Encounter epic wildlife on the Galápagos Islands during this 12-day tour. Hop around the UNESCO-listed archipelago, spotting exotic species of birds, reptiles, and sea creatures, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. You'll visit tortoise breeding centers, hike through uninhabited islands, and tour the Charles Darwin Research Station. There's plenty of time for watery adventures too, from standup paddleboarding to snorkeling with rays, sharks, and sea lions.


  • Explore uninhabited Galápagos islands and spot unique wildlife 
  • Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and tortoise breeding center
  • Snorkel with marine creatures off remote islets
  • Enjoy a standup paddleboard adventure from Puerto Villamil
  • Dive at Gardner Islet to spot sharks, rays, and turtles

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz, Explore Galápagos National Park Isla Santa Cruz
Day 2 Explore an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 3 Visit Another Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 4 Discover Isla Pinzón & La Fé Isla Santa Cruz
Day 5 Wildlife Tour on Isla Isabela Isla Isabela
Day 6 Explore the Tintoreras Islet Isla Isabela
Day 7 Puerto Villamil Standup Paddleboarding Isla Isabela
Day 8 Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, Explore by Bike Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Transfer to Isla San Cristóbal, Explore Isla San Cristóbal
Day 10 Kicker Rock Snorkeling Trip Isla San Cristóbal
Day 11 Wildlife Encounter & Diving in Isla Española Isla San Cristóbal
Day 12 Transfer to San Cristóbal Airport, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz, Explore Galápagos National Park

Meet the famous Galápagos giant tortoises on Isla Santa Cruz

Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! Touchdown and then register your entry to the national park before taking a bus to the Itabaca Canal docks. Here, you'll board a ferry to Isla Santa Cruz, where your guide will take you to Puerto Ayora, home to the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galápagos National Park

On the way, you'll stop at a local highland farm, where you'll see dozens of giant tortoises. After lunch, tour the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you'll see scientists working on environmental projects. End the day with a trip to the nearby Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, where protected giant Galápagos tortoises breed. The center is the best place on the islands to see and learn about different tortoise species.

Day 2: Explore an Uninhabited Island

Explore the red craters of Isla Bartolomé 

Today you'll explore one of the uninhabited islands in the Galápagos archipelago, which comprises 13 large islands and over 40 small islands and islets. Depending on the day, you'll sail out to either Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, or Seymour Norte. Journey through their wild volcanic landscapes and encounter species found nowhere else. 

Look out for marine iguanas on the crescent-shaped Plaza Sur, wander through a vast cacti forest and spot sea lions on Santa Fé, and find lava lizards on Seymour Norte. If you dock on Bartolomé, hike among red craters shadowed by two volcanic cinder cones, spotting Galápagos penguins at Pinnacle Rock. You'll have a chance to rest on the beach and have lunch on the boat, returning to Puerto Ayora at the end of the day.

Day 3: Visit Another Uninhabited Island

Look out for marine iguanas basking on the rocks

Spend another full day exploring the UNESCO-listed Galápagos Islands. Take a boat trip to a different uninhabited island, enjoying vast ocean views along the way. On land, your guide will take you on hikes, stopping to point out wildlife, from unusual birds to green sea turtles and seals. You'll also learn about the island's unique geology and have time to relax and take photos before returning to Puerto Ayora.  

Day 4: Discover Isla Pinzón & La Fé

Discover Pinzon Island & La Fé
Dive into the underwater wonders of Isla Pinzón & La Fé

This morning you'll head out for a snorkeling tour of Pinzón, one of the least-visited islands in the Galápagos. Surrounded by deep waters fished by locals, Pinzón is home to various species, including vermilion flycatchers, snakes, and giant tortoises protected by a conservation project. Your first stop of the day is Penguin Bay, where you'll snorkel in clear waters that teem with diverse marine life. Spot colorful schools of fish, turtles and rays, reef sharks, and penguins. Since local fishermen run the tour, you'll also get a chance to fish—and anything you catch will be served up as fresh sashimi. 

After lunch on board, continue to La Fé, a beautiful white-sand beach where you'll have a chance to recline on the soft sands, spot wildlife, and swim. There's one final snorkel site of the day, where you'll likely see sea lions, reef fish, and lush coral gardens. Return to Puerto Ayora in the late afternoon.

Day 5: Wildlife Tour on Isla Isabela

Humboldt Penguin
See Humboldt penguins in their natural environment
Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Take a two-hour boat trip to Isabela this morning, the largest island in the Galápagos archipelago. This seahorse-shaped island is famed for having the world's second-largest active crater, found in the Sierra Negra volcano. Isabela is also home to everything from flightless cormorants to penguins. You'll visit the flamingo lagoon or the giant tortoise breeding program to see the local wildlife.

After lunch, tour the nearby Tintoreras Islet for a short hike and fantastic snorkeling. Glimpse Humboldt penguins, sea lions, and sharks in the natural channels formed by lava flows. Once your time is up, head back to Isla Isabela for the evening. Sit outside and listen to the nocturnal wildlife emerge as the sun sets.

Day 6: Explore the Tintoreras Islet

Spot whitetip sharks in the Tintoreras Islet

Today you'll continue to discover the Tintoreras Islet. Take a short, guided hike and visit a marine iguana nesting spot near the port before plunging into the crystal-clear waters. The Tintoreras Islet is named for its whitetip sharks, which you may spot during your visit, as well as sea lions, turtles, starfish, and rays. The creatures are most visible at low tide in the channels formed by ancient lava flows.

Day 7: Puerto Villamil Standup Paddleboarding

Paddle your way among mangroves, looking out for wildlife

Enjoy more watery adventures today with a standup paddleboard trip from Puerto Villamil Bay on Isla Isabela. Paddle through thick mangroves and across the peaceful bay, looking out for wildlife along the way. Sightings may include blue-footed boobies, pelicans, and frigates. Afterward, don your snorkeling gear for a swim in Concha Perla, a sparkling natural pool set among a mangrove forest.

Day 8: Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, Explore by Bike

Find pristine beaches on a mini cycling adventure on Isla Santa Cruz

Catch a speedboat from Isabela to back to Isla Santa Cruz, home to a dormant volcano that last erupted over 1.5 million years ago. Pick up a bike from your hotel and head off to do some exploring at your own pace. Uncover evidence of the island's explosive past, from black and rust-colored volcanic rocks to lava tunnels.

Stop off at the Lava Java organic coffee farm to taste the local brew while soaking up views of the Pacific Ocean, then head west toward the remote El Garrapatero Beach or continue into the highlands. End in Puerto Ayora, where you can visit the fishing pier and spot sea lions and pelicans. There's very light traffic across the island, so you'll often have the roads to yourself.

Day 9: Transfer to Isla San Cristóbal, Explore

Learn about local animals like these Galápagos sea lions

Say goodbye to Santa Cruz today and take a speedboat to San Cristóbal. Start by visiting the Interpretation Center, where you'll learn about the fascinating history of the Galápagos Islands. Hear about the challenges facing the volcanic archipelago and how conservationists are trying to protect it. The natural history room has a presentation about the island's origins, while another exhibit details how humans discovered the islands. 

Next, see some of the archipelago's iconic wildlife in its natural habitat at Las Tijeretas Hill, named for the tijeretas (frigatebirds) that inhabit and nest in this area. Visiting the island between June and October, you may also see migrating whales traveling across the ocean. Finish the day at La Lobería, a pristine beach home to sea lions. 

Day 10: Kicker Rock Snorkeling Trip

Kicker Rock (San Cristobal Island)
Take a boat trip to Kicker Rock for some world-class snorkeling
Today you'll head to one of San Cristóbal's most popular visitor sites, Kicker Rock, a nearly 500-foot (152 m) pair of volcanic islands connected by an underground channel. The natural erosion of an ancient cone formed this channel between the rocks, creating the perfect habitat for Galápagos sharks, whitetip sharks, giant rays, reef fish, sea turtles, and sea lions. Don your snorkeling gear and dive in to explore the channel at your leisure. After you've had your fill of the underwater world, have lunch on the boat and spend a restful afternoon at a nearby beach.

Day 11: Wildlife Encounter & Diving in Isla Española

Take a hike for iconic wildlife encounters with animals such as the blue-footed boobie

Rise early for a boat trip to the stunning Isla Española. You'll dock at Punta Suarez, the starting point for a two-hour hike, where you'll spot some of the most iconic wildlife in the Galápagos Islands. Animals include the blue-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as Española iguanas and sea lion pups. If you're lucky, you might see the famous Española albatross, one of the Galápagos' most unique birds.

Head back to the boat and set sail for Gardner Islet, feasting on a picnic lunch on board. Drop anchor and prepare your snorkeling or diving equipment to explore the wildlife-rich waters of Gardner Bay. You'll dive alongside pup sea lions, Galápagos sharks, and colorful fish. Afterward, return to your hotel in the early evening. 

Day 12: Transfer to San Cristóbal Airport, Depart

Say goodbye to the Galápagos Islands today as you catch your onward flight

Today your Galápagos Islands adventure comes to an end. After breakfast, you'll be transferred to San Cristóbal Airport for your flight to the mainland, where you'll connect to your homebound flight. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos Islands? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore other ways to spend 12 days in the Galápagos, or discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Galápagos Wildlife Encounter  - 12 Days
Map of Galápagos Wildlife Encounter - 12 Days