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BARTOLOME ISLAND

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: ESCALERAS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The top of this hill is about 115 m and the route is performed on a path of 795 meters.

No one knows the exact age of this island, but by its geological composition and general characteristics it is quite young. The few plants found on the island are called pioneers because they are the first to arrive and settle. E.g. Tiquilia nesiotes, Tiquilia fusca and Chamaesyce spp.

East of the summit are spatter cones, consisting of thick lava droplets. These cones are parasites because they did not form from the main vent. To the west lie tuff cones (volcanic ash sediment) and their eroded remnants. The Tower or Pinnacle is part of a tuff cone.

The main attraction is the geological interpretation that can be given to this site.

The geological features and soils here are very delicate. Due to wear caused by use, the GNPS has built stairs to avoid further erosion and better manage visitors. In no way should one be allowed to walk outside of the stairs. .

There are two beaches that are visitor areas and are connected by a path. The beach to the south is beautiful for walks and to observe stingrays and sharks, but swimming is prohibited here. The north beach is one of the best sites for snorkeling; in addition, most of the year it’s mild and is an ideal place for swimming. Sometimes you can see penguins fishing.

A small colony of penguins, Spheniscus mendiculus, breeds in the small bay. Bartolomé is one of the best places to see them. (For more information about penguins see Elizabeth Bay)

SPECIAL INDICATIONS
  • Stay within the paths. The geological features and soils here are very delicate. Due to wear caused by use, the GNPS has built stairs to avoid further erosion and better manage visitors.
  • At the top of the island is a marine lighthouse, do not go up to this site because the top is a volcanic vent whose cover is extremely fragile and could collapse.
  • Do not get too close to penguins when they are resting on the ground because it can alter their natural behavior. It is better to see them and photograph them from the panga. Stay in the beach area.
  • When you are climbing to the summit and there is more than one group, wait a reasonable time to be kept separate from other groups.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: LA PLAYA

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The Bartolomé visitor site, is a flagship site in the Galapagos Islands because of its wonderful beauty.

Possessing masterful landscapes, its main attractions being the beaches, the dunes and Pinnacle Rock. Among the species present, counted are the sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), which choose this place as a nesting site and the Galapagos penguins.

This site has two beaches: North Beach and South Beach. The north beach is the landing site where you can practice swimming and snorkeling. South beach is accessed by a small path along the mangroves and over the great sand dune.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         The two beaches are visiting areas that are connected by a path. The beach to the south is beautiful for walks and to observe stingrays and sharks, but swimming is prohibited here. The north beach is one of the best sites for snorkeling; in addition, most of the year it’s mild and is an ideal place for swimming. Sometimes you can see penguins fishing.

·         Do not get too close to penguins when they are resting on the ground. It is better to see them and photograph them from the panga. It is forbidden to walk on the rocks on both sides of the bay, because you could easily disturb the penguins that were lying hidden in the lava and its vicinity.

·         Do not place clothes on the bushes.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: ISLA DAPHNE MAYOR

PERMITTED USE
  •   Special group* visits and hikes with a naturalist guide
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION Located in Daphne Island off the coast north of Santa Cruz Island. Daphne is a volcanic tuff cone, formed by successive explosions produced by the mixture of lava and water.

On this island, Dr. Peter Grant has made a long-term study of Darwin’s finches, which is why you can see these birds are banded.

The palo santo present herein Bursera malacophyla is endemic to the Daphne Islands, North Seymour and Baltra.

The blue-footed booby nests inside the craters and the masked booby nests on the flanks of the cone and the edge of the craters and the tropical bird that nests in cavities in the cliffs.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Stay within the prescribed path. Due to erosion problems the land is brittle and loose one can slip.

·         It is forbidden to go to the craters or beyond the Stop sign. .

·         The recommended landing is in the “cliff” only when the tide is high. Be careful with the strong surf at the time of landing. .

·          A special permit in writing from the Galapagos National Park is required to visit Daphne.

 

 

ESPAÑOLA ISLAND

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   GARDENER BAY

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Gardener Bay is located on the north coast of Española Island. The visiting area is defined by two beaches the width a total length of 1300 meters.
The main attraction is the colony of sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki), which inhabit the beach in great quantity during the breeding season.The tortoise population of this island was reduced by human depredation. In 1965 only 12 females and 2 males were found and were transferred to the pens of the Galapaguera on Santa Cruz Island. By the year 1976, in collaboration with the San Diego Zoo a third male was brought. After monitoring several adults were found and by 1991 first tortoises born in the wild were placed. Tortoises are concentrated near Manzanillo Bay on the upper part of the island.Here are three species of Darwin’s finches: A subspecies (Geospiza fuliginosa) of the Large Cactus Finch, which is similar to the large ground finch, the Small Ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) and the Wabler Finch (Certhidea Olivacea) which is another endemic subspecies.Both resident and migratory birds are observed. This is an important nesting area for sea turtles (Chelonia mydas).
SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         The beach is an open area. Caution should be exercised not to step on sea turtle nests or take earth inland where there is vegetation.

·         It is prohibited to land on the nearby islets on Gardner Island.

·         Maintain safe distance from the sea lions, especially adult males, they can be aggressive.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:    PUNTA SUAREZ

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Punta Suarez is located west of the Española Island. The trail is about 1670 meters. The approximate travel time is 2 hours.

Española is known as one of the older islands, with an estimated age of 3.3 million years. Basaltic lava rocks cover much of the island.

The albatross (Diomedea irrorata) is endemic to Española Island, but has also been reported in the Isla de la Plata (National Park Machalilla). Albatrosses are present in Española from April to November or December.

Española has a high percentage of endemism because it is isolated from other islands; this is because the species in this island have no gene flow with species from other islands. Marine iguanas have a turquoise color with red in the breeding season. A variety of mockingbird, lava lizards, Darwin’s finches are considered endemic to this island.

The mockingbird of Española is the largest species in the islands and developed carnivorous behavior. They feed on eggs of seabirds, sea lion placenta and newborn tortoises. The lava lizards are the largest of the 7 species endemic to the Galapagos.

In 1970 a program for the eradication of goats began, they were entirely eliminated in 1978. A major attraction is El Soplador (a blowhole) located on a cliff, the water rises 20 to 25 feet, depending on the intensity of the waves.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Do not get too close to the cliffs to avoid falling.

·         Do not leave the trail in the area of nesting marine iguanas. It can alter these fragile ecosystems.

 

FERNANDINA ISLAND

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:       PUNTA ESPINOZA

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Fernandina is the third largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza, located at the northeastern tip of the island.

Punta Espinoza is a narrow ledge of lava and sand that extends from the base of the volcano to the sea. There is a vivid description given by Captain Benjamin Morrell that from its anchorage at Bay Banks witnessed and recorded an eruption of Fernandina in the decade of the 1820s that probably gave rise to the Point. In 1975, there was an uprising, about 90 cm, which is why the pier built for landing can only be used during high tide.

The last recorded eruption occurred in May 2005 that lasted three days. The greatest explosive eruption was in 1968, where two thirds of the caldera floor collapsed inwards to a depth of 300m. Later there have been eruptions in 1972 and 1973 (mild and effusive) in 1977 (the collapse of the caldera), in 1986 (mild activity), and 1988 (collapse of the south-east side), in November 1991 (cloud of ash – eruption), 1995 (spewed along a fissure).

Punta Espinoza is a place famous for its large colonies of marine iguanas and as the habitat of unique species like the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguin, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, among others. It is an ideal place to observe the lava cactus (Brachycerus nesioticus), which grow on young lava and survive with little water.

In the past two land iguanas could be found at this site, but in 1989 they died of starvation. These iguanas came down from the flanks of the volcano, where they are numerous.

In 1825 an American ship, the Tartar, was anchored in Bay Banks and witnessed a very strong eruption at Fernandina. The lava reached the sea and the air temperature rose to 50 ° C and the sea at 40 ° C. After being caught in the bay for a whole night, the ship escaped southward and while they passed through Fernandina the temperature rose to 65 ° C, the tar of calafeteado of the ship began to leak and melt. Two weeks later Fernandina was still active.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS
  • Fernandina is the only island, which has no introduced mammals. Be careful not to introduce organisms or take food of any kind. The area open to visitors is very fragile, stay on the trail at all times.
  • At the nesting season for marine iguanas (January to June) its important that one be careful not to step on their nests (holes in the sand). These reptiles nest in the sand and sometimes cover the entire area.
  •  Stay within 2m of the cormorants and penguins.
  • Land when the tide is high, if the tide is low you can not use the dock, you have to land on the rocks.

 

FLOREANA ISLAND

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:    ASILO DE LA PAZ

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and Educational Tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION The Asilo de la Paz is a hill 450 m high that is behind Straw Hill in the agricultural area of the island.

The main attractions are of an historic type: one is the cave of pirates and the other is the freshwater spring. The two sites are located at the base of the hill.

Both the cave as well as the spring is on private property but the surrounding area belongs to the Park. A Scalesia pedunculata woodland exists, in good condition, Straw Hill is an area where the Galapagos Petrel nests.

You can climb by walking from Puerto Velasco Ibarra, but you have to calculate that it’s 8 km on foot following the municipal road. You can also hire a bus to go up in 45 minutes and then walk about 350 meters until you reach the spring.

Near Asilo de la Paz, the National Park Service built a corral where you can see Galapagos tortoises (from various islands) captivity.

The agricultural area of Floreana is known for its plum orchards, tamarind and especially citrus. These were introduced to the island from that time Ecuador took possession of the archipelago in 1832.

It is possible that the pirate Patrick Watkins, who lived on the island for a period of time in late 1700 introduced citrus.

The spring found in Asilo de la Paz provides water to the entire population of Floreana (100 people approx). There is a pipe that runs from there to Port Hill behind the Straw. The settlers did the work of installing the pipe in the form of a Minga (community volunteers).

The cave of the pirates has its history since it was the home of the first settlers of the island, Patrick Watkins lived there first, then Dr. Ritter and his companion Dora Strauch and then the Wittmer family. The cave was used temporarily by the latter as a den till they built a proper house.

Floreana was the first island to be colonized by Ecuadorians in 1832. Under the assignment of General José de Villamil, Ignacio Hernandez took possession of this island in this archipelago in the name of the brand new Republic of Ecuador. The name “Floreana” pays tribute to Juan José Flores, the first president of Ecuador, under whose government the islands were acquired.

This island was a penal colony, which did not last long due to lack of fresh water. The colony moved to San Cristobal where there is a freshwater lagoon. At present, most people living on Floreana are dedicated to agriculture and livestock.

In recent years there has been an introduction of a wasp, Polistes versicolor versicolor, quite aggressive, whose venom can cause discomfort and can be dangerous for people with allergies. The wasp has spread throughout the archipelago. It is causing serious problems for native animals and its eradication is extremely difficult. At present a search is underway for a biological control that does not harm the endemic carpenter bee, Xylocopa darwinii. Still, nothing has been found.

Many of the studies done on the Galapagos petrel or pata pegada, Pterodroma phaeopygia, have been made in the upper area of this island. At present, the GNP sends two park rangers periodically for rat control and to check for nests. The success of pata pegada hatchings reaches 98%.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS After a dry landing at the public dock, you can climb by walking from Puerto Velasco Ibarra, but you have to calculate that it’s 8 km on foot following the municipal road. You can also hire a bus to go up in 45 minutes and then walk about 350 meters until you reach the spring. In both cases it’s advisable to have good footwear, preferably closed shoes. The walk can be muddy.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:    CERRO ALIERI

PERMITTED USE
  • Interpretive and educational tours    Photography and filming
INFORMATION Cerro Alieri is located east of Port Velasco Ibarra, reaching an altitude of 340m.

To reach the entrance of this visitor site it is required to travel by car for 15 minutes on the main road. Municipal Service is in charge of transportation in Floreana.

The trip to visit the site takes approximately two hours (round trip). The difficulty level is medium to high. The walk can be hot.

One of the interpretive resources Cerro Alieri has is its vegetation. Of 48 species identified, 56% are native and 33% are endemic. They are shrubs and trees Darwiniothamnus tenuifolius, Lippia salicifolia, Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, Linum cratericola, Scalesia pedunculata, and so on. The latter is a tree that blooms in February and whose population is estimated at 15 individuals. Settlers long knew them as “the unknown tree” and were an abundant species 50 years ago. It is believed that its decline was probably due to goats and the fact that they were used in the construction of homes.

The Cratericola Linum plant is a species that is critically endangered; only 40 individuals are found, and have not yet regenerated. It was believed extinct until 1997, when GNP and CDRS personnel rediscovered it.

 

SPECIAL INDICATIONS
  • The precipitation in the area can reach up to 500mm per year, so the road may be muddy and it may rain. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear for this kind of weather.

 

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:  LA LOBERIA

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and recreational tours
  •  Tourist activities defined by GNPS
  •  Photography and filming
INFORMATION The visitors site of Lobería has a path 900 m long that through areas of the GNP. This area is used by locals for recreation. Part of the trail is made up of rocks and other parts, sand.

The main attraction of this site is the presence of Galapagos Sea Lions Zalophus wollebaecki that are on the beach and in the bay of the Lobería. Marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) are also seen along the shores and lots of sea turtles (Chelonia midas agazzisi) in the rocky reefs of the Bay. 

The practice of snorkeling and kayaking are the main ancillary activities that take place here.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS Maintain safe distance with the sea lion population, especially the males, because the might react aggressively if you get too close to their territory. To avoid an accident do not bother them..

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: MIRADOR DE LA BARONESA

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION This vista is located north of Floreana Island, in La Olla Bay. It is a basaltic tuff formation between Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay.

The ascent of the trail is fairly easy, except for the last 33 m where the slope is elevated, however, steps have been implemented in this sector.

During the panga ride you can observe several marine species such as golden eagle rays, sea turtles, sea lions, mullets and eventually Galapagos penguins.

Good place for understanding the mangroves. The red mangrove is characterized by a hanging elongated fruit, which in reality is a new daughter plant that grows from the parent plant, a rarity in the plant kingdom. The red mangrove is a pioneer in the coasts and has a very hard and resistant wood.

Among other plants, we find: Cordia leucophlyctis, Lantana peduncularis, Plumbago scandens, and so on.

This site is especially attractive because aside from its impressive scenic beauty, it has a history. It is known by letters that Baroness Eloisa von Wagner (referring to “The Galapagos Affair” by John Treherne) loved this place, where she spent several hours where she could acquire knowledge of vessels approaching the island. Within walking distance (30 m) are the ruins of what is known as the House of the Baroness.

From the vista, the landscape covers the coastline from the Enderby islet to Post Office Bay, as well as Cerro Pajas, the pool of flamingos (Punta Cormorant), upper areas and an extensive forest of palo santo.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS It is advisable to complement the visit with a panga ride.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   POST OFFICE

PERMITTED USE Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide    Photography and filming    Guided walks    Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Post Office or Post Office Bay is a historic site that recalls the days of the whalers, when they came for supplies of Galapagos tortoises and water. Presumably a whaling boat captain placed a barrel in the eighteenth century for those who pass through the bay to leave mail and deliver those with the same destination. In history the first appearance is on a map of the whaler James Colnett in 1793.
Today, this tradition is alive with tourists visiting the Galapagos. Remind passengers before disembarking to take any letter or postcard for family members or friends. They do not need stamps. All they have to do is pick up a letter that is directed to where they live.At Post Office Bay remains are also found of a Norwegian settlement effort made in the early twentieth century, who installed a fish cannery.Another point of interest is a lava tunnel, which is formed when lava cools on the sides and base, but the core material continues to flow downward. Eventually, the lava, still liquid, leaks and spills outward leaving a hollow cavity.
SPECIAL INDICATIONS
  • The path to the cave (lava tube) is indicated. Take flashlights.
  • Do not use sunscreens with strong fragrances or bright colors, because in this island there are a lot of introduced wasps (Polistes versicolor), which are attracted by both, and their sting is strong.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: PUNTA CORMORANT

PERMITTED USE   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide

Photography and filming

Guided walks

Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels

INFORMATION The visitor site Punta Cormorant is located on the north coast of Floreana Island. The trail has an approximate distance of 720 meters; the same goes for a lagoon, vistas and a fine sand beach.

In the lagoon one can find a large population of flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) and on the beach a nesting area for sea turtles (Chelonia mydas). Also you can see other species of flora and fauna.

At Punta Cormorant there are two plant species endemic to the place: Scalesia vellosa and Lecocarpus pinaffitidus.

The beach landing contains a large amount of olivine crystals, giving it greenish color. These crystals have been expelled from the wind of nearby tuff cones. The glass was formed when the magma was still underground. Its content is of magnesium, iron and silica.

There is a beach composed of polished Hermatypic coral sand, the reason for its smooth texture. These types of areas are ideal for stingrays, which prefer places with surf that has fine sand, which allows them to escape natural predators.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         No swimming from the white sand beach. Be careful not to step on the rays that frequent this site. A prick on the foot from them can be dangerous.

·         On the white sand beach, do not step on the sand above the high tide level, because it is a nesting site for sea turtles and you could crush their eggs, and/or disturb the females that rest on the shore.

·         Near the landing site is an ideal place for snorkeling.

·         Vegetation must be treated carefully, if you want to see the form or smell any plant, do so without lacerating or breaking them.

 

GENOVESA ISLAND

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: DARWIN BAY

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Tower Island has a shield volcano; the crater is about 600 meters wide at the edges and a depth of 60 meters. The total route of the trail is approximately 1,500 meters. The trail is part coral sand and the other part is slabs of lava.

Initial highlights are the nesting colonies of the common frigate, the Nazca booby and the swallow-tailed gulls. We also find here nests of red-footed booby, which is the largest nesting colony of Galapagos for pelagic bird.

Swallow-tailed gulls feed at night on squid and fish. They usually nests in cliffs and rocks, but at this place they do so on sand to camouflage their black spotted eggs. When they nest on black substrate, they add pieces of black coral and on white substrate they add small lava rocks to their nests.

The Great Frigatebird is abundant here and is one of the main attractions of the island. Genovesa has no reptiles, possibly due to lack of proper conditions for the nesting of these vertebrates.

The Galápagos Mockingbird (Nesomimus parvulus) and the Large Cactus Finch (Geospiza conirostris) are tagged because Dr. Peter Grant has made long-term studies of behavior and evolution of terrestrial birds. The Genovese mockingbirds have been studied for their cooperative behavior. As for the Large Cactus Finch, on this island there are two sets of the same species that differ in their singing. Females are attracted to chanting similar to their ancestral males, behavior that demonstrates the evolutionary divergence within a species.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         At this site during high tide, most of the trail is covered with water. Do not wet your shoes, in order to complete the journey without any discomfort and problems.

·         Once one crosses the nesting area of the frigates, the trail continues on a platform of lava and climbs the cliff. Do not step on the vegetation, or get into the area of Salt Bush (Cryptocarpus pyriformis), the Swallow-Tailed Gulls (Creagrus furcatus) nest under these bushes and on the beach, where one is likely to step on the birds or their eggs.

·         The birds on this site are usually very tame and it seems that the proximity of the visitors do not bothered them much. However, as a rule, do not approach them, keep within 2 feet away.

·         Genovesa has remained unaltered by man due to its geographic isolation and lack of fresh water. Be sure not to carry organisms in your clothing or shoes when dry landing, nor any food, either here or in any other island.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: PRINCE PHILIPE STEPS ( El Barranco)

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitor site of El Barranco is located in the southern part of Darwin Bay on Genovesa Island. The trail is on volcanic rock that has a length of 1.5 km and the tour can be done in about 2 hours.

The youngest area of the island, from a geological point of view, lies in this area. The cliffs located in the south are composed of very fragile lava. The natural erosion that has occurred in these lava flows has become the ideal place for nesting Storm Petrels.

You can see two species of petrels that nest in cavities and holes in the lava. One is the wooden petrel, which feed during the night, and the other is the Galapagos petrel that is active during the day, the latter is endemic, it is estimated that its population is over 200,000 pairs. One of its main predators is the short-eared owl.

The red-footed booby nests only in the outer islands of the archipelago, Punta Pitt, Gardner (Floreana), Wolf, Darwin and Genovesa. Also present on this island is the masked booby.

During the panga rides along the cliffs fur seals can be seen and several species of seabirds.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         The second half of the trail is very delicate. Keep within the trail. .

·         Be careful during the landing because of high tide and the waves can hit the panga and create an imbalance. Going up the steps is not very easy because of loose matter and may be slippery.

·         The path is long and the inside can be very hot and suffocating. Take water.

 

ISABELA ISLAND

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   URBINA BAY

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitor site Urbina Bay is located at the east base of the Alcedo volcano. The trail starts on the beach where a wet landing is made, the tour is approximately 3200m, and runs through sand substrates, pumice rock, lava, coral and vegetable formations in a coastal area that has had a lift; in addition burrows of land iguanas can be seen.

The trail passes through the foundations of what was a coral structure. During the uprising that occurred in 1954, 6 km of reef were elevated 5 masl, the coast was extended 3/4 of a mile out. It is said, in that same year and after the uprising, there was an eruption in the northeast side at a height of 650 m of Alcedo Volcano, but there is no concrete evidence. There is an area where there rhyolite (igneous rock that occurs at the violent exit to the outside of the earth) on this site where no vegetation grows due to the acidity that this type of substrate. This extrusive rock forms when magma of the same chemical structure as granite, acidic or felsic magma, reaches Earth’s surface.

It is an ideal place to observe spiny lobster (Panulirus penicillatus) and green (Panulirus gracilis).

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Protect your camera equipment well as the landing can be problematic due to the strong waves that occur often on this site.

·         Bring water for the hike because the trail is long and the place is very hot.

·         Do not take pieces of coral. Corals exposed to air will deteriorate quickly and should not be touched.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: CALERA

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and recreational tours
  •   Associated Tourist Activities authorized by the GNPS
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION The visitors site La Calera is located about five minutes by panga from the pier “El Embarcadero”. Access to this site is via a wet landing.

The route of this trail is about 200 meters, crossing for the most part an intertidal zone.

This land was used by early settlers of Isabela Island to prepare the materials for building their houses (lime, sand, stone) and fix boats for fishing. Currently, there still remain some of these materials left in this area.

The main purpose of a visit to this site is the practice of snorkeling in an intertidal lagoon.

This place holds similar characteristics in terms of flora, fauna and landscape as the present visitors site of “Islote Tintoreras”.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         It is advisable to do snorkeling when the tide is low, because when the tide rises, the waves are strongest.

·         Fishing, tourism, cargo, stevedoring and private ships pass close to the landing site, so it is forbidden to swim or snorkel.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   TAGUS COVE

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitors site of Tagus Cove is located west of Darwin Volcano on Isabela Island. The route of the trail is about 1800 meters.

This was a favorite spot for pirates and whalers, a tradition is still observed that has continued since that time: the inscription of the names of boats. At the start of the walk, going up and passing the staircase, is a small cave where we find inscriptions dating to the 1800s.

Its name originated from a British warship that went through the islands in 1814 looking for Galapagos Tortoise for food.

The road, mostly gravel, leads into the interior, along Darwin Lake. During the walk, you can see various land birds; we can identify the characteristic vegetation of the arid zone. Finally, we observe the lava fields of Darwin Volcano.

Darwin Lake contains saltwater and its depth is approximately 9m. It has no fish or other special life. The lake lies within a tuff cone.

Due to explosive eruptions must have occurred at the site, the substrate has a large amount of volcanic rocks of different sizes, among the most common are little balls of nearly spherical shape known as the “lapilli” or petrified rain. These are formed for two reasons:

1. When there is an explosion of volcanic ash, boiling lava coming into contact with water, heats and evaporates, then the ash that is in the air is wet and solidifies in the form of small balls that fall as rain.

2. Also forms when it rains shortly after an eruption.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Take care when landing due to strong waves.

·         Apart from the ground path, a panga ride is very interesting and entertaining. The panga should keep its distance from birds, especially penguins who are easily frightened.

·         No littering is allowed near the shore. This applies even more here, since due to wind garbage accumulate in the coves.

·         During the rainy season this site offers a great attraction for those interested in the vegetation.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: BREEDING CENTER ¨ARNALDO TUPIZA¨

PERMITTED USE
  •  Educational Visits
  •  Photography and filming
INFORMATION The Tortoise Breeding Center of Isabela is located 1.5 km from Puerto Villamil. You can walk or drive.

In this Breeding Center populations from South Isabela (Sierra Negra Volcano, Cerro Azul): Cazuela, Cinco Cerros, Roca Union, San Pedro, Tables and Cerro Paloma have been reproduced in captivity. In total there are 330 between juvenile and adult tortoises.

From the population of Cerro Paloma, there are 4 males and two female Galapagos, which, so far, are the only survivors. The raising of this breed of tortoise is of particular interest since genetic analysis performed in 1994 based on blood samples has determined that tortoises from this Galapaguera are different from the others. This is compounded by the fact that one of these two females is infertile, as shown by analysis of absent follicles. However, in 1998, the second female nested and now finally has 9 Galapaguitos of Cerro Paloma.

Cazuela tortoises are not in as serious danger of extinction. In their home there are still adults and juveniles. The main problems we have in the field are the competition for food by feral goats, trampling of nests by wild donkeys and killing by man from many years ago.

Cinco Cerros has a giant tortoise subpopulation quite different. Locally it is known as “aplastada” (flattened} by the peculiar shape of its shell. In 1994 it was estimated that there were approximately 70 “aplastadas”. The main reason for its low population size is apparently strong nest predation by ants of the genus Solenopsis. In September 1998, the eruption of Cerro Azul Volcano, threatened to burn the Galapaguera where this very rare sub-population is concentrated. Due to the emergency of the situation, and with the assistance of the Ecuadorian Army, an evacuation of tortoises “aplastada” was carried out in the affected area. The rescued animals were moved to the Breeding Center of Puerto Villamil, bringing the number that is there now to 17 (previously 2): 7 males and 10 females.

In addition to the Cinco Cerros tortoises, all endangered adult tortoises were brought by helicopter in 1994. Juveniles and sub adults were carried by hand and on horses, a commendable and outstanding work of the park rangers, who had to cross areas of difficult access and under pretty poor conditions in order to give these reptiles, insignia of the Galapagos, a chance of survival.

The tortoises are fed three times a week, based on an Otoya (Xanthosoma saggitifolium) plant diet, and cachimuela (Potomorphe peltata). The water they drink is from small artificial ponds that exist within the corrals.

The Breeding Center has beautiful gardens consisting of native plants, as manzanillo (Hippomane mancinella), mesquite (Prosopis juliflora), prickly pear (Opuntia spp), palo santo (Bursera graveolens), lime prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum Fagara), thorn shrub (Scutia pauciflora) Galapagos croton (Croton scouleri), Glorybower (Clerodendrum molle), sea island or creole cotton (Gossypium barbadense), Radiate-headed (lechoso) (Scalesia affinis), yellow cordia (Cordia lutea), snowberry or milkberry (Chiococca alba), myrtle (Maytenus octagon), nickerbean or nickernut (Caesalpinia bonduc) and Darwin’s Daisy (Darwiniothamnus spp).

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         It is advisable to combine a visit to the Breeding Center with some other activity in the vicinity of Puerto Villamil e.g. Las Tintoreras or Sierra Negra.

·         In the area there are introduced wasps. It is best not to wear clothes with bright colors like yellow or orange hues.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   THE WETLANDS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and Educational Tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION The visitor site “Wetlands”, is a complex of trails that include the following sites:

Cerro Orchilla, a lookout which you can access via a staircase; from this site you can see the bay and the town of Puerto Villamil, Sierra Negra Volcano, the Cerro Azul Volcano, islets and rocks. These sites form spectacular scenery.
El Estero is a 227m path of lava rocks, 1.5 meters wide. It consists of a picnic site where the people come to do leisure activities. On this site you can see the four species of mangrove found in Galapagos and a small majagual forest. It forms part of the stories and legends of the penal colony era on Isabela.

La Poza Escondida is a path of stone and wood, where the main attraction is a mangrove forest and at the end of this path is a this pool.

Poza Redonda, is a path of 50 meters long, of lava plates leading to a pool formed inside a collapsed lava tube.

Tunel del Estero, a path 75m long and with adequate lava plates ending in a staircase inside a lava tunnel. Above the tunnel you can see the intertidal landscape that offers a tapestry of Galapagos Sesuvium between “El Túnel del Estero” and Love Beach.

Love Beach, has a rocky sea access, is a site frequently used by the community of Isabela.

Los Tunos Viewpoint and Pozas Verde are paths with several lookout points that allow observation of birds and plants.

La Playita: Is a path that leads to a small beach that is part of the greater beach in Villamil.

You can see several ancient tombs in the cemetery, tombs that have been built with unusual materials, represent a historical account of Isabela and its first inhabitants.

The main attraction of these sites is the variety of flora and fauna can be observed

SPECIAL INDICA

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: CONCHA PERLA

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and Recreational Tours
  •  Associated Tourist Activities authorized by the GNPS
  •  Photography and filming
INFORMATION The visitors site Concha de Perla is in Puerto Villamil, a few meters from pier “El Embarcadero”.

Access to the site is by a wooden walkway, the same that runs through a mangrove forest, up to an intertidal pond.

Concha de Perla is structured as a kind of hollow circular enclosure of natural rock, which is fed by the sea with the changing tides.

Locals use this site as a place for swimming and snorkeling.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         In the mangroves and rocks present along the walkway to the Laguna Concha de Perla, there is a small colony of sea lions, who use the place to rest. To avoid accidents take appropriate action when directed to this site.

·         You can ride a bicycle to the entrance of the trail and then leave them there. There is a place built where you can leave them. Bicycles are not permitted on the walkway.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   LAS TINTORERAS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and educational tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION A panga is needed to reach the site. Access is easy and people can land during high or low tide. The approximate travel time from Puerto Villamil to The Tintoreras is 10 minutes.

The islet Las Tintoreras is located south of Puerto Villamil. It has a small bay of completely calm turquoise waters, where you can appreciate sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, etc. The bay is connected to a crevice of crystal clear water, that’s shallow and when the tide is low, the entrance closes. In this crevice, you can see how reef sharks swim along with other small fish and sea lions.

Most of the trail is lava AA, except for a white sand beach and a black stone beach. At the first beach are colonies of sea lions, its also a nesting site for marine iguanas, during the nesting season.

In the first beach you can see some Nolana galapageia plants, a rare endemic plant in the area. What’s more, Nolana is not common in Ecuador, since this species is typical of the coastal zone and belongs to a genus whose distribution is restricted to Chile and Peru.

The second beach is entirely surrounded by mangroves, button mangrove (Conocarpus erecta) and white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa).

Throughout the trail you can see many marine iguanas in the rocks or under the mangroves. Las Tintoreras is one of the few places where the iguanas breed successfully because of the absence of non-native animals that could kill the youth.

NATIVE AND ENDEMIC SPECIES
SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Various parts of Las Tintoreras are ideal for nesting marine iguanas, so during the nesting season be very careful with the nests.

·          Reef sharks have nocturnal feeding habits; certain animals during the day remain inside the crevice and marine ponds to rest. For this reason you are not allowed to swim in this place. Another reason is that disrupting the colonies of sea lions could alter their natural behavior.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: PUNTA ABERMARLE

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Punta Albemarle (the old name of Isabel Island), is located north of the island, this visitor site comprises of two areas: the first, a mangrove area between Pahohoe lava flows (lava solidified in a wavy or accordion form) which form creeks and channels. This place is ideal for traveling by panga.

The second point of access is the former radar base left by Americans during World War II near the beach.

The marine iguanas (Marine Iguana) of Punta Albemarle and West of Isabela are the largest in the archipelago.

It is an ideal site for riding in panga, where you will find flightless cormorants (Nannopterum harrisi), marine iguanas (Marine Iguana), sea birds and many marine species.

NATIVE AND ENDEMIC SPECIES
SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·          Do not get closer than 10m away from the flightless cormorants.

·         The rocks on the shore are slippery. Be careful while walking in this area.

·         During low tide it is very interesting to observe the marine iguanas eating seaweed in this area.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   PUNTA MORENO

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Punta Moreno is located on the north coast of Isabela Island between the volcano Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcano. The distance of the trail is about 2100 meters, and runs along a lava flow Pahohoe (solidified lava in the form of corrugated or an accordion) into a complex of coastal lagoons.

The vegetation found in the area is small and concentrated mainly in the mangrove area and around the lakes. It should be noted that the three kinds of cacti are found here.

The main attractions at Punta Moreno are coastal lagoons amid black lava flows where there are several species of birds. It has a panoramic view of three volcanoes, the most active of the Galapagos that are Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul of Isabela Island and La Cumbre of Fernandina Island.

The population of wild dogs that existed on this site fed on marine iguanas, sea lions and other marine species and drank the abundant brackish water present here. These dogs were eliminated in 1980.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Do not frighten the Flamingos. They are sensitive to noise and get scared easily. Stay within the group.

·         The road to the large lagoon is long you have to cross 700m of broken lava, where it is difficult to walk. Wear comfortable and appropriate shoes for this type of hike.

·         Due to high temperatures, especially during the hot season (December to May), it is better to take the early hours of the day or late afternoon due to type of terrain and strong sunshine.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: SIERRA NEGRA

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and educational tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION Volcán Chico is located northeast of Sierra Negra volcano at an altitude of approximately 860masl. There is access by footpath and horse trail, which are clearly signposted.

Volcan Chico is a fissure of some parasitic cones, composed of slag and lava. This fissure had its last eruption in November 1979. Its activity lasted for a period of two weeks. On 13 April 1963, Chico Volcano had even stronger eruption, the activity lasted one month, and at that time, the lava flows fell to Elizabeth Bay and covered a large sector east of the Sierra Negra volcano, consuming large sections of vegetation.

Volcan Chico is just northwest of the caldera, so it is not affected by the drizzle that always percipitates into the southeastern sector of the high islands. This is one of the reasons why Volcan Chico is in perfect condition and visitors can appreciate it when there is good visibility and sunshine.

In the northeast side of the caldera of Sierra Negra volcano, on 22 October 2005 an eruption occurred that lasted one week. The lava flow covered much of the interior of the caldera and in some places rose more than two meter.

The Sierra Negra volcano is considered the oldest of the volcanoes on Isabela. According to some geologists, including Nordlie, the wider and shallower a caldera, the more ancient. This conclusion is reached by theory and observations which indicate that volcanic processes in calderas tend to break down its edge, filling it. This activity is characterized by tremors and eruptions that are going on for over thousands and millions of years.

The youngest volcano is Cerro Azul, followed by Wolf, Fernandina, Darwin, Alcedo and Sierra Negra. This area is extremely active, having recorded three volcanic events in the 90s: two in Fernandina (91 and 95) and one in Cerro Azul (September 1998). The Sierra Negra caldera is 10 km across and is the second largest in the world. (The largest is Tgorontgoro in Tanzania).

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         From Puerto Villamil you can rent a vehicle, after a journey of 45 minutes, arrive at the site “El Cura” where horses are taken to skirt the eastern side of the caldera of Sierra Negra to the site named “Los Jaboncillos” a place where horses are tied to continuing the journey on foot to Volcán Chico.

·         The area lacks good weather and we must be prepared for heavy rain or drizzle. It’s easy to get lost in the fog, the group must remain united at all times and must be able to recognize certain outstanding features of the land so as to permit the return by the same route in the mist if necessary.

 

SOUTH PLAZAS

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   PLAZAS SUR

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitors site of Plaza Sur Island is located east of Santa Cruz Island, and forms part of two islands known as Islas Plazas. The landing is on the north coast of the island in a channel that separates it from Plaza Norte Island. Plaza Sur has an area of 13 hectares and a height of 25m.

The succulent plant, Sesuvium edmonstonei and Portulaca oleracea, are common in Plaza Sur, the second is the favorite food of the land iguanas.

There are about 1,000 sea lions Zalophus wollebaeki that inhabit this island. On the cliffs located in the south – east of the island, there is a group of lone sea lions, mixed juvenile and adult old and retired

Land iguanas on Plaza Sur, are smaller than those at other sites. They nest during the hot season. Throughout the island are several hybrid iguanas, a result of crossing a male marine iguana and a female land iguana. These iguanas are unique, recognizable at first glance by their black or gray color, with a land iguana’s crest, but face and tail of the marine iguana. During consecutive dry years, the iguana population may decrease due to lack of food and water.

In 1961, seven goats were exterminated from the island.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Do not allow visitors to approach the edge of the ravine. The results can be tragic.

·         The landing dock serves as a resting place for sea lions. Approach them clapping strongly to remove them from the site. Do not allow visitors to approach male sea lions.

·         The white rocks that continue past the pier are very slippery, inform visitors to walk with care.

·         It is strictly forbidden to swim from the dock to the shore of Plaza Sur, male lions are constantly patrolling their territories and swim there can be extremely dangerous.

·         Do not get within two meters of the swallow-tailed gulls nests.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: RABIDA

 

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PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitor site is located on the east coast of Rábida Island, consists of a red sand beach, a coastal lagoon behind the beach, and a loop trail. The approximate distance of the trail is 1.1 kilometers.

The color of the rocks and sand on the beach is due to the very porous volcanic material, which with the help of environmental factors (rain, salt water and sea breeze, has acted as an oxidizing agent.

The main attraction of the place is the red sand beach, scenery, aside from the vegetation of the arid zone and the presence of native and endemic species.

The population of goats present on this island was eradicated in 1975.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         The beach area is open, but do not get too close when the pelicans are nesting, or disturb the sea lions.

·          Do not leave the trail and keep quiet, and avoid sudden or rapid movements. The flamingoes can be frightened and fly off easily if you get close. .

·         Rábida has many ravines and shrubbery that provides good nesting and resting places for a variety of seabirds and also has a small colony of fur seals.

 

SAN CRISTOBAL

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   CERRO BRUJO

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Cerro Brujo is located on the north coast of San Cristóbal Island; the trail at this visitors site can be done in about three hours, including the panga ride. Its main attraction is the powder-like sandy beach, other than species of flora and fauna.

It is an eroding tuff cone that at several locations is composed of lava type a – a. It is formed by low-viscosity lava that contains little gas and breaks while it solidifies and is pushed by lava continuing to flow from behind.

In the lagoon located at Cerro Brujo, the people of Port Baquerizo Moreno mine salt for preserving cod, beef and tortoise. Today it is a place for watching lake and coastal birds.

Cerro Brujo offers an excellent landscape, where you can see Kicker Rock (geologic formation), the southern part of Upper San Cristobal and the coast adjacent to Cerro Brujo.

There are two halophytes (Salicornia fructirosa and Scaevola plumieri), these species grow in soils with high salt content.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         It is a good place for swimming and snorkeling.

·         he beach is an open area, but if walking towards the lake, one should follow a single line and only cross by the path indicated to avoid destroying the halophytic vegetation of the place.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: CERRO TIJERETAS

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and Educational Tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION It is called Tijeretas because this is the name commonly known for the frigates. It is located within walking distance of Port Baquerizo Moreno. Close to this site operated La Predial, which was a fishing society and who was present on the island between 1952 and 1960.

The entrance can be made through the street that leads to “Mann Beach”. The loop is 3.5 miles and estimated travel time is 2 hours. There are many vistas where you can appreciate the beautiful scenery and there is also an inlet where you can go snorkeling.

It is one of the only places where you can watch the two species of frigate birds nesting in the same colony.

In one of the vistas there is American-made cannon dating from the Second World War which taken by the Ecuadorian Navy in the early 1970s for military exercises. Another vista offers a panoramic view of the north coast of the island from where one can see the Kicker Rock (León Dormido), Cerro Mundo and Cerro Tijeretas. At the third vista there is a statue of Charles Darwin in honor of his stay in San Cristóbal. The upper vista is located on Cerro Tijereta.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Avoid sudden and loud movements like loud sounds so as to not frighten the frigates (tijeretas).

·         It is advisable to combine the walk to the hill with a time for swimming at Playa Man. The excursion is a bit long and sometimes very hot. Carry water.

·         You can obtain information at the National Park Office, located on the road to Playa Man.

·         It is an ideal place to practice surfing. The visit can be combined with a tour to the Interpretation Center because there is a path that links them directly.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   GALAPAGUERA NATURAL

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The hike from the beach to Media Luna cone is long, about 5 Km one-way and may be excessively hot since there is no circulation of wind. It is important to note that the walk takes a minimum 3 1/2 hours roundtrip; suggest to the group to carry enough fresh water.

It is a good site because you can see Galapagos tortoises in their natural environment.

There are goats in the interior and it is common to find their droppings along the way.

This site was opened for tourism in 1989. The park rangers make regular visits to control the goat population and to protect turtle nests.

San Cristobal Island has its own kind of tortoises, Geochelone elephantopus San Chatamensis, and although its population is small, there are some sufficiently close to the coast so that visitors can appreciate them in their natural environment. These tortoises have problems with competition for food with goats and donkeys. There are also feral cats, animal predators of juvenile tortoises.

San Cristobal Island also has some endemic species of animals of which are: the mockingbird, Nesomimus melanotis, lava lizard, Microlophus bivittatus (formerly Galapagos lizards were classified in the genus Tropidurus), a species of geckos, Phyllodactylus leei and tortoises. All these species can be observed in this place.

The beach is large and serves as a nesting area for sea turtles. In the months from January to May it is common to find traces of the females who have risen to the sand dunes to lay their eggs.

The wasps, Polistes versicolor versicolor, which were introduced to Floreana around 1988-89, have come to San Cristobal and in this site are especially abundant, more so during the rainy season. These wasps are drawn to bright colors and scented sunscreens. Inform visitors about this.

The vegetation here is abundant during the rainy season due to its dormancy during la garúa. There is much Galapagos milkweed, Palo santo trees and matazarno and many species of forbs and annual grasses. Immediately behind the landing beach, there are sporadic lagoons, which contribute to a large quantity of Sessuvium portulacastrum. In the time of rainfall, it is most likely that to visit the site, one has to go through mud.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES : ISLA LOBOS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Guided group interpretive naturalist guide visitors
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Activities authorized by DPNG accessory in the itineraries of vessels authorized
INFORMATION Isla Lobos is about an hour by boat from Port Baquerizo Moreno. The length of the trail is 850 meters and the estimated travel time is one hour..

There is a small population of blue-footed boobies and common frigate birds nesting on this site. You can observe the two species of sea lions present in the archipelago.

During the tour you go through a dry vegetation zone, substrate of volcanic rocks and a sandy area.
During the panga tour brown pelicans and several species of shorebirds can be observed; although, snorkeling, it’s common to see juvenile sea lions, manta rays and sea turtles.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         There is an indicated path, we must be very strict that visitors stay within these limits.

·         Most of the trail passes through rocky terrain very difficult to walk.

·         Never get too close to the frigates and blue-footed boobies, especially when they are nesting.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: JARDIN DE LAS OPUNTIAS

PERMITTED USE Interpretive and educational toursPhotography and filming
INFORMATION Access to this site is located near the agricultural area near the ranch called El Cafetal. The total length of the trail is about 1.6 km.

The typical vegetation seen along the path is of the dry zone and coastal zone.

The main activities on this site are botanical interpretation and recreation.

The Jardín de Opuntias is located in the arid zone of the island and is named after the presence of cactus or prickly pear of the genus Opuntia (Opuntia megasperma); the main feature of this plant is that it requires little water to survive in dry climates.

It is one of the few places in the archipelago, where there is tall cactus whose fruit is the favorite food of several species of finches.

 

SPECIAL INDICATIONS
  • The accessibility of this site has a medium degree of difficulty because the trail passes through a temporary flood site, so it is recommended to take appropriate measures to prevent any accidents.
  • Be careful no to touch the fruits or leaves of the Manchineel tree, this tree produces a type of milk that is toxic to humans.

 

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   PUNTA PITT

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION Punta Pitt is located at the east end of San Cristóbal Island. The trail includes an olivine beach approximately 90 meters and a trail that ascends to the top of a volcanic tuff hill passing through several natural viewpoin.

The trip is 1,400 meters with an estimated time of two hours.

Punta Pitt is composed of volcanic tuff substrate. High winds present there have led to natural erosion.

This is the only site in the Galapagos Islands, where you can watch the three species of boobies and 2 species of frigates nesting in the same area. The reason that there are three species of boobies at Punta Pitt is due to the geographic location; there is enough food so there is no competition between them. The blue footed boobies nests in the interior (rare in the cliffs), red-footed boobies nest on bushes and masked boobies nest in the cliffs. Another added attraction is the presence of sea lion.

Staff of the Technical Office of San Cristobal, conducts periodic inspections of non-native animals especially cats and rats, this in order to avoid them eating the lava lizards and the chicks of sea and land birds.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Parts of the path are difficult to walk on, you have to climb a steep ravine, which can be very slippery and therefore dangerous.

·         The landing beach is a resting place for sea lions; young male and retired adults. Be careful with these animals and keep your distance to avoid disturbing them.

 

SANTA CRUZ

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: WHALE BAY

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels.
INFORMATION The visitor site of whale Bay is a cove of green sand at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of olivine crystals, the same that originate from volcanic materials. The crystals were formed when the magma was still underground. The content is magnesium, iron and silica.

Near the beach there are ceramic relics, which reflect the same antiques of human settlements that were close to the beach in 1846. According to the accounts of the French captain Genie, a path originated from this site to the top of the island, which was used to collect fresh water. It is thought that in this place lived a group of people who were dedicated to the collection of lichen (Rocella tinctoria), used for tinting.

In this place there existed a small population of tortoises from the island Pinzón, that were probably taken by whalers or the ancient inhabitants of the place.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Visitors are not allowed to carry out pieces of pottery or other remains that are of archaeological interest.

·         The trail up to the top of the mountain requires special physical conditioning and is of special interest to visitors who wish to make a difficult hike. It is therefore considered suitable for those visitors with a more adventurous profile, who desire physical effort to observe and enjoy nature.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   TORTUGA BAY

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and Recreational Tours
  •  Associated Tourist Activities authorized by the GNPS
  •  Photography and filming
INFORMATION Turtle Bay is a beautiful white sand beach, so named because it is a nesting site for the black turtle.

It can be reached by panga or walking from Puerto Ayora (2.5 km from the Baltra Avenue until the end of the Brava Beach). Estimated time for the walk is 50 minutes.

Before arriving at the control booth, there is bicycle parking racks and once at the booth, register with the park ranger present.

There is vegetation on the bottom of the transition zone of the dry zone and coastal zone. In the dunes present at the top of the beach grows Nolana galapagensis, an endemic plant that helps stabilize sandy areas.

Sand dunes and a rocky point divide the beach, creating a protected area and good place for swimming, “the gentle beach”.
Access to this site is from the 08h:00 to 17h:00.
It is an ideal spot for surfing and snorkeling. The Municipality of Santa Cruz, in coordination with the Galapagos National Park and other institutions, carry out recreation activities at this beach during the festivals of Santa Cruz Island, for which preventive measures are taken to avoid any impact.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         This site does not require an accompanying guide (as long as it’s not an organized group).

·         The walk starts in the village. It is very easy to follow the posted signs from the main street of Puerto Ayora. The trail is well marked. You have to calculate that the hike takes about an hour. Take water.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: BREEDING CENTER ¨FAUSTO LLERENA¨

PERMITTED USE
  • Educational Visits
  •  Photography and filming
INFORMATION Working hours of the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) and the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) are: Monday through Friday from 7am to 12pm and from 1pm to 4pm. The Van Straelen interpretation center stays open until 5:00 pm.

The tour starts at the information booth of the GNP, a place where you can obtain information necessary to resolve any concerns. It is the where you’ll find travel reports. Passengers who have not yet purchased their park entrance passes can do so here. The trail continues to the Van Straelen interpretation Center, then to the breeding center and from there begins an elevated circular path made of wood, where you can see Lonesome George and tortoises of Española Island, ending in the tortoise exhibit corral. Tortoises of this corral are accustomed to humans; it is an excellent spot for visitors to be photographed with them. Always remind your visitors not to touch them and not to step on the platform where they’re food is placed. The path continues to the CDRS facilities and then to the town of Puerto Ayora.

It is absolutely forbidden to jump walls or open the pen doors in the Galapagos.

There is a CDRS souvenir kiosk: the funds raised here are to support conservation and research programs.

There are public bathrooms at the Breeding Center and at the Van Straelen Center.

The Galapagos breeding program is conducted by GNP staff with the collaboration of scientists from the CDRS. The eggs are brought from the Galapagos Islands of Pinzón, Santiago and Santa Cruz to the station. The eggs are incubated artificially; the galapaguitos are born and reared until the age of 5 years, when they can survive the effects of introduced predators (rats, pigs and dogs). Then they are returned to their native areas. Since 1970, more than 2000 galapaguitos have returned to the native areas. Over 400 are in breeding and will promptly be returned to their place of origin. For this to succeed, it needs the corresponding control programs and eradication of non-native animals to continue. A good example of success that this program can have is Española Island. The entire population of Galapagos tortoises of this island, two males and twelve females, were brought to the station for the captive breeding program, since their number was so low that they could not find each other on the field. In 1976, a third male from Española was sent from San Diego Zoo, USA, to be added to the program. Over 1000 galapaguitos of this race have been returned to Española, an island that can now be considered free of non-native animals, due to the eradication of goats in 1978. It should be noted that the galapaguitos from Española are repatriated at one and a half years old now that there is no danger. (For details see Gardner Bay). Great effort and many financial resources are needed to achieve results like those of Española on other sites.

Following the devastating depredation that wild dogs have caused the populations of land iguanas, Conolophus subcristatus, in Santa Cruz and Isabela, in 1976 the Station and the GNPS began a breeding program for these reptiles. At present, iguanas have been repatriated to Cerro Carthage in Isabela, but with little success because the place still has wild dogs; on the other hand, iguanas repatriated in Conway and Dragon Hill seem to have been well established, but they are very shy and elusive. There is also a iguana breeding program at North Seymour Island, originally from Baltra, without reproductive success for many years, when the program began there was only an adult population. Since 1991, through an agreement between the SAF, the Park and the Station, iguanas have been repatriated to Baltra. So far, their survival has been successful.

The amateur naturalist, Allan Hancock, intentionally introduced Baltra land iguanas to North Seymour in the early ’30s. Hancock, an eccentric American millionaire visited the archipelago several times on board his yacht “Valero III”, whose graffiti can be seen in the gorge of Darwin Bay in Genovesa, from the beach. Hancock noted the absence of these reptiles in North Seymour, despite the distance that separates Baltra was easy to overcome for the iguanas. He decided to carry about 70 iguanas from one island to another. He returned the following year and found that the iguanas on North Seymour were fine, but probably by limited availability of land for nesting, recruitment was not higher. Meanwhile, feral goats continued to represent strong competition for the remaining iguanas on Baltra. This, together with the establishment of a U.S. military base during World War II, altering their habitat, led to the disappearance of land iguanas on Baltra Island. It’s worth noting that this is the largest race of the species Conolophus subcristatus.

The GNPS is the government body responsible for the management and administration of both the land area of Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The GNPS has to manage and implement programs of protection and conservation of endangered species and work to maintain the ecological integrity of the Park in general. The Marine Reserve, declared in 1986 originally as the Marine Resources Reserve, changed its name and extension following the enactment of the Special Law for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Province of Galapagos, 18th of March 1998. This area of 40 nautical miles, measured from the baseline, makes it the second largest reserve in the world (the first being the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), and innovative in the country for forming a participatory management program.

The main function of the CDRS is to promote scientific research in the islands and the associated logistics. This research forms the basis of any conservation program. It also has a commitment to assist in the training of scientists from Ecuador. The station is directly dependent on the Darwin Foundation, an international body that collects economic funds from different parts of the world for conservation programs and advice to the GNP.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: CERRO DRAGON

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitors site at Dragon Hill is located in northwestern Santa Cruz Island, and consists of a trail that runs through three different environments at just 1,600 m long.

It gets its name because in 1975, was one of the only places in the Santa Cruz Island where there were land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus) in healthy state. That same year, the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation initiated a program to conserve land iguanas. The iguanas on North Seymour (originally from Baltra), iguanas from Cartago Bay (Isabela Island) and iguanas of Santa Cruz Island were studied and then transported to pens especially designed for these animals to breed in captivity. By 1979 first iguana were born.

The entire iguana population of Cerro Dragon was transported to the Venice Islet to keep the away from the wild dogs which in those days abounded in the place. Soil from the base of Cerro Dragon was also transported to Islet to create an appropriate environment for nesting iguanas. It was necessary to separate the Venice Islet from Santa Cruz Island with a barbed wire fence to prevent predator dogs from crossing to the Islet, which is separated from the island by a very narrow channel. Several iguanas that were reproduced in Venice were returned to Cerro Dragon in 1990.

Currently there are no dogs in Cerro Dragon, and the Galapagos National Park Service performs constant monitoring of cats and donkeys.

In the lagoons at this site, there is shrimp (Artemia salina), the same as is the food of flamingos; at certain times of year they are more abundant and therefore the population of these birds is larger. During rainier times the water of the lagoons become too sweet and therefore shellfish populations decline, and shorebirds also become scarce.

 

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Dragon Hill has been open for tourism since 1993. The repatriation of land iguanas to this site presents a good option to avoid the overhead of tourism in the South Plaza Island.

·         The beach is very rocky. At high tide it’s a nice place for snorkeling.

·         At this visiting site you can find vegetation of typical the intertidal zone and dry zone.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   EL GARRAPATERO

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and recreational tours
  •   Tourist Activities authorized by the GNPS
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Camp previously approved by the GNPS
INFORMATION It is located 19 km northeast of Puerto Ayora. You can arrive by a road that leads through Bellavista – El Cascajo – The Garrapatero (50 minutes) and by sea (20 minutes).

The newly extended and improved highway, goes from the mine “El Cascajo” in the agricultural zone and enters the Park with an area of 4.8 km. Carrozables. At the end of this road is a natural parking; from here you must walk along a path of 870m to arrive at the beach.

The trail is easily accessible, there are no slopes in excess of 10% and is mostly covered with gravel.

A ranger patrols daily from 07h00 to 18h00 and will tell you the rules to keep in mind when visiting the site.

Camping is permitted at the site with prior authorization from the Public Use Unit. .

You can use the grill to light fires, you should take your own coal. Visitors must return garbage to town.

Among its main attractions are a white sandy beach of 1500 m and a pool with flamingos and White-cheeked Pintail ducks located 100 m from the beach.

The species Hippomane mancinella (manzanillo or Manchaneel tree), present in the latter stages of the path, should be treated with care because it has a poisonous fruit.

The vegetation covering the sides of the walking path belongs to the arid zone, the main species being, Jasminocereus thouarsii (cactus candelabro), Croton scouleri (Chala), Prosopis juliflora (mesquite), Cordia lutea (Muyuyo), Bursera graveolens (Palo Santo) Scutia pauciflora (thorn shrub) and Maytenus octagona (arrayancillo).

The fauna of the site is represented by birds such as mockingbirds (Nesonimus parvulus), finches, White-cheeked Pintail ducks (Anas bahamensis) and flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber). At the extreme end of the beach; sally lightfoot crabs, oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) and occasionally marine iguanas (Amblyrynchus cristatus) can be found.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: EL MIRADOR DE LOS TUNELES

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and educational tours
  •  Photography and filming
INFORMATION El Mirador is not a visitor site included in the list of Galapagos National Park Management Plan sites. However, being in the vicinity of Puerto Ayora, most organized groups of tourists stop there to observe this fascinating geological attraction.

This is a lava tube and is an excellent alternative when the groups have not known Bellavista tunnels or others, which are privately owned. Being short, tourists can experience the sensation of being inside a lava tube, without the need to carry flashlights, because its never completely dark.

You can access the site on foot, bicycle or vehicle. Being adjacent to urban areas you do not need a guide unless it is an organized group. .

This is a partially collapsed lava tube. Lava tubes form when the surface layer of the lava flow cools on contact with cooler atmospheric air. As it cools and hardens, it acts as an insulator preventing the solidification of hot fluid material that continues to run below it. At the end of the eruption and once all the lava has passed, we get an empty tube. Through cooling, cracks, tremors, often fracture the top of the tube, collapsing, and thus the inside is exposed.

It is a good place to explain about the native vegetation of the arid zone, as there are trees like matazarno and palo santo.

It is a good place to observe ground finches and other birds. White owls are often found inside the tubes.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   LAS GRIETAS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and recreational tours
  •   Associated tourist activities defined by DPNG
  •    Photography and filming
INFORMATION This site is very close to Puerto Ayora, west of Academy Bay.

To get there you need to take a panga from the Municipal pier to the dock at the Hotel Delfin, from there you have to follow the trail that passes through the lagoons, the beach and the residential area until you reach the cliff of the largest crevice. The trail is marked with stakes in the park.

It is open area, but we must take precautions, since a fall from the edge of the cliff could be fatal.

A guide is not required to go to this sector. It is important to collect trash from around and not carry organic food that has seeds. All garbage must be brought back to town.

The lagoons found on the path are salt water and are an ideal place for migratory and coastal birds such as Black-Necked Stilts, Whimbrels, White-cheeked Pintail ducks, Lava gulls and Ruddy Turnstones.

In Las Grietas you can appreciate two layers of water very clearly. The surface water is fresh water that filters down from the top before reaching the ravine and the bottom water is salt water entering from the sea. The mixture of these two waters is called brackish water, which is used as running water in the town of Puerto Ayora.

The giant cactus that can be seen along the way have evolved looking for light so as to not be covered by the dense brush or for protection from land iguanas and giant tortoises that once inhabited the area and ate cactus.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: LOS GEMELOS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and educational tours
  •   Photography and filming
  •  Associated tourist activities defined by the GNPS
INFORMATION This area has received much use in recent years due to several trails created that lead to the two craters. Guides are asked to use only the National Park trail to avoid further erosion and deterioration of the area. In 1989 a circular path around the largest crater was opened, which passes through the interior of the Scalesia forest, an excellent place to observe land birds, especially the woodpecker finch and the vermillion flycatcher.

It is absolutely forbidden to eat fruit at this site; the seeds can fall by accident and could germinate. In recent years some plants have been introduced that are invading the Scalesia pedunculata forest rapidly.

Do not allow visitors to get too close to the edge of craters, the edges may collapse. Do not allow people to throw rocks or other objects inside the craters.

During rainy season, recommend that visitors bring with them a raincoat or a windbreaker. During the garúa season it can be foggy early in the morning but then clear and very pleasant weather later.

There are 7 genus of plants endemic to Galapagos, including Scalesia. Scalesia pedunculata, one of 14 species in the islands, is found using the niche of trees. These giant plants of the Compositaeson family, relatives of sunflowers and are the trees most characteristic of the upper parts of some of the islands. Other species of this genus are found in areas lower and drier, usually in the form of shrubs and not in forests. Scalesia pedunculata (which is found here) is well dispersed in the islands, found in Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Santiago and Floreana. Other species are more localized, one being Scalesia villosa, found only in certain areas of Floreana.

The phenomenon of “El Niño” destroyed a lot of well-developed and large trees in the forest of the Pit Craters; now the trees in the area are mostly young.

The vermillion flycatcher is the most outstanding terrestrial bird in the upper parts of most of the islands. The Pit Craters is perhaps the best place for observing them, since they occur in large numbers in the Scalesia forest. They are curious and usually fairly tame. They feed on insects they often trap with their peak in mid-flight. Their nesting season is from January to April; they put 3 eggs in a nest constructed of moss and lichen. The vermillion flycatcher inhabits many areas of North and South America.

The Pit Craters are, geologically speaking, seen as craters and its formation is not directly due to volcanic action. They were created as a result of the collapse or sinking of surface materials into cracks or manholes.

Another plant that draws attention at the Pit Craters is the Galapagos Guava or guayabillo tree, Psidium galapageium, which have a clean and smooth bark. Its branches are covered with epiphytes and brown liverworts, Bryopteris liebmanniana that many people confuse with moss.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   PLAYA BACHAS

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitor site Las Bachas is located in northern part of Santa Cruz Island, it consists of two beaches that have a combined length of about 1 km long.

The name Las Bachas originates from the Second World War, when the American army left two barges discarded on the beach, the first settlers could not pronounce the name correctly in English, which resulted in Las Bachas Beach.

The predominant vegetation is of the coastal zone. It represents one of the main nesting sites of sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) on Isla Santa Cruz. It is a good place to see flamingos, as well as migratory and aquatic birds.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         The Galapagos Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas agassisi), nest in the sand dunes. Be careful not to step on turtle nests.

·         The pond behind the first beach usually has some flamingos, Common Stilts, White-Cheeked Pintail ducks and is an excellent place to observe migratory birds. The lagoon must be approached in silence, these birds are nervous and can become disturbed.

·         The visitor site includes the landing beach and the beach continues to the remains of a floating dock abandoned by American soldiers in World War II.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: PLAYA DE LOS PERROS

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive and educational tours
  •  Photography and filming
  • Campfires and barbecues in wetlands
INFORMATION To reach the site is necessary to travel about 8 minutes by boat from Puerto Ayora.

When the tide is high, the landing is by the canal, if the tide is low, the landing may be at the wooden pier recently built.

The path that leads to Playa de Los Perros has a length of 505m, and with the exception of the slope at the start of the trail, where a 5m ladder was adapted to facilitate the entry, the entire trail consists of rock and dirt and is easily accessible. A park ranger watches over the site daily.

Swimming or entry with boats is no permitted in the pool of reef sharks.

Fires or camping are not allowed on site 7. Garbage must be returned by visitors to the town center.

The Playa de los Perros has a length of 75m and consists of white sand.

If the tide is low you can walk along the shore of the beach to the pool of reef sharks, they can also be seen from a lookout with proper balconies for safety. To reach the lookout point, walk 70m along the trail of rock.

The main vegetation that can be seen along the path belongs to the arid zone, the main species being, Croton scouleri (Chala), Cordia lutea (Muyuyo) Scutia pauciflora (thorn), Opuntia sp. and mangrove.

Upon entering the canal you will see blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii) pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), Great frigatebirds (Fregata minor) and Brown Noddys. On the path along the beach and leading to the pool of reef sharks, many sally lightfoot crabs (zayapas) are seen. On the path to Playa de los Perros finches will accompany you, and finally at the beach you will find marine iguanas (Amblyrynchus cristatus), sea lions (Zalophus californianus wollebaeki) sally lightfoot and hermit crabs.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   PUNTUDO/ CERRO CROCKER

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and educational tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION It is an open area, but for safety it is better to stay on the paths used normally.

Beyond Media Luna is El Puntudo and Cerro Crocker, the highest peak of the island and is 860 m high. If you wish to walk, it should only be done in good weather. It is easy to get lost, so make sure that the guide knows the path.

If you encounter cattle in the area of the park, please inform the office of Puerto Ayora, at the earliest opportunity.

In the rainy season, the path in the agricultural area is very muddy, inform visitors about the terrain and the need for shoes with good traction.

Do not take fruit whose seeds can fall and germinate. If taking food, make sure waste is not left behind. Everything has to be collected and brought back to port.

Do not disturb the birds that nest here. The Galapagos Petrel (pata pegada), Pterodroma phaeopygia, and Galapagos Rail, Laterallus spilonotus, nest at ground level.

The problems of introduced plants are evident here. Cinchona trees succirubra (cascarilla) and Psidium guajaba (guava) have spread from the agricultural area. Its eradication requires an intense and expensive effort. However, until 1999 45 hectares of Cinchona trees have been remove.

The Miconia robinsoniana (cacaotillo) and other native vegetation have been victims of voracious fires that originated on the farms, livestock loose living in areas of the park, and competition with introduced plants much stronger. This endemic plant is almost extinct in San Cristobal (the only other island where it exists) and here it has been drastically reduced. Its red color during the garúa season gives upper Santa Cruz a striking appearance when seen from afar.

The Galapagos Rail, Laterallus spilonotus, is a bird endemic to Galapagos, common in the area near Media Luna, but very difficult to see because their habitat is under the dense vegetation on the surface of the earth. This bird can barely fly.

Cerro Puntudo is an old splatter type cone, while the other cones in the area are of slag and tuff type. Splatter cones are formed when lava is expelled with great force in a liquid state and splash around. The organic volcanic cinder cones (tuff) are formed in the presence of water and oxygen.

When the molten lava combines with water a very strong freatomagmática explosion is produced and thousands of small particles (ash) are tossed out, deposited near the vent forming the typical cone shape. The cinder cones, however, contain many gases and therefore the material is very light. Being expelled from the vent they fall at large distances away, so the cones are low and wide.

The Galapagos Petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia, is a seabird that nests in upper Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Santiago, Floreana and Isabela (Alcedo Volcano). Until recently it was regarded as common species to Hawaii and Galapagos, but genetic studies have shown that these are two different species. It is considered an endangered species as rats, cats, dogs and other feral animals eat both the eggs and chicks and even adult birds. The nests are on the ground, in holes and caves not so accessible to man. Studies to determine the best way to protect nesting sites of these birds have managed a reproductive success of 95% on Floreana and Santa Cruz.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: ¨EL CHATO¨RESERVE

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive and educational tours
  •   Photography and filming
INFORMATION The reserve comprises of two areas, La Caseta and Cerro Chato. The area is open: no guide is required, but it is recommended to take one, because it is easy to get lost in this sector. In recent years two people have been lost, and one, with fatal results.

The trail that starts in Santa Rosa is surrounded by tall grass and follows the boundaries of some farms. Depending on the season it can be muddy. The rocks are slippery. Be careful.

At 1 km of La Caseta there is a pool of water that is filled with tortoises during the rainy seasons. The path starts in front of la Caseta.

Calculate at least three and a half hours to get to and from La Caseta. In recent months the path to La Caseta has closed due to vegetation, so that all groups have been forced to go only to Chato whose trail is well marked. Warn about the presence of blackberry.

If desired, you can rent horses in Santa Rosa, if so horses must be tied before coming to la Caseta or El Chato. If the group is interested in bird watching, walking is best for viewing.

La Caseta is used by the rangers who work in the Galapagos conservation program. Their functions includes building stone walls around nests to keep pigs from digging and eating the eggs; and hunting of pigs, goats and dogs.

In 1976, wild dogs invaded the area of the Reserve and ate almost all galapaguitos who were born in the last 5 years. The problem herein is feral pigs, which are kept away by regular hunts.

The tortoises like immerse themselves in water and mud. There are some theories about it: it is believed for thermoregulation (for heating or cooling depending on conditions) or a mechanism to kill ticks and protect themselves from mosquitoes.

The road to the reserve is one of the best places to observe land birds. Tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers and Cattle Egrets inhabit the area and sometimes Galapagos Rails have been seen.

 

SANTA FE

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: SANTA FE

PERMITTED
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Caminatas guiadas
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitor site Santa Fe, is located on the northeast end of the island bearing the same name.

Of the two species of land iguanas present in Galapagos, the Conolophus subcristatus inhabits Plaza Sur, Santa Cruz, North Seymour/Baltra, Isabela and Fernandina, however the species Conolophus pallidus only lives in Santa Fe. It is distinguished mainly by the larger and paler color (hence its scientific name).

Of the six endemic species of rats that lived in the Galapagos two survive at present, in Fernandina (Nesorysomis narboroughi) and in Santa Fé (Oryzomis bauri).

In 1971 the population of goats was eradicated on this island. In 1985 and 1988 the presence of red ants or fire ants (Wasmania auropunctata) was reported, for which immediate control and eradication was performed.

The species of giant tortoise at this location was one of the first extinc.

Studies according to Geist D.J suggests that Santa Fe could be the oldest Galapagos volcano, there are sub-aerial rocks dating back 3.9 million years. It also mentions that the island of Santa Fe has a mix of underwater lava pushed to the surface by uprising and lava that were deposited subsequently to the uprising.

Another added attraction is the presence of giant tunas that have a trunk wider than in any other island.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Land iguanas are hard to find here. Warn visitors that they might not see any.

·          Parts of the trail are pending. Tell visitors that there are places very steep and with loose stones.

·         It is very rocky (especially at the beginning), you have to climb a steep ravine with loose gravel, please note that the return can be quite slippery.

 

SANTIAGO ISLAND

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   SULLIVAN BAY

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION This site is of great geological interest. It is located southeast of Santiago Island, the landing can be performed either in the rocky shore (dry landing) or the white sand beach (wet landing). The length of the trail is approximately 1.5 km; travel time is one hour and a half.

The area is covered by Pahoehoe lava flows (solidified lava in corrugated or accordion form). It was very active in the last 25 years of the nineteenth century. The Sullivan lava formed in 1897. This flow is a geologically very young. The magma formed is flat, but the movement of underground lava, the rapid cooling and other eruptions led to the break in many places.

These formations have a thickness of 1.5 m and did not cover much of the previous relief forming “kipukas” (Islands of vegetation surrounded by newer lava tides). Islands consisting of reddish yellow hills that protrude from the black lava that surrounds them. These elevations are tuff cone-shaped small volcanoes, similar to hornitos and with grooves that appeared long before the lava flow.

These hornitos are in the area near the sea and the right side of Red Hill, and were created when the lava was still hot and liquid gas still remained trapped in small cracks below the surface of the magma, when eventually the gas found an outlet and the lava, liquid and glassy was ejected.

At 150m from the beginning of the path molds of some trees can be found, details of the crust indicate that they were trees growing in small crevices where soil and moisture accumulate in sufficient quantity so they can grow.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS
  • On this site, many geological features have been damaged, especially the glass bubbles of lava (hornitos). Make sure your visitors do not touch sensitive formations, and do not collect anything. The damaged lava does not disappear or get repaired.
  • 200 m around the landing, you can see patterns of vegetation that were burned during the eruption.
  • A visit to this area of black lava is preferable in the afternoon because the temperature is more pleasant and the light is better for photographs.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: PLAYA ESPUMILLA

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The Espumilla visitor site is on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay.

During the last presence the El Niño phenomenon, one of the two lagoons in this site, underwent a process of sedimentation, thus causing the disappearance of a representative colony of flamingos.

The main attractions here are a palo santo forest, beach and the landscape. The beach is an important site for nesting marine turtles (Chelonia midas agassizi).

One of the main predators of sea turtle eggs were pigs, which were eradicated entirely on Santiago island.

The presence of goats in Santiago had jeopardized the vegetation of this island, in time came there came to be around 120,000. Thanks to the creation of the Isabela Project eradication this introduced species was achieved.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         Until 1982, there was a brackish water lagoon behind the mangroves, but due to the effects of El Niño 1982-83, it was totally altered. The trail continues into the dry zone and in the end, one can observe land birds of all types and the landscape is very beautiful.

·         The landing can be difficult when the surf is strong. Sometimes it is easier to land on the rocks west of the monument.

 

TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   PUERTO EGAS

PERMITTED USE
  •  Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •  Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The visitor site Port Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island.

South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff, the same that has favored the formation of the black sand beach.

El Cráter is just north of this site, it has a saltwater lagoon, which during the summer dry season becomes a salt mine. Between 1928 and 1930, there was the first exploitation of salt; there were no major achievement. Then in 1964 a new attempt was made that lasted for some time.

These settlements caused environmental damage, because native and endemic wood was used as firewood and they introduced plants and animals.

This site is called Puerto Egas, because the last attempt was made by the company of Hector Egas, which failed because the price of salt in the continent was very cheap, and did not justify its exploitation in Galapagos. The project was abandoned and they left their infrastructure.
In 1928 a couple named Conway tried to settle in the upper part, near James Bay, but did not fare well. They wrote a book called “The Enchanted Islands,” published in 1947.

 

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         It is not permitted to go down into the crater of the salt mine. Lagoon birds nest there and resent any intrusion.

·         The Sugar Loaf is not a visiting area. Some people have gone down rolling. It’s dangerous!

 

NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES: NORTH SEYMOUR

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION North Seymour is located north of Baltra (or South Seymour). The total distance of the trail is 2 miles.

Seymour North, Plaza Sur and Plaza Norte, Baltra, northeastern Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and part of Española, were formed by uprisings of underwater volcanic lavas. They were part of a volcanic lava table deposited in sheet form along cracks located on the ocean floor. The uprisings occurred sporadically and lasted more than a million years to reach its current level.

All marine fossils found in the archipelago are found in these islands and the best example is the North Channel side of Baltra. The fossils date from the Pleistocene, and specifically in the case of Baltra, one can say that these volcanic tables were close to the surface about a million years ago.

In 1932 and 1933, about 72 land iguanas from Baltra were introduced to North Seymour by Captain Alan Hancock and his crew; with the intention that these animals could survive in better condition than in Baltra, already populated by goats. The iguanas that the crew of Valero III (Hancock’s ship) found at Baltra were undernourished. It was discovered in 1934 that the iguanas had colonized the island without problems. Later, during the Second World War when the United States occupied Baltra to install a military base, the land iguanas, which still existed there, disappeared as their habitat was altered for the construction of runways and barracks for soldiers. Besides the presence of goats, dogs and cats. In 1980, two adults were taken to the breeding center at the Darwin Station’s initiating the program of reproduction and rearing of land iguanas in captivity; and in 1985 eight more adults were transported and from these 80 youth were acquired by 1990. (For more information on the subject, read Arturo Izurieta’s thesis,”Ecology of the Iguanas on North Seymour Island, 1991).

By the end of 2008, 600 iguanas have been accounted for on North Seymour, of which 400 have been repatriated and 200 were born in the wild. In contrast, on Baltra Island, the population has surpassed the 1,500 samplings.

The vegetation is bush and hosts the largest nesting colony of Great Frigatebirds in Galapagos. Importantly, the Galapagos is the westernmost distribution for this species. The common frigate is also present.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         The frigates here are surly and its preferable to keep some distance from the nests. Do not let your visitors leave the trail for a closer look at these birds, especially in the breeding season.

·         Sometimes blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls nest along the path, there is no need to open other paths. We must always keep the group on the trail and finding birds nesting there, requires walking slowly to avoid disturbing them.

·         Watch that tourists who are in your care do not disturb the nesting iguanas.

 

MOSQUERA ISLOTE

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   MOSQUERA

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •  Photography and filming
  •   Guided walks
  •  Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION The Mosquera Islet is located between the islands of Baltra and North Seymour. It is a reef of rocks and coral (the result of an uprising) and a great white sand beach. Its narrowest width reaches about 160 meters and has an estimated length of 600 meters.

In most of the perimeter there is base of lava rocks, as evidence of the lava uprising, except in the southwest side where the landing occurs.

This island has one of the largest populations of sea lions. You can also observe several species of shorebirds. There have been occasional reports at this site of Orcas (Orcinus orca) feeding on sea lions.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         This island has one of the largest populations of sea lions. Ensure that visitors keep their distance from the sea lions, especially the males, which are sometimes very aggressive. Do not permit touching the sea lions or their cubs. A surprised sea lion can seriously bite the person who touches it. Do not bathe while a male is nearby.

·         The whole area is open, however, tell visitors to be very careful not to step on the little vegetation that exists, nor to disturb the sea lions while they sleep. We have found some lava gull nests; they nest in open areas without protection. If they are disturbed, they get very nervous and may abandon their nests.

·         Access is through a wet landing on the beach. This may be complicated by low tide or when there is heavy swell, during the months of December to March mainly.

 

SOMBRERO CHIN ISLET

 

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TERRESTRIAL VISITOR SITES:   SOBRERO CHINO

PERMITTED USE
  •   Interpretive Group Tour with a Naturalist Guide
  •   Photography and filming
  •   Associated Activities authorized by the GNPS in the itineraries of Authorized Vessels
INFORMATION A small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. It’s shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from afar. It is an island consisting of a cone type “Splatter” (lava ejected as drops and falls close to where it came from, which forms a cone inclined) that forms the summit and many lava tubes that go down to the coast.

On the west you can see pillow-type lava formations, which are an indicator that the flows were formed under the sea and have been raised upward, which is why coral heads are found on the lava.

This visit provides an excellent opportunity for the interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows.

The trail is 700 m (round trip) and the minimum time it takes this trek is half an hour.

SPECIAL INDICATIONS ·         It is prohibited to climb to the summit. Lava flows from this island are extremely fragile and easily eroded.

·         Sombrero Chino is separated from Santiago Island by a small channel of turquoise waters. The adjacent lava flow on Santiago Island, is not visiting area.

·         It is very nice to snorkel near the shore of Santiago island. There is a variety of marine species.

 

** Take it from: http://www.galapagospark.org/onecolmap.php?page=sitiosdevisita_index