Discover the Galapagos with this 6-day program that covers the highlights of the two islands Santa Cruz and Isabela. The program includes must do excursions to the most astonishing destinations as well as instructions for self-guided activities during your free time. It’s designed to discover as much incredible Galapagos wildlife – both on land as under water at spectacular snorkeling sites – as possible, without having to worry about your accommodation and finding your way around.
Upon arrival at Baltra airport you will be met with our English speaking representative. At the airport you will first take a shuttle transfer to the Itabaca Channel. A short ferry ride will get you to the other side of the channel in a couple of minutes. From here you will be brought in private transportation to Puerto Ayora, the town of Santa Cruz island. On the way you will make a short stop at the Twin Craters, a pair of collapsed craters that were formed when the land sunk down into empty magma chambers from ancient volcanoes. You might also encounter some birdlife here. Afterwards you will visit the El Chato Reserve where you can observe the giant tortoises in the wild that are endemic to the Galapagos. Near the ranch you will also have the opportunity to see a lava tunnel from inside. These tunnels were formed as the outer skin of molten lava solidified while the liquid magma continued flowing during a volcanic eruption many years ago. You will have lunch on the private ranch in the El Chato Reserve, before continuing the drive to your hotel in Puerto Ayora.
The rest of the afternoon you will have time off to spend on your own. You can wander along the boulevard of Puerto Ayora or if time allows it you can take a watertaxi from the port and visit Las Grietas, a narrow crack between tall lava rock walls where you can take a swim. The path that leads you to up to Las Grietas passes by the small white sand beach Playa de los Alemanes, a salt lake and interesting cacti. Another option would be to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station where you can observe more giant tortoises and a couple of yellow land iguana in captivation.
Day 2 – Bartolome, North Seymour, South Plaza or Santa Fe (B,L)
Today you will go on a full day excursion to one of these four special uninhabited islands. Which island you will visit will be communicated with you before departure and depends on availability. Besides a visit on land you will also get the opportunity to go snorkeling during the tour to discover the underwater wildlife of Galapagos. A box lunch will be served on board.
Home of the famous Pinnacle Rock, Bartolome consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations. A trail of stairs leads to the summit of the volcano, boasting one of the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for snorkeling and possible sightings of the Galapagos penguin.
Galapagos sea lions, blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds are abundant on North Seymour Island. The island was formed by a series of submarine lava containing layers of sediment that were uplifted by tectonic activity. The island is characterized by its arid vegetation zone. Land and marine iguanes can also be encountered here.
This small island with steep cliffs was formed by rising lava and is now covered by Opuntia cacti. It is also home to one of the largest sea lion colonies as well as colorful yellow and red land iguanas. The most characteristic plant is Sesuvium. During the rainy season its color is a greenish to yellowish tone and in the dry season (end of June through January) a bright red.
Santa Fe is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island’s northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff, and the other spanning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest. You might also encounter land iguanas on this island.
Day 3 – Tortuga Bay and speedboat to Isabela (B)
This morning you will have time off to spend on your own. We highly recommend a visit to Tortuga Bay. This white-sand beach gets its name from the black sea turtles that lay their eggs here. Many marine iguanas, crabs and bird can also be spotted here. The site is excellent for bird watching and for enjoying a relaxing swim. It takes about an hour to walk from the main port on the boulevard in Puerto Ayora to get to Tortuga Bay.
In the afternoon you will take the speedboat to Isabela island, which takes about 2,5 hours. After checking in at your hotel, you might want to visit the Flamingo Lagoon near town, which is the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos and is one of the main reproductive sites for the grand majority of flamingos.
Day 4 – Las Tintoreras and Concha Perla (B)
Today you will go on an excursion to Las Tintoreras. This islet is home to a great variety of wildlife. Its turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by white-tip reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches surrounded by mangroves is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully. After a visit on land you will have the opportunity afterwards to go snorkeling nearby the islet to see more of the incredible underwater wildlife from up close.
In the afternoon you will have time off to spend on your own. We highly recommend a visit to Concha Perla, a natural pool with crystal clear and calm sea water (mainly at low tide), that is ideal for swimming and snorkelling with sea lions, marine iguanas, sea turtles, a wide range of fish and occasionally penguins and stingrays. The last part of the route up to this snorkel site – that is about 15 minutes walking from town – consists of a wooden walkway where many sea lions like to take a rest. If you don’t have your own snorkel equipment, you can rent these in any of the many tour agencies in town.
Day 5 – Wetlands, Wall of Tears and speedboat to Santa Cruz (B)
This morning you will have time off to visit the Wall of Tears. It’s recommended to rent a bike as this site is about 8 km away from town. As you travel towards the Wall of Tears you will pass several beautiful beaches where you can stop and observe many marine iguanas. You will also pass the Wetlands where there are short trails you can take to explore the area and see various lava formations. On your ride you will likely see giant tortoises and many Galapagos sea birds. At the end of the road you’ll find the Wall of Tears, an important historical site of Isabela island. From 1945-1959, a penal colony hosted prisoners who were forced to build this wall, stone by stone, in isolation. This now historical site, towering at 25 m high, took the lives of thousands during its construction. Locals claim to hear cries emanating from the heavy energy surrounding the site. Another option is to visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre in Puerto Villamil where you can see baby tortoises and learn about the important Galapagos Islands breeding program.
In the afternoon you will take the speedboat to Santa Cruz island, which takes about 2,5 hours. After checking in at your hotel, you’ll have the rest of the evening off.
Day 6 – Departure (B)
Enjoy your last morning on the Galapagos Islands strolling around the boulevard and check out the little fish market, where fishmongers cut and sell their wares. Chances are that you’ll see pelicans and sea lions here hoping to catch a free fishy snack. You will be picked up from your hotel for your transfer to the Itabaca Channel, where you will take the ferry and shuttle bus to Baltra airport. From here you will fly back to the mainland of Ecuador.
- Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (“B”=Breakfast, “L”=Lunch)
- Shared group excursions as described in the itinerary
- Bilingual local naturalist guide during excursions
- Snorkeling equipment during excursions
- Transfer in on the first day in private transportation with an English speaking representative
- Transfer out on the last day in private transportation with a Spanish speaking driver
- Itabaca Channel ferry
- Transportation by speedboat from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal
- Information package with clear instructions for self-guided activities and other helpful tips
- Flight from/to Galapagos (around $500 p.p.)
- Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100 p.p.)
- Migration Control Card ($20 p.p.)
- Isabela dock fee ($10 p.p.)
- Transportation between your hotel and port when travelling between islands (we recommend to take a taxi; some hotels are at walking distance from the port)
- Water taxis (about $1 p.p.)
- Personal expenses
- Water bottle
- Sun screen, sunglasses
- Cap or lightweight scarf
- Layered clothing
- Bathing suit and towel
- Motion sickness pills
- Insect repellent
- Hiking shoes
|Budget accommodation||Standard accommodation|
|Price per person
(based on 2 passengers)
|Price per person
(based on 1 passenger)
Take a look at the photos of our Budget and Standard accommodations.
|Optional transfers and assistance between hotel – dock
(on travel days between islands by speedboat)
|Price per person
(based on 2 or more passengers)
|Price per person
(based on 1 passenger)