The eastern most Galapagos island is also one of the oldest an eroded volcano rising gently to moist highlands nearly 900 m above sea level. Several endemic species and subspecies have evolved on San Cristobal, but human impact has been sever over much of the island, the once extensive scalesia forest has been choked out by introduced guava and the miconia zone is a remnant of its former extent. Nevertheless, conservation and rehabilitation program are underway and growing number of tour boats are operating out of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the sleepy capital of the Galapagos.
Just a short hiking distance from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno you will find Frigate bird Hill / Cerro Tijereta. The trail begins on the road beyond Cabañas Don Jorge. At the end of the road you will find 2 paths one which leads through the woods and the along Playa Mann and the other path is up a rocky rocky trail. You can take either one because it is a loop and you will return on the other one.
You will find spectacular views of the white beaches on one side and the town of Puerto Baquerizo on the other. The hill is often visited by Frigate birds; both magnificent and great, giving the hill it's name. The trek usually takes 20-40 minutes.
The Highlands of San Cristobal are one of the few areas within the islands where visitors are not required to travel with a guide. It is possible to do your own exploration either by foot or by hiring local truck in town.
Head out from Puerto Baquerizo following the signs marked for El Progresso. This small town was established as a penal colony in 1888. The road climbs up the sides of an extinct volcano. At the summit visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the El Junco Lagoon. The lake supplies water both for the people of the island and for many of the tourist boats. Hiking around the lake offers views of practically the entire island including San Joaquin Hill the island's highest point.
El Junco Lagoon is the only permanent freshwater lake in the Galapagos, and you can normally see Galapagos pintails, moorhens and pied-billed grebes here. Located in the high part of San Cristobal at an altitude of 700 meters, El Junco, almost round in shape and 6 meters deep, has been the object of a study in which the lake’s bottom sediments were analyzed for the purpose of discovering information about the vegetation and climate of the Archipelago many thousands of years ago.
Kicker Rock, (aka Leon Dormido) is remnant of a vertical tuff formation, abruptly rising almost 500 ft from the ocean. Erosion has split the rock and given it its characteristic shape, which some see as shoe, the origin of the name Kicker Rock. Others see it as a sleeping sea lion or Leon Dormido in Spanish. Small vessels pass through the rock which is divided in two parts forming a channel between them. A panga ride around this tuff cone formation gives you the opportunity to see Nascar boobies, blue-footed boobies, and frigate birds along the cliffs. Located about an hour and half to the northeast of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
This is also a very interesting dive site perhaps the best in the central Islands of the Galapagos archipelago, equivalent to the famous Gordon Rocks. There are two vertical walls 148 meters in height with a channel in the middle that gives a haven for sharks and many other species of fish.
The walls are amazingly colorful almost sure sightings of great marine fauna including octopus and many sharks including scalloped hammerheads, silver tipped and Galapagos sharks. Other sea creatures are turtles, eagle rays and sea lions.
Isla Lobos, this small island is separated from the main island by a narrow stretch of calm waters. Upon its rocky shores, blue-footed boobies nest (in season) and sea lions rest and play. Isla Lobos is a small island that seem to be festooned with Galapagos sea lions. Nesting blue-footed boobies, are abundant and other birds include great frigate-birds, brown pelicans, lava gulls, common noddies, yellow warblers and small and medium ground finches. There is good snorkeling in the clear waters of the channel and this is one of the best site to get in among sea lions underwater, keeping a wary eye on any territorial bulls.
A 10 minute bus ride from Puerto Baquerizo you will find La Lobería. La Lobería is home to a large colony of sea lions. There are normally dozens of sea lions there at any time. Low tide is one of the best times to visit to see the mother sea lions teaching their pups to swim. In addition to the sea lions, Yellow Warblers, Frigate Birds, and several of the species of the Darwin Finches live here, and you may see some marine iguanas.
La Loberia also has interesting flora including button mangrove, white mangrove, chala, palo santo, cotton, Tiquilia, morning glory and other species of the littoral zone as the cacho de chivo, whose seeds is the main source of food for several species of finches.
Punta Pitt is an eroded volcanic tuff cone and is one of the only two sites where all three of the boobie birds breed, as well as two species of frigate birds, swallow tailed gulls and Galapagos storm-petrels. Punta Pitt offers some amazing views of the shoreline and if possible it is good opportunity to swim and snorkel at nearby islets.
La Galapaguera is one of the Galapagos National Park's tortoise breeding centers and has been built to help improve the population of the giant tortoises, Geochelone Chatamensis, in an environment similar to their natural on. You can see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat! This location is also referred to as Cerro Colorado for the hill which it is close to and it includes Jacinto Gordillo. The location is a 40 minute bus ride to the south shore and passing the highlands of San Cristóbal. You can see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. If you walk, this is a 4-6 hour fairly strenuous hike, but is an excellent opportunity to get a look at a large numbers of giant tortoises.
Cerro Brujo or "Witch Hill" is one of the first sites visited by Charles Darwin, Cerro Brujo is a beautiful white coral sand beach where brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and marine iguanas can all be found. The beach is a large and wide making ideal for walking and with great opportunities for bird watching. You can see Blue Footed boobie, Brown Pelicans, Frigate Birds, Herons, and more. Other animals at Cerro Brujo are Sea Lions, Mocking Birds, Lava Lizards
Ochoa beach is a horseshoe shaped cove located very close to the airport and it can be the first visitation site for cruise ships starting in San Cristobal. Located on the western side of San Cristobal island this place can only be reached by boat. It is subtle introduction to the Galapagos. You will find a small tidal lagoon behind the beach with sea lions, frigate birds, pelicans and blue footed boobies. This also offers up some easy snorkeling opportunities to build confidence in your snorkeling skills.
Puerto Grande is a beach on the coast of San Cristobal Island close to Kicker Rock. It is a very nice beach with good swimming and snorkeling opportunities. According legend, there is pirate treasure buried at Puerto Grande, although no one has ever found any. Possibly the treasure is really one of the best beaches in the Galapagos.
Interpretation Center: Interpretation Center is where visitors will be introduce to a greater understanding of Galápagos and its uniqueness. Charles Darwin set foot on land for the first time in the Galapagos on San Cristobal in 1835. At the Interpretation Center you will learn about the history, nature, humankind, and conservation of the wonderful islands.
San Cristobal Location: Easternmost island. 80 km east of Puerto Ayora
Facilities: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno has Galapagos National Park Interpretation Center, cafes, restaurants, hotels and hostels, souvenir shops, various other services and an airport. Dry landing at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Los Lobos, wet landing at Punta Pitt.
Photo opportunities: Galapagos Sea Lions, blue-footed and red-footed boobies, giant tortoises, endemic Chatham mocking birds and lava lizards.
Click on map for larger image.