Ecuador – Galapagos Island

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s most coveted destinations. Made famous by Charles Darwin through his observations of the wildlife that inhabit the islands, these islands offer a climate that is pleasant year round and many opportunities for wildlife encounters both on land and under water.

The mainland of Ecuador offers its own enticements and packs an amazing amount of diversity into a small country. It is a Paradise for nature lovers and active adventurers. It is a treasure for cultural and historical pursuits. Quito and Cuenca are both UNESCO World cultural Heritage Sites with Quito receiving accolades as the largest (791acres) and best-preserved colonial center in Latin America.

Visit the Middle of the World at Quito and stand with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern hemisphere at the same time in this country that straddles the equator.

Ingapirca, one of the country’s most important archaeological sites lies just outside of Cuenca. It was used by both the Canari and Inca cultures.

tortoises of galapagos islands

Galapagos Island 6 Days
Santa Cruz Island & Isabela Island

Day 01: Quito/Baltra/Rancho Primicias & Twin Craters (Santa Cruz)

Upon arrival at the Baltra Airport, transfer to Santa Cruz where a guide will be waiting to take you to the hotel where you can leave your luggage. We will use the morning to visit the Rancho Primicias in the island’s highlands where you will be able to see Giant Turtles in their natural habitat.

Then we go on to Lava Tunnels. The largest lava tubes in the Galapagos are on Santa Cruz Island, which has 8 of them.  It is estimated that the last eruptions occurred around a million and a half years ago. There is a gigantic lava tunnel that is over 2000 meters long on the island that many tourists visit and walk through.

Los Gemelos (Twin Craters) are also located in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. They are sinkholes that were created when the volcanic roof of empty magma chambers collapsed over time.

This area has very different climate from other parts of the island and is surrounded by scalesia forests, sometimes called “broccoli trees.” It is the habitat for bromeliads, orchids, mosses, lichens and many birds. Here, you are able to find vermillion flycatchers, 8 species of Darwin finches, and the occasional short-eared owl.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 02:  Grietas & Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz)

After breakfast we will hike through a forest of cacti and over rugged lava rock formations to one of the most unique swimming holes in the Galapagos Islands. Las Grietas, which translates literally to mean “the cracks,” is a series of volcanic crevices. The porous lava stone of the island allows water to filter down from the highlands into Las Grietas where it mixes with seawater filtering in from the ocean. Las Grietas is a popular swimming spot on the island. A Naturalist Guide is not required to visit as the trail has been improved, but it is not recommended to travel alone as the jagged lava rocks en route can be tricky.

After lunch we walk to Tortuga Bay.  It’s located on the Santa Cruz Island, about a 20-minute walk from the main water taxi dock in Puerto Ayora. The walking path is 1.55 miles (2,490 m) and is open from six in the morning to six in the evening. We must sign in and out at the start of the path with the Galapagos Park Service office. Tortuga Bay has a gigantic, perfectly preserved beach that is forbidden to swimmers and is preserved for the wildlife where many marine iguanas, Galapagos crabs and birds are seen dotted along the Volcanic Rocks. There is a separate cove where you can swim where it is common to view white-tip reef sharks swimming in groups & more rarely a tiger shark. There are always a large variety of small fish and birds.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 03:  Santa Cruz Island to Isabela Island (Flamengos Laggon & Sea Kayaking with Penguins)

Transfer via a speed boat to Isabela Island. It is the largest island of the Galapagos with an area of 1,790 sq mi, and length of 62 mi. almost four times larger than Santa Cruz, the second largest of the archipelago. It was named after Queen Isabela of Spain.   This island strides the Equator. Isabela is also interesting for its flora and fauna. The young island does not follow the vegetation zones of the other islands. The relatively new lava fields and surrounding soils have not developed the nutrients required to support the types of life zones found on other islands.

Isabela’s rich animal, bird, and marine life is unique. Isabela is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands. Isabela’s large size and notable topography created barriers for the slow-moving tortoises; apparently the creatures were unable to cross lava flows and other obstacles, causing several different sub-species of tortoise to develop. Today, tortoises roam free in the calderas of Alcedo, Wolf, Cerro Azul, Darwin and Sierra Negra.

Arrive in Isabela and transfer to your hotel. After checking in, we will walk around to Flamingos Lagoon, a primary breeding grounds for Flamingos.

(Alternate option: Go fishing with a local family and they will prepare the meal in their home from the catch. Overnight with family on Isabela.)

In the afternoon we take our ocean kayaks and paddle out to Tintoreras, a set of small islets within Isabela Bay. The islets are filled with wildlife and are home to the Galapagos penguin, the only penguin that lives in equatorial region. We will also see sharks, marine turtles, sea lions, blue-footed boobies and much more.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 04: Tunnels & Wall of Tears (Isabela Island)

After breakfast we will go to the pier for a 45-minute small boat ride to a place where the lava flow impacted the oceans waves to form the stunning tubes and bridges of Los Tunneles.  Los Tunneles is a haven for marine life including the white tipped reef shark, manta rays, parrotfish, yellowtail surgeonfish, Galápagos green sea turtle and the Galápagos sea lion. This site is one of the best places for snorkeling in Isabela as the water is shallow, clear and calm making for good accessibility for water enthusiasts. Lava flows have produced a number of arches and tunnels both under and above water.

The Wall of Tears (Spanish: El Muro de las Lágrimas) is a historical site 5 km west of Puerto Villamil is on Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Prisoners in the Penal Colony on the island constructed it between the years of 1945 and 1959. It had been established by President Jose Maria Velasco Ibarra in 1944, using infrastructure left by the US military after World War II.

The wall is about 25 m (65 ft.) tall and is said to have been the cause of thousands of deaths while it was being built. Locals call it the wall of tears because it is said you can hear the cries of those that suffered coming from it.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 05:  Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island/Free day

Early morning, starting about 7:00 a.m., we will have a tour to Sierra Negra Volcano. It’s one of the five volcanos on the island of Isabela. On the Sierra Negra Volcano you hike to the rim of the six miles wide crater, the worlds second largest, and walk through a field of lava and fumaroles. The Sierra Negra is one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos, with the last eruption in 2005. It is unlikely that you will see flowing lava. You will be able to explore thermal vents and other geologic features before being served a snack near Volcán Chico. The views from this spot are spectacular and, weather allowing; you can see the northern volcanoes on Isabela and Fernandina. Relax with a hot lunch at Campo Duro while you recover from this day’s hike. (This hike takes about 6 hours and is considered difficult with rough, and sometimes slippery, surfaces; inclines; and equatorial heat. Horseback tours are available, if preferred.)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 06:  Isabela Island / Baltra Airport

After breakfast transfer to Isabela Airport for your flight to Baltra, and then go on to Guayaquil or Quito.

Meals: Breakfast

This tour is a nature and wildlife adventure. Expect rough terrain. Scheduled activities can be demanding. Excursion combined with sun and heat may be draining for some and those with mobility issues will be limited in what they can access and see.

INCLUDED:

  • Airfare Quito (Guayaquil)/Galápagos/( Guayaquil) Quito
  • Transfer Airport / Hostel or hotel / Airport
  • Speed local boat Santa Cruz Island / Isabela Island
  • Airplane Isabela Island to Baltra Airport
  • All the nights hostel or hotel accommodation
  • Breakfast daily provide it for the hostel or hotel
  • Daily Lunch & Dinner in Local restaurant
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide
  • Daily tours per itinerary
  • English guide spoken
  • Private Land Tour
  • Kayaking equipment
  • Snorkel equipment

NOT INCLUDED:

  • $100 Galapagos National Park Entrance
  • $20 IGLA fee
  • Beverages
  • Phone Calls
  • Travel Insurance
  • Incidentals

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