Day 1 Arrive in Quito
Arrive in Quito and overnight.
Day 2 Fly San Cristobal | Hiking and Snorkeling
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning catch an early flight to San Cristobal Island to begin your action-packed Galapagos tour. After meeting your guides at the airport, check into your hotel and have lunch. Journey to the Galapagos Interpretation Center to learn about the natural history of this region, followed by a hike to Tijeretas along natural trails formed of lava rocks. As you hike, your guides interpret the flora and fauna amidst scenic views of the rugged coastline.
Cool off by snorkeling at Carola Beach, surrounded by sea turtles, sea lions, and marine iguanas. This evening learn how to prepare traditional Galapagos-style ceviche at the home of a local family. After this appetizer, enjoy a welcome dinner in town. Explore the friendly, laid-beach town and visit the colony of Galapagos sea lions.
Day 3 Sea Kayaking and Snorkeling
Begin your day with a morning of kayaking along the northern coast of San Cristobal. Sea lions, blue-footed, boobies, frigate birds, and sea turtles make for excellent company. Paddle to Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), Punta Pitt, or Cerro Brujo, depending on the day of the week and park regulations. Spend the remainder of the afternoon snorkeling and swimming with sea lions, marine iguanas, spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos sharks, starfish, clams, and countless reef fish. You might even share the waters with a harmless hammerhead shark! After kayaking back to the port, you are free for the evening to dine in one of the many tasty restaurants and enjoy the town's nightlife.
Day 4 Biking Isabela | Wall of Tears
After breakfast transfer by a small plane to Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos and one of the most volcanically active places on the planet. Set out on a bike ride through a variety of environments and ecosystems, including white sand beaches, mangrove forests, brackish lagoons, and a lava tube cave. Isabela is well known for the 5 subspecies of giant tortoise that live in its cloudforests, and as you ride you may see these as well as flamingos and other wildlife. Isabela’s salty lagoons are also home to a wide range of sea birds, offering some of the best birding in the Galapagos. Arrive at el Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears). Prisoners were forced to build this wall of lava rocks to keep them distracted back in the days when the island was used as a penal colony.
Day 5 Highlands Hike | Star Gazing
This morning, drive up the Sierra Negro volcano to the end of the road. From here hike up to the top of the volcano, accompanied by breathtaking vistas, surreal geology, and distinctive ecosystems. Sierra Negra is the second largest active caldera on the planet, at over six miles at its widest. Hike the rim of the volcano, with the opportunity to continue on to the caldera of Volcan Chico. This extension offers vibrant hues from sulfur deposits, spectacular lava formations, and fumaroles. During your hike you have a good chance of seeing Galapagos hawks, short-eared owls, finches, and flycatchers. Lunch is at an idyllic tortoise reserve.
Spend the rest of the day in the lowlands relaxing on Isabela's perfect beaches. If the night is clear, tonight's stargazing activity offers views to both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Day 6 Tintoreras Islet Hiking and Snorkeling
Spend today exploring the hidden coves and beaches of Tintoreras. Unique to these islets are the endemic Galapagos penguin. Your afternoon is free to enjoy Puerto Villamil's white sand beaches or to walk through mangrove forest to Concha y Perla bay for snorkeling.
Day 7 Santa Cruz Highlands | Kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Travel by speedboat or internal flight to Santa Cruz Island, watching for whales and dolphins along the way. After checking in at your hotel head to El Chato in the Santa Cruz highlands in search of giant tortoises. It is truly an honor to walk in the stately presence of these gentle giants, who can live to be over 175 years old. You may also see pintal ducks, Darwin's finches, frigate brids, egrets, and the vermillion flycatcher.
Your next stop is the incredible lava tunnels, which once served as a hideout for pirates frequenting the Galapagos. Legend has it that they were also used to hide Inca gold stolen from Spanish ships. Lunch is at a traditional highlands Finca or Hacienda. Transfer back to town for an afternoon of sea kayaking Punta Estrada and Divine Bay. You may also explore the bay with Stand Up Paddle Boards instead, paddling among towering lava channel walls. Encounter rays and white-tipped reef sharks below, and the fearless blue-footed boobies, lava gulls, herons, sally lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas perched along the cliffs.
Return to your hotel to celebrate your wonderful trip. Spend your last evening savoring a selection of traditonal and fusion Galapagos dishes, enjoying a glass of wine with idyllic views of the bay and town. Say farewell to the Enchanted Islands in the morning.
Day 8 Charles Darwin Research Center | Baltra Airport | Quito
Depending on flight schedules, this morning you may visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The Research Station rears endemic plants, land iguanas, and giant tortoises for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. Make your way back to Baltra Island to catch your flight back to the mainland. Today is free to enjoy Quito at your leisure and share stories of your exciting Galapagos travel adventures. Overnight in Quito.