Recently Returning Travelers: Galapagos Marvels All To Yourself

“Getting vaccines in February and March made it possible for us to travel now! We are so happy that we went ahead with the trip this year because so few people were there.

…Safari Camp was wonderful. They gave us a cooking lesson. Food fantastic! Blue Paradise was perfect, only 12 people and an incredible guide! Peter made our trip interesting. A wealth of knowledge! We were the only boat for 5 1/2 days!!

Paradise to ourselves. I would suggest for others to go now before the rest of the world opens up!” – Norma & Jim

We first met Norma and Jim when they planned their Patagonia trip with us in 2016. They have been good friends and kind supporters of the company ever since – even presenting on their adventures for us at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo in St. Paul, MN. When they were ready for their next South America adventure in 2019, this time to The Galapagos Islands & mainland Ecuador, they reached out to us again. Unfortunately, the trip was planned for May of 2020, and as Covid shut the world down, they had to postpone. We were thrilled when they said they were vaccinated and ready to get out there and take their trip in May of 2021. They just got back home and had an incredible time!

It has always been our goal to take the stress out of travel planning, and that rings true now more than ever. If you’re interested in crafting a custom trip to South America, reach out to a Knowmad Trip Specialist at 612-315-2894 or fill out the short form above to start planning today!

custom galapagos adventure & beyond

DAY 1 USA – Quito

Fly from the USA to Quito, arriving in the evening. Upon your evening arrival in Quito, you will be met at the airport by your Knowmad Adventures guide and transferred to your accommodations in the heart of the old historic center of Quito.

  • No meals – Casona de la Ronda


DAY 2 Quito

When you travel with Knowmad, we provide you with up-to-date information on travel requirements and arrange covid tests during your trip if necessary. At the time of Norma & Jim’s trip, a negative covid test was required per traveler to enter the Galapagos and, as such, we arranged someone from the lab to come to their hotel. 

The rest of the day will be spent enjoying a half-day guided tour of Quito. Walk down quaint cobblestone streets lined with brightly colored colonial houses and balconies dressed in flowers. Visit the Plaza de la Independencia (also known as Plaza Grande)
and the impressive La Catedral de Quito, one of the oldest cathedrals in South America. Then see the Presidential Palace along with other historically and architecturally-rich buildings lining and surrounding the square. Visit some of the most important churches built around the 16th and 17th centuries, including the monastery of San Francisco, which was started just five days after the founding of Quito in 1534. Afterwards, visit a small chocolate shop for a tasting of different varieties of world-renown Ecuadorian chocolate.

  • B – Casona de la Ronda


DAY 3 Quito – Galapagos

Galapagos Safari Camo

Today, you will take your flight from Quito to the Baltra airport in the Galapagos.

After you arrive in the Galapagos and enjoy lunch, start your explorations with a visit to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Take in the area’s natural beauty, pit craters, and lava tunnels, and learn more about the plant life. At the Tortoise Reserve, share some time in the tortoises’ natural habitat, surrounded by the abundant bird life. End this day back at Galapagos Safari Camp with a sunset cocktail followed by dinner.

  • L, D – Galapagos Safari Camp


DAY 4 Galapagos Safari Camp

Galapagos Islands Travel - Knowmad Adventures

Enjoy the day to relax and/or continue exploring Santa Cruz. You will have a private guide and transportation at your disposal.

We recommend visiting the eastern side of Santa Cruz, the Cerro Mesa and Garrapatero for trekking, biking, and kayaking options. At 490 meters above sea level, Cerro Mesa offers spectacular views and boasts the largest crater on Santa Cruz. This will all be on a private basis with a guide so you can decide how active you would like to be and do more or less activities, or simply soak in the sun and relax on the white sand beach. Enjoy the sunshine and wildlife as you have a delicious picnic on the beach. After lunch, you can visit Garrapatero Beach, where the contrast of mangroves, black lava, white sand, and turquoise water, along with its birdlife and flamingo lagoon, is magnificent.

  • B, L, D – Galapagos Safari Camp


DAY 5 Galapagos Safari Camp
Enjoy another day to continue exploring Santa Cruz with your guide, perhaps choosing to head into Puerto Ayora today to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, or the island’s only chocolatier and other local shops. Perhaps take a walk to Tortuga Bay for some time at the beach. You will have a guide and transportation at your disposal, and will be able to discuss options for the day and decide what you’d like to do.

  • B, L, D – Galapagos Safari Camp


DAY 6 Galapagos Safari Camp
Enjoy the day at leisure at Galapagos Safari Camp, taking in the serenity as you relax, walk, or perhaps enjoy the sunrise from the observatory and take in the beauty of the Galapagos Islands.

  • B, L, D – Galapagos Safari Camp


DAY 7 Santa Cruz

Galapagos Islands Travel
AM: Enjoy a relaxing final morning at Galapagos Safari Camp. After checking out, Galapagos Safari Camp will take you to meet & board the Natural Paradise cruise. You will be shown to your cabin, where you will have some time to settle in before lunch and a welcome briefing.

PM: In the afternoon, you will visit Eden Islet, off the western coast of Santa Cruz Island. Here you will enjoy a dinghy ride. As you ride there is a great chance to see a variety of Galapagos wildlife both onshore and under the water.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 8 Isabela & Fernandina Islands

Galapagos Knowmad Adventures
AM: Today you will visit Vicente Roca Point. Comprised of two separate coves, this site is a large bay with spectacular sea life. Keep an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating Mola Mola (or sun fish) as you snorkel.

PM: Crossing the Bolivar Channel that divides Isabela and Fernandina Islands, you will land at Espinosa Point. After walking a short way, perhaps spotting a colony of marine iguanas and a group of sea lions along the way, you will reach the island’s highlight: the flightless cormorant nesting site. This area provides a great opportunity to see the Galapagos hawk as well.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 9 Isabela Island
AM: Urbina Bay is located at the base of Alcedo Volcano between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay on the west coast. This area experienced a major uplift in 1954, causing the land to rise over 16 feet. The coast expanded half a mile out, leaving marine life stranded on the new shore. This area is also a great place for snorkeling.

PM: In the afternoon you will visit Moreno Point, located southwest of Elizabeth Bay. You will disembark via dry landing onto what was once lava. The lava has left craters in its wake, which formed crystal tide pools. In the pools of this area, you may see pink flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, and common gallinules. If you look carefully into the pools, you may see white-tip reef sharks and possibly some sea turtles.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 10 Isabela Island
AM: Visit the Sierra Negra Volcano, the largest basaltic caldera in the Galapagos with a diameter of 6.2 miles. The site offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe up to seven species of finches, along with a rich display of vegetation. The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005. Afterwards, head to the Wall of Tears, an important piece of the island’s history. A penal colony existed on Isabela from 1945-1959, and the prisoners were forced to build the wall that stands 65 feet high, stone by stone, while in isolation from the rest of the world. Thousands died during the construction. Many claim to feel the heavy energy of this historical site, and locals claim to hear cries in the wind.

PM: Explore the Wetlands of Isabela Island, located just outside of Puerto Villamil. They consist of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves, and are home to a variety of unique bird species such as common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, and gallinules. Continue on to Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center where populations from South Isabela Sierra Negra Volcano, Cerro Azul, Cazuela, Cinco Cerros, Roca Union, San Pedro, Tables, and Cerro Paloma have been bred. There are a total of 330 juvenile and adult tortoises.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 11 Santiago Island & Mosquera Islet

Galapagos Sea Lions
AM: Today you will visit Chinese Hat Islet. Its name comes from the distinct shape of the islet’s summit. This small islet is a great location to view many geological formations such as lava tubes and lava flows. Some of the lava flows were formed underwater and subsequently raised above sea level. The presence of coral heads on the hardened lava displays this phenomenon.

PM: Mosquera Islet is located between the islands of Baltra and North Seymour. This reef of rocks and coral, the result of an uprising, is only 160 meters across at its narrowest width. This island has one of the largest populations of sea lions and is home to many shorebirds. There have been occasional reports at this site of orcas feeding on sea lions.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 12 Floreana Island
AM: In the morning, you will visit the famous Post Office Bay. You will land on the beach and head to a spot where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel and used it as an unofficial mailbox. The custom continues to this day with Galapagos visitors. Don’t forget your postcards, and don’t be surprised if the post card arrives to its destination before you even get home.

PM: Cormorant Point hosts a large flamingo lagoon where other birds such as common stilts and white-cheeked pintails can also be seen. The beaches on Floreana island are distinct: The Green Beach is named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the Four Sand Beach is composed of white coral. Head to Champion Islet, a small island located just offshore from Floreana Island. This is considered one of the most beautiful places on Galapagos for all snorkeling fans and an excellent opportunity for dolphin watching.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 13 Espanola Island

Blue Footed Boobie
AM: On the trail to Suarez Point you will have the chance to spot blue-footed boobies, albatrosses, and Nazca boobies. This island is the breeding site of nearly all of the world’s 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. Visit a beautiful site on the oceanfront where there is a cliff that the large albatrosses use as a launching pad and the famous blowhole that spurts sea water into the air.

PM: Following lunch, you will visit the spectacular Gardner Bay. After landing, you can walk across a lovely white-sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim with sea lion pups. You may also see curious mockingbirds on the beach.

  • B, L, D – Natural Paradise Cruise


DAY 14 San Cristobal Island – Quito
AM: Reached by bus from Puerto Ayora, the highlands of Santa Cruz are a deep green, contrasting beautifully with much of the dry, lower islands. The dominant vegetation in the highlands is the forest of Scalesia trees, creating the lush green color. The lava tubes, over half a mile long, are underground, and walking through them is a unique, surreal experience.

PM: After your exploration on Santa Cruz, you will be taken to the Baltra airport in accordance with your onward flight to Quito.

  • B


DAY 15 Quito – USA


Would you be interested in taking a similar adventure? Knowmad offers door-to-door trip planning: we help you navigate the different boat options, itineraries, and seasonal differences, coordinating Galapagos and mainland Ecuador travel for a holistic, seamless, and safe experience, all at a guaranteed best value. Reach out to our Trip Specialists at 612-315-2894 or [email protected] to begin planning your trip today!


Hasta Pronto, Knowmad Adventurers

Knowmad AdventuresKnowmad Adventures works closely with independent-minded travelers creating innovative trips to South America. Our specialists in Patagonia, ChileMachu Picchu, PeruArgentina, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Antarctica are eager to collaborate and create a trip as unique and authentic as you are, and our experienced South American operations team guarantees you get an insider’s perspective, superior values, and a flawlessly-operated trip.