- Bike ride on San Cristobal Island to La Loberia beach where you'll spot sea lions
- Snorkeling or scuba diving at Kicker rock, famed for its stunning marine life
- Explore the pirate and whaler caves on Floreana Island
- Hike up an active volcano to one of the world's biggest calderas on Isabela Island
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where you'll learn about conservation efforts to protect Galapagos wildlife
- See hundreds of giant tortoises in different stages of development at a breeding center on Isabela Island
This 10-day journey is perfect for active travelers looking for an adventurous tour of the Galapagos. The journey begins in Quito, where you will have an orientation before flying to San Cristobal. Then your adventure starts with a thrilling downhill bike ride in the San Cristobal Highlands.
Each day will offer more exciting adventures, including snorkeling trips, kayaking and plenty of opportunities to observe the amazing wildlife of the Galapagos. Each island we visit has its own unique history and educational sites. You will overnight in quaint hotels and eat well on the islands – dining in local restaurants that get you off the beaten path.
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, welcome briefing and dinner||Quito|
|Day 2||Fly to San Cristobal, downhill bike ride, sea lion spotting at La Loberia||San Cristobal|
|Day 3||Snorkel at Kicker Rock, visit Interpretation Center||San Cristobal|
|Day 4||Visit Floreana Island, snorkel, visit Highlands||Floreana Island|
|Day 5||Boat to Isabela, Bay kayak, Wetlands walk, Visit Breeding Center||Isabela Island|
|Day 6||Hike Sierra Negra Volcano, Volcan Chico Lava Fields||Isabela Island|
|Day 7||Visit Tintoreras, Snorkel, free afternoon (optional visit to Wall of Tears)||Isabela Island|
|Day 8||Wild Tortoises, Charles Darwin Station and Tortuga Bay||Santa Cruz Island|
|Day 9||Return to Quito, final dinner||Quito|
|Day 10||Final day, Departure or day tour|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito, welcome briefing and dinner
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 Mt. Pichincha to the west. A hike up Pichincha makes for an excellent day trip. You can also set aside time to explore Quito's Old Town – 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 (The Little Bread Loaf), a 200 m high hill topped with a 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 cafes, restaurants, and shops, filled with locals, expats, and travelers. Pre-tours of the city can be easily arranged.
Day 2: Fly to San Cristobal, downhill bike ride, visit La Loberia
Today you'll fly to San Cristobal, landing in the Puerto Baquerizo, the administrative capital of the Galapagos. After lunch, we'll 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 Loberia beach. Here we'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 Puerto Baquirizo. A welcome dinner of fresh fish will be held a local restaurant.
Day 3: Snorkel at Kicker Rock, visit 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. Our 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 143 m out of the ocean – that is 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.
Our 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 San Cristobal, 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, you can 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. Enjoy dinner at a restaurant in Puerto Baquerizo.
Day 4: Visit Floreana Island, snorkel, visit Highlands
After breakfast, we depart by boat for Floreana, the least-inhabited of the main islands. En route we may spot dolphins, whales, and albatross. You can do some snorkeling off the boat and then go ashore to a black sand beach.
We will visit Puerto Velasco Ibarra, a sleepy town with just 150 people. You'll learn about the lives of the early settlers here and how passed away under mysterious circumstances. After lunch, we'll stroll along the coast, searching for iguanas and other wildlife. Then we'll travel to the Highlands to visit caves once used by pirates and whalers.
Before the sun sets we will return to our 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!
Day 5: Boat to Isabela, kayaking, wetlands walk, breeding center visit
After a final walk along the coast of Floreana, we'll travel by boat to Isabela Island, the largest in the Galapagos. Upon arrival in Puerto Villamil, we will 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 1000 giant tortoises, preparing for life in the wild. Following our visit to the breeding center, we will stroll back to the town along the beach and enjoy a stunning sunset.
Day 6: Hike Sierra Negra Volcano, Visit Volcan Chico Lava Fields
Today we hike up Sierra Negra Volcano, an active volcano that last erupted in 2005. From the crater rim there – where we can look 9 km across the caldera – are chances to spot bird species found only in the Highlands of the Galapagos, such as the elusive short-eared owl and the bright red Vermillion Flycatcher. After traversing the Volcan Chico lava fields on foot we will return to the town and the have some free time to spend swimming at the beach before dinner.
Day 7: Visit Tintoreras, snorkel, free afternoon (optional visit to Wall of Tears)
After breakfast, we will explore the protected bays around Isabela Island and search the shore for the Galapagos penguin, the only penguin found north of the equator. We will take a short walk at 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. We will have a group dinner tonight, our last on Isabela Island.
Day 8: Exploring the Santa Cruz Highlands, Charles Darwin Station and Tortuga Bay
Today we set sail from Isabela Island and make our way to Santa Cruz Island. 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, we will see the 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, we can make a stop a local coffee distributor for a bag of freshly ground coffee grown right here in the Galapagos (coffee in the only product exported from the islands). After lunch, it's time to visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station where we will 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, we will learn about how giant tortoises are raised and readied for life in the wild. In the afternoon we will take a short walk ending on the beach at Tortuga Bay. You can swim, sunbathe or bodysurf. We then make our way back to the town for our farewell dinner on these enchanted islands.
Day 9: Return to Quito, final dinner
On the final day of the Galapagos, you’ll travel to the Baltra Island to catch your flight back to Quito. We’ll enjoy a final dinner as a group.
Day 10: Final day, departure or city tour
Today is the last day of the tour and we’ll be sure to get you to the airport if you have a flight out before noon or arrange a day tour in and around Quito for some additional exploring.