The small island of Baltra is for many visitors the first island they will set foot on when arriving to the Archipelago of the Galapagos. The island is only 10.5 square miles (27 square kilometers) and located just 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) off the Northern coast of Santa Cruz Island which can be accessed by crossing the Itabaca Channel.
It is home to one of the two airports (San Cristobal Island has the second airport) that connect the archipelago with mainland Ecuador. After arriving on Baltra from Quito or Guayaquil visitors pay the park entrance fee which is currently US $100 (cash only) and fill out a couple of entry forms which are suggested to be kept to the end of the journey as sometimes people are asked to show these papers at the end of the trip. From the airport visitors will take a short bus ride from the airport to the harbor where most cruises begin their voyage.
Baltra airport was originally constructed by the U.S. military during World War II, and during this period most of the indigenous fauna of the island was exterminated. Currently the island houses a small Ecuadorian naval base and some of the Galapagos National Park employees live here as well.
As Baltra Island is not within the boundaries of Galapagos National Park, wildlife and tourist attractions are practically non-existent on the island, however, the relatively rare Land Iguana is the subject of an active re-introduction program and can be seen near the airport. This species became almost extinct on Baltra sometime in the mid-1900's. Luckily, visiting scientists in the early 1900's re-located a population of Baltra Land Iguanas from the island to North Seymour Island (a smaller island, just a few hundred meters north of Baltra), which became the breeding stock for a successful Charles Darwin Research Station captive breeding program. Descendants of these Land Iguanas are now the new inhabitants of the island.
|Area:||10.5 square miles (27 square kilometers)|
|Getting There:||Air from Quito and Guayaquil and ferry from Santa Cruz.|
|Major Sites:||Baltra airport|
|Activities:||Air travel IN & OUT for Galapagos programs.|