The Galapagos Archipelago is one of the places you have to go before starting Golf. True, red tape, taxes and excessive reglementation must be expected, as in many Latin countries. Forget to find a bareboat, and the only way to get around is with an approved tour operator, but most are reliable and decent folks, although lack of competition is never a good thing.
When we went there with our own vessel, we found a loop in the rules and could sail around rather freely, without paying the entrance tax, but we could go rarely go ashore. Be sure that the tour calls at Genovesa, an old crater claimed by the sea (see picture on the left) where you can swim with hammerheads, sunbathe with seals and watch frigate birds feeding the babies. Another must is Bartolome, better known now thanks to 'Master & Commander'. Then visit the craters at Isabela, and try to spend the less possible time at Baltra.
The volcanic archipelago Galápagos counts as a paradise on earth. Its animal world offers a variety of species and a lot of endemic species. A lot of animals do not even fear the people visiting the Islands, which offers excellent opportunities for watching the animals. There is hardly a spot on earth where you can observe and photograph animals in the wild so good and close by. Our round trips lead you to the most beautiful places where you will find the most animals of the exotic Galápagos archipelago.
The archipelago is located app. 1000 km from the west coast of South America directly on the equator. They include 13 islands, which are bigger than 5 square km, 6 smaller islands (1-5 qkm) as well as more as 40 islands. The biggest island is "Isabela" with a surface of 4710 qkm. The island world covers in total a surface of 7882 qkm.
The Galápagos Islands are oceanic islands from volcanic origin. The two youngest Galápagos Islands Fernandina and Isabela are the most active volcanoes; they are situated nearly perfect above the hot spot and its rock-stratum is not older than 700.000 years. The oldest minerals are to be found on Española in the southwest; they are over 3,3 million years old.
At a visit on the Galápagos Islands you strike on a natural area with very special environmental conditions. The unique animal- and plant world are for a large part endemic (only to be found on these islands). Besides this interesting and wonderful landscape you will find the blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, Galápagos turtles, the cormoran which is unable to fly, Galápagos albatros, sea lizards, penguins, as well as the playful sealions and many more animals!
When being on a cruise, wales and dolphins can often be observed. Snorklers and scuba divers report constantly and enthusiastically about their encounters with rays, dolphins, sharks and many other exotic inhabitants of the sea of Galápagos.
Amazing for every visitor is the fearlessness which the animals on the islands kept as they do not have to fear humans here.
Climate: On the Galápagos Islands exist two seasons, which differ from the hot-dry and humid-colder mountain regions. From January to June (in which short heavy rain showers can occur) hot air temperatures rule (ca. 30 degrees Celsius). In the dry season from July to December the temperatures are a bit lower. The water temperatures amount between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius.
The islands were untouched by humans for a long time. The first who discovered them would be the Inca-ruler "Tupac Yupanqui", however no evidence exists for this. The first notes were delivered by the Spaniard Tomas de Berlanga who was a bishop of Panama. He discovered the islands by accident in 1535 during a voyage towards the south.
The Galápagos Islands got the name "enchanted islands" from the Spanish pirate Diego de Rivadeneira. He believed that the islands become invisible from time to time. This idea probably arose because the primitive navigation instruments did not always bring the navigator to the desired position.
The first settlers came in 1793 with the waling fleets to Galápagos. However, a permanent colonization began not until the 50's of the 20th century. In 1832 the Galápagos Islands were added to Ecuadorian territory; the official name is "Archipiélago de Colón", however is not being used.
In 1959 the archipelago was declared a national park and in the 70's tourism started.
The National park Galápagos is an ideal place to explore and experience the unique animal world there. Here you can approach the fearless, but nevertheless not domesticated wild animals very closely. Birdwatching is a very special experience. On the one hand you have the variety of birds and on the other hand the fact that some species are endemic. As the Galápagos islands are founded on volcanic formations you will be able to experience a breath-taking as well as a moon landscape scenery . Since we represent more than 55 different boats including motor yachts, sailing yachts, cruise ships and catamarans varying in category from economic to luxury class and with a choice in many different itineraries we are able to organize for you an optimal tour on the Galápagos islands. As we have such a broad spectrum of boats, we can offer departures every day for 4-, 5- and 8-day cruises. You should not miss an expedition to Galápagos while this is one of the last eco-systems on earth
Bahia Gardner: Located on the northeastern coast of Hood, Gardner Bay provides an excellent beach for relaxing, swimming and an opportunity to observe sea lions. Here we can also observe sharks on the cristaline waters of the ocean
Punta Suarez: This rocky point of land sustains one of the most impressive and varied colonies of sea birds in the Galápagos. Along its southern shore, high cliffs rise up from the sea affording the visitor spectacular views of soaring birds and of the blow whole, where water spouts up to 50-75 feet into the air according to the intensity of the surf.
Post office bay: Historically, this site is the location of a wooden barrel that was placed here in the 18th century by the crew of a whaling ship. It has been used since this time by mariners and tourists as a post office. The idea is to carry letters or postcards to their destination by hand. Apart from being the Post Office Barrel, this site was the landing area for some of the first colonists.
Punta Cormorant (Charles Island): This site probably, offers one of the largest and the best flamingo lagoons on the Galapagos. It is situated between two tuff cones that give the area a special athmosphere. There are various species of shorebirds to be seen besides flamingos, the most frequent are common stilts, white-checked pintail ducks and other migratory birds. This is a unique zone due to the high percentage of endemism of the plant life. Also very interesting are the two distinct beaches: the “green beach” (named for the high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand) and the “Flour sand beach” made up of coral.
Santa Cruz Island:
Charles Darwin Interpretation Center: Although the great majority of Galapagos visitors come here to observe and appreciate natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn how the protection and conservation of the islands are carried out. One of the principal attractions are National Park information center, Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, Lonesome George (tortoise from Pinta), adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.
The Bachas Beaches: These two small beaches are found to the West of Turtle Cove. Their sand is made of decomposed coral, which makes it white, soft, and a favourite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small brackish water lagoon, where occasionally it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer, but it has two old barges that were abandoned there during the Second World War, when the USA used Baltra Island as a strategic point to protect the Panama Channel. (The metal is rusty and sharp, so it is not a good place for swimming).
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island: The trail to the highlands leaves from Bellavista and passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather (unpredictable) this area affords beautiful scenesof rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round.
Tortuga Bay: The path is good for birdwatching, it is easy to spot several species of finches as you walk along the path. The sunsets here are excellent. The west cove offers a nice snorkelling and swimming area and a nice spot for relaxing. The white sand beach is considered by many the nicest of the archipelago. Its name comes from the sea turtles that go there to lay their eggs. Other species can be found, including pelicans, flamingos and marine iguanas.
Bartolome Island: A small barren island, located in Sullivan Bay off James Island, Bartholomew has two visitors’ sites. At one of them it is possible to climb to the summit of the island, from where visitors can observe a variety of volcanic formations, spatter and tuff cones, lava flows and lava tubes. The moon like landscape provides the most scenic panorama of the archipelago. At the other site, the visitor may swim and snorkel from a beautiful beach or walk across the isthmus to another beach that faces south, where swimming is prohibited. Multi –coloured fish and occasionally penguins may be seen at the base of the tall pinnacle rock, which dominates Bartholomew’s landscape.
Plazas Island: These are two small islets that were uplifted a short distance from the East Coast of Santa Cruz. The unusual vegetation and location of the island create an interesting landscape in which the fauna and flora of Galápagos are enhanced. Moreover despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the archipelago occur here. It is possible to guarantee the observation of land iguanas that often are in the shade of a cactus. Nesting on the rugged southern cliffs, are usually swallow–tailed gulls, which can be seen along with various other sea birds. The protected rocky seashore is a prime habitat for a large colony of noisy sea lions. The principal attraction of Plazas is the land iguanas, the sea lions and the swallow – tailed gulls. Also we can see yellow – tailed mullets, Audubon’s shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigate birds, and brown pelicans gliding past the cliff.
Puerto Egas: Wet Landing. James Bay at the western end. Puerto Egas with its black sand beaches was the site of a small salt mining industry in the 1960s. 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. Iguanas bask on the rocks and sea lions laze 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.
The wet landing on the dark sands of Puerto Egas, James Bay leads to one of the more rewarding visits on the Galapagos. First, a trail leads inland to the remains of a salt mining operation, one of several largely unsuccessful attempts to commercialize the Galapagos. Some groups will make the 1 hour round trip to the Sugarloaf Volcano (about 1000 ft elevation). But it is the Fur Seal Grotto that produces the most pleasure for visitors. Here one can get very close views of both fur seals and sea lions in a series of rocky pools. For many, this is the only opportunity to see the Galapagos fur seal, once thought to be on the verge of extinction. In addition to the fur seals, James Bay offers the best opportunity for tide-pooling on the Galapagos.
Sullivan Bay: This visitor site provides a unique opportunity to view a recent lava flow of approximately 100 years old. The East Side of James Island is known to have barren volcanic landscapes, dominated by black pahoehoe (ropy) lava flows of very young age. On the surface of the lava it is possible to observe some trees that were carried down by the flow of the fresh lava. It is also interesting to see how some Mollugo plants are starting to colonize the small lava fissures.