In keeping with the nature of an expedition, our itinerary is flexible, allowing you to take advantage of this extraordinary wild life sanctuary.
Day 1: Quito or Guayaquil – Santa Cruz
Travel from the Continental Ecuador to Santa Cruz Island.
The adventure starts since the moment you flight from mainland touches down at Baltra, Seymour Airport, the first ecological airport in the World. This terminal was built in 2013, working with solar panels in order to keep the balance in this fragile ecosystem. Baltra Island used to be an old US Air Force Base during the Second World War in which it was established to control the Panama Channel, after the war the US forces left the island leaving some of their military constructions and a runway, which was why the airport was built there.
After a very short bus ride, you will head to the Itabaca Channel, with clear blue waters which divides Baltra Island from Santa Cruz Island, it will take around 5 minutes to cross it into a ferry, taking a glance of water, and you may have the chance to see some sharks, sea lions and sea turtles.
Once in Santa Cruz you start a ride to cross the Island from north to south to get to the Lodge. Around 45 minutes, in this trip, you will be able to experience a variety of micro climates, looking how they change from desert in the low lands to tropical forest in the highlands. The highlands represent the agricultural resource of the island; some other supplies are shipped from mainland.
While driving down to the south side of the island, we will pass through Santa Rosa a very small town inhabited by the local farmers from the area. Going down the road, we will realize that the weather is changing again turning drier and hotter as we are getting closer to the seaside until we arrive in Puerto Ayora the main town in the Island, where Red Mangrove is located,
Once you are in Puerto Ayora, after a long day of traveling, make sure to relax watching some sea lions and marine iguanas basking in the sun at the Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge.. (Ask for private transfers)
This afternoon the adventure starts with a trip to “Los Gemelos” (The Twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers, a wonderful introduction to the majestic power of the forces of nature and the great biodiversity of the Santa Cruz Highlands. This short, easy hike to each of the twins is swarming with endemic flora and fauna, including a remnant of Scalesia Forest, draped in liverwort, lichens and mosses, where is easy to spot some Darwin finches and perhaps the short eared owls.
After “Los Gemelos”, a short bus ride will take you to a 600-acre private reserve where the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze, and sleep. Sometimes it’s a bit muddy here, so before setting out, we will provide a selection of field boots (Wellington boots) to choose from, including large sizes for men.
Walking among the tortoises in wild, will be one of the most treasured moments of your trip. After visiting these prehistoric creatures on their natural habitat, we’ll take a 5-minute ride 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 see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, mineral-colored walls, and the rippled floor formed from lava along this unique lava formations.
Ask for Le Carte Dinner (Special price for our tour guests)
Day 2: Santa Cruz – Isabela
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Early in the morning,after breakfast, depart towards the Itabaca Channel on private transportation for about 45 minutes. Upon arrival to this crystal clear turquoise waters you will be instructed about basic techniques on sea kayaking. You will be escorted by a watercraft and guided by a certified specialist to guarantee an outstanding and safe kayaking morning.
Begin at the dock where you will take your kayak and start the journey along the shore of this paradisiacal northern part of Santa Cruz Island, exploring the amazing channel that separates Santa Cruz from Baltra Island.
You will be able to enjoy beautiful scenery full of contrasts, the stunning shorecliffs home of many sea birds such as blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, brown pelicans, among others, that will make this, a dreamlike ride.
Snorkeling opportunities from the kayak with high chances to see sea lions, green sea turtles and countless schools of tropical fish.
Back to the Aventura for lunch.
Travel to Isabela (Depending on the number of guest, the travel may be in public or Red Mangrove Transportation) the navigation takes about two hours. During this time you may see marine life such as whales, dolphins, manta rays among others.
Upon Arrival check in at the lodge to then enjoy of a welcome cocktail at our deck located in front of this white sand beach where complimentary drinks will be served with a wide variety of snacks. Our Naturalist Guides will share with you features of their culture and the islands history.
Day 3: Isabela
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Departure to Sierra Negra Volcano. Vehicles of local providers will drive us up through the humid highlands of Isabela, to the slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra, considered the second biggest active crater in the world. With 4 miles across (10km), We will hike about 800 mts to reach the rim of the caldera (crater) of Sierra Negra, from where the views are breathtaking.After about 6 km bordering the caldera on and easy trail, relax a bit and have a snack at a nice resting site under a “Jaboncillo”
If we feel strong enough we can contienuer to Volcan Chico, an otherworldly landscape with fumaroles and amazing lava formations. From here, the landscape is more than spectacular . (Total hike from the starting point to the Volcan Chico area is 8 kms)
Lunch at a Local Farm.
The food is prepared with vegetables and fruits grown locally at the farm. After Lunch relax and take a walk in this beautiful place.
Short ride from the lodge to the Concha Perla site. Walk among the mangroves for about 150 mts on a boardwalk, to reach the dock, where you can start snorkeling on this lagoon-like Bay. High opportunities to snorkel with sea lions, green turtles, schools of tropical fish and enjoy the beauty of the underwater scenery.
We will also visit the “Muro de Las Lagrimas” (Wall of Tears), a unique construction built by the backbreaking labor of prisoners of a penal colonycenturies earlier. On the path to the Wall of Tears you will see an abundance of lava lizards-the males are larger and striped and the females red-throated.
Day 4: Isabela
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Breakfast at the Lodge and departure for about 45 minutes by fast boat to “Los Tuneles”.
Along this ride we will enjoy seeing the beautiful Galapagos wildlife such us giant mantas rays, sea turtles and more. We will make a short stop at “Roca Union” where we will be able to see masked boobies, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions and occasionally fur seal from the boat.
Arrival to “Los Tuneles” a breathtaking site formed by lava arches on the water like labyrinths, enjoy a panga ride along this site and try the first snorkeling, experience close encounters with many species of fish, rays, sea turtles and perhaps the Galapagos penguins.
After this first snorkeling we will continue discovering this labyrinth of lava arches and try a second snorkel.
Only here in Galapagos, you will have the chance to snorkel with penguins and sea lions on the same spot! (This activity and time schedule may change according to sea conditions).
Return to the lodge for lunch.
Ride through town enjoying the simplicity of this traditional island and search for the Flamingo spots.
Visit the Galapagos National Park Isabela Breeding Station were you will be able to know the different specifies of Galapagos tortoises, the growing process from new borns up to centenary individuals found on this station.
After this visit hike along a beautiful boardwalk for about 45 minutes enjoying part of the Isabela wetlands, with high opportunities to see flamingos and other stunning seabirds.
Before returning to the lodge visit the well known Playa del Amor (Love Beach) and enjoy the magical feeling of this organic sand beach surrounded by mangroves.
Time to relax and discover the town of Puerto Villamil on your own.
Dinner and overnight at our Lodge
Day 5: Isabela – Santa Cruz
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Breakfast at the lodge.
After breakfast, departure to “Las Tintoreras” and Bay Tour.
At the main dock, we will board a smaller craft to head out across the port, slowing down to view blue-footed boobies and Galapagos penguins sharing the same rocky sunbathing space, before turning a bend and docking.
From there, we take an intriguing walk through a jagged lava field, passing abundant colonies of nesting marine iguanas and sea lions, to see a small canal of shallow waters, full of resting white-tipped reef sharks.
The views from here are something you will take with you for the rest of your life! The black, treacherous lava field, the emerald green sea, the green mangroves, and the cloud-capped volcanoes of Isabela, create an afternoon backdrop you are not likely to ever forget.
Once you finish the walk, you can snorkel in this warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangroves, for an opportunity to see white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, and, of course, the mystery of the mangrove below the surface. Don’t worry; white-tipped reef sharks are not aggressive, but merely fascinating.
Back to the lodge for lunch.
Depart to Santa Cruz. Our navigation will take about 2 to 2.5 hours depending on sea conditions.
Arrival and check in at Santa Cruz Lodge.
Then, enjoy a guided tour to the fascinating Charles Darwin Research Station where you can 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 instrument the conservation efforts of the islands.
Dinner and overnight at Red Mangrove Lodge.
Day 6: Santa Cruz – Quito or Guayaquil
Take a transfer to the airport for your flight back to mainland.
Ask for transfer details and prices.