We combine snorkelling, biking, trekking, sea kayaking and diving in a unique itinerary taking in the highlights of these magical islands.
Snorkel with playful sea lions, watch sharks and giant manta rays, or just enjoy the company of the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.
As well as the wildlife, by staying on the islands you get a feel of the culture of the people who live on the Galapagos.
You are sped from highlight to highlight by speedboat, minimising travel times and seasickness risk.
This trip is fully guided from start to finish, and you are travelling in the same group of maximum 16 passengers.
Our knowledgeable and experienced Galapagos wildlife guides will ensure you experience the islands to the fullest.
Go home with memories that will last a lifetime with our trip, that blends activity, relaxation and enjoyment.
Snorkel with sea turtles, sea lions and more, including sharks and turtles.
Visit all four of the inhabited islands, learn the rich history & culture of Galapagos.
Hike up the active volcano Sierra Negra, and see one of the biggest calderas in the world.
See the famous giant tortoises in their natural habitat.
Visit some of the Galapagos' top sites, including Kicker Rock, Isabela and Floreana.
Hike, bike, snorkel and kayak - plus diving for divers - something for everyone.
Really had a great time. Guide on Galapagos first rate and he really helped make the tour. Loads of experience and born in the islands.
Good people person and he really helped get best out of holiday.
Welcome to one of the highest capital cities in the world, Quito. You are free to arrive anytime you wish and take in some of the many sites of Quito.
That evening there will be a full briefing on the week ahead and logistics of your adventure tour in Galapagos – your opportunity to get know your new travel companions before your first dinner together.
Evening welcome dinner.
The trip begins with an early morning transfer to the airport and a flight to San Cristobal Island, Galapagos.
Here you will be meet by our staff and transferred to your hotel.
After lunch will we make our way to the top of San Cristobal through the settlement of El Progresso, to La Soledad from where we will have panoramic views out over the Pacific towards Santa Cruz, Floreana and Santa Fe.
Afterwards we jump on the bikes for an exhilarating down hill through the lush highlands of the island, through El Progresso down to the beach La Loberia.
Here we’ll be able to watch sea lions sun bathing, playing and vying for our attention. If you can’t wait to get in the water, this is your first opportunity.
As the sun sets, we’ll bike back to town and get ready for a welcome dinner of island cuisine at a small local restaurant.
Today we take to the water to get a glimpse of the underwater world of Galapagos.
First we’ll cruise along the coast in our boat identifying shore birds like the Great Frigate and famous Blue-Footed Booby.
Then we’ll find a calm spot near the coast to get our fins wet in search of damselfish, puffer fish, and, hopefully, curious sea lion pups.
Snorkel & Activity Gear: We take pride in having the best gear in the Galapagos Islands! Wetsuits or rash guards, fins, mask and snorkels are provided for you, as well as kayaks and bicycles during scheduled activities.
If you prefer to bring your own snorkel gear, please do so. If you have a new mask it should be cleaned properly and used beforehand to make sure it isn’t going to fog up when you are on the hunt for that perfect underwater fish photo. If you wear glasses. You can wear contacts or visit a dive shop before coming to Galapagos to get a corrective lens mask if necessary.
From here we continue to Kicker Rock or Leon Dormido as it’s known by the locals to explore the final remains of a tuff cone rising over 150m/500ft out of the ocean. If Kicker Rock were a building, it would have almost 50 floors.
Along the edge and through a channel of this drastic compact ash formation, we’ll be on the hunt for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, chocolate chip starfish, and, with any luck, a Galapagos Shark or two. Don’t worry; they won’t be as interested in you as you are in them.
There are many beautiful beaches along the coastline of San Cristobal that are accessible only by boat. After our snorkel activities are done, we’ll head to one of these sandy beaches for some fun and exploration.
After lunch on board, feel free to spend your time swimming in the turquoise water or snapping photos of birds, crabs and other creatures we may find on the beach.
We’ll head back to town late afternoon to visit the Interpretation Center. We’ll learn about the history and mystery of the archipelago from its discovery and what makes it so special, to Charles Darwin’s visit and the present-day efforts to protect this amazing World Heritage site.
To culminate the educational afternoon, pick a spot at nearby Playa Mann, or Mann Beach, with the playful sea lions or grab a front row seat at Casa Blanca to toast in the sunset. Dinner is on your own tonight but rest assured we can offer you plenty of suggestions.
Diving: Occasionally, the option to dive is available. Please enquire in advance.
We can also arrange a diving extension for you to spend extra time in the Galapagos; this must be booked and paid for in advance. If you have never gone diving with a 5mm–7mm wetsuit, in the open water, or it’s been two years or more since your last dive, we highly recommend a refresher course to be better prepared, as well as to ensure your safety and comfort during your dive experience. Diving in the Galapagos is not geared towards novice divers.
Note: If you choose to book diving, we require you to complete a dive request form and send us a copy of your certification.
After breakfast, we’ll depart by boat for the least inhabited of the main islands, Floreana.
En route, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, whales and the Waved Albatross. We’ll have a pre-lunch snorkel before going ashore to a black sand beach at the home of the Witmers, one of the islands first settlers. With a population of less than 150 people, Puerto Velasco Ibarra is a sleepy little town but not without its secrets. A recent film ‘The Galapagos Affair’ explores some of these themes.
After lunch, take a siesta while listening to the waves or walk along the coast in search of sunbathing iguanas. This afternoon we’ll bus up to the highlands of Floreana to visit the Pirate and Whaler Caves from long ago.
We’ll return to town and our beachside accommodation in time to enjoy the day’s last light before heading to the Baronesa for dinner.
NOTE: Floreana is the least developed of all the inhabited islands. You’ll be staying in beautiful but basic beachside hotel, but bear in mind the limitations of the island and available facilities. There’s limited electricity, water supply and food choices. Because of the small nature of the hotel and lack of availability, sometimes we are unable to stay and must continue on to Isabela.
Residents and tourist alike use this method of transport regularly between the main inhabited islands. However, for this tour you’ll be on a private boat. Out on the open ocean, this is your best chance to see whales and dolphins. Each crossing takes about 2 hours. Less time if the sea is calm, more time if the sea is rough. Boats are usually 30-35 feet long and hold 20-30 passengers. You’ll be leaving bright and early most days when the sea is usually calm, but if you’re prone to seasickness or not sure, bring some seasickness pills just in case.
This morning we embark for Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago. Once we arrive in Puerto Vilamil, we hop into the kayaks.
We paddle in a leisurely manner around the sheltered bay area of Puerto Villamil. Keep an eye out for Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and rays who frequent these shallow water. On the shore, you may see blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, and pelicans, resting along the shore or in some nearby mangrove trees.
Kayaking Isabela notes: This is a beginner friendly kayak tour – no experience required. We use sit-on-top double kayaks and life vests. Be prepared for some splashes and wetness just in case. A dry bag is good piece of gear to bring along if you want to bring a non-waterproof camera.
After lunch we’ll hop out for a short walk at Tintoreras or Shark Alley, an isolated islet and popular iguana-nesting site that’s home to hundreds of marine iguanas. Afterwards, you can test the waters for a snorkel in a calm inlet that’s home to a variety of colourful fish. Green sea turtles that like to rest on the calm, sandy bottom.
For the evening we’ll enjoy dinner in the laid-back Isabela manner.
Lace up your hiking boots, we’re heading up a volcano.
Sierra Negra Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos; its last eruption was in 2018! A short uphill hike takes us to the perimeter of the caldera.
Once we reach the rim, we’ll have a nine kilometre view that stretches across one the most active calderas in the world. We’ll continue on to traverse the vast lava fields of Chico volcano to a lookout that boasts breathtaking views reaching to the north of Isabela (this depends on what the current restrictions are for this area and your guide will have up-to-date information) .
With a hearty sense of accomplishment, we’ll make our way back to town late afternoon for some free time to curl up with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim before you have free time in the evening.
Volcano hike notes: You’ll be walking 4-6 hours with frequent rest stops and a lunch break. From the National Park checkpoint, there’s about a 45-minute walk uphill to the rim of the volcano. The trail around the rim has only slight up and downs with a few short steep inclines. The lava fields of Volcan Chico are uneven and rocky in areas.
The path in and out is dirt: if it’s been raining, it could be muddy. There’s one proper bathroom at the beginning of the trail. The majority of walking is on level terrain and as long as you’re comfortable walking 4-6 hours, it’s definitely doable. If you have weak ankles, use athletic braces and wear hiking boots. If you have knee trouble, bring a hiking pole or two. This is a non-technical hike.
This is your last day on Isabela island so choose how you’d like to spend your morning. Relax and explore the beach, hire bikes, or take the optional snorkel tour to Los Tuneles.
Option 1: Skip the Hike, and Snorkel at Los Tuneles (extra cost of $150 per person)
If you think sleeping sharks, sea horses, sea turtles and strange lava tunnel formations sound intriguing then you’re going to need your mask, snorkel and flippers, because you get all that and more at Los Tuneles.
Also called Cabo Rosa, this area about one hour from town was created when lava flows reached the ocean, forming tunnels, arches and sheltered bays perfect for snorkeling. They also happen to be perfect feeding grounds for sea turtles and resting places for other species like Galapagos sharks! Even the cute Galapagos penguins have been known to visit this area at times. It is one of the most diverse snorkel spots in the entire archipelago, and also home to some birds, such as nesting blue-footed boobies.
The ride to get here can be a bit rough, and because of the lava formations, safe access is only possible at certain tides. If you want to maximize the time you spend in the water in the Galapagos, Los Tuneles should be on your list! We haven’t even mentioned that sea lions, eagle rays, octopus and plenty of tropical fish, sea stars and sea urchins are also spotted in these often crystal clear waters!
Option 2: Hire bikes and visit the Wall of Tears (bike hire not included, unguided)
Wall of Tears: Rent a bike in town, then step back in time to visit the Wall of Tears. Built by convicts and still standing over 50 years later, this landmark is a remnant of Isabela’s penal colony past. If you don’t feel like heading to the Wall of Tears today, you can enjoy the beautiful white sand beach or relax in town. You will also have free time on Day 7 to possibly visit the Wall of tears.
Wall of Tears notes: There are no facilities. Taxis are sometimes not allowed. The path is part sand part gravel with a few slight inclines. It will take 2+ hours walking or 1+ hour biking one way. For the most part, it’s an easy ride or walk that parallels the beach.
After lunch, we take a short walk to a nearby wetland that is home to pink flamingoes and pintail ducks. A mangrove-lined path leads us to Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where we’ll see giant tortoises in all stages of development; there are more than a thousand tortoises here.
We’ll wave goodbye to Isabela this morning as we depart for Santa Cruz Island.
After checking in, we’ll hop on a bus bound for the Highlands to explore an underground lava tunnel and visit Primicias Ranch. For the first time we’ll be able to see Giant Tortoises in their natural habitat cooling off in a watering hole or munching away.
After lunch, we’ll visit the Charles Darwin Research Foundation. We’ll learn about the foundations successes in repopulating the islands with the once endangered land iguana and several species of Giant Tortoise. From the collection of the eggs to the age of release, we’ll observe how the giant tortoises are raised and readied for life on their own.
Alternatively, head to the beach! This trip (unguided) involves a short walk that ends in white sand and luscious waves. Tortuga Bay is gorgeous beach accessible only by foot and laden with choices. Do I want to swim, sunbath, bodysurf or do all three? After our fun in the sun, make your way back to town for our farewell dinner to the Enchanted Islands.
Charles Darwin Research Station notes: Most itineraries included a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS); however, you’re actually visiting the Breeding Center Fausto Llerena, which is where Lonesome George was until his death in 2012. One animal you can see here that you may have not seen already is the Galapagos Land Iguana. The center is also home to Super Diego, a giant tortoise originally from Española Island. Diego got his name after being rescued from the San Diego Zoo in 1977. Since his return, he’s been very busy and has an estimated 1,700 offspring!
NOTE: If we have an early flight out of Galapagos (not usually the case), this activity may be omitted or you can choose to visit CDRS on your own instead of Tortuga Bay.
Santa Cruz Highlands notes: If it’s been raining, the farm can be muddy. The lava tunnel is damp, dark and rocky. There are lights in the tunnel, but if you have a headlamp, bring it. Closed toed shoes recommended and keep a rain jacket handy just in case.
Tortuga Bay notes: The trail to the beach is an easy walk on a nice path for about 45 minutes. Once you pass the National Park checkpoint at the entrance, there will be no bathrooms or shops to buy refreshments, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. If you want to rent a surfboard or boogie board, you must rent one in town and carry the board with you. If you want to walk through the cactus forest, you’ll need shoes suitable for the rocky path.
Get up early for a final hike or savour your last moments on the island for souvenir shopping – the choice is yours.
You’ll fly back to Quito early afternoon.
Departing Galapagos: When you leave Galapagos, you need to present the stub from your INGALA paper (you filled this out on the way to Galapagos). If you lose that stub, you will have to pay for a new one.
We can help with many of the day (and longer) tours available in and around Quito.
We finish off with an evening meal out and reflect on our fantastic trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Tour ends with breakfast at your hotel and a transfer out to your international flight / onward flight.
Prices From $6,499 / £5,511 per person
Enquire about booking
Airfare Quito-Galapagos-Quito, 9 nights’ full accommodation in twin, double or triple room (single rooms carry a supplement), all with private bathroom, meals as specified, land and sea transport, sea kayaks, mountain bikes, snorkelling equipment, wetsuit, naturalist guide, duffel bag for use in Galapagos, transfer out to airport on last day
National Park entrance fee, Ingala transit card, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, tips, two evening meals in Galapagos, anything not specified in the package, optional diving (please enquire about diving packages), surf board hire, airport transfer on first day, personal items, international flights, travel insurance
This is an active, adventure-oriented trip.
The islands aren’t known for glamorous lodgings so the hotels we are staying at in the islands are local, standard hotels – simple, quaint, and clean.
Hotels – singles, twin, doubles and some triples and family rooms available.
Staff are “Galapagueños”, most of the guides, captains and crew members were born and raised in the Galapagos Islands.
They know the area well and are prepared to show you the islands only like a native can do it.
Our Naturalist, English-speaking guides have studied and been trained at Charles Darwin Scientific Station, and have long years of experience guiding at the Galapagos Islands.
We can cater for many special dietary requirements on this tour. Please let us know at the time of booking.
Many of the meals are included in this tour.
Your guide will take the group to a locally-run restaurant on the island, where they will be a choice of dishes. Galapagos is a very remote area and not everything is available here.
Typically, there is a lot of eggs, fish, chicken, rice and some potatoes, plus fresh fruit and vegetables and coffee. There are also international plates such as pasta, pizza, hamburgers etc.
When you have free time to choose your own meals, our guide can make recommendations or you can explore on your own.
This is an active tour where you will have 2-3 activities each day, each being 2-3 hours in length.
Snorkelling last 1-2 hours usually, depending on water temperatures.
The hiking day on Sierra Negra involves 4-5 hours of walking.
All activities are within the scope of people that like to be active. No previous experience is necessary for any of the activities, however, as none are designed to be overly strenuous.
These magical islands comprise of 50 volcanic islands of varying shapes and sizes, which lie 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador.
Here, unlike anywhere else on Earth, you can enjoy a thousand close encounters with a weird and wonderful variety of ‘friendly locals’, including giant tortoises, fur seals, sea iguanas, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
Read our Galapagos Islands Guide and more about diving.
In 1535, Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, floated into this archipelago and named it Galapagos after the giant tortoises he encountered. Pirates used the islands for refuge and to bury their stolen treasure after that.
The islands’ most celebrated visitor was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
It wasn’t until 1959 when it became part of Ecuador’s national park system that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species came under protection.
In 1979 the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When to visit Galapagos Islands: weather and wildlife
There is no real ‘best’ time to visit Galapagos on holiday as there is always wonderful wildlife and weather to enjoy. Read our blog for more.
Most animals – tortoises, sharks, sea lions and boobies – are found year round and many of the species here are non-migratory.
The Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator so air and water temperatures do not vary by much.
Having said that, there are two recognised seasons, and each months brings natural marvels for the visitor to enjoy.
Below is our quick guide to the weather and wildlife you can find on the Galapagos Islands.
General weather information
The warm season (Jan-Jun)
Sea temperatures: 22-25°C / 72-77°F
Land temperatures: 21-32°C / 72-90°F
The dry ‘garua’ season (Jun-Dec)
Sea temperatures: 15-22°C / 60-72°F
Land temperatures: 18-24°C / 65-75°F
Air and sea temperatures in Galapagos, month-by-month
Diving in Galapagos is mainly aimed at experienced divers – PADI advanced or more – with experience in cold, fast moving waters and with good buoyancy.
Beginners can now join day dives on land-based (hotel-based) packages.
Read more on our Galapagos Diving page.
The more experienced divers can choose hotel-based packages or live aboard a specified dive boat that only offers week long, dive-only cruises.
Diving is not permitted on almost all standard cruises, although some can now offer a few dives while the rest of the group is ashore or snorkelling.
Please ask for details as National Park rules are complex and dive availability in this form is scarce.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.
Galapagos – general advice
Galapagos is warm and humid, and you will need t-shirts (moisture wick-away or breathable t-shirts can be very useful, it can get very hot in the day), shorts, lightweight skirt or trousers and bathing suits.
One or two cotton shirts can be used to protect you from sunburn, especially when snorkelling (not very elegant worn in the water over a swimsuit, but practical – and Galapagos is NOT an elegant place!).
You may want to change into different clothes for the evening, but don’t take anything dressy or smart – there really is a very relaxed atmosphere in island hotels.
Pack something warm and windproof for being the inter-island speedboats – and a waterproof for the Highlands.
Strong sandals, trainers, or light hiking boots are ideal footwear – you may like to have something suitable for easy walks and another for tougher terrain – your guide will advise you daily what the walking will be like.
Do take a hat!
Seasickness tablets if you think you will have problems – i.e. Sturgeon, or Mareol if you buy them in Quito. The sea can be choppy, so it is recommended to take them as a precaution.
Galapagos – detailed kit list
The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact.
Please try to minimise your impact by:
Pleasantly warm during the day, but can be quite chilly during the morning or at night when you might want a jacket or a fleece, plus a waterproof.
You may want to dress up a little more in the evening here, depending on where you are staying, and what sort of restaurant you like.
Conditions here are similar to Galapagos – hot and humid. T-shirts and shorts in the day, and like Quito, something smarter for eating out in restaurants at night.
The Galapagos Islands are a suitable destination for most ages and fitness levels. Walks are generally short, although some volcano hikes are more challenging and may involve 2-3 hours of walking. Snorkelling is a real highlight on the Galapagos, so the ability to swim and snorkel is recommended. Snorkelling is suitable for those that have never tried before.
You need to be able to make some wet landings i.e. stepping out of a panga onto a sandy shore, and you may need to ascend or desend small ladders when getting on or off boats at docks or to snorkel.
The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the Islands, but they really are accessible to all. You can choose to skip any activities you do not wish to partake in.
Read more in our blog about a typical day on Galapagos.
Floreana is the least populated Galapagos island and yet home to its most scandalous tales!
Gossip aside, it is home to Post Office Bay, where a post barrel was erected in the late 18th century by English whalers. Passing sailors took the messages onwards – and it still functions today.
The nearby Devil’s Crown is one of Galapagos’ most special snorkels.
A (at times strong) current pushes you past the remains of a submerged volcano with its crater ‘horns’ still exposed, and you’ll see a brilliant array of colourful fish and corals.
Great viewpoints at Asilo de La Paz and Baroness view, too.
Isabela is the largest and one of the youngest Galapagos islands, and its small human but enormous wildlife population make it perfect for cruises and hotel-based visits.
It also has a mile-long, pristine white-sand beach, with some small and cool bars to hang out in with some sundowners.
Must-do’s include Sierra Negra volcano and its active caldera, head to Los Tuneles to snorkel face-to-face with sharks and turtles and spend some time looking for penguins at Las Tintoreras.
Isabela is great for adventure and families alike.
For cruises only, Punta Vicente Roca is a lovely snorkel, and Urbina Bay is a top spot for wild giant tortoises and colourful land iguanas.
A truly impressive sight, Kicker Rock is the remains of an underwater volcano rising vertically 150m/492ft out of the sea.
The exposed cone has fractured in two, leaving a wildlife rich sea channel for us to enjoy, snorkelling or diving.
Jump in the water and drift with the gentle current through the cleft, keeping an eye out below for sea turtles, manta rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few.
Hammerheads are occasionally seen here too.
On the cliffs, we can spot Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and magnificent Frigate birds. A memorable snorkel.
Almost everyone will visit Santa Cruz during a Galapagos stay.
It’s popular because of the incredible variety of habitat and animals go alongside its strategic location.
The famous Charles Darwin Centre is a must, as is a visit to see Giant Tortoises and a kayak in the turquoise waters at Garrapatero beach.
There are a plethora of great dive and snorkel sites nearby, lively bars and some good beaches for relaxing, like Tortuga Bay.
Most cruises start or end here, and the majority of flights come to Santa Cruz, plus there are many accommodation options, from basic to luxury.
Curious, dark sand greets the visitor to this centrally-located island.
Marine iguanas may join you for a snorkel after warming up in the sun, along with white-tipped reef sharks, rays, surgeon and parrotfish and turtles.
Crabs, sea lions and spectacular blowholes line the shore.
On the other side of the island, red sand cliffs are home to many seabirds, and Bucaneer cove tells its own whaling and pirate history.
A group of nearby small rocky islands called Bainbridge Rocks feature a stunning, turquoise saltwater lagoon that is home to flamingos.
The Galapagos is an ideal year-round destination, with its volcanic landscapes and tame wildlife.
Whether you cruise or stay in a hotel, you are guaranteed to see giant tortoises, sea lions, iguanas and blue-footed boobies to name a few, plus amazing volcanic formations and stunning beaches.
No trip here is complete without diving or snorkelling – turtles, rays, schools of fish, and for the lucky, hammerhead and whale sharks.
Divers can enjoy some of the best underwater diving in the world on liveaboard cruises to remote and spectacular dive sites.
Flung way out to the north of the archipelago, this spectacular island is a Galapagos in miniature.
Its remote location meaning very few people make it this far.
Sea lions, sharks and Flightless Cormorants will no doubt accompany you on snorkels in deep waters as well as close to the beautiful, white-sand bay.
A multitude of birds nest at Tower, and it’s the only place you’re sure to see the Red-Footed Booby, as well as the chance to spot petrels, owls, gulls and more.
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