Starting their first morning early, Mitch and Shannon were met at their hotel well before the sun lit the sky. Yet rising was no challenging task for the two adventurers, as they were anxiously awaiting their first glimpse of the famous Galapagos Islands.
Upon arrival in Santa Cruz that afternoon the two visited collapsed lava chambers where they got to see highland Galapagos tortoises for the first time. After lunch they took a private boat to the serene island of Floreana where they stayed for two nights in a private oceanfront cabin. When Mitch sent us the photo below he remarked, “this [is a] photo of a Sally Lightfoot Crab (Grapsus Grapsus) which we saw with our Guide, Marcos Antonio. The crab was nestled among the black lava rocks of La Loberia Beach on Floreana. This was the end to a wonderful first day on the Galapagos Islands,” and surely the start to a fantastic trip. The two spent their next days exploring other islands and experiencing the region through all sorts of activities including; kayaking to Island Bay to look for turtles, rays, penguins, blue-footed boobies and sea lions; biking the Wetlands Trail to historic sites; relaxing on stunning beaches and more.
Galapagos Island Land Based Adventure Trip Breakdown: Kayaking, Hiking, Biking + More
DAY 1 USA – Quito
You will fly from the USA to Quito arriving most likely late in the evening. Upon your arrival to Quito you will be met at the airport by a Knowmad Adventures representative and transferred to your hotel.
- No meals – Mansión del Angel
DAY 2 Quito – Galapagos Islands
Today you will be met in your hotel lobby and transferred to the airport in accordance with your flight to the Baltra Airport in the Galapagos. To ensure that no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the islands, your luggage will be inspected at the Quito airport. Upon arrival in Baltra, you will first pass through an airport inspection point where your TCT (Transit Control Card) will be checked and stamped (please keep this carefully with your passport as you will need to show it again when you leave Galapagos). At the airport you will be met by an expert local guide who will introduce you to the history and biodiversity of the Galapagos as you transfer to Santa Cruz Island by public transport and ferry (no private vehicles are permitted). First you will visit the impressive Los Gemelos craters and perhaps get a look at the Galapagos tortoises, enjoying a tasty boxed lunch before boarding your private speed boat for the two hour ride to the peaceful island of Floreana. On Floreana you will begin to learn the fascinating history and mysterious legends of the local people and see some of the Galapagos’ special wildlife on a short walk. After checking in at your lodge overlooking a beautiful and secluded bay, you can snorkel and swim in the warm bright water with sea turtles, sea lions, spectacular rays and lots of shimmering fish, and afterwards be brought into the village for dinner.
- B, box L, D – Lava Lodge
DAY 3 Floreana Island
After breakfast you will explore the Floreana highlands on an open-air bus called a chiva, an unbeatable, historic, and comfortable way to see the island. On the way your Naturalist Guide will point out the wildlife and tell many legends and stories of the inhabitants of the island. After driving into the highlands you will reach Asilo de la Paz (Peace Haven), and from here begin a hike exploring pirate caves, visiting a freshwater spring and seeing spectacular views of the Floreana shoreline. After a short chiva ride at the end of your hike you will enjoy a special BBQ and then return to your accommodations. Enjoy time to relax at the lodge where you can continue to explore by snorkeling, kayaking or even stand up paddle boarding.
- B, L, D – Lava Lodge
DAY 4 Isabela Island
Today you will take an early morning speedboat to transfer to Isabela Island. After checking into your hotel you will be taken to the Tintoreras, a group of small islands that are named after the white tipped ‘Tintoreras’ reef sharks that swim in the calm waters. At the Tintoreras you will see almost all of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife: white tipped sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. You will have a chance to snorkel in the bay – and don’t be surprised if some of the penguins or sea lions jump in to play alongside you in the water. In the afternoon you will be taken to the local giant tortoise-breeding center where guides will explain the process of breeding and then releasing into the wild these giant slow moving creatures whose Spanish name (meaning saddle) gave the Islands their present title.
- B, L, D – Albemarle Hotel
DAY 5 Isabela Island
On this hiking day you will get to explore Isabela Island further, one of the youngest and most volcanically active islands of the archipelago. First you will take a fascinating walk up the slopes to the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano, and then continue onward to the rim of the Volcán Chico. In the afternoon enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade of a lovely jaboncillo tree with spectacular views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. To complete the day of hiking (16 km in total) you will head down to relax on the white sand beaches of Puerto Villamil.
- B, L, D – Albemarle Hotel
DAY 6 Isabela Island
Leaving from the Villamil dock, this morning you will kayak to Island Bay looking for turtles, rays, penguins, blue-footed boobies and sea lions along the way. Sea lions may even play in the water and paddle along side you. Watch for wildlife while in the bay and then paddle back to the dock. After lunch you will bike the Wetlands Trail taking you to historic sites and stunning beaches. On this fun network of trails you’ll have beautiful views of the village below as you bike past marine iguana colonies, different types of mangrove trees, unique birds and with luck, some wild giant tortoises. At the end of the trail you will have the chance to learn about the Wall of Tears, built by Second World War prisoners held at a US base on the islands. Your guide will explain the importance of the Wall of Tears, giving you a glimpse into the lives of the island’s previous inhabitants. Before heading back to town, stop at a local swimming hole for a refreshing dip. End the day with independent time to swim, snorkel or just relax on the beach.
- B, L, D – Albemarle Hotel
DAY 7 Santa Cruz
Today you will start early to catch your speedboat (public boat) to Santa Cruz Island. Upon arrival you will enjoy a hearty breakfast close to the docks before heading up to the highlands for a busy day of multi-sport Galapagos Islands land based adventure. First, you will drive to an off-the-beaten-path area of Santa Cruz Island where you will switch to mountain bikes for a long downhill glide on freshly paved roads to the beautiful yet little visited Garrapatero Beach. On the ride you will pass by small farms and enjoy spectacular views of the ocean and distant islands. Arriving to Garrapatero Beach, you may see some local families enjoying the water, but few, if any, tourists. Paddle in the bay on sit-on-top sea kayaks, enjoying your last day on the water in the Galapagos. Look for sharks, rays, turtles, and sea birds in the clear blue waters. Later enjoy a specially prepared lunch before heading back to the small picturesque port of Puerto Ayora. Once back in town, you will have the option of staying and shopping for souvenirs, or (if time allows) walking the 3 km boardwalk to Tortuga Bay and checking out one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos. At Tortuga Bay you can walk on the beach, swim, or even snorkel a bit more. For your final farewell night in the Galapagos enjoy the intimate local restaurants, friendly bars, shops and beach walks of Puerto Ayora at your leisure.
- B, L, D – Villa Laguna
Day 8 Galapagos – Quito – Home
Today you will be picked up early at your accommodations. After a morning visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, you will be transferred to the Baltra airport in accordance with your return flight to mainland Ecuador. Upon arrival in Quito you will be met at the airport by a Knowmad Adventures representative and taken to Rincón de Puembo hotel and restaurant for a delicious final meal in Ecuador. From the hotel you will be picked up and transferred to the airport in accordance with your overnight return flight home.
Hasta Pronto, Knowmad Adventures
Knowmad Adventures works closely with independent-minded travelers creating innovative trips to South America. Our specialists in Patagonia, Chile, Machu Picchu, Peru, Argentina, 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.