What is the best itinerary in Galapagos? (Second Part)
We continue with the objective of acquainting you with all the information you need to choose which is the best itinerary in Galapagos?, this time we will talk about the Western Islands.
These islands are the remotest of the archipelago, but they highly recommend to visit, if possible. If you want to get in touch with the endemic animals of Galapagos, the western islands are the ideal scenario. Do not miss seeing the flightless cormorants and understanding its evolution to adapt to the islands.
To visit the west side of Isabela and Fernandina Island, you have to take a cruise due to daily trips do not reach these remote spots. If you choose an itinerary that includes these places, it usually means that your stay on Galapagos takes a bit longer. We are sure that you will love it.
Choosing the best itinerary
This island is the largest in the archipelago, but it is not very inhabited. You can reach Puerto Villamil by speedboat departing from Puerto Ayora, by domestic flight from Baltra or San Cristobal or by cruise. Isabela has six volcanoes, one of the most famous is Sierra Negra, to which trips are frequently made to visit its crater. Here are the most popular points to visit in Isabela:
Puerto Villamil is the capital of Isabela; its name was given in memory of the first Ecuadorian hero of independence, José Villamil. Its approximate population is 2,000 residents, most of whom work in tourism and fishing services.
Although time seems to stand still, there are several restaurants and bars where you can learn more about the people of the island. Puerto Villamil has hotels of all categories, however it is a perfect place to separate oneself from the busy world.
Puerto Villamil is the only place on the islands where you can find an ATM, have internet or buy something you need for your trip.
One of the things you cannot miss here, is a walk on the beach. More than three kilometers of white sand and turquoise waves invite you to swim, surf and enjoy the native birds.
It is one of the most popular places in Isabela; they are volcanic rocks that stand out against the turquoise waters of Isabela. On the open sea, just minutes from Puerto Villamil, you will reach this place known as “Tintoreras.” It’s name comes from white tip sharks (known locally as tintoreras), which often visit this area. You can walk among these rock formations and see sharks, sea turtles, marine iguanas and, if you are lucky, you can see penguins swimming close from you. It is impressive to see so many animals living peacefully in these waters, and although you cannot snorkel there, you can take pictures of these animals in their natural habitat.
Tortoise Breeding Center
It is one of the places that attract the most attention of visitors. Just a few meters from Puerto Villamil, this you reach the Breading Center, who is responsible for the rescue and conservation of giant tortoises. Today, a natural environment has been created very similar to their habitat. In this way, they have been able to work more on preserving these species. Often, there are curious visitors such us the Galapagos flamingos, who cool off in the puddles of this place.
This visit point is known for its magnificent vantage point that connects Darwin Lake near the sea. The hiking trail has about 2 kilometers to reach the viewpoint, where you will admire the famous “flightless cormorant. This bird adapted to the Galapagos conditions and its immense wealth, it stopped flying long ago and developed its ability to fish prey in the water. Do not be surprised to swim with this unique bird with blue eyes.
Since this place is located near the Fernandina Island, a channel was formed in between. Snorkeling or diving in these waters is undoubtedly one of the activities you will remember most. You can swim near iguanas, cormorants, penguins, corals, and if you reach the bottom of the water, you will see the magnificent batfish’s red lips.
Many pirates and boats have visited this channel since 1800, so you can see inscriptions and legends that they left during that time.
Punta Moreno is a place of contrasts; the land of lava has left spaces in between for small green ponds, which are surrounded by vegetation and mangroves. Due to these special conditions, many bids come to feed themselves here, so is perfect to catch a great picture. In Punta Moreno waters, you will see green sea turtles and white tip sharks. Once again, prepare your camera to take a close-up of these peacefully swimming animals in the area.
If you are lucky, you will be able to see the beautiful Galapagos flamingos that adorn this environment with contrasts and colors. Wear shoes that are suitable for a rocky walk.
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With its prime location and mangroves growing around the lakes formed in the bay, you can swim close to sea lions penguins, marine iguanas and turtles; this is one of the most exciting places for snorkelers in Galapagos. In addition, you can see around footed blue boobies, masked boobies, and seagulls.
If you take a panga ride, you will be able to appreciate sea turtles swimming near the lagoons formed on the bay. Due to the location the tranquility of its waters, this is an ideal place for some animals nesting.
This bay is located at the foot of the Alcedo and Darwin volcanoes. From the beach, you can take a path that takes you inside the island; here is the ideal place to see the Darwin’s finches. The famous scientist Charles Darwin, who developed the theory of evolution, studied these birds.
This paradise of reptiles will show the most abundant land iguanas of the archipelago, its features, and fantastic color impresses everyone. Get ready for spectacular photos.
Do not miss the snorkel; you will love swimming with turtles, stingrays and hundreds of tropical fish.
Punta Vicente Roca
This visit point is the farthest of Isabela Island. It consists of two large coves that let you feel the splendor of nature. The colors of its walls are formed with lava, adorned by gray lines that reach the sea. There is no better place in the archipelago to understand the geology of the Galapagos Islands. The waters around Punta Vicente Roca, have bright colors that let you feel the perfect frame to take the best pictures.
Punta Vicente Roca lets you observe the famous flightless cormorant, furrier wolf, iguanas, sea turtles and if you are lucky, you will also see one of the most unusual fish in the world, the giant Mola Mola.
Fernandina is one of the largest and newest Galapagos Island, also located on one of the most active volcanoes in the world; its last explosion was in 2009. It is separated from the Isabela Island by a channel called Bolívar.
At Fernandina, it seems that we are back in time, its rocky appearance and large coves hide the real face of the island. Besides, dolphins and humpback whales have frequently reported swimming curiously near the boats when they arrive or leave the island.
Punta Espinoza is the only place allowed to be visited in Fernandina. As mangroves adorn this rocky landscape, this is home to hundreds of animals enjoying these beautiful contrasts. One of the most famous birds here is the Galapagos hawk, who are the biggest depredator of the archipelago.
Here you will see dozens of marine iguanas, often lost in the rocky landscape. You will recognize them when you get closer; they love resting in large colonies.
On one side of the shore are small turquoise lagoons, where you can see swimming thesea turtles.
At the peak of Punta Espinoza, you can see nesting the flightless cormorants. In the morning, they hunt their prey close to the beach, so it is the perfect moment to see them. Here, also you can see sea lions whose colony is reported to be predominantly females.