Galapagos National Park: By Cruise or By Land

Galapagos National Park Active Adventure

“Should I take a cruise, or should I do a land-based Galapagos Islands itinerary?” We get this question a lot and our answer really comes down to you and your travel preferences, as both options really have some great advantages.

Cruises allow you to see more remote islands, and therefore a wider variety of wildlife. The Galapagos are made up of 13 major islands and 7 smaller islands. On a cruise, you are able to get to islands and visitor sites that you simply just can’t get to when doing a land-based itinerary. If you don’t have any issues with seasickness, then a cruise is often our recommendation. However, land based Galapagos tours in Galapagos National Park have some huge advantages as well.

The biggest advantage of land based is obvious; you don’t have to sleep on or spend much time on a boat. Our land based island hopping itinerary below is an exceptional way to still see a wide variety of wildlife, explore three different islands, and not have to spend too much time on a boat.

Another advantage with land based is that you can do it on a private basis. On our phenomenal island-hopping itinerary you’ll be exploring the Galapagos with just you, your travel partner(s) and a private, expert local guide. This also allows you more flexibility, and more time to just relax on the beach with your loved one and/or explore on your own. Land based can be a great option for honeymooners that want more privacy and more time on their own than what a cruise often offers.

Finally, land based can be great for those really active travelers that want a multi-sport Galapagos experience (see our Galapagos land-based active adventure trip idea below for inspiration). On the Galapagos Land Based Active Adventure trip you’ll have opportunities to swim, snorkel, kayak, hike, bike and even stand up paddleboard. Take a look at this phenomenal new itinerary below, and give us a call today at 612-315-2894 to chat with our Ecuador & Galapagos Trip Specialists and begin planning your very own Galapagos National Park adventure!



Galapagos Islands Active Adventure Trip Galapagos Islands Active Adventure Tour by Land Galapagos National Park Activities


Galapagos land based active adventure TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Travel through the Galapagos Islands without going on a cruise and enjoy a private, flexible itinerary.
  • Snorkel amongst playful sea lions, sea turtles, Galapagos penguins and more.
  • Experience a wide variety of activities in the Galapagos, from kayaking and stand up paddle boarding to snorkeling, hiking and more.
  • See the diversity of Galapagos animal life including: Blue-footed boobies, Galapagos tortoises, white tipped sharks, flamingos, giant iguanas, penguins, sea lions, sea turtles and much more.
  • Learn about the Galapagos Islands’ history, culture and unique folklore with one of the Islands’ best guides.
  • Stay on three different islands in the Galapagos, including two-nights at the only accommodations on Floreana Island (this allows you to get off the beaten path and truly experience the area).


Itinerary overview

A land-based and multi-sport adventure taking you to three different Galapagos Islands. Explore Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz on a fun, active and private itinerary. On this Galapagos land-based active adventure enjoy staying at the Lava Lodge, Floreana’s only lodge, as well as two beach-front hotels.


Upon arrival in the Galapagos you will transfer to Santa Cruz Island. On Santa Cruz Island you will visit two enormous collapsed lava chambers and get your first look at the Galapagos giant tortoise. Enjoy lunch on your way to the town of Puerto Ayora and catch your boat to Floreana Island. Later you will have the opportunity to walk to La Loberia where you can snorkel possibly amongst sea turtles, sea lions, rays and a variety of colorful fish.

L, D – Floreana Lava Lodge


Galapagos Islands Land based Lodge Galapagos by Land

Take a traditional chiva (small, open-air bus) before hiking around Allieri Hill where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of various landscapes, diverse plant species, pirate caves and possibly more giant tortoises. Learn about this island’s rich history, culture and folklore. After a special lunch, head back to the lodge for snorkeling, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.

B, L, D – Floreana Lava Lodge


Galapagos Island Hopper

Take a boat to Isabela Island and venture to the Tintoreras, a group of small islands where you can see almost all of the iconic Galapagos wildlife including, white tipped sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins and blue-footed boobies. Snorkel in the bay, and if you’re lucky, a few penguins or sea lions may jump in to play alongside you in the water. After lunch you can walk to a giant tortoise breeding center and learn about how this center is helping the tortoise population recover.

B, L, D – Casa Marita or similar


Today a morning hike up the slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra (1300 ft) will take you to the rim of the second largest crater in the world, which spans 4 miles across. You may then hike the path along the rim and on to Volcan Chico. In the afternoon, enjoy a picnic lunch with spectacular views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. After your day of hiking, head back down and relax on the beaches of Puerto Villamil.

B, L, D – Casa Marita or similar


Galapagos national park kayaking

Today you can kayak to Island Bay, looking for turtles, rays, penguins, blue-footed boobies and sea lions along the way. Watch the wildlife in the bay, and then paddle back to the dock. After lunch bike the Wetlands Trail, passing by marine iguana colonies and mangrove trees. At the end of the trail, you will have the chance to learn about the Wall of Tears, built by Second World War prisoners. Before heading back to town, stop at a local swimming hole for a refreshing dip. End the day with time to swim, snorkel or just relax.

B, L, D – Casa Marita or similar


Catch your boat to Santa Cruz Island. Enjoy a hearty breakfast before heading up to the highlands for a scenic bike ride past farms, ocean views and then to off-the-beaten-path Garrapatero Beach. Kayak in the bay looking for sharks, rays, turtles and sea birds. After a special lunch head back to Puerto Ayora for shopping or to walk to Tortuga Bay, a large and beautiful beach. At night relax at your hotel or explore Puerto Ayora’s friendly local bars, shops, restaurants or stroll along the beach.

B, L, D – Angermeyer Waterfront or similar


After a morning visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, fly back to mainland Ecuador and continue onward.




2015 COSTS

Based on Tourist-Superior Accommodations 

  • $3,012 per person / 4 or more travelers

  • $4,114 per person / 2 travelers

Based on First Class Accommodations

  • $3,267 per person / 4 or more traveler

  • $4,368 per person / 2 travelers

Additionally, Galapagos airfare is estimated at $550 to $600. Knowmad Adventures will book and issue these tickets for you.

  • $475 single supplement – rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations. If you
request single accommodations you are required to pay the single supplement.

Type Flexible Date Private Departures

Moderate Trip Activities can include wildlife viewing, snorkeling, hiking, biking, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and cultural opportunities

Length 7 days         Begin / End Baltra, Island of Santa Cruz, Galapagos


Is it for Me?

For those who want to travel the Galapagos but prefer less time aboard a ship, want a more flexible and private itinerary or a wide variety of activities, this is the trip for you. With a flexible itinerary and a variety of activities, this Galapagos tour is perfect for active families and couples – adventure by day and relaxation in intimate settings by night.

Prefer a shorter or longer stay? Ask us about our very similar 6 and 9-day Galapagos lodge-based private adventures.

Knowmad has vast knowledge and operations in Ecuador & the Galapagos; this is a private trip and we are happy to modify excursions, accommodations, and the flow of the itinerary to perfectly suit your travel style and interests.

Click here for more details on the Galapagos Land-Based Active Adventure trip idea.


Hasta Pronto, Knowmad Adventurers

South America Travel - Knowmad AdventuresKnowmad Adventures works closely with independent-minded travelers creating innovative trips to South America. Our specialists in Patagonia, ChileMachu 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.