When booking your trip to Galapagos Islands, in Ecuador, the most important thing you must think of is what do you want to see and experience. Not all Galapagos Islands offer the same flora, the same fauna or even the same activities!
A traditional itinerary involving the northern part of Galapagos will include a visit to Santa Cruz, Bartolome, Santiago, Ganovesa and Santa Fe. Check out what you will encounter on each one of the islands:
Santa Cruz Island
The most developed and one of the largest islands, almost every visitor will be heading to Santa Cruz after landing in Baltra airport to take their cruise from Puerto Ayora harbour. However, we encourage travellers to spend a bit of time in this island as it is full of worthy places to explore: from easily accessible beaches and remote highlands in the interior to adventurous activities far from the tourist trail. Northeast from Puerto Ayora is the iconic Charles Darwin Research Station where more than 200 scientist and volunteers research and conserve Galapagos Islands natural habitat, including the breeding centre for giant tortoises.
Here, the iconic wildlife includes Darwin’s finches, giant tortoises, Galapagos mockingbirds, vermillion flycatchers, herons, egrets, ducks, stilts.
What makes Santa Cruz unique are giant tortoises in the wild and giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station (young & adult), vegetation of the highlands including the giant daisy tree of the Scalesia genus, a variety of nature-active options and sport activities (hiking, scuba diving, mountain biking, kayaking, etc.).
The smallest island in the centre of the archipelago but the diversity and richness of this small island is impressive, due to the Upwelling Phenomenon, where cold water surrounds the shore providing food for all the marine wildlife, plus is inhabited by people so animals here are free from human presence other than for the visitors that admire them on their day trips.
The most iconic landscape site is the Pinnacle Rock, formed by an eroded toba cone. On its base, a colony of penguins, sea lions and marine birds cohabit. Travellers can see the juvenile sharks swim along the shoreline and hawks flying high in the sky.
Some of the wildlife on this island include penguins, sharks, herons, hawks, rays, finches. Plants: Pioneer plants, Tiquilia, Chamaesyce, Scalesia Stewartii, mangroves and dune vegetation.
This Island has the biggest and longest lava flow, which is in Sullivan Bay. Geologically speaking, this island is one of the most beautiful and unbelievable formations! The vast basaltic landscape performs smooth and unbroken surfaces with undulations and nods formed by the fluid lava that created the sculpture. It is located on the central west of the archipelago and is formed by two overlapping volcanoes. It is the 4th biggest of the archipelago.
Santiago is an unpopulated island; travellers will be able to spot Galapagos fur seals, Galapagos sea lions, hawks, Darwin finches, mockingbirds and marine iguanas.
Known as the Bird Island, is like its nickname the place to be for birdwatchers. Here, travellers will find the most representative bird of the Galapagos Islands such as Puffball–chicks, white both yellow–crowned and lava herons, red-footed boobies contrasting with the Nazca booby and the Sawllow–tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world that will be nesting at the cliff’s edge. The island also features interesting vegetation including the spineless prickly pear cactus, the genus Opuntia and “Palo Santo” forest.
Santa Fe Island
Located on the south-east of the archipelago this is the oldest island of all with about 4.5 million years old! Due to is geological nature and age; most of the animals on this island are endemic to this only location. Here the Marine Iguana of Santa Fe can be found as well as the Santa Fe Mockingbird and the Santa Fe lizard. Other wildlife visitors can observe include frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, marine iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, herons, hawks, sharks, rays.
Apart from its unique wildlife, it’s one of the most beautiful bays called Barrington, an ideal place for snorkelling.
If the northern Islands of the Galapagos are not what you are after, keep tuned to learn about the rest of these incredible islands!