Galapagos Guardians Land Based

The Galapagos Islands feature an extraordinary sanctuary where people and wildlife peacefully coexist. This seven day land based adventure is a captivating way to experience the wildlife wonders and epic landscapes, while practicing sustainable tourism and preserving the natural heritage. You will be whisked away on an unforgettable exploration through the islands of Santa Cruz, Bartolome, Floreana and Isabela, accompanied by expert local guides. They will ensure you get the most out of every day, as you cover the highlights and hidden treasures. Encounter the fascinating wildlife, admire the unique landscapes and enjoy extraordinary lodges. Combine this itinerary with a few nights on mainland Ecuador before and after your island escape, for the ideal blend of relaxation, nature and discovery.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Galapagos Arrival & Santa Cruz

Galapagos Arrival & Santa Cruz
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Tour: Itabaca Channel Kayaking & Giant Tortoise Reserve
  • Accommodation: Hotel Ikala Galapagos
  • Meals: L

Upon arrival at the Baltra Airport you will need to pay for the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 USD cash per person adult/$50 USD children under 12, subject to change without notice). Upon meeting your guide (he/she will be waiting holding a sign with your names on it) they will assist you in entering a special VIP lounge where you will have a chance to change clothes, put on some sunscreen and get a cool drink before your transfer to the Itabaca Channel. (This service is on a private basis.)

Itabaca Channel Kayaking & Giant Tortoise Reserve

There’s no better introduction to the Galapagos than to immediately get on the water upon your arrival! You will have a chance to kayak, snorkel and stand up paddleboard (SUP) through the turquoise waters of the Itabaca Channel, gliding through beautiful red mangrove forests and along lava rock cliffs. Along the way, you will see some of the famous Galapagos wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. The provided ocean (sit on top) kayaks come in doubles or singles, and life jackets are provided. A support boat will escort you throughout the water activities to ensure safety and to provide water, snacks and towels between activities.

From Itabaca Channel you'll head up to the Santa Cruz highlands to one of the private reserves that borders the National Park where the famous Giant Tortoises inhabit in the wild. Lunch will be served at the reserve. Lunch will be served in the reserve.

Perched high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, Magic Galapagos Tented Camp will be your home for the next two nights. Watching the colorful sunset from Magic’s western perch is the perfect segue into the evening. Dinners are sumptuous three-course affairs, prepared by expert chefs in an open-air kitchen in the main lodge. A favorite post-dinner activity is a short walk to the natural lava tubes on the reserve for a nightcap in the one-of-a-kind ‘Lava Lounge!’ It’s the perfect spot to relax around the fire and share stories from the day’s adventures.

Day 2: Bartolome

Daily Summary
  • Tour: Galapagueño Fisherman Adventure
  • Accommodation: Hotel Ikala Galapagos
  • Meals: B, L

Galapagueño Fisherman Adventure

Set out to sea on a motor boat with an ex-fisherman, his welcoming crew and a knowledgeable naturalist guide for a full day excursion to experience the waters near one of the Galapagos' more remote islands. Recent history has transformed the Galapagos Islands, reshaping the local economy from one of subsistence fishing and small-scale agriculture to one where tourism employs some 40% of locals. We have worked with local fishermen to transform their careers from harvesting sea life to introducing the Galapagos' rich marine ecosystem to visitors while also helping to preserve them. Their livings are now made from sustainable tourism rather than fishing.

Heading out toward Santa Fe Island and its special marine reserve, you will have the chance to admire and experience the biodiversity unique to this area. You'll enjoy a variety of marine activities including swimming with sharks as well as snorkeling where you can observe colorful fish and sea cucumbers (among other species). The journey takes place among extraordinary landscapes that combine sparkling turquoise waters and white sand. All the while, you can enjoy watching wildlife in its natural state- including the chance to see one of the most important sea lion colonies in the entire reserve. (This service is on a group basis.)

Day 3: Floreana

Daily Summary
  • Tour: Hiking, Kayaking, Paddling & La Loberia
  • Accommodation: Floreana Lava Lodge
  • Meals: B, L, D

Hiking, Kayaking, Paddling & La Loberia

After a final breakfast at Magic Galapagos, you will be transferred to the Puerto Ayora pier for your two-hour speedboat transfer to Floreana Island. During your stay on Floreana, you will learn about the fascinating local history and enjoy some fantastic hikes! You will also see some of the Galapagos’ special wildlife including: giant tortoises, frigate birds, sea lions, Darwin’s finches, petrels and marine iguanas, among other species.

Upon arrival on Floreana, you will take an open-air ‘chiva bus’ to Floreana Lava Lodge, which overlooks one of the Galapagos’ most beautiful and secluded bays. The lodge is operated by Claudio Cruz, a descendant of one of the Island’s original inhabitants. He will be able to share his deep knowledge of the Island and its history with you! You will also have the opportunity to meet several of his family members during your stay, providing a special insight into life on Floreana.

Once you are settled in, you can walk or paddle (kayak or stand up paddleboard) to nearby Black Beach for some snorkeling. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant that is part of a community tourism initiative program. In the afternoon, you will embark on the kayaks or stand up paddle boards and cross the Bay in front of the lodge to explore La Loberia (a sea lion breeding ground), where you will enjoy more snorkeling and swimming in the warm, calm and bright water with sea turtles, sea lions, spectacular rays and lots of shimmering fishes. Later, you will return to the lodge, either by walking or paddling, for a nice warm shower and to celebrate another incredible day in the Galapagos with a perfect sunset. Dinner will be at a different local restaurant in the village. Weather permitting this evening, you may want to join in on the sparkling star gazing activity, before a great night's rest at the Lava Lodge.

Day 4: Floreana Highlands

Floreana Highlands
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Nature Hike & Local Farm Visit
  • Accommodation: Floreana Lava Lodge
  • Meals: B, L, D

Nature Hike & Local Farm Visit

After breakfast this morning, you will leave to explore the Floreana highlands on your open-air bus (chiva) - an unbeatable, historic, and comfortable way to see the island. On the way, your naturalist guide will point out the wildlife and give you an idea of the colorful history of some of Floreana's first inhabitants, such as the Wittmers (whose descendants still live on the Island), the ‘Baroness,’ and the pirates that once visited here. They will also tell you about the "Enigma of Floreana," involving the mysterious deaths of several of the Island's inhabitants, a riddle from the 1930’s that has never been solved.

After driving into the highlands, you reach Asilo de la Paz (Peace Haven) where your hike begins. You will walk up to this historic site, explore the pirate caves, and visit the freshwater spring that provides water for the entire Island. Along the way, you can expect to see giant tortoises lumbering around in the vegetation or even on the trail. You will venture through a rural area where the local people grow produce for their own consumption. This is a fascinating example of how these island people survive in this remote place and how over the years were able to develop an understanding of the local environment and now work to preserve their unique agricultural knowledge. On your way back to the coast, you will make a stop at a local farm, La Primavera, where you can watch the extraordinary behavior of the frigate birds who ‘dance’ as they wash their salty wings in the fresh water lake on the farm. With a little bit of luck, you may be able to see males puffing up the red pouches on their chests in an attempt to attract females.

From La Primavera farm, you will continue by chiva down towards Cerro Allieri and the best view point in the islands and then to Las Palmas, where the Island’s first permanent inhabitant, the eccentric Dr. Ritter, lived and is buried. Arriving in 1926, the German physician believed that with a combination of exercise and the right vegetarian diet he would live to be 150 years old. He didn't, but his story is one of the many strange legends that still abound on the island. On the way, you will see spectacular views of the Floreana shoreline. Back at the lodge, you will enjoy a very special barbecue lunch, featuring a special family recipe lemonade with lemon grass family. After lunch, you can choose to practice your kayak or SUP skills, go snorkeling in La Loberia or simply relax and take in the beautiful Galapagos views from the Lava Lodge. Dinner will be at a local restaurant in the village.

Day 5: Isabela

Daily Summary
  • Tour: Tintoreras & Wetlands Trail Cycling
  • Accommodation: IsaMar Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Tintoreras & Wetlands Trail Cycling

Today, you will head off on an early morning speed boat transfer to Isabela Island, where you will check into your hotel. After getting settled, your adventure begins with a tour of the Tintoreras, a group of small islands near the village of Puerto Villamil. The islands are named after the white tipped ‘Tintoreras’ reef sharks that swim in these calm waters. On Tintoreras, you will see almost all of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife: white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course, pelicans and blue footed boobies. It’s like all of the Galapagos varieties in one! After walking on the island, you will have a chance to snorkel in the bay. Don’t be surprised if some of the penguins or sea lions jump in to play alongside you in the water!

In the afternoon, you bike the Wetlands Trail, where you can see marine iguana colonies and a number of different types of mangrove trees (all four can be seen here). as well as enjoying the network of trails, beaches and historic sites. At the end of the trail is the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940’s by Second World War prisoners held at the US base on the islands. Your guide will explain to you the importance of this site, offering a glimpse into the lives of the island’s previous inhabitants. On this network of trails, you will catch some beautiful views of the village below and will have the chance to see birds and, maybe even some wild giant tortoises.

At the end of your ride, you will return to your accommodations to freshen up, before heading into the heart of Puerto Villamil for dinner.

Day 6: Isabela Highlands

Isabela Highlands
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Sierra Negra Volcano & Volcan Chico
  • Accommodation: IsaMar Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Sierra Negra Volcano & Volcan Chico

Volcanic eruptions created all of the islands in the Galapagos, and today you will get to see this geologic process first-hand, as you explore Isabela. This island is one of the youngest and most volcanically active islands of the archipelago. You will have the whole day to explore the Isabela highlands, beginning with a hike up to the crater of the massive Sierra Negra Volcano, and then onward to the rim of the Volcan Chico. This fascinating walk usually begins with some morning fog and drizzle, which sometimes persists in the shadow of the volcano, adding to its mysterious character. Despite the weather, you may see see Galapagos hawks, finches, flycatchers and short-eared owls en route.

When you reach the rim of the Sierra Negra crater, the second largest in the world after the Ngorongoro in Tanzania, you will truly be rewarded for your efforts. The crater is so large, and the views so expansive, that photos simply cannot do it justice, but bring your binoculars and camera anyway!

Later, as you head towards Volcan Chico, you might get the feeling that you are walking on Mars, because of the alien-like landscape. While it appears to be utterly desolate, a closer look reveals small lizards scurrying among the rocks. From its rim, you will enjoy more amazing views along with lava tubes and fumaroles. After Volcan Chico and its extreme landscape, you will have some time to relax under the shade of a lovely “jaboncillo” tree and enjoy a delectable picnic lunch, while taking in the spectacular and expansive views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. In the distance, you will even be able to see Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz Islands. On a satisfied and happy stomach, you will head back down the trail, to complete your day of hiking (16 km in total) and relax on the beaches of Puerto Villamil...a well deserved slice of paradise!

Day 7: Galapagos Departure

Galapagos Departure
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Departure Transfers
  • Meals: B

Departure Transfers

Sadly, the time has come today to take an early morning speed boat back to Santa Cruz and then transfer by land to Baltra for your departure flight. However, we don't blame you if you decide to extend your journey in the Galapagos! There is still exploring to be done in other Islands or on the mainland, visiting the spectacular peaks of the Andes or the lush jungle of the Amazon region!


Hotel Ikala Galapagos

Hotel Ikala Galapagos

The brand new Ikala Hotel was built with a focus on sustainability and protecting the environment. The hotel is protected from the strong Galapagos sun by the surrounding beautiful trees and gardens giving to the whole ambiance a natural freshness. The hotel features a lovely swimming pool, bar area, and a beautiful terrace located on top of the main building, where you can find the restaurant and resting area. The terrace has an incredible view to the Puerto Ayora harbor.

Floreana Lava Lodge

Floreana Lava Lodge

Formerly the Red Mangrove Lodge, and located in Puerto Velasco Ibarra, the Lava Lodge is built entirely of pine wood from the mainland man made forests. This lodge is situated in front of the ocean, on a unique black lava surface. Ten independent small cabins are each equipped with one twin size bed and a bunk bed, which can host up to three people each. Each cabin has its own bathroom, front porch, reading and shaded area, to offer you privacy and enjoyment of the outdoors, as you observe the scenic sea views.

IsaMar Hotel

IsaMar Hotel

The lovely IsaMar Hotel is separated from the sparkling blue ocean only by a broad, soft white sand strip. Lined with palm trees that sway in the breeze, the tropical atmosphere and relaxing views of Isabela’s beautiful beachfront will never get old. The property's idyllic location offers guests sweeping views of Pacific waves and boats bobbing on the water. This picturesque Galapagos retreat is within walking distance to the tortoise breeding center, the flamingo lagoon, several water activities and the sandy streets of town, where you can find bakeries, restaurants and bars. IsaMar’s rooms are the perfect base for exploring Isabela’s wonders. Hearty meals are available to keep your energy up for nearby hikes and water activities, and the outdoor social areas are perfect for taking a siesta, reading a book or stargazing late into the evenings.

Pricing and Details

Starting from $ 3,500 per person

*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.

Price Includes

  • Full support before, during & after your trip
  • Meals as mentioned
  • Accommodation as mentioned
  • Tours/activities as mentioned
  • Transport as mentioned

Price Excludes

  • International & domestic flights
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entrance visas when applicable
  • Other services not mentioned
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers
  • Taxes and fees

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