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The Complete Galapagos Experience – San Cristobal, Santa Cruz & Isabela Island

14 Days

Embark on an extraordinary 14-day adventure through the enchanting landscapes of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Quito with a cooking class and city tour, discovering the city’s architectural marvels and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of San Cristóbal Island, snorkeling at Kicker Rock and exploring the Interpretation Center and Tijeretas Hill. Journey to Isabela Island for thrilling activities like kayaking, hiking Sierra Negra Volcano, and biking through diverse environments. Discover the captivating wildlife of Santa Cruz Island, including giant tortoises and marine iguanas, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Finally, venture to uninhabited islands, each offering its own unique ecosystem, from Bartolomé to Seymour Norte, where you can snorkel and marvel at the abundant marine life. With a perfect blend of nature, adventure, and cultural immersion, this Galapagos Islands tour promises an unforgettable experience.

This offer is valid until 31 December 2024

Overview

Embark on an extraordinary 14-day adventure through the enchanting landscapes of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Quito with a cooking class and city tour, discovering the city’s architectural marvels and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of San Cristóbal Island, snorkeling at Kicker Rock and exploring the Interpretation Center and Tijeretas Hill. Journey to Isabela Island for thrilling activities like kayaking, hiking Sierra Negra Volcano, and biking through diverse environments. Discover the captivating wildlife of Santa Cruz Island, including giant tortoises and marine iguanas, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Finally, venture to uninhabited islands, each offering its own unique ecosystem, from Bartolomé to Seymour Norte, where you can snorkel and marvel at the abundant marine life. With a perfect blend of nature, adventure, and cultural immersion, this Galapagos Islands tour promises an unforgettable experience.

 

Highlights

  • Snorkeling at Kicker Rock off San Cristóbal Island.
  • Kayaking and snorkeling at Las Tintoreras near Isabela Island.
  • Hiking the Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island.
  • An excursion to one of the uninhabited islands for unique wildlife sightings.
  • Exploring Santa Cruz Island, including a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Daily Schedule

Day 1 Arrival in Quito, Quito Cooking Class Quito
Day 2 Quito City Tour & Middle of the World Quito
Day 3 Quito to San Cristóbal Island, Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill Quito to San Cristóbal Island
Day 4 Snorkel at Kicker Rock San Cristóbal Island
Day 5 Free Day on San Cristobal Island San Cristóbal Island
Day 6 San Cristóbal Island to Puerto Villamil, Kayaking & Snorkeling at Las Tintoreras San Cristóbal Island to Isabela Island
Day 7 Hiking Sierra Negra Volcano Isabela Island
Day 8 Exploring Isabela Island by bike Isabela Island
Day 9 Snorkel at Los Túneles, Transfer to Puerto Ayora Santa Cruz Island
Day 10  Highlands of Santa Cruz Island, Visit to the Charles Darwin Research Santa Cruz Island
Day 11  Excursion to an uninhabited island Santa Cruz Island
Day 12  Free Day on Santa Cruz Island Santa Cruz Island
Day 13 Tortuga Bay, Transfer to Baltra Island, Departure Santa Cruz Island

Detailed itinerary

Welcome to Ecuador! Upon arrival at Quito’s airport, a private driver will meet you for the ride to your hotel in the city center.

Quito Cooking Class

Today is your chance to learn about—and taste—Ecuador’s traditional cooking with dishes such as locro de papa (potato stew), bolon de verde (plantain dumplings), and encocado de pescado (fish in coconut sauce). Meet a local Quito chef for a trip to a market to buy the ingredients needed for each dish. Learn about the recipes and then follow steps to create a meal to share with your group.

Quito City Tour

You will explore Quito's historic city center today! Quito stands at an altitude of 2,850 m, and the city center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Stroll through the narrow streets and visit some of the most important churches, such as La Compañía (its interior is covered in gold), a great example of the "Baroque School of Quito." Explore "La Ronda," one of the oldest streets, and enjoy the 360° view from Panecillo Hill.

Have you always wanted to stand on both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres at the same time? Today's your opportunity! You will visit "Mitad del Mundo," the "Middle of the World." Inti Ñan Museum is an interesting and interactive site where you will participate in funny experiments and learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture. Will you be able to balance an egg on the nail? Try it out!

On time for your flight to Galapagos, your driver will pick you up at your hotel in Quito and escort you to Quito Airport. Upon your arrival at San Cristobal Airport, your driver will welcome you and take you to your hotel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

*Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill*

Today, you will visit the Interpretation Center of the Galápagos National Park to learn about the archipelago from a seasoned Naturalist guide. Later, you will take a short hike through the brush forest that leads us to Frigate Hill ("Cerro Tijeretas" in Spanish), a lovely viewpoint on the island where frigate birds nest. Afterward, if there is still time left, you will have a chance to go snorkeling in search of lazy sea lions, graceful and impressive sea turtles, and colorful fish.

A 50-minute boat ride will bring you through blue waters to one of the most iconic places of Galápagos: the famous Kicker Rock, also known as "León Dormido" ("sleeping lion"). While snorkeling around this spectacular rock formation, you can encounter sea lions, rays, turtles, and an array of fish. If you are lucky, you might even spot hammerhead sharks! A lunchbox is served onboard. Top off this excursion with a visit to a pristine beach where you have some time to relax, swim, and snorkel.

In the afternoon, you return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where you can enjoy the evening while walking along the promenade or watching the sunset at Playa Mann. This activity is recommended for children eight years and up, but if your little one is three years old or older and a confident swimmer, they can join in with parental supervision.

Check out one or two of the beautiful beaches on San Cristobal during your free day on the island for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. If you haven’t been to Tijeretas Hill yet, do the short hike as it is worth seeing the frigate birds nesting on top! Alternatively, if you want to learn more about the Galápagos Islands, visit the Interpretation Center in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Looking for a larger day trip? Do a last-minute excursion by boat to Española Island or to Pitt Point and observe Albatrosses (depending on season), blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and much more.

You will take the island hopper plane from San Cristobal to Isabela Island today. Your driver will pick you up at your hotel and escort you to San Cristobal Airport. Enjoy the panoramic flight over the archipelago (approx. 45 minutes)! At the small airport of Isabela Island, another driver will be waiting for you and accompany you to your hotel in Puerto Villamil.

Note: baggage allowance is approx. 11 kg per person; every additional kg has to be paid directly at San Cristobal Airport (approx. US$ 4 per kg).

Kayaking & Snorkeling at Las Tintoreras

Today, you will explore Las Tintoreras Islets by kayak. Those small volcanic islets are thriving with wildlife: watch out for penguins and blue-footed boobies, and explore the underwater world with its great variety of colorful fish, turtles, and sea lions while snorkeling. This activity is recommended for children 8 years and up, but if your little one is 3 years old or older and a confident swimmer, they can join in with parental supervision.

Another adventurous day awaits you! You will hike the famous Sierra Negra Volcano today, the second largest volcano crater on our planet, and walk through a unique geological landscape. The area is dotted with lava paths and local plant and animal life. Watch out for different bird species while hiking to the crater rim. Parts of the caldera provide evidence of its last eruption in 2005.

Enjoy the spectacular views during one of the best hikes of Galapagos, before continuing the hike up to Chico volcano, a secondary crater, where you will enjoy both the views and a box lunch. The hike is long in terms of distance, but not very difficult (16 km / 9,95 mi). After descending and returning to Puerto Villamil, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure

Today, we will bike along an exclusive road around one side of Isabela Island. Along the way, you can stop at various viewpoints and beaches, such as for example “Playa del amor” (“Love Beach”). Playa del Amor is home to a huge population of marine iguanas.

After a while, we will reach the famous “Muro de las lagrimas” (“Wall of Tears”), a historic landmark on Isabela Island. This wall was built by prisoners of the penal colony on the island, and it is said that hundreds of people lost their life during its constructions – therefore the name.

Upon our return to Puerto Villamil, we will make a last stop and explore the richly diverse environments at the Flamingo Lagoon.

This activity is recommended for kids aged 5 and up who know how to ride a bike and depending on the height of the child. We also have child seats available: a front seat for up to 15 kg/33 lbs and a back seat for up to 32 kg/70 lb

Snorkel at Los Túneles

Los Túneles is famous for its unique geological formations, like lava-formed arches below and above water. This area is an excellent place for swimming and snorkeling, as you can encounter a huge variety of wildlife in the shallow waters. Keep your eyes open for seahorses, colorful fish, rays, turtles, and whitetipped reef sharks. You might also spot some penguins or blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks. After the excursion, you return by boat to Puerto Villamil.

This activity is recommended for children 10 years and up, but if your little one is 7 years old or older and a confident swimmer, they can join in with parental supervision.

Public speedboat Puerto Villamil - Puerto Ayora

Take the public speedboat from Isabela Island to Santa Cruz Island today (approx. 2-2,5 hours).

Highlands of Santa Cruz Island

The next stop of today will lead us, together with our guide, into the highlands of Santa Cruz, where you can observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Besides, you can explore the impressive lava tunnels that dot the area. Make another stop at the so-called "twin craters," home to various bird species. After enjoying a healthy meal on a farm in the highlands, your guide will bring you back to Puerto Ayora.

Visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station

Here in Puerto Ayora is the seat of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its research station, where you can observe many giant tortoises and iguanas species. Witness the tireless efforts of conservationists and learn about how they are helping to repopulate the island with different species of tortoises

Of the many islands that compose the Galápagos Archipelago, only 4 have permanent settlements. The rest of the islands are left in their natural condition, the habitat of many endemic species. Visits to these islands are highly regulated by Park Authorities and limited to small group visits.

Today you are going to visit one of these untamed islands. Aboard a modern yacht, and in the company of only 15 more visitors, you will take a 1.5 to 2.5-hour ride to one of the following islands: Bartolomé, Seymour Norte, Plazas Sur, or Santa Fé. The island visited depends on park permits and the boat’s schedule. We will try to consider your preferences when booking the limited spaces.

Every island has a different landscape and unique flora & fauna. For example, on Santa Fé island, you will find the endemic Santa Fé iguana, whereas colonies of sea lions, frigate birds, and blue-footed boobies populate Seymour Norte. On board the yacht, a warm meal is served, and in the afternoon, guests usually have the opportunity to snorkel at a nearby bay or beach. Don’t miss out on the fantastic underwater world of the Galápagos!

After an exciting day, you will return to Puerto Ayora around 4-5 pm.

Enjoy Santa Cruz Island on your own today! For example, Tortuga Bay (approximately 45 minutes from Puerto Ayora), where you can see marine iguanas and Darwin Finches; head to Las Grietas for some snorkeling or set out for a last minute day trip to one of the uninhabited islands in the surroundings of Santa Cruz. It's all about appreciating the uniqueness of Galápagos!

Tortuga Bay

There is still much more to explore on Santa Cruz Island, so today you can head to Tortuga Bay, said to be one of the most beautiful beaches on Galapagos. It’s a nice 45-minute walk (approx. 1,5 miles / 2,5 km
each way) through an Opuntia cactus forest. Sunbath, swim, or snorkel, and watch out for marine iguanas and Darwin Finches. If you want to, you can even rent kayaks (optional).

Transfer from Puerto Ayora to Baltra Airport (GPS)

On time for your flight back to mainland Ecuador, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and bring you back to the Itabaca Channel which you will again cross by ferry. We hope that you have enjoyed your time on Galapagos!!

Cost

Included

  • - Accommodation
  • - Meals mentioned in the program
  • - Private English-speaking guide and transportation on the visit to Santa Cruz highlands
  • - Group tours
  • - Public transportation on speedboat between the islands
  • - Spanish-speaking airport transfers

Excludes

  • National and International flights
  • The meals not mentioned in the trip plan
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance, and repatriation insurance
  • Optional excursions, activities, and optional tours
  • Reservations marked as “reserved by traveler” are reservations that the traveler is responsible for directly.
  • These items are not reserved or supported by authenticecuador and are included in the trip plan just for completeness