Baltra Galapagos

Baltra Galapagos, also known as South Seymour Island, is a small island located right in the center of the Galapagos archipelago, between North Seymour Island and the large island of Santa Cruz. It has an area of only eight square miles. Baltra Island has one of only two airports serving the Galapagos islands, and most visitors will arrive at Seymour Airport on Baltra Island before continuing on to further travel in the islands. Baltra Galapagos is separated from Santa Cruz by a narrow stretch of water called the Itabaca Canal.

Although Baltra Island is the entry point to the Galapagos for most tourists, there are few attractions for visitors on the island itself, and no tourist accommodations. Once you arrive at the airport, pay your Galapagos National Park fees, and have your luggage inspected for foreign contaminants, you will likely be quickly whisked away by bus to the Baltra boat dock, just five minutes' bus ride from the airport. At the boat dock you will either meet your prearranged boat or yacht tour or be able to book one with the many tour operators that serve the Galapagos Islands.

From the airport you can also take a 10 minute bus ride to Baltra harbor, where you can take the ferry across the channel, and then catch a bus to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos Islands and an excellent base from which to arrange boat tours and other excursions around the islands. Transfers from Seymour Airport on Baltra to Puerto Ayora can be arranged at the airport.

Several flights by the air carriers TAME and Aerogal fly to the island daily from both Guayaquil and Quito; however, these flights are usually arranged through a package tour with a travel agent, so be sure to make your arrangements ahead of time as this is not an easy destination to reach on last minute vacations.

Despite the lack of things to do on Baltra Island, it is still worthwhile to take a look around as you may get a glimpse of the Galapagos land iguanas around the airport. During World War II, Baltra Galapagos was used as an army base for the United States, and sadly, most of the island's wildlife was wiped out. The land iguana was one of those unfortunate species, becoming extinct on Baltra in 1954.

Luckily, a handful of land iguanas survived on the nearby North Seymour Island, and from this small group of iguanas, a captive breeding program was successfully run at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora Santa Cruz. The land iguanas were re-introduced to Baltra Island in the 1990s, and today it is possible to glimpse some of these little lizards running across the roads near the airport.

Baltra Galapagos continues to be used as a military base for the Ecuadorian government and is not technically a part of the Galapagos National Park. Other wildlife that can be glimpsed on Baltra includes sea lions at the dock and harbor, as well as frigate birds, colorful crabs, and blue-footed boobies, a bird that lives on the coast.

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