A stunning trip that allows you to experience the best the Galapagos has to offer. As you kayak, mountain bike, trek & snorkel, you will experience incredible close encounters with sea lions, iguanas, giant tortoises, blue footed boobies, and a myriad of tropical fish.
I had an amazing time on this once in a lifetime trip, please could you send my thanks to all the people who made my trip so incredible.
Discover the southern Islands of the Galapagos Archipelago on an active adventure that will deliver to you the most extraordinary experience in this world-class naturalist haven.
This flexible itinerary comes alive in a unique way as you sea kayak and snorkel in the marine reserve, or hike and even mountain bike on the highlands. Diving in the world-class marine reserve is optional, but highly recommended. The main highlights will be hiking to the Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela; paddling sea-kayaks in gin-clear waters past penguins or sea lion pups; mountain biking to the top of Santa Cruz in search of giant tortoises; and snorkeling or scuba-diving through huge shoals of tropical fish.
With a selection of comfort and luxury accommodation to choose from and daily activities suitable for all levels, this week long program combines the best of the Galapagos – nature, wildlife, history and landscapes along with adventure and sports. You visit areas that other travelers cannot reach, and in doing so are able to share experiences with the local people and learn more about the challenges they face living on these islands and support local people through this sustainable program.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL AND START YOUR SAN CRISTOBAL KAYAK ADVENTURE
After a morning flight from the Ecuadorian mainland to San Cristobal Island, you will arrive at the airport and head to your hotel. You can explore the town and have lunch by yourself. Early in the afternoon, we give you a quick introduction to the island before heading to the coast, where our kayaks will be waiting for us at for our first taste of Galapagos magic. We paddle along the coastal bays and coves of San Cristobal’s North coast, a world of comic-looking blue footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions and sea turtles. If we’re lucky, we may see rays underwater and marine iguanas perching on lava rocks. Back at the hotel, you will have some free time in which you can enjoy the island seafood specials in the port of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
DAY 2: SNORKEL IN SAN CRISTOBAL’S NORTHERN COAST – SAN CRISTOBAL
Today’s journey will take us to some incredible offshore snorkeling sites and along the best diving sites in the Galapagos!
In the company of our experienced guide, we will search nearby coves and cliffs for sea turtles, frigate birds, bluefooted boobies, and Nazca boobies. There’s also the chance to get up close and personal with sea lions– the young pups are ever-curious and playful.
As we snorkel, we might spot eagle rays, golden rays, starfish, clams, and thousands of tropical fish. Additionally, with this being a known feeding area for sharks we might also get the chance to see Galapagos sharks and hammerhead sharks.
As the sun sets on our day under the waves, we return to the hotel for a relaxed evening at the coastal town
DAY 3: DISCOVER ISABELA’S BEACHES, LAGOONS AND ISLETS
After breakfast, we say goodbye to San Cristobal to board our small plane for a thrilling flight across the archipelago’s azure waters and volcanic landscapes to Isabela Island. Amazingly, it is still in the throes of creation, formed by six active shield volcanoes. In fact, Isabela is one of the most volcanically active spots on the planet.
Upon arrival, we head to the visitor site known as Tintoreras to explore this beautiful marine world by kayak, weaving between a set of small islets filled with hidden coves and beaches. Here, meet an unexpected denizen of the Tropics: the endemic Galapagos penguin. Spot reef sharks, sea turtles and sea lions as we paddle.
Seafood, Ecuadorian and international cuisine are all available in the small beach town of Puerto Villamil, meaning there is a lot to choose from when buying your lunch. You can grab a quick dip in the ocean, or a swing in a hammock, before our local guest experience coordinator briefs you on your next adventure: a self-guided bike ride through a succession of Isabela’s white sand beaches, mangrove forests and brackish lagoons. The ride is fun and easy, and as ever in Galapagos, there are plenty of birds to spot and wonders to take in. Your evening is free and easy.
DAY 4: HIKE ISABELA’S HIGHLANDS
From the coast, we join a naturalist guide and shared group to drive up the flanks of the mighty Sierra Negra volcano. Where road the peters out, we continue on foot. We hike through the intriguing highland ecosystem, which is at times smothered in dreamy clouds. At the top, at the volcano’s rim, a surreal world of geological history unfolds before us, with incredible views of the surrounding volcanoes and ocean, a pristine other-worldly scene to savor. After a break to catch our breath and take in the views, we hike the rim of this enormous crater and, if the group is feeling energetic, continue on to the caldera of Volcan Chico (“little”), a surreal landscape of vibrant hues created by sulphur deposits. Here we can explore spectacular lava formations and even huffing fumaroles of vapor. We return to the lowlands in time to spend our last afternoon on Isabela relaxing on the perfect beaches and soaking up the island-life atmosphere. You are now free to find your own dinner.
DAY 5: CROSS TO SANTA CRUZ FOR A HIKE IN THE HIGHLANDS
We leave Isabela early aboard a public speed boat, for our ride east to Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora, the archipelago’s largest settlement. We meet you at the dock and head to the hotel. There’s no time to lose as the famous Galapagos giant tortoises await. We drive up to the highlands where these lumbering creatures heave their way through their natural habitat. It is truly an honor to walk in the stately presence of these gentle giants. Spot pintail ducks, Darwin’s finches, frigate birds, egrets and the vermillion flycatcher amid this lush, green ecosystem. Our next stop is the incredible lava tunnels, which made ideal hideouts for the pirates who once frequented the Galapagos. Legend has it that they were also used to hide Inca gold stolen from Spanish galleons. Lunch is served at a traditional hacienda in the highlands. If time permits, we can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park’s tortoise breeding program back in Puerto Ayora. You’re free to enjoy the port’s array of shops, restaurants and bars in the evening on your own.
DAY 6: BAY TOUR, SNORKEL AND TORTUGA BAY ADVENTURE
A day dedicated to exploring Puerto Ayora’s fascinating natural environment. After breakfast, we join a naturalist guide and shared group to make our way west from the port, stopping by the Lobería where sea lions can be observed. We come to an islet called Punta Camaño, a great place to put on on our snorkels, masks and fins to meet sea lions and schools of fish. Passing through the romantically-named Canal del Amor, we disembark at Playa de los Perros, where, after a short walk, groups of jet-back marine iguanas bask beneath the sun’s rays, occasionally slipping off into the sea to feed.
Following lunch in Puerto Ayora on your own – where there are options aplenty for you to choose from – one of the world’s most beautiful beaches lies a short hike from town: Tortuga Bay. If you feel energetic, at the first beach you come to you can rent a surf board, or at the second beach, a kayak. If you prefer to relax, the second beach is tranquil, hemmed by mangroves and ideal for observing birdlife or going for a swim.
DAY 7: TRANSFER TO AIRPORT
Finally, it’s time bid a fond farewell to the Galapagos. We board a transport to take you north over Santa Cruz Island to the Itabaca Channel, where a short hop on a ferry and a short bus ride takes us to Baltra Island’s airport.
Please note, this trip ends at the Itabaca channel; you will be transported here, where you take the ferry across to Baltra Island ($1). Here you pick up the free public bus to the airport where you will get your flight from Quito – the reason we do not include this guided transfer is that Galapagos guides only have full day rates (even for a 20 minute service). This procedure is very easy (you can see the buses waiting for you at the dock once you arrive at the Itabaca channel). If you prefer a guided transfer this would cost an additional £185.
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Wildlife, wildlife, wildlife. In your face and constant no matter where you were - in town or on a trip. Exactly what we’d hoped for. Our highlights have to be swimming with sharks, hammer head sharks and the general flora and fauna. There were no crowds and it wasn’t spoilt by queues of tourists (accepting we are tourists!). The way tourism is managed well and seems to strike a reasonable balance. The Ecuadorians/Galapogans are friendly and not fazed by the tourists. We always felt comfortable. The sun was intense (Sally can usually handle hours and hours of sunbathing but we didn’t have time for that (good!) and burning was a real threat even for Sally)
Can I say a huge thanks for the holiday - it has been excellent! The local provider couldn't have been better. The standard of the hotels, meals and guides were top notch and probably the best I have experienced. All 3 guides were great - excellent English and really knowledgeable, professional and informative.
Many thanks for everything you did as well - we've all had a great time!
“Thank you for organising our Galapagos trip. Everything ran perfectly to plan - Flights all pre booked, transfers waiting for us at all destinations, excellent hotels & food. We had our own expert guides and transport for all excursions which included cycling, boat trips, snorkelling with turtles, rays and sharks, hiking to the rim of a volcano, walking amongst the giant tortoises and many opportunities to observe the incredible range of flora & fauna…..including the iguanas. As a keen birdwatcher I was thrilled to see forty of the sixty or so species on the Islands. We saw much more by being land based as opposed to the cruises which most companies offer. The Galapagos are a unique experience and we loved every second - we cannot stop talking about our trip and I can honestly say that the only criticism I have is that we did not stay longer. Once again, thank you for a lifetime experience……”
The whole event was a high. Hard to beat the amazement of first 20 mins in Galapagos arriving at Opuntia Hotel and seeing what seascape and wildlife lay immediately in front. All activities great - so pleased this was not a passive viewing of the islands and mainland.
Our jaunt to S America met and exceeded all expectations. Arrangements worked well. The contrasts in landscape, flora, fauna, people, buildings, wealth, weather, food, transport and so forth were just extraordinary in the true sense of the word in both the Galapagos (wonderful) and mainland (great too)
Brilliant holiday – fantastic places, hotels, activities, guides, pick ups… you name it. So thank you very much indeed.
Brilliant experience in a unique location with up-close animal experiences
Highlights - Swimming with sharks, seeing the free-ranging tortoises, the cycle ride to the wall of tears, Kayaking on San Cristobal was excellent but poor on Santa Cruz
I had an amazing time on this once in a lifetime trip, please could you send my thanks to all the people who made my trip so incredible