REMARKABLE AND MEMORABLE VISITOR SITES ARE CONVENIENT TO GALAPAGOS ECO FRIENDLY
The area in and around Puerto Baquerizo and San Cristobal is filled with countless opportunities for nature lovers to see some of the most unique, intriguing and spectacular wonders of the world. Hikers, divers, snorkelers and photographers will find that favorite destinations within the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve, such as Kicker Rock and Isla Lobos, are located on San Cristobal Island and in its environs. Galapagos Eco Friendly is convenient to these and many more amazing adventures.
The Center and Harbor of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
In downtown Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, you will share the harbor benches with the friendly sea lions, who make this bustling town their own. As the administrative center of the Galapagos Islands, the town boasts of excellent shopping and dining opportunities. The best of Ecuadorian cuisine is available, as are the artwork and designs of local artisans. Take a break from snorkeling and hiking to stroll along the main street and enjoy the “big city” life.
The Interpretation Center
During your stay in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno plan on visiting the very popular Interpretation Center, just about a 10-minute walk from the harbor. The Interpretation Center provides important background information and introductory perspective for any traveler to the Galapagos Islands. The exhibitions visually explore the archipelago’s natural volcanic history and formation, explain why certain wildlife has been able to sustain itself on a sometimes barren landscape with very little fresh water, and provide insight into the impact of humans and the importance of conservation on the delicate ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands.
From the Interpretation Center you will have the opportunity to hike and to explore the two-mile lava trail to Frigatebird Hill and Darwin Bay, where you will see the breeding area of both the Magnificent Frigatebird and Great Frigatebird. The local plant, animal and bird life provides you with many exciting photographic opportunities. You are likely to see a unique dry forest of cacti, acacia and sometimes Galapagos cotton. At Frigatebird Hill and Darwin Bay you will be treated to sweeping views of the port, and the north-western part of San Cristobal, including Kicker Rock.
There is no more stunning and majestic site in the Galapagos Islands than Kicker Rock. Whether you visit for an unforgettable sunset, to see the bird-life on the towering monoliths, to snorkel or to scuba dive, Kicker Rock will impress and enchant you. As your boat nears the two towers jutting up from the ocean floor, you will be captivated by this site of an old volcanic eruption now eroded by tens of thousands of years of wind and waves. The marine life here includes spotted eagle rays, harlequin wrasse, Galapagos sharks, hammerhead sharks, as well as schools of rainbow runners, yellow-tail grunts and other brightly-coloured tropical fish. You might even see a penguin or a rare and wonderful Galapagos green sea turtle swimming by.
Puerto Grande is a protected cove on the north-western side of San Cristobal, with a white sandy beach – just perfect for a peaceful walk, swimming and photographic opportunities. It is located nearby Kicker Rock Island. The beautiful and peaceful beach houses a system of dunes and plant species endemic to the Galapagos Island coast, as well as many aquatic birds.
That it is the nesting ground for blue-footed boobies and frigate birds is enough to warrant a trip to Isla Lobos, a small rocky islet off the coast of San Cristobal. Even more exciting is the opportunity to swim with the captivating and charismatic sea lions. Unafraid and eager to engage, the sea lion pups will entice you to chase them and play like one of them. Other marine life at Isla Lobos includes manta rays, multiple fish species, star fish and sea turtles.
Punta Pitt is a favorite snorkeling and diving reef populated by large schools of tropical fish including king angelfish, grunts, snappers, and Alamo jacks. Sea lions, octopus, rays, and whale sharks also are frequently seen nearby. Visitors hope to see all three species of boobies – red footed, blue footed and Nazca – when they take the challenging hike up the jagged and rugged terrain at Punta Pitt. From the top is a spectacular view. Punta Pitt is also the nesting site of frigatebirds. The stunning beach is crystalline in consistency and frequented by sea lions, frigates, pelicans, herons and gulls.
While all of the Galapagos Islands is dedicated to conservancy and maintaining the tenuous ecological balance discovered by Charles Darwin, nowhere is this more true than the Island of San Cristóbal itself. It a forerunner in the quest for renewable energy, as at least 60 percent of its energy already is generated by wind and solar power. Moreover, in conjunction with the Charles Darwin Research Center, it is determined to see that the once-dwindling population of indigenous Galapagos tortoises thrives again. To that end, San Cristóbal boasts a remarkable and impressive controlled breeding center for the endemic Galapagos Giant Tortoise population. Observe these gentle reminders of the past and hope for the future wander through their environment searching for shade and leafy greens, as you photograph and preserve your own precious memories. Those adventurous visitors who hike to Galapaguera will experience the giant tortoises in the preserve mirroring their natural habitat. Not only the Giant Tortoises, but also other endemic species can be seen on this hike, including lava lizards, geckos and mockingbirds.
Located on the northern coast of San Cristobal, Witch Hill will delight you with one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos. The feel of the warm powdery white sand will soothe you while you engage with some of the most exciting wildlife in the region. The area is populated with sea turtles, rays and blue-footed boobies. The ever-popular and personable sea lions lounge on the beach and play in the water. Witch Hill presents multiple touring opportunities. Those who go to Witch Hill boat through scenic passages, swim and snorkel with sea lions and observe pelicans, blue-footed boobies, iguanas and other Galapagos endemic marine life.
Throughout WWI transport ships sailed around the Galapagos islands. It was right outside the harbour of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno that the WWI German transport ship Caragua sank 100 years ago. At the wreck site a reef-like environment has been created. Scuba divers will be exposed to stingrays, nudibranches, corals, schools of fish, rays and sea lions. This remains one of the few wreck dives in Galapagos. The wreck is approximately 300 feet long and you can inspect the ship’s remains including the propellers and boilers.
El Junco and the San Cristobal Highlands
Laguna El Junco is a miraculous fresh water lake, the largest fresh water repository anywhere in the entire Galapagos archipelago. It was formed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the crater of a now-extinct volcano in the highlands of San Cristobal. Just a short drive from Galapagos Eco Friendly, the lake boasts some of the most dramatic greenery in the island system and is home to a large population of bird life. The hike to El Junco provides the opportunity to climb up the sides of this extinct volcano. From your spectacular vantage point you may see many of the endemic bird species including Galapagos mockingbirds, pintails, moorhens, pied-billed grebes and frigate birds swooping down to the water to fish. The trail is abundant with flora and fauna. The dramatic view from the 2400 foot summit will take your breath away. While visiting the highlands you also will be treated to the remarkable view of San Cristobal Island’s Eastern shore including Punta Pitt, Puerto Chino and El Pescador.
A pleasant and scenic walk from town is the home of a large sea lion colony and nursery. La Loberia at low tide is an unmitigated treat. It is thrilling to watch the mother bring her pups to the tide pools for swimming lessons. Feel free to jump in the water and snorkel while the pups cavort around you. Get up close and personal as they dive down below you and burst back up again with their little faces just inches from yours. They seem to smile, and you will be smiling too. While you are here, enjoy the bird watching, marine iguanas and, from time to time, giant tortoises.
Nothing on the Galapagos Islands compares to the surf at Puerto Chino. Just moments from the San Cristobal airport, it is a site not to be missed. This rocky reef is a surfer’s paradise with consistent waves and a beautiful white sand crystalline beach. Swells are between 3 and 12 feet with a bottom reef of coral and sand. Drive to this beach or take a nature hike over lava fields and dry forest habitat to this gorgeous locale where you are likely to see both blue footed boobies and frigate birds diving.
Charles Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz Island
The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) was created in 1960 as a biological research station operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation. CDRS is where the Galapagos National Park Service started the conservation programs to protect and increase the number of tortoises so that they are no longer an endangered species. CDRS was the home of Lonesome George for more than 40 years. George, viewed by many as the number one tourist attraction in the Galapagos Islands, was the last known tortoise of his subspecies from Pinta Island and a symbol and icon of conservation not only of the giant tortoises, but of all of the environmental sustainability throughout the Galapagos Islands. Although many efforts were made to encourage Lonesome George to mate with a female of a related subspecies, he was unsuccessful. That’s not the case with Diego, who has been successfully reunited with females from Espanola Island, thereby saving that species from extinction. You will visit the exhibition center, tortoise rearing house and the adult tortoise house, where you will observe the 11 subspecies of tortoises up close. In the rearing house, hatchlings and young tortoises are nurtured until they can be released, at about four years of age, to their home islands. Nearly 2000 young tortoises have been released so far! This is a great place to get up-close photographs of the tortoises feeding on cacti and greens, engaging in their particularly slow and deliberate mating behavior or simply snoozing the day away.