The Galapagos Islands feature an extraordinary habitat where people and wildlife peacefully coexist. This five 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. Perfect for travelers on a tight schedule, this trip will whisk you away on an exploration through the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela. Your expert local guides will make sure you get the most out of every day, from extraordinary lodges to spectacular excursions. Combine this itinerary with a few nights on mainland Ecuador before and after, for an ideal blend of relaxation, culture, nature and discovery. Please note that this itinerary is offered as a scheduled group departure, so you will be joining other travelers on your journey!
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 group 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.
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 group basis.)
Santa Cruz Ilsand is located in the center of the Archipelago of the Galapagos and is the second largest island after Isabela. Santa Cruz is the main port of entry for most itineraries in the Galapagos as it is located adjacent to the Baltra Airport.
Santa Cruz's main town, Puerto Ayora, is located on the southern shores of the island and are a great basis to explore the surrounding area. Highlights include visiting the Charles Darwin Station, Tortuga Bay or Los Gemelos.
Today you will have multiple activity options to choose from! We have selected the following suggested program to give you an idea of what is possible to do with this day (Please Note: This activity can be replaced with one of the other optional activities noted in the drop down below. Please let your travel specialist know your activity preference during the planning process).
Today you will embark on a motor yacht cruise to enjoy a half day excursion to one of the neighboring islands. On board you will have the support of welcoming crew members and knowledgeable naturalist guide, to allow you to experience the wonders of these remote islands in both comfort and style.
Check the boat's weekly itinerary: Mondays and Thursdays visit to North Seymour and Bachas. Tuesdays and Fridays visit to South Plazas. Wednesday visit to Santa Fe Island. Saturdays visit to Bartolome and Sullivan Bay. Sundays visit to Bartolome. (This service is on a group basis.)
** These excursions are subject to availability and change without prior notification.
Today you will take an early morning 2.5 hour speed boat transfer to Isabela Island. On arrival at the dock in Puerto Villamil you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in. (This service is on a group basis.)
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 the Galapagos in miniature! 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 will visit the breeding center where the Islands’ giant tortoise population is presently recovering. Expert guides will explain the process of breeding and then releasing into the wild. (This service is on a group basis.)
Isabela is the largest of the islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago, about four times bigger than the next largest, Santa Cruz. Of a total Galapagos population of 20,000, only 2,200 people live here on this enchanted island, which contains over 60% of the flora and fauna of the archipelago and is the only one straddled by the equatorial line.
Among Isabela’s attractions you will find five active volcanoes, the most extensive wetlands on the archipelago, and a three kilometer beach. You will also enjoy the option of trekking with giant tortoises, swimming with white tip sharks, snorkeling with marine turtles, kayaking among flamingos… all this while staying in a relaxed port town that personifies island culture.
You will have the whole day to explore the Isabela highlands! The day begins 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 drizzle, you might see Galapagos hawks, finches, flycatchers and short-eared owls en route.
Once 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 that 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, we 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, youwill be able to see Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz Islands. You will then head back down to complete your day of hiking (16 km - 9.94 miles in total) and relax on the beaches of Puerto Villamil. (This service is on a group 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. (This service is on a group basis.)
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!
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.