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This adventure has been designed to optimize your time by eliminating unnecessary travel between islands so you can really explore Santa Cruz and Isabela islands. You will enjoy accessing these wild sites by snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and biking.
On this tour, you’ll explore the top two Galapagos Islands: Santa Cruz and Isabela. Enjoy kayaking and snorkeling with sea lions, sharks, marine iguanas, sea turtle, rays, and schools of fish. You’ll also walk among the giant Galapagos tortoises and hike to the second largest caldera in the world. All adventures are escorted by Galapagos National Park naturalist guides.
Begin this journey on Santa Cruz Island, where you will be able to observe the unique symbiosis between volcanic lava formations, endemic plants and animals. Continue your adventure to Isabela Island (the iconic seahorse-shaped island) where you will enjoy the diverse and rich fauna of endemic and native species such as penguins, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, flamingos, pelicans, sally light foot crabs, and countless fascinating underwater creatures. You will also walk among marine iguanas and see white-tipped reef sharks at rest.
This tour is similar to Darwin’s Footprints (5 Days) with the addition of an extra day to visit Los Tuneles and snorkel at Finados.
Darwin’s Footprints (6 Days)
Day 1: Travel to Galapagos
Morning: Travel from mainland Ecuador to Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Don’t forget to have your camera out. You will be in the Galapagos and you can see wildlife at any time. You don’t have to be on an excursion to spot some amazing Galapagos animals.
The adventure starts the moment you arrive at the airport on Baltra Island. Seymour Airport is the first ecological airport in the world.
The terminal was built in 2013 and uses solar panels to protect this fragile ecosystem.
After a very short bus ride, you will head to the Itabaca Channel, a small channel with clear blue waters which divides Baltra Island from Santa Cruz Island. During your five minute crossing, watch the water and you may see some sharks, sea lions and sea turtles.
Once on Santa Cruz, you’ll travel south across the Island to Aventura Lodge. During the 45 minute drive, you’ll experience a variety of micro climates. Watch the change from desert in the lowlands to tropical forest in the highlands. The highlands represent the agricultural resource of the island.
On the south side of the island, we will pass through Santa Rosa – a very small town inhabited by the local farmers. As we near the southern coast, the climate becomes drier and hotter until we arrive in Puerto Ayora. This is the main town on the Island and where Red Mangrove is located.
Welcome to the Galapagos!
Before lunch, you can relax on the deck of the Aventura Lodge and watch the sea lions and marine iguanas.
After lunch, you’ll take your first excursion to “Los Gemelos” (The Twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers. This is 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. You’ll see a remnant of a Scalesia Forest, draped in liverwort, lichens and mosses. It’s 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 tortoise reserve. Here the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze and sleep. Sometimes it’s a bit muddy here, so before setting out, you can put on some rubber field boots (Wellington boots). We have a selection of sizes, including large sizes for men.
Walking among the giant tortoises in the wild may be one of the your most treasured moments.
After visiting these prehistoric creatures in 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, this is an incredible opportunity see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, and mineral-colored walls. Even the rippled floor was formed by lava.
Ask for Le Carte Dinner (special price for our tour guests).
Day 2: Charles Darwin Reserach Station – Kayaking & Snorkeling (Travel from Santa Cruz to Isabela Island)
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
At 8:00 am 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 and perhaps, meet the most famous giant tortoise.
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.
After this visit and if we have a good hide tide, we will begin the adventure from the hotel dock, otherwise from the municipal pier. In a water taxi we will sail for about 10 minutes to the German Beach, then take the kayaks, where we will begin to surround the mangroves home of pelicans, frigates, and blue footed boobies, then reach to Franklin Bay, where we will stop to observe sea turtles, manta-rays, etc.
Then enter to the fascinating Love Tunnel, two natural cliffs made of volcanic rocks, where we can spot endemic plants and nesting birds.
We will have time for snorkeling activity at the German beach with high opportunity to swim with schools of fish, mantarays, sea turtles, etc.
After this, you will be escorted to Las Grietas a wonderful place to swim in cool and clear waters between two tall cliffs, where the earth has opened like a “crack”.
Lunch at Aventura Lodge.
Travel to Isabela by either public or Red Mangrove transport (depending on the number of guests). The trip takes about two hours, and you may see marine life such as whales, dolphins, and manta rays among others.
Upon arrival check in at the lodge and enjoy a welcome cocktail at our deck located in front the white sand beach. Our Naturalist Guides will share with you features of their culture and the islands history.
Dinner, briefing and overnight at our Lodge.
Day 3: Isabela
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Early departure to Sierra Negra Volcano. We’ll head through the humid highlands of Isabela, to the slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra in local truck taxis. Sierra Negra is considered the second biggest active crater in the world. The size of the Sierra Negra Caldera is 7.2 x 9.3 km (4.5 x 5.8 miles).
We will hike about 800 meters to reach the rim of the caldera (crater) of Sierra Negra. The views are breathtaking. After hiking about 6 km along the caldera on an easy trail we’ll relax a bit and have a snack under a “Jaboncillo” tree.
If we feel strong enough we can continue 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 Campo Duro
Campo Duro is a beautiful farm, where the owners prepare delicious dishes with fruits and vegetables from their organic farm. The meal is grilled on lava rock. After lunch you can take a walk among the fruit trees on the farm. Or maybe you’ll choose to nap in a hammock while breathing the clean air and the smell of a mango tree.
In liaison with the Galapagos National Park, Campo Duro takes care of giant tortoises that roam freely in the farm.
After this activity we will take you for a walk to the Isabela Breeding Center, and to to Concha Perla where you can snorkel.
Dinner and Overnight at our Lodge.
Day 4: Isabela (Los Tuneles)
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Breakfast at the Lodge and departure to Los Tuneles. The boat ride will take about 45 minutes.
Along the ride, we will enjoy seeing the beautiful Galapagos wildlife such as giant mantas rays, sea turtles and more. We will make a short stop at Roca Union (pictured below) where we can see masked boobies, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions and occasionally a fur seal from the boat.
Los Tuneles is a breathtaking site formed by lava arches on the water. Tour the site by boat and go 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.
Enjoy the simplicity of this traditional island town and travel to the Flamingo area.
Visit the Galapagos National Park Isabela Breeding Station where you will be able to know the different specifies of Galapagos tortoises, the growing process from newborns up to centenary individuals found at 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
Departure to “Las Tintoreras” and Bay Tour. We will board a small craft to head out across the port, slowing down to view blue-footed boobies and, perhaps Galapagos penguins.
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.
Back to the lodge for lunch.
Depart to Santa Cruz. Our navigation will take about 2 to 2.30 hours depending on sea conditions.
Day 6: Depart for Quito or Guayaquil (Mainland Ecuador)
Breakfast included. Early departure from Santa Cruz, for your flight to mainland. Ask for transfer detail and rates.
|Accommodation||Single / Person||Double / Person||Triple / Person|
|Suite – Ocean View||$ 4.724||$ 3.149||$ 2.749|
|Superior||$ 4.259||$ 2.839||$ 2.499|
|Standard – Mangrove View||$ 3.779||$ 2.519||$ 2.269|
In groups up to 10 people make it private for $3,700.00
- Included: Accommodations in the Red Mangrove Lodges. All meals as listed (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), soft drinks during meals. Guided tours as listed, Inter island transportation. All diving and snorkel gear, bilingual Galapagos naturalist guide, 10% Service Charge as per Ecuadorian Law. Free use of bikes.
- Not included: Flights to and from Galapagos, entrance fee to Galapagos National Park ($100 USD must be paid in cash in Galapagos airport), Galapagos transit card ($20 USD (must be paid in cash in mainland airport), tips, alcoholic beverages. Transfer in and out Galapagos.
- When you flight with TAME, the airline charges $10 for your transfer to the ferry. (round trip)
Note: This itinerary is subject to change without notice due to seasonal changes, weather conditions, and Galapagos National Park regulations.
- DAY 1: Walk among giant tortoises at a private reserve and explore amazing lava tunnels and Los Gemelos. Santa Cruz (L)
- DAY 2: Kayaking and snorkeling at Playa de los Alemanes and Visit las Grietas. Santa Cruz navigation to Isabela (B,L,D)
- DAY 3: Hike to Sierra Negra Volcano , Lunch at Campo Duro. Isabela (B,L,D)
- DAY 4: Tour to “Los Tuneles”: A series of lava flows that forms amazing formations of arches and tunnels both under and above water. “Finados”: snorkel between mangroves and lava, where you may see, sharks, sea turtles and even seahorses! Isabela (B,L,D)
- DAY 5: Visit Tintoreras walking among iguanas and seeing white-tipped reef sharks.(Isabela). Navigation to Santa Cruz (B,L,D)
- DAY 6: Early Departure to your flight back to mainland. (B)
(Ask for private transfer details)