Galápagos Island Hopping - 12 Days
- See Nazca, red-footed, and blue-footed boobies at Punta Pitt
- Snorkel amid rays, turtles, iguanas, and even hammerhead sharks at Kicker Rock
- Descend through a steam vent deep into the dormant Trillizos volcano
- Explore an uninhabited island near Isla Santa Cruz
|Day 1||Arrive on Isla San Cristóbal, Island Tour||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 2||Tour of Isla San Cristóbal: Highlights, Beaches & Marine Life||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Punta Pitt||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 4||Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Optional Activities||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Isla Floreana & Isla San Cristóbal||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 6||Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 7||Speedboat to Isabela Island, Explore Tintoreras Islet||Isla Isabela|
|Day 8||Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano||Isla Isabela|
|Day 9||Rappel & Cycle on Isla Isabela||Isla Isabela|
|Day 10||Day Trip to Hacienda & Coffee Farm||Isla Isabela|
|Day 11||Ferry to Isla Santa Cruz, Optional Activities||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 12||Transfer to Isla Baltra, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive on Isla San Cristóbal, Island Tour
Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! Located 603 miles (972 km) off the coast of Ecuador, this national park and UNESCO World Heritage is famous for its biodiversity and abundance of wildlife. More than that, the animals found in this archipelago's three main ecosystems have done much to further our understanding of natural history. Back in the 19th century, it even helped inspire Darwin's theory of natural selection.
You'll arrive in Ecuador's capital, Quito, then transfer by plane for three hours to Isla San Cristóbal, the easternmost island in the Galápagos. Upon arrival, you'll continue to your hotel to get settled, then head out for a tour of the area.
Day 2: Tour of Isla San Cristóbal: Highlights, Beaches & Marine Life
Wake up early and board a boat for a loop tour around Isla San Cristóbal, first stopping at Rosa Blanca. Located on the island's east side, this small bay is hemmed in by volcanic rocks and boasts a beautiful white-sand beach fronting turquoise waters. You'll do some snorkeling here and spot marine life like tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, and whitetip reef sharks. Later, stop for lunch at Punta Pitt, on the northeastern tip of San Cristóbal. Locals here will demonstrate their traditional fishing methods, and afterward, you can relax and marvel at the many endemic birds in the area, like the red-footed booby.
Then sail around the island's tip to the north and Bahía Sardina, a scenic bay featuring two white-sand beaches. You can do more snorkeling here and perhaps even swim with sea lions. Afterward, continue south to Cerro Brujo (Witch's Hill), whose rocky headland and wide open beach are among the most scenic locales in the Galápagos.
Finally, you'll arrive at Kicker Rock. This 500-foot (152 m) pair of volcanic islands may not look like a legendary dive site, but underneath the water's surface is a diverse ecosystem filled with exotic marine life. Once here, you'll strap on your snorkel, dive in, and swim alongside sea life like eagle rays, tropical fish, sea turtles, marine iguanas, and even hammerhead sharks. After a break for lunch on the boat, you'll spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at nearby white-sand beaches like Puerto Grande, Cerro Brujo, and Manglecito.
Day 3: Day Trip to Punta Pitt
In the morning, you'll embark on a boat trip for a day tour to Punta Pitt. It's a real treat for wildlife lovers, as this area at the tip of San Cristóbal is the only spot in the Galaápagos where you can see frigatebirds plus all three species of boobies: Nazca, red-footed, and blue-footed. Once here, you can view the birds' nesting sites as you hike up a short trail to the top of a hill made of volcanic tuff. Along the way, there are plenty of viewpoints where you can take incredible photos overlooking the coast. After the hike, return to the boat for a snorkeling excursion, then return to Isla Isla San Cristóbal.
Day 4: Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Optional ActivitiesAfter breakfast, head to the marina and board a speedboat for the 2.5-hour ride west from San Cristóbal to Puerto Ayora, the main town on Isla Santa Cruz. Meet your guide at the dock and hop in a car for the ride up to the island's interior. This highland region is a special place, as it's a natural habitat for the famous Galápagos giant tortoises, which can live up to 150 years. You'll see plenty of these magnificent animals up close, then head to a local farm for lunch. After doing more wildlife spotting, you'll return to Puerto Ayora later in the afternoon and check in to your hotel.
Day 5: Day Trip to Isla Floreana & Isla San Cristóbal
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
In the morning, you'll meet up with a small group tour and board a ferry for the two-hour ride south from Santa Cruz to Isla Floreana. Whereas most of the Galápagos Islands are known for their wildlife, this island is fascinating in that it is more famous for the myths surrounding it. It boasts a rich history, romantic sites, and unsolved mysteries, including the disappearance of a wealthy baroness in the 1930s.
Upon arrival, your group will head to the highlands of Floreana to visit Asilo de la Paz, the site of the first human settlement on the island in the 18th century (and where the first baby was born in the Galápagos). There are many points of interest here, including a freshwater spring that sustained the settlers as well as caves used as a hideout by pirates.
Day 6: Day Trip to an Uninhabited IslandLeave this morning on a full-day boat tour to some uninhabited isles around Santa Cruz. Depending on the permit granted by the park authorities, you'll get to visit either Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Plaza Norte, Seymour Norte, or Bartolomé. To experience one of these isles in their unspoiled state, home only to endemic wildlife, you'll see the Galápagos the same way Darwin did on his arrival in 1835. After exploring some wildlife habitats, you'll enjoy lunch on the boat's deck and then cruise back to Puerto Ayora.
Day 7: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Explore Tintoreras Islet
In the morning, hop on a speedboat for the two-hour ride west to Isla Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos. You'll arrive in the port village of Puerto Villamil, where you'll check in to your hotel. After settling in, you'll meet a local guide and board another boat tour.
It's a quick 10-minute trip to the islet of Tintoreras. This tiny isle is comprised mainly of volcanic rock formations and water channels created by lava flows. It's an ideal spot for snorkeling, as the channels are a habitat for exotic marine life. After strapping on your mask and diving in, you'll see Humboldt penguins, sea turtles, marine iguanas, starfish, sea lions, and whitetip reef sharks. Pelicans and blue-footed boobies are also common here. At the end of the tour, you'll return to Puerto Villamil and have the rest of the day free.
Day 8: Hike the Sierra Negra VolcanoLeave early from Puerto Villamil to Sierra Negra volcano, located in the south of Isabela. At 3,687 feet (1,124 m), this is one of the largest active shield volcanoes in the world—and today, you'll get to hike it. Upon arrival at the trailhead, you'll embark on a six-hour roundtrip guided hike to the summit. Here, you'll be treated to incredible views of the expansive crater, nearly 6 miles (10 km) in diameter. At this altitude, you'll also be able to see out to volcanic peaks on adjacent Isla Fernandina. After hiking back down, you end the day with a snorkeling tour of the mangrove forests at Concha Perla.
Day 9: Rappel & Cycle on Isabela Island
Your guide will pick you up early this morning for the drive a few miles north from Puerto Villamil to the Trillizos volcano. Upon arrival here, you'll embark on a short hike to the crater, where the abseiling (rappelling) adventure starts. After strapping into a harness, you'll descend 493 feet (150 m) through a steam vent deep into this dormant volcano. These internal chambers are a marvel of geology, as here you'll see various rocks, minerals, and incredible quartz formations.
After the volcano abseiling adventure, you'll return to Puerto Villamil for lunch. Then you'll hop on a bicycle for a ride around the island, taking you to scenic viewpoints and incredible landmarks. These include the Mango Viewpoint, which overlooks the south of Isabela; Cuevas del Sucre, a group of lava tunnels and caves you can explore; and Campo Duro, an ecolodge on the slope of Sierra Negra volcano. Here you can stroll amid the farms and orchards as well as spot Galápagos tortoises roaming about. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel.