from $1889per person
Santa Cruz and Isabela islands are your base for exploring the Galapagos, including giant tortoise reserves, Charles Darwin Research Station, Tintoreras Islet, Sierra Negra Volcano, and other islands like Bartholomew, North Seymour or Santa Fe.
A lodge-based Galapagos adventure, this program overnights at centrally located Santa Cruz as well as Isabela, the archipelago’s largest island. While many programs just take you along the sea line, this itinerary includes the lush interior highlands to see giant Galapagos tortoises roaming freely, many species of unusual birdlife, marine iguanas, harmless sharks, sea lions, penguins and much more, plus a comprehensive view of the awesome geological history of this one-of-a-kind corner of the world. In addition, you get to see how the native inhabitants live in this awesome environment. There is also greater feasibility in tailoring your agenda to meet your specific needs and interests.
*Departures any day with minimum 2 people
DAY 1. QUITO OR GUAYAQUIL / SANTA CRUZ
Please be at the airport 2 hours before your flight. Upon arrival to Baltra, our naturalist guide will take you to the pier in order to cross the Itabaca channel to the island of Santa Cruz. First, stop at The Twins which are similar to craters, but formed by a collapse of the earth underneath due to lava flows that passed below it. Walk through the scalesia forest to encounter Galapagos fly-catchers and other endemic birds. Then it’s Manzanillo or El Chato farm in the highlands to have lunch and your first glimpse of a Galapagos Giant Tortoise in its natural habitat. These enormous creatures roam freely between the National Park and agricultural areas, offering the ideal opportunity to view these ancient creatures munching on lush green vegetation or wallowing in the mud of the seasonal pools that draw them from the lowlands during the dry winter season. At certain times in the year, migratory shore birds can also be seen. This guided tour includes a walk through open fields and forest. A basic cafeteria and clean toilets are available on these farms and some offer rubber boots in case of muddy terrain. Finally, you will be dropped-off at your hotel in Puerto Ayora. Time-permitting, you can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station on your own. (Lunch)
DAY 2. DAY TRIP TO AN UNINHABITED ISLAND
Full-day excursion to one of the uninhabited islands of the archipelago, easily accessible from Santa Cruz. The boat ride takes 1 to 2 hours each way, depending on the destination. Lunch is served on board. The boats hold 16 to 20 passengers and have a bathroom, sun deck and a purified water dispenser. Each of the islands has something interesting to offer in terms of wildlife and landscape. Based on availability, you’ll visit one of the following: Santa Fe, South Plazas, North Seymour or Bartholomew. (Breakfast / Lunch)
DAY 3. ISABELA ISLAND
In the early morning, take the public speedboat to Isabela Island, a journey of about 2.5 hours, to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. Here we witness different stages of growth of these animals; the wetlands, with 3 types of mangroves, home to various birds, Sally light-foot crabs, and marine iguanas; finally, we bike to the Wall of Tears. From 1946 to 1959, Isabella was a penal colony and prisoners were forced to build a wall with enormous blocks of lava. The arduous labor and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived gave origin to the name of this place. Additionally, visit a small lava tunnel and a flamingo lagoon before returning to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, set sail to Tintoreras Islet and start exploring on foot. Here, white-tip sharks known as “tintoreras” come daily to rest on the bottom of the sea. We also can observe the endemic Galapagos penguins, sea lions, and marine iguanas, as well as go snorkeling with reef sharks and other colorful tropical fish. (Breakfast / Lunch)
DAY 4. ISABELA ISLAND
Choose from one of these activities:
Snorkeling at the Tunnels
After breakfast, sail to The Tunnels, about 1.5 hours from Puerto Villamíl. We first head to Union Rock, a small island located in the open sea to spot pelicans, Nazca and blue-footed boobies, and sea lions resting on the rocks. After this short stop, we navigate for about 45 minutes to reach one of the most beautiful lava rock formations in Galapagos: The Tunnels. These underwater caves appeared after volcanic eruptions, creating arches over the water where vegetation can be clearly seen stemming out of the rocks, with crystal-clear water. Then, it’s the Finados to snorkel with sea turtles, white-tip sharks, golden rays, eagle rays, seahorses, and tropical fish. The tour includes a light box lunch on board after enjoying the two activities. We arrive at Isabela around 3 pm to go snorkeling at Concha Perla (optional, on your own), a small bay by the pier, along with sea lions and a variety of colorful fish, starfish, and sea urchins! Alternatively, relax at the beach or enjoy a cocktail at one of the town bars.
Sierra Negra Volcano Hike
After breakfast, enjoy a full-day excursion to Sierra Negra Volcano, located 13 miles from Puerto Villamil and the world’s second largest volcanic crater, measuring 6 miles in diameter and 300 feet deep! Weather-permitting, hike up through the lush forest for an amazing view of the caldera and the silhouette of Isabella Island. Continue on to Chico Volcano, a part of the volcano that is still active and continues to warm the surrounding ground! The landscape here differs tremendously, being mostly bare land covered in lava and sparse cacti. Total hike distance: 10 miles / 16 km. A box lunch will be provided. In the afternoon, go snorkeling (optional, on your own) at Concha Perla, a small bay by the pier where we find sea lions and a variety of colorful fish, starfish, and sea urchins! Alternatively, relax by the beach and get a cocktail! (Breakfast / Box Lunch)
DAY 5. BALTRA / GUAYAQUIL OR QUITO
Early speedboat transfer to Santa Cruz (6 am). After breakfast, travel to Baltra Airport to return to the mainland.
You will be picked up from your hotel after breakfast; the exact time will be confirmed the night before. We depart to the Itabaca Channel (breakfast served on board). This fantastic day-long tour offers spectacular volcanic landscapes and great snorkeling. The journey aboard our vessel takes almost two hours, while there’s a chance of seeing dolphins and even whales during the crossing. We stop at Daphne Island, a volcanic tuff cone formation, for sea lions and various sea birds that inhabit it. Bartholomew Island itself is famous for its emblematic ‘Pinnacle Rock’ – probably the most photographed volcanic formation in Galapagos. Climb up a long wooden staircase comprising over 360 steps to the viewpoint that offers unobstructed views of nearly all the central islands in the archipelago (optional activity). Then, a short dinghy ride brings us real close to photograph Galapagos penguins that live along the coastline. Lunch is served with one of the most amazing volcanic backdrops found anywhere in the archipelago. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.
You will be picked up from your hotel after breakfast; the exact time will be confirmed the night before. We start our journey to the Itabaca Channel (40-minute ride) and board our boat to South Plazas Island (navigation time about 1h40). Formed by uplifted lava-fault blocks, this island is inhabited by land iguanas, Audubon’s shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, pelicans, sea lions, swallow-tailed gulls and more, framed by a vegetation of opuntia cacti growing over low patches of sesuvium, a striking red succulent. Towards the far end of the island lives a ‘bachelor colony’ of male sea lions. Lunch is served anchored close to the rocky seashore. After lunch, a short boat ride to Punta Carrion offers easy snorkeling and swimming around a shallow and protected cove. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.
You will be picked up from your hotel after breakfast; the exact time will be confirmed the night before. We depart to the Itabaca Channel to board our boat and navigate to North Seymour Island. Located just north of Baltra, this island’s submarine lava formation features an array of magnificent frigate birds, nesting blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. We head out by boat to explore this rather flat island, uplifted by a magma build-up underneath. Within its bushes, feast your eyes on one of the largest colonies of magnificent frigate birds, as well as land iguanas. Blue-footed boobies with their unusual courtship dance might be seen, depending on the season of year. We then backtrack to Santa Cruz to anchor in the still waters at Bachas Beach for a leisurely lunch. Next on the agenda are sea turtle nests, shorebirds, diving boobies, plus striking flamingos! Afterwards cool off by trying out your snorkeling skills or just take an easy swim right from the beach. Don’t forget your most comfortable walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.
We drive to the pier in Puerto Ayora to board the boat and navigate to Santa Fe Island, which is located south of Santa Cruz. A walk around this dry and rugged island offers the chance of spotting the Santa Fe land iguana that is only found here. Anchored in the crystal-clear waters of this beautiful protected bay, you can snorkel with sea lions or be greeting by them upon landing on the sandy beach. A short circular trail takes you along the cliff edge to spot iguanas, as well as many lava lizards and even the elusive Galapagos hawk. The trail brings you back round onto a second beach that is also inhabited by sea lions and blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks. Snorkel in the bay and admire the many species of tropical reef fish and occasionally sea turtles and rays. Lunch is served on board whilst anchored in the bay. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.
2019 Rates (per person in USD)
*Children up to 11 years old get 10% discount.
*Inquire about hotel upgrades.
- A 30% deposit is required to confirm the booking.
- Balance payment is due 45 days before departure.
- If cancellation is made 91 days or more before departure, the deposit will be refunded.
- If cancellation is made 90 to 61 days before departure, the deposit will be forfeited.
- If cancellation is made 60 to 45 days before departure, 50% will be charged.
- If cancellation is made less than 45 days before departure, full payment will be charged.
- The tour may be rescheduled to a later date, plus administrative costs.