers and lava flows. At low tide, marine iguanas graze upon the algae beds and you should also be able to observe a colony of fur sealions.
Rábida and Bartolomé Islands
Today you will either go for a panga ride along the shore, or disembark on Rábida’s red-coloured beach, so named because of the unusually high content of iron in the volcanic material. A walk brings you close to a large colony of sealions, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. Close to the beach, a salt pond hosts migrating greater flamingos at certain times of year. It’s also a great place to snorkel from the beach, due to the unique combination of underwater species and submarine landscapes. Non-snorkelers can enjoy a ride on the glass bottom boat or a panga ride.
In the afternoon, enjoy some more snorkelling and swimming off the golden beaches of Bartolomé Island, before landing on the island for a hike to the summit for great views of the archipelago.
The morning starts with a landing on Genovesa and a steep climb (approximately 25 metres) up the Prince Philip Steps to reach a flat rocky plateau – during the walk you can observe large colonies of Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, great frigatebirds and storm petrels.
In the afternoon, you will land at Darwin Bay, a beautiful beach, for some swimming and/or snorkelling. Then it’s an easy stroll to observe hundreds of birds, including frigatebirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies, gulls, herons, finches and mockingbirds.
San Cristóbal Island, disembark and transfer to the airport
After breakfast there is an option to see the giant tortoise breeding programme at Cerro Colorado on San Cristóbal, before disembarking and transferring to the airport for a flight back to the mainland.
You should note: Exact itinerary and duration will depend on your chosen vessel, departure date and local conditions.