"The Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous wildlife-watching destination in the world. And no wonder - it's almost impossible to exaggerate the sheer spectacle of the place that provided inspiration for Charles Darwin's ground-breaking theory of natural selection". Mark Carwardine
- Sea kayak with sharks, marine iguanas, sea turtles and sea lions
- Mountain bike our exclusive, low impact route along pristine coast line
- Walk amongst giant Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat
- Escorted by award winning expert guides
- Hike the rim of an enormous active caldera and explore lava flows
Our amazing multi sport trip will bring you face to face with the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands. This expedition includes a full week of sea kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, and snorkeling in the incomparable beauty of the Galapagos. Focusing on the Central and Southern islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Isabela, you will be able to discover these enchanted islands in a way you never thought possible.
The program comes alive in a unique way as you sea kayak and snorkel in the marine reserve, or hike and even mountain bike on the highlands. Diving in the world-class marine reserve is optional, but highly recommended. The main highlights will be hiking to the Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela; paddling sea-kayaks in crystal clear waters past penguins or sea lion pups; mountain biking to the top of Santa Cruz in search of giant tortoises; and snorkelling or scuba-diving through huge shoals of tropical fish.
Based in high quality hotels with daily activities suitable for all levels, this week long program combines the best of the Galapagos - nature, wildlife, history and landscapes along with adventure and sports. You visit areas that other cruise-based groups cannot reach, and in so doing you are able to share experiences with the local people and learn more about the challenges they face living on these islands and support local people through this sustainable program. There are also plenty of options for extending your trip in Ecuador afterwards, or including this programme within a longer South American adventure.
And after a long day of fun, we return to our eco-friendly boutique hotel for gourmet meals and refined hospitality. Perfect!
Despite being South America's 2nd smallest country, it packs a lot in. From the unique Galapagos islands, to the Amazon Jungle and from the Pacific Coast to the Andean volcanos. There is so much to see and do in Ecuador whether you are looking for an adrenalin packed adventure, or a wildlife extravaganza.
About The Galapagos Islands
Located 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland, the Galapagos archipelago consist of 13 major islands, 5 of which are inhabited. The total land area is just under 8,000km2 and is spread over 45,000 km2 of ocean.
The population is around 23,000
Politics & Security
The Islands are administered by a provisional government. Galapagos is a province of Ecuador, which is equivalent to a state, it has a capital and a Mayor. More than 90% of the islands are protected national park.Ecuador is a safe country for travel, and common sense needs to be used to avoid most crimes.
Spanish is the official language for Ecuador, although you will find that many people also speak English.
Day 1 (L,D)
After a morning flight to San Cristobal Island, we will meet you at the airport and you'll be given a briefing over lunch at Casa Opuntia Hotel. We will begin our journey at the Interpretation Center to learn about the Galapagos' unique wildlife, geology, history, and social dynamics before hiking to Tijeretas along lava rock trails.
Along the way, our naturalist guide will explain all about the Galapagos cotton, palo santo, acacia, and cacti you encounter. You will also spot blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, herons, gulls, warblers, mockingbirds, and finches amongst the vegetation and sea cliffs. In addition to unique species, the hike provides marvelous views of the rugged coastline and the tranquil town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
On the way back, we stop for a refreshing snorkel or swim at post-card worthy Carola Beach. Here, you will find sea turtles, sea lions, and marine iguanas. After a gorgeous sunset and dinner, we explore the friendly and laid-back town. We recommend you take a 5-minute walk from the hotel down the boardwalk to view the immense colony of endemic Galapagos sea lions. Overnight at Casa Opuntia Hotel.
Day 2 SEA KAYAK AND SNORKEL IN SAN CRISTOBAL'S NORTHERN COAST (B,L,D)
Our second day begins with a morning of kayaking along the coastal bays and coves of San Cristobal’s north coast, full of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, and sea turtles. We may visit Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), Punta Pitt or Cerro Brujo. The visiting site will depend on the weekday and Galapagos National Park regulations.
We’ll put on snorkels and fins to interact with sea lions, as well as marine iguanas and countless reef fish. We’ll swim with spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos sharks, starfish, clams, and fish of every shape, size, and color. With luck, we might even see some menacing but harmless hammerhead sharks! After a full day spent exploring the seas, we head back to Casa Opuntia for a delicious dinner and a well-earned rest. Overnight at Casa Opuntia.
Day 3 MOUNTAIN BIKE THE COASTLINE / EXPLORE TINTORERAS ISLETS (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we take a short plane ride over to Isabela Island. This is the largest island in the Galapagos and is still being formed by 6 shield volcanoes. Hence, Isabela is one of the most volcanically active spots on the planet.
This morning, we embark on the most scenically-varied bike ride in the Galapagos. Along our ride, we will visit El Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears). When Isabela was used as a penal colony, prisoners constructed a towering wall of lava rocks for no other purpose than to keep them distracted from the madness of isolation. We continue along white sand beaches, mangroves, brackish lagoons, and a lava tube. The area is filled with giant tortoises and birdlife including flamingos.
After lunch, we explore Tintoreras, a set of small islets filled with hidden coves and beaches. Here, we will find the endemic Galapagos penguin as well as reef sharks, sea turtles, and sea lions. At the end of the day, retire to the gorgeous Hotel Iguana Crossing. Relax in its infinity pool, hot tub, or neighbouring white sand beach. After a gourmet dinner, feel free to take a stroll down the seemingly endless beach or down the sand streets of this idyllic beach town.
Overnight Hotel Iguana Crossing
Day 4 VOLCANO HIKING IN ISABELA'S HIGHLANDS (B,L,D)
This morning, we drive up to the highlands until the road ends. Here, we do our daypacks and hike into a world of recent geological history. On the hike up, admire the incredible views of the surrounding volcanoes and sea. However, when you arrive at the rim of Volcan Sierra Negra, your jaw will drop. This is the second largest active caldera on the planet. You will walk along the rim of this enormous 30 square mile crater, and if feeling energetic, continue your hike into the caldera of Volcan Chico. Volcan Chico is an otherworldly landscape with endless hues of oranges, reds, blacks, and yellows. Here, you can explore puffing fumaroles and spectacular lava formations. Spend your last afternoon in this lazy beach town relaxing on its stunning beaches and soaking up the island-life atmosphere.
Overnight Hotel Iguana Crossing
Day 5 TORTOISES, PIRATES, LAVA TUNNELS, AND VOLCANIC SINKHOLES (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we take a speedboat to Santa Cruz Island. Along the way, we may see whales and dolphins. Upon arrival, we head to El Chato in the Santa Cruz highlands to find the giant tortoise in its natural habitat. It is truly an honor to hike amongst these fascinating giants, who can live to be over 175 years old. You will also see pintail ducks, finches, frigate birds, egrets, and hopefully the vermillion flycatcher - a red jewel of a bird.
We will then explore some incredible lava tunnels in which pirates frequented and perhaps hid Inca gold. We then carry on to Los Gemelos, two deep volcanic sinkholes at the top of the island. We will hike through a forest of endemic Scalesia trees, where we will be on the lookout for the short-eared owl. The trees are covered with ferns and epiphytes and exude an almost eerie feel.
In the late afternoon, we retire to the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn. Expect fine pampering at this first-class guesthouse privately nestled on the outskirts of town. The beautiful waterfront property offers magnificent views of the bay, coastline, and town.
Overnight Angermeyer Waterfront Inn
Day 6 KAYAK IN LAVA WALL CHANNELS / HIKE TO TORTUGA BAY (B,L,D)
This morning, we take to sea kayaks again to explore a different landscape, Punta Estrada and Divine Bay. We paddle through serene turquoise waters that meander through towering lava channel walls. Below the clear waters, you should be able to see rays and white-tipped reef sharks. You can also paddle right up to the fearless blue-footed boobies, lava gulls, herons, sally light-footed crabs, and marine iguanas perched along the cliffs.
After lunch, we take a 40 minute hike to Tortuga Bay through a unique dry forest. Along the hike, you will find many birds and interesting plants. When you reach the beach, you will hardly believe your eyes, as this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos. Take time to relax on its fine sands or in its turquoise waters. Return to Puerto Ayora to enjoy your last evening on the Galapagos.
Day 7 CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION / RETURN FLIGHT (B)
After breakfast, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, we learn about the ongoing conservation efforts on these enchanted islands. The Research Station rears endemic Galapagos plants, land iguanas, and giant Galapagos tortoises for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. Here, we can compare the diverse evolutionary paths of the various giant tortoise subspecies from different islands.
After our visit, we transfer to Baltra Island for our return flight to the mainland. End of expedition
This expedition is subject to change due to weather or national park policies
BOAT TRAVEL TIME 2 - 3 hrs
SMALL AIRCRAFT FLIGHT TIME 50 min
PADDLE, HIKING, OR ACTIVITY DURATION 2 to 4 hours per activity
AVERAGE TEMPERATURES December to May: 80F to 90F / 25C to 30C. June to September: 60F to 70F / 15C to 20C. October to December: 70F to 80F / 15C to 25C.
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO PACK
Hiking shoes, water sandals, rain jacket, flashlight, water bottle, non-cotton trekking gear, sun block, hat, bathers and mosquito repellent.
If our expedition dates don't suit please let us know and we will try to accommodate your requirements.
You can receive a Visa on arrival for Ecuador and Peru and enter for 90 days. You will need evidence of an onward flight ticket out of these countries.
If you are traveling to Ecuador through the United States of America (USA), or if you are transiting in Honolulu or other USA points of entry, you are required to meet USA entry/transit requirements. Make sure you check with your nearest Embassy or Consulate of the United States your visa requirements well in advance of your travel.
If you are traveling from a yellow fever endemic country, a valid Yellow Fever Certificate is required for entry into Ecuador. The World Health Organization (WHO) can provide a list of yellow fever endemic countries.
Ecuador is listed by the World Health Organization as endemic for yellow fever. Some airlines flying out of Ecuador require evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination before allowing passengers to board. In the case of at least one airline, evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination is required if the passenger is traveling to Australia within six days of departing Ecuador. If in doubt, check with your airline.
If you have visited Ecuador in the last six days prior to your date of return to Australia, Australian Customs officials will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on entry into Australia. British citizens must have a passport valid for six months beyond the date of their arrival in Ecuador. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.
Ecuadors official currency is the US$
Health and Safety
A yellow fever certificate is required from those arriving from infected areas, and is recommended for everyone entering Ecuador, particularly for those traveling to the regions of the Amazon basin. There is high risk of malaria and dengue fever in areas below 5,000ft (1,500m). The best prevention is to cover up and use mosquito repellent liberally throughout the day. Tap water should not be consumed; bottled water is available.
Adequate travel insurance is mandatory for everyone who participates in a Pioneer expedition. We strongly recommend that you take out baggage loss and accident insurance. Please bring a copy of your insurance policy and contact numbers to give to your expedition leader in case of illness or accident.
This Galapagos trip is a land-based program, rather than a liveaboard boat trip. The reason for this is that land programs directly benefit the sustainable development of the small Galapagos communities. These traditional fishing and small merchant towns have unsuccessfully struggled to forge a living amongst strict commercial and national park limitations. Although tourism is the logical development alternative, the great majority of Islanders have not been able to participate or benefit from offshore boat operators. Land tours are now revitalizing the local economy and allow Islanders to integrate themselves in the tourism economy.
Our local team is socially and environmentally committed to sustainable ecotourism practices. They proudly preside over ASEC (Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association), where they have the opportunity to contribute to Ecuador's tourism industry both at an operational and political level. ASEC looks after the welfare of local communities through development initiatives and environmental conservation practices.
Galapagos Weather - when to travel
Due to their equatorial location, the Galapagos Islands are blessed with pleasant weather all year round so can be visited throughout the year. There are slight climatic changes though - from June to December, it is the 'dry season', with blue skies, midday showers, cooler winds and the water is cooler. This is the time when sea and land birds are most active (although wildlife activity is always good whenever you visit).
The warmer waters head towards the Galapagos around December, so warmer for swimming and snorkeling. December to May is the 'warm season' when the climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies and no wind.
Flights from Quito Airport Code UIO to San Christobel at extra cost. Flights back to Quito MUST be taken from Baltra Island. Total return cost approx $550. Flights to Quito from Australia are done with a 1 stop flight via USA Atlanta or Los Angeles.
- The weight restriction per person for the inter-island flight from San Cristobal to Isabela is 12 kgs in one piece of luggage.
- We provide a wetsuit on Day 2 free of charge. If you would like to hire one for other times, this can be done directly with the guide for US$10 per day
- Accommodations in the premium Opuntia Lodges (twin/double share basis)
Meals (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, S = Snacks/light lunch; D= Dinner) as specified on the itinerary
Adventure & Safety Equipment
Professional bilingual Galapagos naturalist guide
Professional English speaking adventure guide
All sea, land and inter-island air transportation
- Flights to and from Galapagos (approx $550) subject to change; we can book this.
Entrance fee to Galapagos National Park USD 100 p/p (subject to change);
Galapagos transit card USD 10 p/p (subject to change);