Retracing Darwin’s Routes II (8D)

Welcome to the Red Mangrove Eco Luxury Hotel

When arriving at the Galapagos airport, you must first pass through the Galapagos National Park entrance and then onto baggage claim.  Continuing through the airport with your baggage you will scan your belongings once more and then finally pass through.  

Special Note: The following itinerary includes all necessary details on each day’s activities.  If you have further questions please contact your Account Manager or Travel Agent.

Day 1: Transfer in + Interpretation Center + Frigate Hill (Lunch and dinner)

Day 2: Tour to Lobos Island or Kicker Rock (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)     

Day 3: Transfer to Santa Cruz + Highlands + Charles Darwin Research Station (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

Day 4: Bartholomew / Santa Fe / North Seymour + Bachas Beach / Plazas + Carrion Point (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

Day 5: Transfer to Isabela + Wall of Tears + Flamingo Lagoon + Tortoise Breeding Center (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

Day 6: Sierra Negra Volcano + Tintoreras Islet (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

Day 7: Cape Rose Lava Tunnels (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

Day 8: Transfer out. (Breakfast)

San Cristobal Interpretation Center

DAY 1: Transfer In + Interpretation Center + Frigate Hill

After arriving at San Cristóbal airport, we will visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Center.  Here we can learn more about the origin of the archipelago, its fauna and flora, as well as the natural history and first inhabitants. After that, we will hike for about 2 hours to Frigate Hill where you’ll see the endemic vegetation and beautiful views of the island and its surroundings. The main attraction here is the frigatebirds. At the end of the day, we will visit Frigate Bay and do some snorkeling, then leave for Golden Bay Hotel for your night’s accommodation in San Cristobal at Golden Bay Hotel.

Blue-footed boobies on Lobos Island.

DAY 2: Kicker Rock or Lobos Island

Important Note: The island visits are not specified due to changing availability and climate conditions.  You will visit either Kicker Rock or Lobos Island.  

KICKER ROCK

Kicker Rock is known as one of the best places to snorkel and dive in Galapagos.  This is because you can see sharks, rays, and many different types of fish. After the snorkeling, we will visit one of the following beaches: Ochoa, Puerto Grande or Mangelito. In the afternoon you will return to San Cristobal to your accommodations at Golden Bay Hotel.

LOBOS ISLAND

Lobos Island includes snorkeling activities with sea lions and observation of various birds like the blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds.  Afterwards, enjoy a visit to the amazing beach, Playa Ochoa. Lunch onboard and in the afternoon your own spare time to enjoy the surroundings. In the afternoon we return to San Cristobal to your accommodations.

Entrance to the Charles Darwin Research Station

DAY 3:  Transfer to Santa Cruz + Santa Cruz Highlands and Charles Darwin Research Station

In the morning we will take a transfer to Santa Cruz.  Once we arrive we will take one more shuttle throughout Santa Cruz Island until we reach the highlands.  This part of Santa Cruz is lush with green vegetation. Here we see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.  Lunch will be at a local ranch.  

Afterwards, we will head to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station is a reservoir of information on habitats and local conservation, as well as other fascinating and relevant statistics. The most striking attraction of this station is certainly the Tortoise Breeding Center.  There it is possible to view tortoises of varied shapes and sizes.

Visitors can walk around freely enjoying the different interpretation centers and different wildlife within the station such as land iguanas and different species of birds. After this visit, we will head to Puerto Ayora to the Red Mangrove Eco Luxury Hotel.

DAY 4: Day Tour to Nearby Island

Important Note: On day four of your program you will visit one the various islands described below.  The specific islands and visitor sites you will visit will be confirmed with your guide before you are picked up in the morning for the day tour.  The island visits are not specified beforehand due to changing availability and climate conditions.  After the day tour you will return to the Red Mangrove Eco Luxury Hotel.

Bartholomew Island

The picturesque Bartholomew Island and Pinnacle Rock.

Bartholomew is an island surrounded by turquoise waters and beautiful beaches.  It will take about 2 hours to arrive by boat.  Upon arrival, the tour begins by climbing the boardwalk and staircase.  When you reach the top you will see a spectacular landscape.  Sullivan Bay and the famous Pinnacle Rock can be seen clearly from here.  

The island is a now extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, green, black and shiny volcanic formations. This is the perfect place to observe Galapagos penguins. Moreover, you can snorkel with sea turtles, sharks, white-tip reef sharks, tropical fish, sea lions and many other unique marine species. After lunch, you will visit Sullivan Bay. Here you can see some amazing lava formations, the product of a volcanic eruption in 1903. This is an excellent example of the typical forms and colors that contrast with older types of lava.

Also, take into account that Bartholomew Island is a breeding ground for green sea turtles. They come to the shores of the island to nest through the months of January and March every year. The tour on the island will end at approximately 5:00 pm and you will be transferred back to the hotel.

Santa Fe Island

A Santa Fe land iguana – endemic to the island.

Santa Fe is one of the central islands in Galapagos surrounded by an incredible turquoise bay and usually hosts a large colony of sea lions. The island is protected by a natural barrier of rocks where sea lions like to gather. It will take about 40 minutes of navigation on the ocean to arrive by boat.  When landing at the site you will discover a beautiful sandy beach, if you are lucky a colony of sea lions will be resting and enjoying the sun when you arrive!

Following the guide on one of the paths, you may find one of the endemic land iguanas found only on this island, the Santa Fe Iguana. Their main foods are the leaves and fruits of the large and thick cactuses, Palo Santo, which are also endemic to the island and are are one of the major attractions. Crabs, night herons, sea iguanas, mockingbirds, and doves are seen frequently in this area. After the walk, lunch will be served on the boat. Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to do some snorkeling. The bay is excellent for practicing this activity and is perfect to find species such as sea tortoises and stingrays. The tour ends at approximately 5:00 pm.

At this time you’ll take a boat back to Santa Cruz, roughly 40 minutes and then you’ll be transferred back to the Red Mangrove.

North Seymour Island & Bachas Beach

Male and female frigatebirds in a nesting site.

You’ll be picked up at the hotel and transferred to the Itabaca Channel to board the yacht that will take you to North Seymour Island.  This place is great for hiking. There is a circular path about 2 miles long that crosses the interior of the island and allows you to explore the rocky coastal path. On this trail, you will be able to discover some of the largest seabird colonies in the Galapagos Islands.

Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to observe the nesting sites of blue-footed boobies and the bright and colorful frigatebirds that are visible throughout the year. These two species represent one of the biggest attractions of Galapagos. The male frigates inflate their red chest when they try to attract or draw attention to the females. These birds are also well known to steal food from the blue-footed boobies, and other bird species for that matter. Additionally, you cannot miss the funny ritual dance performed by the blue-footed boobies in order to win over a female mate, or how they find the perfect pebble and place it by the females feet as a gift.

After lunch, we will go snorkeling and hopefully find sea turtles, Galapagos sharks, and perhaps there will be sea lions playing around in the surf along the shore. After a few hours of this activity, we will visit Bachas Beach.  At this beach, you can choose to rest and/or swim in the wonderful Galapagos waters. Tour will end at approximately 5:00 pm. Once more you will be transferred back to the Red Mangrove hotel afterward.

Plazas Island and Carrion Point

South Plazas is a very colorful and beautiful island.

After about 2 hours of navigation, you will finally arrive at Plazas Island.  The first attraction to be seen are large colonies of sea lions. Then, just a few meters from the dock, a group of land iguanas can almost always be observed. The trail your guide will take you on goes through to the other side of the island, which is very small and rectangular. You will walk along a ravine sharing the path with land iguanas, some marine iguanas, and birds such as blue-footed and Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and tropical birds. Apart from this, frigatebirds and pelicans can be found within the area.  Lunch will be served onboard the vessel.

Despite its small size, this island is the home of a large number of species. It is famous for its extraordinary flora, including attractive and beautiful trees and cactuses where a large colony of Galapagos land iguanas lives. Therefore, this island is very popular among local and foreign visitors. Depending on the season, the vegetation will change its color from bright green in the rainy season to orange and purple in the dry season. You cannot miss this spectacular landscape! The tour will end at approximately 5:00 pm. Afterwards, you’ll be transferred to the hotel.  

The infamous wall of tears on Isabela Island.

DAY 5: Transfer to Isabela + Flaming Lagoon + Wall of Tears + Tortoise Breeding Center

We will board a yacht bound for Isabela Island, about two hours away. After arriving in Puerto Villamil, we will visit the Wall of Tears in order to learn more about the history of the island which was once a prison in the past.  Our last visit will be to the breeding center of Isabela Tortoises then we will go back to your hotel at Iguana Crossing.

We will also stop at a Galapagos flamingo lagoon.  The lagoon was man-made after some years of mining, later it filled with both freshwater and saltwater from the wetlands.  Here you can see flamingos feeding, as well as Galapagos ducks.

Just a short way away from the flamingo feeding site is the San Cristobal Breeding Center.  Here Isabela Giant Tortoises are protected and bred in order to one day repopulate Isabela Island.  Many different studies are done here, which have provided incredible knowledge and discoveries.  After visiting the breeding center you will be transferred back to Santa Cruz Island and taken to your accommodations at Iguana Crossing on Isabela Island.

These beautiful formations are home to penguins and blue-footed boobies.

DAY 6: Sierra Negra Volcano + Tintoreras

Volcano Sierra Negra is an active volcano in the south of Isabela Island.  A hike in this area will show you different types of vegetation and geological zones.  If you reach the summit of Sierra Negra you can see petrified lava still present and the enormous caldera.  This is one of the largest, remaining active volcanoes in the archipelago.

In the afternoon we will take another boat to visit the tintoreras where white-tipped sharks can be seen, as well as marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and Galapagos penguins. We’ll snorkel in the area observing tropical fish, sea turtles, sharks, and return to Puerto Villamil later in the afternoon, finally arriving at your accommodations at Iguana Crossing.

Climb inside real lava tunnels!

DAY 7: Cape Rose Lava Tunnels

Los tuneles, or the tunnels, is a very different type of visitor site in the Galapagos.  The tunnels were formed millions of years ago when lava flowed into the ocean.  The cold water consequently froze their superficial layers, isolating the interior while liquid lava continued to flow into the sea.  Eventually, the eruption finished and then a hollow structure was formed, later collapsing, allowing water to enter and create these tunnels that can now be seen today.  After the visit you will be transferred back to your accommodations at Iguana Crossing on Isabela Island.

DAY 8: Transfer Out

After a complete breakfast with the company of sea lions and various finches at the Red Mangrove, you will be transferred to Baltra airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador.

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PROGRAM INCLUDES:

  • Transfers in – out from/to Baltra airport.
  • Visits as specified in the itinerary.
  • Guidance in English / Spanish.
  • Transportation during the stay.
  • Full board
  • Accommodation for 2 nights at Hotel Golden Bay or similar (breakfast included).
  • Accommodation for 2 nights at Hotel Red Mangrove (breakfast included).
  • Accommodation for 3 nights at Hotel Iguana Crossing or similar (breakfast included).
  • Snorkeling equipment for daily tours (face mask and snorkel).

PROGRAM DOES NOT INCLUDE:

  • Air ticket.
  • Entrance to the GPS National Park ($ 100).
  • Ingala Card ($ 20).
  • Isabela dock Fee ($10).
  • Lunch (8th day) – extra drinks.
  • Tips and personal expenses.
  • Activities and services not specified above.

Rates are per person in US dollars.

Pick-ups for the day tours are made from 06:45 am to 7:30 am.

The return or departure schedule of the tours are an estimated timeframe. There are no exact timetables due to weather, logistic, or park authorizations that could vary.

How did you like Option II of Red Mangrove’s 8 Day Island Hopping Tour?  Please Contact Us with any questions!  We are more than happy to answer or you can look at other programs like our 4 and 5 Day Land Programs!

 

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