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The Galeodan Suites in Helena’s Garden

San Cristóbal Sightseeing

Collage - Sightseeing

The natural backdrop to the Galápagos’ unique species is varied and spectacular in its own right: from hard rock and prickly cactus to verdant woodland and sweeping beaches. San Cristóbal features several of the Galápagos’ premier visit-sites including Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock) Punta Pitt, and the volcanic crater lake: El Junco. San Cristóbal also has numerous beautiful and deserted beaches, several of which are in walking distance from Helena’s Garden.

Sites to visit:

In and Around Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

On Land Tours

On Daily-Tours by Boat

On Vivencial Fishing Boats (PAV Sites)

Be sure to study and obey the Galápagos National Park’s Rules for Visitors
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In Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

All of these sites are within walking distance or a short (5 minute) taxi ride from Helena’s Garden and the Galeodan Suites.:

  • Interpretation Centre
  • Cerro Tijeretas (Frigate Bird Hill)
  • La Loberia
  • Punta Carola
  • Playa Mann

The Interpretation Centre

Here you can learn about the natural history and human history of the Galápagos archipelago: from its fiery origins; its discovery by humans; through generations of attempts to colonize and exploit its natural resources; to the present day with the many challenges facing its human and non-human inhabitants.

A visit to the Centre really gives context to your other Galápagos experiences and should not be missed. You can breeze through in 20 minutes or spend several hours studying the many exhibits

The Interpretation Centre is only 5 minutes walk from Helena’s Garden and can be self-directed or enhanced by the company of a guide..

Interpretation Centre

 

 

 

Cerro Tijeretas (Frigate Bird Hill)

From the exit of the Interpretation Centre, a path takes you to a spectacular lookout, where you can see the port, Leon Dormido, and the Pacific Ocean, facing west, into the sunset.

Walking back, you can take a dip in the crystal clear water of a sheltered bay and snorkel in the company of sea-lions and turtles. The path leads back along the shoreline and through the beach of Punta Carola.

The Tijeretas trail starts 5 minutes from Helena’s Garden and, like the Interpretation Centre, can be enjoyed either alone or in the company of a guide. The 3.5 mile loop can take anything from one to two hours depending on how many detours you take to enjoy the various monuments and lookout points along the route..

Ls Tijeretas

 

 

 

La Loberia

This mostly rocky beach is so named for its popularity as a nursery for sea lions. It used to be that one would visit the Loberia to find sea lions and cubs but these days they are found in significant numbers throughout Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Several of the human-popular beaches, like Punta Carola and Playa Man are now equally popular with sea lions and  humans and sea lions compete for space to swim, surf and raise their young.

La Loberia is a 5 minute tax-ride from Helena’s Garden, just beyond the airport. It is a popular spot for snorkelling and surfing.

Lobo & Pup

 

 

 

Punta Carola (Beach)

Punta Carola is named for the promontory which hosts one of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno’s navigation lighthouses. There you will see marine iguanas, pelicans, blue-footed boobies and, of course, sea lions. The beach, is popular for swimming, snorkelling and, above all, surfing. Punta Carola is one of the best surf beaches in Galápagos and a destination of choice for surfers from around the world.

Punta Carola is only a 10 minute walk from Helena’s Garden.

Marine Iguana
Carola Beach

 

 

 

Playa Mann (Beach)

Playa Mann is just outside the town centre, on the road towards the Interpretation Centre and Punta Carola.

Swimming is best at high tide as offshore it gets rocky. Here you will be sharing the beach, maybe also your beach towel, with sea lions and their pups. The water is generally calm with occasional surf best suited for body-boards.

Playa Mann

Playa Mann is just a couple of hundred yards from Helena’s Garden. The beach is overlooked by GAIAS (Galápagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences) which is a campus of USFQ (University of San Francisco de Quito). Next door to GAIAS is the Galápagos Science Centre.

USFQ at Playa Mann

 

 

 

 

 

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Land Tour - The Highlands...

A typical land-based tour of San Cristóbal will take in the following sites which can be visited by taxi or van, alone or in the company of a guide. The land-based sites include:

  • El Progresso with some detours to
    • Tarzan House,
    • Cobos House & Mill
    • Mirador \ Lookout points
  • Lagoon El Junco (crater lake)
  • Galapaguera Cerro Colorado (tortoise sanctuary)
  • Puerto Chino (beach)

The regular “Highlands Tour” can be undertaken in half to three-quarters of a day, starting at around 8:30 AM and ending between 1:00 and 3:00PM.

Highlands Tour
How do You Get There?

    Groups up to 3 can take a taxi, with or without a guide. 4 to 12 will need a van and any more than that: a bus.

How much does it cost?

    We have a small number of taxi drivers whom we know to be courteous, knowledgeable, patient and honest. They can take 3 (or 4 at a pinch) and will charge $60 to $70 for the first 5 hours (say 8:30AM to 1:30PM) and $10 per hour beyond that. We take no commission. Larger groups will need to rent a van (around $80) or even a bus (around $120).

    Bilingual guides are expensive ($100 and up) and in short supply in San Cristobal. Most visitors manage perfectly well without one but we will arrange for one if requested.

    Of course, you can always make your own arrangements and most times that works out just fine.

Do I need to book ahead?

    Most people arrange these excursions a day or two in advance but bi-lingual guides are in short supply - If you want to be sure of getting one, we suggest you reserve ahead of time.

El Progresso & The Highlands

El Progresso is only 6 km inland from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. At an elevation of just over 300m, the climate and vegetation are completely different. While the shore is hot and arid, little more than rocks and cactus in the dry season, the highlands are green and lush with year-round rain and abundant fresh water.

El Progresso, with a population of around 500, is the longest surviving community on the islands. It was, at one time a penal colony and later the center of a sugar cane plantation, under the direction of the infamous Manuel Cobos, ultimately murdered by his “employees” (slaves). The ruins of the house and mill are one of the more significant sites of historic interest on the Island.

El Progresso is surrounded by small, privately owned farms. Whereas in many countries, the population heads to the beach on weekends, here on San Cristóbal, everyone heads for the highlands. After making the trip yourself, you will understand why

There are several “miradors” (lookout points) some of which are intermittently served by restaurants (they come and go). We’ll give you an update and recommendations when you visit.

The Tarzan House, in Progresso, is a popular spot with adults and children alike. Built in, reputedly, the world’d largest ceibo tree. You can stay the night in the branches. There is also a room excavated into the roots. There is an entry charge of a couple of dollars and it makes an entertaining and refreshing break during a Highlands tour.

Highlands Waterfall
Tarzan House

Leom Dormido

Tree & Vines

 

 

 

Lagoon El Junco (Crater Lake)

9km beyond El Progresso, at 700m elevation, is Lagoon El Junco. El Junco is the only freshwater lake of significant size in the archipelago and is the source of water for the population of San Cristóbal.

The lagoon, in the crater of a long extinct volcano, is about 270m wide and the depth varies from 1 to 6 m depending on the rains. It’s worth a visit for the panoramic vistas as much as for the lagoon itself.

El Junco Steps
El Junco

 

 

 

Galapaguera Cerro Colorado

The Galapaguera is 21km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the same road as El Junco.

Also referred to as the Galapaguera Semi-Natural because it provides a protected environment for adult tortoises as well as hatching and growing pens for the juveniles.

Feeding time at the Galapaguera is around 9:00AM, 3 times a week.

Tortoises Feeding
Tortoise in Pool

 

 

 

Puerto Chino (Beach)

Just 2km beyond the Galapaguera is the beach of Puerto Chino. The road stops just a few hundred yards short of the beach itself and the journey is completed on foot.

Puerto Chino is a deep and wide white sandy beach, with good, sometimes excellent, surfing. It is especially good for novices as the bottom is sandy rather than rocky.

Surf at Puerto Chino
Beach at Puerto Chino

 

 

 

 

 

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Daily Tours - By Boat...

These sites are in the restricted zones of the Galápagos National Park and Marine Reserve and can only be visited as part of a “Daily Tour” on specially licensed boats in the company of a Naturalist Guide. In addition to the feature excursion, all boats offer snorkelling and/or diving and a beach visit as part of the itinerary.

The primary Daily Tour visit-sites are:

  • Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock)*
  • Isla Lobos
  • Punta Pitt
  • Cerro Brujo
  • Galapaguera Natural
  • Isla Española

The beaches include:

  • Manglecito
  • Playa Ochoa
  • Puerto Grande

There are other visit-sites, on San Cristóbal and the island of Santa Fé which are exclusive to Vivencial Fishing Boats (see section further below).

* Vivencial Fishing boats also have access to Leon Dormido

Map - Visit Sites
Punta Pitt

 

 

Leon Dormido \ Kicker Rock

Kicker Rock is known locally as Leon Dormido, so named for its alleged resemblance to a sleeping lion. This tuff cone, eroded into twin peaks, rising 140m above water, is the icon of San Cristóbal and one of the most popular attractions in the Galápagos.

The spectacular view above water is matched by the scenery and abundance of life below. Here you will see turtles, rays, reef-fish of all types, sea lions (of course) and several species of shark including hammerheads which sometimes congregate in the 100’s. Numerous guests have told us they experienced their best ever dives and snorkels there.

Leon Dormido is 40 to 60 minutes from port (depending on the boat). There are no landings on the rock itself but tours also visit a beach were guests can walk, swim and snorkel..

Kicker Rock \ Leon Dormido

Kicker Rock \ Leon Dormido

While some cruise boats continue to send their zodiacs through the gap, local boats have for years voluntarily ceased this practice for the sake of the creatures below.

Kicker Rock \ Leon Dormido

 

 

Isla Lobos

Isla Lobos is a small island just offshore and about 30 to 50 minutes from port.

The short hike, which takes about an hour, leads you past nesting blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. You will also find both species of sea-lion native to Galápagos.

The crystal clear waters, in the channel between Isla Lobos and San Cristóbal are ideal for a check-dive or snorkel with sea-lions, rays and turtles.

Nesting Boobies

Snorkel at Isla Lobos

 

 

Punta Pitt

Punta Pitt, 1½ to 2 hours from port, is truly a geological wonderland.

The tour starts with a wet landing on one of the World’s very few green (olivine) beaches where sunlight sparkles off the crystalline granules. As on many of San Cristóbal’s beaches, you will need to give space to a sizeable sea lion population.

The walk, which takes about 2 hours, features some challenging sections but at all times spectacular scenery.

Beach at Punta Pitt
Punta Pitt
Punta Pitt

 

 

Cerro Brujo

Cerro Brujo features a beautiful, long, coral-sand beach, interspersed with tidal pools and excellent snorkelling opportunities.

Leon Dormido is visible on the horizon and some extraordinary eroded tuff formations are visible on tours that include a panga-ride.

Cerro Brujo

Cerro Brujo & Kicker Rock

Cerro Brujo

 

 

 

Galapaguera Natural

This 5km (each way) hike can be challenging in any season, either for the heat or muddy passages in the rains, but the reward is a rare opportunity to observe turtles in their natural environment.

The beach is used by nesting turtles and makes a very pleasant spot for a refreshing swim or snorkel.

Tortoises

Galapagera Natural

 

 

 

Española

Española is one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos and, due to its isolation features several endemic species, including the waved albatross and Española mockingbird.

Española is 30nm from Puert Baquerizo Moreno and the crossing takes around 1½ hours. The Daily-tour features 2 landing sites: at Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay.

The excursion on Punta Suarez passes nesting sites of blue footed boobies,  masked boobies and of the world’s entire population of waved albatross. You will also see mockingbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, tropic birds  and lots of sea lions. Another highlight is the blowhole: El Soplador.

Gardner Bay features 1.3km of white sand beach with an opportunity to relax or snorkel with sea lions and sea turtles.

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Espanola 2

Espanola 3

 

 

 

 

Beaches....

Most daily tours include a visit to one of San Cristóbal’s many beautiful and isolated beaches, including:

  • Manglecito
  • Playa Ochoa
  • Puerto Ochoa
  • Puerto Grande
  • and others...
Manglecito

Puerto Ochoa

 

Costs, Reservations etc.

Updated: March 28, 2016

    These excursions are offered by boats licensed to offer bay-tours (tour de bahia) or daily tours with diving (tour diario y buceo), always under the direction of a National Park naturalist guide. The capacity of the boats varies from 6 to 8 passengers.

    Most tours consist of a visit to one or two of the primary “visit sites” (described below) together with one or two diving and/or snorkeling stops, lunch on the boat,  and time to relax on one of the many beautiful and deserted beaches only accessible from the water

How much does it cost?

    The price varies according to the distance to the site and activities undertaken. There may be some variation between operators but the average prices are:

    • Isla Lobos: $80 each (snorkel only)
    • Kicker Rock\Leon Dormido, Cerro Brujo: $120 each (snorkel) plus $50 for diving.
    • Punta Pitt, Galapagera Natural: $140 each (snorkel) plus $50 for diving.
    • Española: $200 each

    The prices may change at any time and we will confirm at the time of booking.

Do I need to book ahead?

    Of the 8 or 9 boats licensed for these tours, only 6 or 7 set out with any degree of regularity. Some are more dependable than others, in terms of service, reliability, punctuality and honouring bookings. If you are on the island for a week or more, there’s a good probability of booking the tour you want once you arrive and you may even get some last-minute deals as the operator tries to fill vacant spaces. But if you are here for less than a week and want to be sure of visiting a particular site, we recommend you book ahead.

    Isla Lobos is served by only one boat (Speed Pacific). Other boats show Isla Lobos on their itinerary but this will be for a snorkel or check-dive and will not include an onshore excursion.

    Leon Dormido is easily the most popular snorkelling and diving destination in San Cristóbal. And every day there are one or more boats scheduled to visit. So the chances of getting a trip, even at the last minute are usually quite good. But to visit with one of the more reliable operators, we recommend booking ahead.

    Punta Pitt is also a truly exceptional visit site. The diving and snorkelling is excellent but it is the scenery, rare geology and unique opportunity to observe all species of booby and frigate birds in one location that makes Punta Pitt one of the premier sites in Galápagos. The sensitivity of the site means that fewer visitors are allowed and so we particularly recommend advanced booking. Bear in mind that while other boats may advertise visits to Punta Pitt, only the Daily Tour boats can actually take you onshore.

    Española is one of the Galapagos’ most popular visit-sites and, until this year, was only accessible on a cruise. All the boats have Española on their schedule but not all boats make the trip, so you would definitely need to book ahead.

    To ensure the best possible experience during their visit, we offer to make reservations for our lodging or fishing guests and we do not add any commission to the regular prices. But we do not insist - Some travellers prefer to make their own arrangements and we respect that.

    We are also happy to make Daily Tour reservations for other travellers but in such cases will add a 15% service charge.

 

 

 

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Vivencial Fishing Rest-Sites...

Vivencial Fishing boats enjoy exclusive access to several sitios de descanso in the protected areas of San Cristóbal and Santa Fe:

On San Cristóbal:

  • Playa del Muerto
  • Punta Pucuna
  • Bahia Sardina
  • Bahia Rosa Blanca

On Santa Fe:

  • La Botella (consisting of 3 locations for swimming, sightseeing or snorklling)

These sites, which are isolated beaches and snorkelling spots, can only be visited on a Vivencial Fishing boat and are intended to provide a restful break in the course of a day of fishing.

What about costs and booking?

    For more information about Vivencial Fishing, including the types of fishing, boats and costs, visit the fishing pages at www.Galeodan.com.

Watch for more details and photographs of these exclusive sites...

 

Playa del Muerto

 

PAV - Playa del Muerto

 

 

Punta Pucuna

 

PAV - Punta Pucuna

 

 

Bahia Sardina

 

PAV - Bahia Sardina

 

 

Bahia Rosa Blanca

 

PAV - Bahia Rosa Blanca

 

 

 

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