Best Hiking Trails in the Galapagos Islands

by on 2nd May, 2020

Our guide to the best guided and self-guided hiking trails in the Galapagos Islands.



Hiking trails are found throughout the Galápagos Islands, and whether you choose to visit the islands on a cruise or opt for a land-based tour, you will certainly have opportunities for walking. Many excursions include gentle wanderings along rocky trails to enjoy the unique Galapagos wildlife. Even non-wildlife people cannot help but be amazed by the animals, birds, vegetation and scenery of these truly enchanted islands.

As well as the guided shorter walks incorporated into your island visits for the more active there are hiking trails excellent for longer explorations. Some can be self-guided, others require you to be accompanied by a Galapagos guide.

Read on for our top tips on where to find the best walking trails in the Galapagos Islands.


tourists on trails Galapagos


Hiking trails on Santa Cruz

This is the most populated of the islands. Puerto Ayora is the main town and is where you are most likely to be staying if you have chosen to go on a land-based tour. Cruises often stop here for the day too, giving time for a bit of exploration.

If you have a spare half day one lovely self-guided walk you can do is to Tortuga Bay. Take the well-made hiking trail from the southwest edge of town the 3km to the long white beach of Tortuga Bay. It takes around an hour to walk to the beach, along a good trail through scrubby forest. At the far end of the beach there is a lagoon, fabulous for swimming (the main beach has strong currents) and snorkelling. Don’t forget sun block, a towel and sun hat, water and a snack. Look out for flamingos and finches, marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crab, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies, amongst others.

Frigate bird Genovesa Galapagos Islands

Hiking trails on San Cristobal

This island is one of the oldest of the Galapagos islands and the second most populated in the archipelago after Santa Cruz. The main town is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the province of Galápagos.

A hiking trail takes you from the centre of town to the top of Tijeretas, known in English as Frigate hill. The walk takes less than an hour. One of the main reasons for hiking up the hill is to get close up views of both the Great frigate and the Magnificent frigate birds. The frigates nest up here and you may see some blue-footed boobies up to their strange antics too, if you’re lucky. The trail is well made and as you climb you have wonderful views of Kicker Rock and Shipwreck Bay out to sea and Darwin’s cove below. Keep an eye out for turtles and sea lions in the crystal clear water – where you can cool off later .

bartolome trek

Hiking trail on Bartolomé

This is a small island off Santiago Island, with beautiful landscapes. The beaches are white sand, with mangroves fringing the edges. This is a good place to spot the Galápagos penguin. There is a hiking trail to the summit of this volcanic cone, which gives one of the most classic views in Galapagos over Pinnacle rock, and two half-moon beaches. The volcanic formations lining the well-made path are a multitude of shades of reds, oranges and browns. Watch for lava lizards skitting about as you climb, and Galapagos hawks zipping and diving around at the summit.


Sierra Negra walk


Hiking trails on Sierra Negra volcano, Isabela

The best hiking trails in Galapagos are found in Isabela. It is one of the youngest islands, dramatic with superb volcanic scenery. There are 6 volcanoes on the island, some connected by their lava flow and most of which are still active. The highest of all Galápagos peaks is found here, it is Volcan Wolf (1,707m) .

The two hikes visitors are permitted to do are on the Sierra Negra volcano complex. They are the best treks in all of the Galapagos. A road with good views of the southern Galápagos Islands takes you from Puerto Villamil, the main town, to the start of the walks on Sierra Negra.

The shorter of the two hikes follows a trail along the rim of the Volcan Chico, part of the Sierra Negra volcano. The longer hike takes a full day (11 km each way) and goes to the area of sulphur fumaroles known as Volcan de Azufre. The volcanic scenery is stunning on a clear day, views inside and outside the crater are outstanding. The crater of Sierra Negra Volcano measures 10km across. The entire floor of the caldera of the volcano is covered by lava from a nine day eruption in 2005. The most recent eruption was in 2018. There are steaming fumaroles and Galápagos giant tortoises of the Alcedo subspecies and look out for birds such as the Gavilan Galapagos, Darwin’s finches, flycatcher, and mockingbird.Galapagos trails with Kathy and Lewis

Top tips for what to bring on a hike in Galapagos:
Comfortable walking shoes or boots are essential, bear in mind you will be walking on rough volcanic rock at times.
Sunglasses, sun block, a good sun hat are essential, it can get very hot.
Water and a snack.
Binoculars and a camera in a waterproof bag
Note: Plastic bags, straws and containers are banned in The Galapagos.


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