Summary : Experience an intimate encounter with the Galapagos on this semi-guided land program. Stay in two lodges on Santa Cruz and Isabela, and delight in the abundant, unusual, and surprisingly approachable wildlife—from Galapagos giant tortoises to playful sea lions to the fascinating blue-footed boobies. "Darwin's Footprints" offers a wonderful array of activity options such as hiking and snorkeling.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling
$3,814 to $5,026
Upon arrival into Puerto Ayora, check into the Aventura Lodge and have lunch. Begin your adventure with a trip to "Los Gemelos" (The Twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers—an awe-inspiring visual reminder of the power of nature. The short, easy hike to each of the twins is teeming with endemic flora and fauna, including the remaining Scalesia Forest, draped in liverwort, with large and small tree finches, the beautiful vermillion flycatcher, and more. Continue the adventure with a visit to a 600-acre private reserve where the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze and sleep. Then, travel to the entrance of a 450 meter (1350 feet) illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 20 feet high in most places, this is an incredible opportunity to ramble through the remnants of one of the most powerful forces in nature—lava flows! Stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, mineral-colored walls, and the rippled floor formed from lava can all be experienced in this uniquely Galapagos stroll. Dinner is at the lodge.
Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge
Begin today in the early morning with a short ride to Canal de Itabaca or Academy Bay (dependent on sea conditions). Upon arrival, you'll be instructed about the in basic technique of sea kayaking, then escorted by watercraft and guided by a certified specialist for an outstanding sea kayaking experience. Journey along the shore of the paradisaical Santa Cruz Island, enjoying the beautiful contrasting scenery. Later enjoy snorkeling, with high chances to see sea lions, green sea turtles and countless schools of tropical fish. Return to the lodge to enjoy lunch.
Enjoy a navigation of about two hours to your next destination, Isabela Island. Opportunities to see marine life such as whales, dolphins, whale shark, and manta rays may depend on the season. Upon arrival, check in at the lodge to enjoy a welcome cocktail and enjoy the view from the lodge's deck located on a white sand beach where complimentary wine and local beer will be served with a wide variety of snacks and beverages. Naturalist guides will share with you features of their culture and the islands' history. Dinner, briefing and overnight at at the lodge.
Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge
This morning, ride in vehicles on a drive through the humid highlands to the slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra. Here, you can hike to the caldera of Sierra Negra, the second largest in the world at four miles across. The views are breathtaking! Relax a bit and enjoy the scenery from the edge of the caldera. More advanced hikers will have the option to walk an especially difficult hour further to Volcan Chico, where fumarole activity is abundant.
After returning from Sierra Negra, have lunch at a local farm. Owned by one of the first families to arrive in Isabela, this beautiful, organic farm boasts food prepared with their local production and a lava rock-grill; explore the fruit trail and taste the local food, also have a rest in one of their hammocks and breath the clean air above a big "Mango tree." This property also takes care of giant tortoises in liaison with the Galapagos National Park. Return to the lodge. Enjoy time to discover Isabela on your own, or go snorkeling, swimming or simply relax. There will be a briefing and dinner at the Lodge.
Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge
From Puerto Villamil, it will take about one hour to travel to Los Tuneles. The journey is a highlight in itself with views of the majestic Sierra Negra Volcano, marine wildlife, such as giant mantas on the surface, sea turtles and more. Experience close encounters with many different types of tropical fish and penguins while snorkeling. After lunch at Isabela Lodge, visit the Galapagos National Park Isabela Breeding Station where you'll learn about Galapagos tortoises and see tortoises from newborns to centenarians. Follow this visit with a hike along the beautiful boardwalk of the Isabela wetlands, with opportunities to see flamingos and other sea birds. Before returning to the lodge, visit the Playa del Amor and enjoy the magical surroundings of this mangrove lined beach. The evening is at your leisure with time to relax and discover the town of Puerto Villamil. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge
After breakfast at the lodge, depart to "Las Tintoreras." Board a small craft and head out across the port, slowing to view the Blue-footed Boobies, with a chance to see the Galapagos penguin. Enjoy a walk through jagged lava fields passing abundant colonies of nesting marine iguanas and sea lions, and visit a small canal of shallow waters, often full of resting white-tipped reef sharks. The views of black lava fields, blue seas, green mangroves and cloud-capped volcanoes of Isabela creat a backdrop for an afternoon that you'll remember for a lifetime.
Following the walk, enjoy time to snorkel in the warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangroves, with the chance to see gentle white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, and sea turtles. Navigate to Santa Cruz Island in the evening, arrival time dependent on sea conditions.
Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge
After breakfast, depart to Garrapatero Beach, a 40 minute ride to the spot where an easy trail leads you to the beach. This beautiful white sandy beach is known for its finches and as a place where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. One of Santa Cruz's most peaceful and tranquil settings, the 3 kilometer stretch of El Garrapatero Beach is a tropical paradise. Surrounded by beautiful mangrove trees, the beach is home to an incredible array of birds and mockingbirds. You may also find marine iguanas, shrimp, Galapagos penguins, oystercatchers, and patillos amongst the white sands and clear blue water. Return to the lodge for lunch, followed by a guided tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station. Learn about one of the most successful reptile breeding programs in the world. Founded in 1964 the Charles Darwin Research Station is supported by over 100 scientists and researchers from around the world, with the unique purpose to study, support and implement the conservation efforts of the islands.
Begin the day with an escorted tour of Tortuga Bay. The path merges with a giant Opuntia and Candelabra cactus forest, home to numerous Darwin Finches, Mockingbirds, Yellow Warblers, Lava Lizards and many more Galapagos native and endemic species. As you enter the white sandy beach, you'll have a chance to observe different marine species in the shallow waters of the mangrove ecosystems, including sting rays and baby reef sharks. Enjoy time to relax on the beach or swim before a short hike to marine iguana nesting sites and a prickly pear forest. A short boat ride returns you to the lodge.
The afternoon will take you to the highlands of Santa Cruz. Travel through the charming towns of Santa Rosa and Bella Vista before navigating the wilderness of the roads leading to the Trapiche Sugar Cane Mill and Farm. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by the founder of the farm, famous for its coffee and sugar. Learn about the culture and history of this part of the islands and sample the coffee beans, followed by a visit to a local distillery.
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Mainland Ecuador.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Lodge accommodations; all meals; soft drinks during meals; activities and excursions with English speaking Naturalist guide as outlined in the itinerary; wireless Internet service while in Santa Cruz; Internet service at front desk while in Isabela; use of bikes in Puerto Ayora; snorkeling gear; diving equipment except dive computers which can be rented separately; service charge.
International airfare; airfare to/from Galapagos; transfers in and out of Galapagos; Galapagos National Park entrance fee, USD$100 (children under 12 subtract $50); Galapagos Transit Card ($20 per person, subject to change); items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, etc); alcoholic beverages; gratuities; passport and visa expenses; travel insurance; fuel surcharge may apply.
Airfare between Quito/Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands:
The flights between mainland Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) and the Galapagos Islands are an additional cost. To secure your seats on often overbooked flights, ExpeditionTrips must reserve these flights for you at the time of booking. Approximate cost (including service fee): $450-$600 per adult; $250-$325 per child under 12 (copy of passport required).