- Bike on Isla San Cristóbal to La Lobería beach, where you'll spot sea lions
- Snorkel or scuba dive at Kicker Rock, famed for its stunning marine life
- Explore the pirate and whaler caves on Isla Floreana
- Hike up an active volcano to one of the world's biggest calderas on Isla Isabela
- See hundreds of giant tortoises in different stages of development
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Welcome Briefing & Dinner||Quito|
|Day 2||Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Bike Ride & Sea Lions at La Lobería||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 3||Snorkel at Kicker Rock, Visit the Interpretation Center||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 4||Visit Isla Floreana, Snorkeling & Highlands Visit||Isla Floreana|
|Day 5||Boat to Isla Isabela, Kayaking, Wetlands Walk & Breeding Center||Isla Isabela|
|Day 6||Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano & Chico Lava Fields||Isla Isabela|
|Day 7||Visit Tintoreras, Snorkel, Free Afternoon||Isla Isabela|
|Day 8||Explore Isla Santa Cruz, Charles Darwin Station & Tortuga Bay||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 9||Return to Quito, Final Dinner||Quito|
|Day 10||Depart Quito|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Welcome Briefing & Dinner
Welcome to Ecuador! Arrive in Quito and check into your hotel. Tonight you will be briefed about your upcoming adventure and introduced to your travel mates during dinner. If you arrive prior to the start of our tour, there will be free time to explore Quito, the world's second-highest capital, and some of its nearby points of interest.
Quito is located in a narrow valley of the Andes, with the towering volcano of Pichincha to the west. A hike up Pichincha makes for an excellent day trip. You can also set aside time to explore Quito's historic center–a UNESCO World Heritage Site–and its magnificent cathedrals, museums, and colonial architecture. The neighborhood is home to local artisan markets and shops where you can pick up handmade souvenirs.
One place well-worth visiting in Quito is El Panecillo (Little Bread Loaf), a 656-foot (200 m) high hill topped with a 148-foot (45 m) tall statue of the Virgin Mary. From here you can get sweeping views of the city. Quito's New Town is a vibrant mix of cafés, restaurants, and shops, filled with locals, expats, and travelers. Pre-tours of the city can be easily arranged.
Day 2: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Bike Ride & Sea Lions at La Lobería
Today you'll fly to Isla San Cristóbal, landing in the administrative capital of the Galápagos. After lunch, head to the highlands for a scenic bike ride. From the viewpoint known as La Soledad, you'll bike through the tiny town of El Progreso and ride through five vegetation zones until you reach La Lobería Beach. Here you'll have opportunities to spot sea lions on the shore and you can go for a swim. As the sun sets you'll continue your ride back to town, where a welcome dinner of fresh fish will be held at a local restaurant.
Day 3: Snorkel at Kicker Rock, Visit the Interpretation Center
After breakfast, you'll board a boat and cruise along the coast, observing shorebirds such as the great frigatebird and the famous blue-footed booby. Your boat captain will drop anchor in calm waters, where you can jump in and snorkel, observing puffer fish, sea lion pups, and damselfish.
Our next stop is Kicker Rock (known as Leon Dormido by locals), where you can explore the upper part of a tuff cone that dramatically rises 469 feet (143 m) out of the ocean—the equivalent of a 50-story building! In the waters around the rock, you can view sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, chocolate chip starfish, and with a little luck, a shark or two. Diving is possible with advance notice.
Your final stop is a beautiful beach that is only accessible by boat. Lunch will be served on board, after which you can spend your time swimming in the sea and glimpsing Kicker Rock in the distance. In the late afternoon, back on Isla San Cristóbal, you will visit the Interpretation Center, to learn about the history of the archipelago, the local flora and fauna, the visit by Charles Darwin, and present-day efforts to protect the local environment. After the Interpretation Center, take a short hike to Tijeretas, a panoramic viewpoint near the town. Then head down to the beach to relax amid the playful sea lions as the sun sets.
Day 4: Visit Isla Floreana, Snorkeling & Highlands Visit
After breakfast, depart by boat for Isla Floreana, the least-inhabited of the main islands. En route, you may spot dolphins, whales, and albatross. You can do some snorkeling off the boat and then go ashore to a black-sand beach.
Visit Puerto Velasco Ibarra, a sleepy town with just 150 people. You'll learn about the lives of the early settlers here and how some passed away under mysterious circumstances. After lunch, stroll along the coast, searching for iguanas and other wildlife. Then it's on to the island's highlands to visit caves once used by pirates and whalers. Before the sun sets, return to your beachside accommodation and enjoy dinner. On your way back to the hotel, be sure to look up at the night sky—Floreana is a great place for stargazing!
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Boat to Isla Isabela, Kayaking, Wetlands Walk & Breeding Center
After a final walk along the coast of Floreana, travel by boat to Isla Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos. Upon arrival in the town of Puerto Villamil, head out on the water on kayaks to search for marine life. After lunch, you can walk along the shore of a coastal lagoon, with the possibility of spotting pink flamingoes as you go.
The walk continues through mangroves until you reach the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. The center is home to around 1,000 giant tortoises, preparing for life in the wild. Following your visit to the breeding center, stroll back to the town along the beach and enjoy a stunning sunset.
Day 6: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano & Chico Lava Fields
Today you hike up the slopes of Sierra Negra, an active volcano that last erupted in 2005. From the crater rim there— where you can look out across the 6-mile (10 km) caldera–—you'll have the chance to spot bird species found only in the highlands of the Galápagos, such as the elusive short-eared owl and the bright red vermillion flycatcher. After traversing the Chico volcano lava fields on foot, return to town and then have some free time to spend swimming at the beach before dinner.
Day 7: Visit Tintoreras, Snorkel, Free Afternoon
After breakfast, explore the protected bays around Isla Isabela and search the shore for the Galápagos penguin, the only penguin found north of the equator. Then take a short walk to Tintoreras (Shark Alley), an iguana-nesting site where we can see hundreds of marine iguanas.
In the afternoon you can explore the main town on Isabela, go bird-watching and iguana-spotting, or walk along the beach. You can also visit the Wall of Tears (El Muro de las Lágrimas), a fortification built by prisoners between 1945 and 1959. Thousands died building the wall, which served as an open-air prison. Enjoy a group dinner tonight, your last on Isla Isabela.
Day 8: Explore Isla Santa Cruz, Charles Darwin Station & Tortuga Bay
Today you set sail from Isla Isabela and make your way to Isla Santa Cruz. After checking into your hotel, you'll travel to the highlands of Santa Cruz by bus. You'll explore the unusual lava formations and climb into an underground lava tube. Here in the highlands, you can also see giant tortoises in their natural habitat. These amazing creatures are usually spotted cooling off in a muddy watering hole or devouring some vegetation.
On the way back to the town, make a stop at a local coffee distributor for a bag of freshly ground coffee grown right here in the Galápagos (coffee is the only product exported from the islands). After lunch, it's time to visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station where you can learn about the successful reintroduction of threatened animal species to the islands. In the 20th century, human activity on the islands put the land iguana and several species of giant tortoise in danger of extinction on the islands.
From the collection of eggs until they are released into the wild, learn about how giant tortoises are raised and readied for life in the wild. In the afternoon, take a short walk ending on the beach at Tortuga Bay. You can swim, sunbathe, or bodysurf. Make our way back to the town for your farewell dinner on these enchanted islands.
Day 9: Return to Quito, Final Dinner
On your final morning in the Galápagos, you'll travel to Isla Baltra to catch your flight back to Quito. Spend some free time exploring more of the capital, then sit down to your final celebratory dinner as a group.
Day 10: Depart Quito
Today is the last day of the tour—a transfer will be waiting to take you to the airport if you have a flight out before noon, or you can arrange a day tour in and around Quito for some additional exploring before your flight. Safe travels!
More Great Galápagos Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in the Galápagos, or discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.