Darwin's Islands

Visit the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela while staying on the islands during this 8-day trip in the Galapagos. The excursions on this tour will take you along coastlines and up into the highlands to see the incredible biodiversity on the Galapagos and witness first-hand the wildlife and unique scenery of the "Enchanted Islands." Travelers stay active with hiking and snorkeling excursions, but there is plenty of time to relax at the lodges and or on the beach. To learn more about the intriguing natural history of the islands, your park service guide will introduce you to historical sites on the Galapagos including an unforgettable visit to the famous Charles Darwin Research Center.

Day 1

Arrive Quito

Spend your first night in Quito exploring the city on your own.

Day 2

Fly Galapagos - Explore Santa Cruz Highlands

In the morning, catch a flight from Quito to the Galapagos.  Arrive Baltra Island, meet your guide and transfer to Santa Cruz Island. Check into your hotel in Puerto Ayora and enjoy lunch on the deck of the hotel over looking Academy Bay.

After lunch, take your first excursion to Los Gemelos (The Twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers nestled in the Highlands of Santa Cruze. This is the perfect introduction to the majestic power of the forces of nature that created the Galapagos Islands. This short, easy hike to each of the twins is swarming with endemic flora and fauna. You’ll see a remnant of a Scalesia Forest, draped in liverwort, lichens and mosses. It’s easy to spot some Darwin finches and if you are lucky maybe even a short eared owl.

After Los Gemelos, a short bus ride will take you to a 600-acre private tortoise reserve. Here the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze and sleep. After visiting these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, take a 5-minute ride to the entrance of a 450-meter (1350 feet) illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 20 feet high, this is an incredible opportunity see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, and mineral-colored walls. Return to town for dinner.

Day 3

  • Hotel
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Santa Cruz Kayaking - Off to Isabela Island

After breakfast, depart for a morning of kayaking and snorkeling. Depending on the conditions, you will visit either the Itabaca Canal or Academy Bay. Both areas are excellent for spotting sea lions, sea turtles and countless tropical fish. Return to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch, take a two hour boat transfer to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.  Cruise by Isla Tortuga, which is full of frigates, blue-footed boobies and other seabirds.  As you enter the port on Isabela, be greeted by stunning green and turquoise water that is so clear, you can see sea turtles, sea lions, and penguins as though looking through glass. Arrive to the Isabela Lodge where a welcome drink and dinner awaits.

Day 4

  • Hotel
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hike in the Isabela Highlands

From Puerto Villamil, journey to the Sierra Negra Volcano (approximately 6 miles, round-trip). From here, you can walk to the rim of Sierra Negra, an active volcano that last erupted into a blazing show in October 2005. From this altitude, enjoy a fantastic view of the over 4-mile wide caldera, the Perry Isthmus and the other volcanoes including the Chico Volcano with its puffing fumaroles and striking lava formations. Isabela offers an extraordinary environment and exemplifies the dramatic geological events that forged the Galapagos Islands.  Adventurous hikers have the option to continue across the open lava fields to Chico Volcano (1 1/2 miles beyond Sierra Negra Volcano).

Enjoy lunch at a local farm that cares for giant tortoises as part of a special agreement with the National Park.  After lunch you have the chance to visit Concha Perla, a beautiful lagoon-like bay, where you have the opportunity to snorkel with more marine wildlife.  Return to the hotel were the rest of your time is free to explore Isabela on your own. Enjoy snorkeling, swimming or relaxing on the beach.

Day 5

  • Hotel
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Snorkel Los Tuneles

After breakfast at the lodge take about a 45 minutes boat ride to Los Tuneles

Along the ride, enjoy seeing the beautiful Galapagos wildlife such as giant mantas rays, sea turtles and more. The boat will make a short stop at Roca Union where we can see masked boobies, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions and occasionally a fur seal from the boat.

Upon arrival to Los Tuneles you will see it a breathtaking site formed by lava arches on the water. Take a tour of the site by boat, then go snorkeling. you have the potential for some close encounters with many species of fish, rays, sea turtles and perhaps the Galapagos penguins. After this first snorkeling, continue on discovering this labyrinth of lava arches and try a second snorkel. Return to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch, visit the Galapagos National Park Isabela Breeding Station where you learn more about the different species of Galapagos tortoises, the growing process from newborns up to centenary individuals found at this station. Then take a 45 minute walk along the beautiful boardwalk along the Isabela wetlands, with high opportunities to see flamingos and other stunning seabirds.Before returning to the lodge, visit the well known Playa del Amor (Love Beach) and enjoy the magical feeling of this organic sand beach surrounded by mangroves.

This evening you have time to relax and discover the town of Puerto Villamil on your own.

Day 6

  • Hotel
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Explore Las Tintoreras- Return to Santa Cruz

Begin the day with a panga ride to Las Tintoreras, a resting site for white tip reef sharks that is situated between a small natural lava outcropping and an enormous lava field. Tintoreras is one of nature's wonders, set against a backdrop of emerald green sea, white sand beach, dark green mangroves and the hills of Isabela. On the shores, well above the resting sharks, the rocky sides are lined with marine iguanas. This is one of the few iguana colonies on Isabela that have not been disturbed by introduced species. On the way back to Puerto Villamil, you might have the rare opportunity to see a penguin colony lounging side by side with blue-footed boobies. Once you return to the dock, you can snorkel this warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangroves and search for white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, and penguins.  Late morning, return to the pier to begin a two hour trip to Santa Cruz. 

Return to the Aventura Lodge and have lunch. In the afternoon, visit the renowned Charles Darwin Research Station where you will learn about conservation and management projects in the archipelago. The research station is also home to tortoises from all over the islands.

Day 7

Return Quito

This morning, return to Baltra and catch your return flight back to the mainland. Tonight, enjoy the sights and sounds of Quito -- toast your travels and the remarkable Galapagos Islands!

Day 8

  • Breakfast

Return Home

Catch your flight home, or with more time, extend your trip to explore the Andean highlands or the Amazon!

Tour Cost
Internal Flights (Quito-Galapagos-Quito)
Flight cost is subject to change
Total Cost (USD)


$860 single supplement

Based on Mangrove View rooms at Aventura Lodge. Please contact us for upgrade options.


  • 7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
    • 7 Nights Hotel
  • 5 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Gear Rental
    • Snorkeling
  • INGALA Transit Control Card


  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are excluded.
  • International Flights

Recommended Budgeting

  • $40 Meals not Included
  • $55 Airport Departure Tax
  • $110 Park Entrance Fee
    • $100 Galapagos entrance fee