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.

Galapagos Islands Active Travel

Day 1  Santa Cruz Island – Floreana Island

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.

DAY 2  floreana island

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.

DAY 3  Isabela island

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.

DAY 4  ISABELA ISLAND

Today a morning hike up the slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra (1,300 ft) will take you to the rim of the second largest crater in the world, which spans four 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.

DAY 5  ISABELA ISLAND

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.

DAY 6  Santa cruz island

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.

DAY 7  SANTA CRUZ ISLAND  – onward

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

B

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.

Have questions? Talk to an expert: 612-315-2894

Important Info

Galapagos Islands Land Based Tour

COSTS

Listed prices are approximations. All Knowmad trips are custom and exact pricing is provided in your trip proposal.

Based on Tourist-Superior Accommodations 

  • From $3,395 per person / 4 or more travelers
  • From $4,879 per person / 2 travelers

Based on First Class Accommodations

  • From $3,589 per person / 4 or more travelers
  • From $5,073 per person / 2 travelers

Additionally, Galapagos airfare is estimated at $550 to $600.

  • Single supplement from $473 – 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

Air Travel

International Airfare is not included in the land cost of our trips. You may arrange your international airfare independently, or we are happy to offer our feedback and assistance in helping you book it.

Regional If booked by Knowmad, internal airfare for this trip (Quito/Baltra/Quito) averages $550 to $600, however this is an approximation and the airfare is subject to change upon booking.

What's Next?

Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Signing up is easy. Call us at 612-315-2894 or email travel@knowmadadventures.com and reserve your spot. Or simply download our registration form, fill it out, and send it back to us along with your trip deposit. Please refer to registration form for terms & conditions.

Weather & When to Go to the Galapagos Islands

Owing to their location at the Equator, the Galapagos do not have a lot of seasonal variation. Temperatures average in the 70s-80s F (21 – 30 C) year round, with January to April being slightly warmer. The climate is quite dry, with the majority of precipitation coming between January and April.

Although there is slightly more precipitation between December and May than during other parts of the year, it is also the sunniest time of year with brief drizzles and rain clouds moving on quickly. The water is warmer during this time of year making swimming and snorkeling more comfortable, however there aren’t quite as many fish as other times of year. December through May is the breeding season for land birds, so it’s a great time to see unusual mating rituals. Also, if you are a turtle lover this is the time to be here as it’s when you can watch sea turtles nesting on the beach and in March through May you can often see land tortoises searching for mates. Sea lions also mate in this season and males can be seen sparring. The other benefits of this season are much calmer seas and blooming flowers making the islands their most colorful. And you will be more likely to find discounts on cruises available during these months. All in all, there are many benefits to Galapagos travel no matter which month you choose.

Weather in the Galapagos Islands

Prior to your departure, you are provided a detailed pre-trip information packet including a recommended pack list, information about the regions you’ll be visiting, suggested readings, up-to-date health information including any recommended vaccinations and more.

Accommodations

Galapagos Multi Sport Adventure Travel

Tourist Superior Accommodations

First Class Accommodations

Accommodations will be listed in your custom trip proposal and are subject to change based on availability at the time of booking. Knowmad is happy to suggest upgrades and alternative hotels based on your preferences to ensure your trip is perfect for you.

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 Quito – Galapagos

Getting an early start to the day, you will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the Quito or Guayaquil airport in accordance with your morning flight to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll be flying to the small island of Baltra, the main airport in the Galapagos and the world’s first ecological airport. Upon arrival, you’ll first pass through an airport inspection point where your TCT (Transit Control Card) will be checked and stamped (please keep this in a safe spot with your passport as you will need to show it again when you leave Galapagos).

You will be met at the airport by an expert local guide and taken to Santa Cruz Island using public transportation (no private vehicles are permitted). Santa Cruz is home to one of the Galapagos’ only modern towns, lava tunnels, white sand beaches and the massive land tortoise. Here is where your adventure begins. You’ll first visit two enormous collapsed lava chambers, or Los Gemelos craters, and get your first look at the highland Galapagos tortoises. In the afternoon, enjoy a tasty lunch on your way to the town of Puerto Ayora, where you’ll take a private speedboat on a two-hour ride to the peaceful and unspoiled island of Floreana.

Here you’ll be staying for two nights in your own private oceanfront cabin. You may take a short walk to La Loberia, a scenic beach and sea lion breeding ground and/or snorkel or swim in the clear blue water alongside sea turtles, sea lions, rays and a variety of colorful tropical fish. In the evening you’ll have dinner in the village before watching a beautiful sunset followed by incredible star gazing from your cabin’s front porch.

Day 2 Floreana

After breakfast you’ll head by chiva, an open-air bus, up to the highlands. During the drive your guide will begin to teach you about Floreana’s colorful history filled with pirates, mysterious deaths and fascinating first inhabitants. Reaching the highlands, you’ll begin your hike at Asilo de la Paz (Peace Haven), a site where you can explore pirate caves and a freshwater spring that provides water for the entire Island. As you hike down, you’ll see giant tortoises lumbering around in the vegetation or even on the trail. At the end of your hike, you’lll be rewarded with views of frigate birds ‘dancing’ as they wash their salty wings in the fresh water. With a little bit of luck, you may see the males puffing up their red pouches on their chests in an attempt to attract females.

Continue by chiva down towards Las Palmas, where the Island’s first permanent inhabitant, the eccentric Dr. Ritter, lived and is buried. Arriving in 1926, this German physician believed that with a combination of exercise and the right vegetarian diet he would live to be 150 years old. He didn’t, but his story is one of the many strange episodes that still abound on the island. Continue down past spectacular views of Floreana’s shoreline until reaching your special BBQ lunch spot. After lunch, enjoy some time to relax, swim, snorkel, kayak and/or stand up paddleboard at your lodge.

  • B, L, D – Lava Lodge

Day 3 Isabela

Getting an early start, you’ll head to Isabela Island today by private speedboat. Upon arrival, check in to your beautiful beachfront hotel. Isabela Island is a piece of paradise with its white sand beaches and incredible wildlife. Start exploring this paradise with a visit to Tintoreras, a group of small islands that are often called the ‘Galapagos in miniature’ as you can see nearly all of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife in this one spot. Its beautiful blue turquoise waters are home to sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, white tipped sharks, penguins and much more. 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.

In the afternoon walk along the trail from town, through the brackish-water lagoons and ending at the local giant tortoise-breeding center. Keep an eye out for pink flamingos feeding in the lagoons. Thanks to this breeding center, the islands’ giant tortoise population is slowly recovering after years of poaching. Once at the center, you can see hatchlings and full-grown tortoises as you learn about the process of breeding and releasing into the wild.

Day 4 Isabela

Isabela is one of the youngest and most volcanically active islands in the Galapagos. Today, as you hike and explore Isabela, you will get a close look at the geologic process that created the Galapagos.

A morning hike up the misty slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra (1,300 ft) will take you to the rim of the second largest crater in the world, spanning four miles across. A common morning fog and drizzle will clear as you reach the crater’s rim and are rewarded with expansive views of the volcano’s black lava floor. From here, hike the path along the rim. As you head towards Volcan Chico, you may get the feeling you are walking on Mars, but while the landscape appears desolate, a closer look reveals small lizards, scurrying about amongst the rocks.

Enjoy a tasty picnic lunch under the shade of a lovely jaboncillo tree with the chance to enjoy some spectacular views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. In the distance, you will be able to see Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz Islands. Head back down to shore to complete your day of hiking (about 10 miles). End the day relaxing on the white sand beaches of Puerto Villamil.

  • B, L, D – Casa Marita or similar, suite

Day 5 Wall of Tears and Kayaking

Leaving from the Villamil dock, you’ll kayak to Island Bay, looking for turtles, rays, penguins, blue-footed boobies and sea lions along the way. Sea lions may play in the water and paddle along side you. Watch for wildlife in the bay, and then paddle back to the dock.

After lunch, 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 time to swim, snorkel or just sit on the beach and relax.

  • B, L, D – Casa Marita or similar, suite

Day 6 Santa Cruz

Today you’ll start early and catch your speedboat back to Santa Cruz Island. Upon arrival, enjoy a hearty breakfast close to the docks before heading up to the highlands for a busy day of multi sport adventures. First, drive up 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, 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 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.

Tonight you’ll stay in Santa Cruz’ largest town, the small picturesque port of Puerto Ayora. Although it has the largest population in the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora is still a small, intimate place where you will find friendly local bars, shops, and restaurants, as well as places to stroll along the water’s edge. There is everything you need for a final farewell night in the Galapagos.

Day 7 Galapagos – Quito – Home

After a morning visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, you’ll transfer to Baltra for your return flight back to mainland Ecuador. Upon arriving in Quito or Guayaquil you will be responsible for checking in for your evening overnight flight home, or onward.

  • B

Extend Your Adventure

Continental Ecuador

Ecuador contains nearly every ecosystem imaginable on the planet within a relatively small country (roughly the size of Colorado). Visits can include cloud forest, Andean Highlands, historic haciendas, remote indigenous communities, volcanoes, Amazon Jungle and colonial cities to name a few. We suggest browsing our Continental Ecuador itineraries for Galapagos trip extension ideas, as no Galapagos cruise is complete without at least a few days exploring mainland Ecuador.

Machu Picchu

This incredibly vast archaeological site – lost to the world until well into the twentieth century – is perched amidst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest making it as breathtaking as it is intriguing. Arrive by train or by a day’s hike on the Inca Trail. 

Let The Journey Begin

Let the Journey Begin - Knowmad Adventures

Planning a trip to South America might seem a little overwhelming at first. Knowmad offers door-to-door trip planning: first, we listen, and then we help you navigate the seasonal differences and itinerary options, resulting in a holistic, seamless, and custom-crafted experience, all at a guaranteed best value.

The simplest way to get started is to give us a call at 612-315-2894or to fill out this short form so we can learn more about your travel preferences.