The Galapagos Islands feature an extraordinary sanctuary where people and wildlife peacefully coexist. This seven day private 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.
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.)
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 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 night cap 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. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today after breakfast, you will head back to the Itabaca Channel to continue your National Park and Marine Reserve exploration. Board a yacht for your journey to discover Bartolome Island, which offers one of the most dramatic views in the Galapagos Islands. A 600 meter pathway can lead you to the highest point of the island, where you will learn from your expert naturalist guide about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos. After the walk, a dingy ride along the coastline will give you the opportunity to see the Galapagos penguin. This curious bird nests among fissured lava flows and ventures into the crystal-clear waters of Bartolome to fish.
A wet landing in the main beach of the island will give you the opportunity to enjoy the sandy beach where sea lions rest and a variety of wading birds feed. The area has tranquil waters, offering a great snorkeling experience where you can observe tropical fish, sea stars and perhaps even see penguins under water.
After returning to Santa Cruz in the late afternoon, you can spend some time in town. Have a drink and walk along Pt. Ayora’s main road with nice little boutiques, before heading back to Galapagos Magic Tented Camp for dinner and post-dinner drinks in the very unique "Lava Lounge," located in one of the properties' lava tubes! (This service is on a group basis.)
*This excursion is subject to availability and changes without prior notification.
After a final breakfast at Magic Galapagos, you will be met at the hotel for an early morning transfer to the harbor where you will board a speedboat for the 2 hour journey to Floreana Island.
Upon arrival on Floreana, you will be transferred by open-air ‘chiva bus’ to Floreana Lava Lodge.
Once you are settled in, you can walk or paddle (kayak or stand up paddleboard) to nearby Black Beach for some snorkeling. After time in the water to wet your appetites, you will walk to a restaurant in the nearby village for lunch. The restaurant is part of a community tourism initiative that our partner has assisted in developing and working with since 2012.
In the afternoon, you will set out once again to paddle the pristine waters (kayak or SUP) across the bay to explore La Loberia, a sea lion breeding ground. Once there, you can enjoy more snorkeling and swimming in the calm, bright water with sea turtles, sea lions, stunning rays and an abundance of tropical fish.
Later you will return to the lodge (30 minute walk or kayak/SUP) for a warm shower. Watch the spectacular sunset and then head to the village for dinner to celebrate another incredible day in the Galapagos. (This service is on a private basis.)
After breakfast, leave to explore the Floreana highlands on our open-air bus (chiva) - an unbeatable, historic, and comfortable way to see the island. On the way, your naturalist guide will share 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 us about the "Enigma of Floreana," involving the mysterious deaths of several of the Island´s inhabitants. The enigma is a riddle from the 1930’s that has never been solved and was featured in the film “The Galapagos Affair.”
After driving into the highlands, you will arrive at Asilo de la Paz (Peace Haven) the starting point of your hike today. Walk up to this historic site, explore the pirate caves, and visit the freshwater spring that provides water for the entire Island, your guide will be sharing stories and history along the way. As you traverse the hillside, expect to see giant tortoises lumbering around in the vegetation or even on the trail.
Depart Asilo de Paz walking down through a rural area where the local people grow produce for their own consumption. This is a fascinating example of how the island people survived in this remote place and 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 Claudio’s farm, La Primavera, where you will 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. You’ll also see where some of the delicious fruit and vegetables that you’ve been eating at the lodge come from.
From La Primavera farm continue by chiva down 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 episodes that make up the intriguing history of the island. Making your way back to the lodge, you will be treated to spectacular views of the Floreana shoreline.
Back at Lava Lodge you will enjoy a very special barbecue lunch, featuring delicious Cruz family recipes! After lunch, you will have the afternoon free. 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. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today you will take an early morning speed boat transfer to Isabela Island (approx 2 - 3 hours). On arrival you will check into your hotel.
Your Isabela adventure begins with a tour of the Tintoreras, a group of small islands near the village of Puerto Villamil, that are named after the white tipped ‘Tintoreras’ reef sharks that swim in these calm waters. A Galapagos in miniature on the Tintoreras you will see almost all of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife: white tipped sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. You will have a chance to snorkel in the bay – and 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 will walk from your hotel to the local giant tortoise-breeding center and on the way you may catch a glimpse of pink flamingos feeding in a lake. Once at the Center your guide will explain the process of breeding and then releasing into the wild these giant slow moving creatures whose Spanish name (meaning saddle) gave the Islands their present title. The breeding center is an important conservation tool and it is here that the islands’ giant tortoise population is presently recovering. (This service is on a private basis.)
Volcanic eruptions created all of the islands in the Galapagos, and you will get to see this geologic process first-hand as you explore Isabela, one of the youngest and most volcanically active islands of the archipelago.
You will have the whole day to explore the Isabela highlands, and you will start by hiking 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 drizzle, you might 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 see the real reward for your efforts. The crater is so large, and the views so expansive, photos can’t do it justice, but bring your binoculars and camera anyway!
Later, as you head towards Volcan Chico, you may get the feeling you are walking on Mars due to the alien 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 relax under the shade of a lovely “jaboncillo” tree to enjoy your box lunch while taking in the spectacular and expansive views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. In the distance, we will be able to see Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz Islands. We then head back down to complete your day of hiking (16 km in total) and relax on the beaches of Puerto Villamil. (This service is on a private basis.)
This morning you will take an early morning 2.5 hour speed boat ride back to Santa Cruz Island. Upon arrival at the dock you'll be transferred to Baltra Airport for your ongoing flight to the mainland.
The Galapagos Magic Tented Camp is a tortoise camp, perched in the highlands of Santa Cruz and surrounded by a Scalesia forest and volcanic caves. This is the native habitat for wild tortoises, where you will be able to enjoy an intimate encounter with nature. The areas around the campsite are home to several dozen giant tortoises, seen roaming around property from June through February. During the months of March, April and May the giant tortoises generally move to lower elevations, though a handful sometimes remain, so keep your eyes out!
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.
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 is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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