Your Galapagos cruise begins on Baltra, a small island that is home to the archipelago’s main airport. Baltra was used as a U.S. military base in WWII and is now a base for Ecuador’s armed forces.
Visitors may take comfort when arriving at the airport, seemingly out of place in so precious and fragile an environment, that it is the first ecological airport in the world designed to reduce impact through energy saving programs, rain water recovery systems and extensive recycling.
There is no real chance to see the island as upon arrival you will normally be met by an English-speaking guide who will whisk you to the nearby port where the boat will be waiting to start your Galapagos cruise. Some cruises start from San Cristóbal and there a variety of options available for land based tours.
Santiago (San Salvador)
San Salvador has suffered from the introduction of non-endemic species such as pigs, goats, donkeys and black rats and these now feral populations have had a serious impact on the natural, endemic flora and fauna. Eradication programs that began in the 1970’s have had some success – particularly with goats and pigs, but this was too late for land iguanas, which are no longer found on the island.
Arriving by Galapagos cruise or by land tour, you will want to see the most popular visitor destinations on San Salvador which are the old pirate bases of Buccaneer Cove and Puerto Egas: interesting for its black sand beach and the picturesque lava tubes that Galapagos sea lions and fur seals squabble over in the search for the perfect basking spot.
Bahía Sullivan sits on the edge of a large, rather desolate yet fascinating lava flow. Intricate patterns have formed in the pahoehoe lava, and the moulds of trees vaporised by the heat can be seen in the flow, some of which was formed as recently as 1900.
Playa Espumilla, by contrast, is a stretch of golden sand that is frequented by
nesting green sea
turtles, waders and many Galapagos sea lions. Snorkelling is good in the clear
around the collapsed lava tubes at Puerto Egas, with a wide variety of tropical
fish to be seen
together with moray eels, shark and octopus.
- Galapagos fur seals and sea lions
- Large marine iguanas
- American oystercatchers
- Lava herons
- Galapagos penguins
- Darwin’s finches
- Galapagos hawks
- Galapagos lava lizards
- Nesting green sea turtles
- Sally lightfoot crabs