Galapagos Island Hopping
Staying on 3 different islands gives you an insight into the varied animal, marine and bird life, and meet local people and learn about the archipelago’s history.
Galapagos Island Hopping
7 days from £5,125 pp for 2022 departures
Spend a week in the Galapagos Islands, staying in 3 distinctive properties on different islands lets you gain an insight into life in the archipelago. You have plenty of time to observe the varied animal, marine and bird life, as well as to meet local people and learn about the islands’ geology and history.
This is an active trip, suited to those who like to get out and about with opportunities for walking, hiking, kayaking, paddle-boarding and mountain biking. This allows you to explore areas few visitors see, away from the crowds. Not that you miss out on main highlights: you’ll get to see the amazing, oft-photographed views from Bartolome, the ‘miniature Galapagos’ of Tintoreras and the highlands of Santa Cruz with their lumbering giant tortoises.
You stay in a lovely selection of places. On Santa Cruz you are guests on a private farm with the whole hillside to yourselves, ending each evening round the campfire before retiring to bed in your cosy tent. On Floreana home is an air-conditioned wooden cabin facing the ocean, with a communal lounge and bar, and on Isabela you stay in a an attractive 10-bedroom hotel facing a gorgeous golden sand beach.
- Return mainland-Galapagos flights
- Magic Galapagos Tented Camp, Santa Cruz 2 nights
- Lava Lodge, Floreana 2 nights
- IsaMar, Isabela 2 nights
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A guide meets you at Baltra airport, where there’s time a refreshing drink and change of clothes before heading to the Itabaca Channel that separates Baltra from Santa Cruz, where your adventures begin. There’s a choice of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and snorkelling equipment to enable you to observe the wildlife such as sea lions, white-tipped reef sharks, herons, pelicans and blue-footed boobies. Back on dry land you visit the highlands of Santa Cruz, home to giant tortoises, icon of the Galapagos. This is also the location of the camp where you spend the next 2 nights. Enjoy a tasty dinner followed by drinks round the campfire before a night camping beneath the stars.
This morning you take to the seas aboard the Sea Finch yacht, sailing to Bartolome. On landing you follow the path to the island’s highest point. From here you witness arguably the best known view in the archipelago, looking down to the peninsula’s bays with Pinnacle Rock to the right and the outline of Santiago Island in the background. Next you have a panga ride by the cliffs with good chances of seeing Galapagos penguins, and some beach time to observe sea lions and do some snorkelling. Lunch is eaten on the yacht before sailing back to Santa Cruz. There is an optional afternoon excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Centre where you can see giant tortoises at the breeding centre, and a visit to Puerto Ayora before returning to the camp.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
After an early breakfast you travel by speedboat to Floreana, a journey of about 2 hours. On arrival you board an open-sided bus to Lava Lodge, your home for the next 2 nights. It is run by Claudio Cruz, a descendant of one of the island’s original inhabitants and a fount of knowledge on the Floreana’s history. There should be time for snorkelling at Black Beach before lunch in the village. This afternoon you can set off in a kayak or on a paddleboard to see La Loberia, a sea lion breeding site, and go swimming maybe joined by fish, turtles and rays. Back at the lodge you can shower, watch the sunset and venture into the village for dinner.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
This morning you explore the highlands of Floreana for a hike. This starts at Asilo de la Paz, site of the spring that provides fresh water for the whole island. Keep an eye out for giant tortoises as you walk, heading down into arable farmland, learning how farming has developed over the years. Back on the bus you drive to Claudio’s farm near the coast, where you can see frigatebirds, and on to Las Palmas home of the island’s very first inhabitant, Dr Ritter who took up residence in 1926. Back at Lava Lodge you’re treated to a BBQ lunch, and the afternoon is free for you to spend as you wish: snorkelling, kayaking, paddleboarding or relaxing.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Take the morning speedboat to Isabela Island, where you check into Isabela Beach House for a 2 night stay. Later you visit the Tintoreras, a small island group sometimes referred to as Galapagos in miniature. There’s a whole host of wildlife here including white tipped reef sharks, rays, turtles, penguins, blue-footed boobies and the inevitable sea lions. Time is set aside for swimming and snorkelling. Set off by bike this afternoon following the Wetlands Trail which leads to the infamous Wall of Tears. This was built by prisoners at the US base in the late 1940s, many of whom lost their lives in this brutal labour. Cycle back to the guest house to freshen up, before the short walk into Puerto Villamil for dinner.
Hiking day! Stretch your legs on the climb up to the Sierra Negra volcano, looking out for flycatchers, finches, Galapagos hawks and short-eared owls. The view from the top down into and across the huge crater is spell-binding and well worth the effort. You walk on to Volcan Chico, through eerie volcanic landscape populated by tiny lizards. You’ve earned lunch, eaten as you enjoy views of central and northern Isabela and neighbouring islands. From here you hike back down to Isabela Beach House, in time for some relaxing beach time. Trekking distance is 16kms.
After breakfast by the beach you take the morning speedboat to Santa Cruz and transfer to Baltra airport for your onward flight.
2022 Price from (pp sharing): £5,125 (ex. international flights)
Includes: Return flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands, 6 nights’ accommodation on twin share basis, meet and greet on arrival, meals as shown, transport as shown including shared speedboat transfers between islands, services of an English-speaking naturalist guide, excursions and activities as shown, use of snorkelling equipment, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and bikes
Excludes: International flights, departure taxes, visas (not currently required by British passport holders), travel insurance, Galapagos National Park Fee currently US$100 payable locally in US$, tourist transit card (currently US$20), meals not shown as included, drinks, items of a personal nature, tips.
Getting there: This tour starts and ends on mainland Ecuador. Return flights from the UK to Quito cost from about £675, depending on season and availability. We normally book these for you.
Departure dates: This is a private tailor made holiday that can begin on the date of your choice, subject to availability.
Magic Galapagos Tented Camp
The camp is located on a hillside within a private farm, with views over the coast and ocean. There is no other lodge or camp in the area, and your only neighbours are the resident giant tortoises. You stay in a tent, comfy camping! With just canvas between you and the outside world, you feel part of the natural world. The main lodge is where you relax with other guests between activities and enjoy meals cooked in the adjoining open-air kitchen. The camp is ideally placed for watching the sunset, and later, after dinner, guests usually take a walk to the nearby lava tubes, a natural ‘lava lounge’, where a camp fire is burning and nightcaps are served.
The Red Mangrove Lava Lodge is just 5 minutes from Puerto Velasco Ibarra, the main town on Floreana. This is the smallest of the inhabited Galapagos Islands and the first to be populated. The pace of life on Floreana is pleasantly relaxed. Lava Lodge is set on one of the most secluded bays on the island, a short walk from a lovely swimming beach and also close to the loberia, where you can observe sea lions. There are kayaks, paddle boards and snorkelling gear for you to use during your stay. Accommodation is in 10 self-contained pine-built cabins, each with its own bathroom with hot and cold water, a large veranda and outdoor reading area. Cabins are air conditioned for your comfort. The lodge has a snack bar, the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner at the end of the day.
Isabela Beach House
This small, 10-room hotel has a superb location facing a lovely sandy beach. It’s within walking distance of Puerto Villamil, so you have the services of the town, which include a number of restaurants, within easy reach, and is close a tortoise breeding centre you are welcome to visit. There are 10 rooms grouped together in pairs around the central deck. All are en-suite with hot and cold running water, have comfy beds and homely furnishings. Bedrooms have sliding glass doors that lead directly out to the deck. This area has sunny and shaded areas, chairs, sofas and loungers, and is lovely place to spend time between excursions and activities. The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner, served within sight of the beach. There is Wi-Fi internet access, so you can contact family and friends at your leisure.
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