Galapagos Island Hopping: Santa Cruz-Bartolome-Floreana
A great little 5 day Galapagos Island-hopping tour that is active and interesting
and with accommodations that will keep you close to nature.
Day 1: Baltra Island - Santa Cruz Island - Arrival in the Galapagos
Today we arrive on Baltra Island, the gateway to the Galapagos. This tiny island was a military base during the Second World War and hosts the Islands’ principal airport. The airport was built using the most advanced environmental techniques to reduce emissions and energy use. It was the first ecological airport in the world.
We dive into adventure just after we arrive! We will enter the airport through a special VIP lounge where you will have a chance to change clothes, put on some sunscreen and get a cool drink before we transfer to the Itabaca Channel to explore its turquoise waters. We will have a chance to kayak, snorkel and stand up paddleboard (SUP) where we will see some of the famous Galapagos wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. We will glide through beautiful red mangrove forests and along lava rock cliffs on water so clear we can see sea life in the shallows. Our ocean (sit on top) kayaks come in doubles or singles, and life jackets are provided. A support boat escorts us throughout the water activities to ensure safety and to provide water, snacks and towels between activities.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Kayak: 1.5-2 hours depending on fauna activity and skills of kayakers
Transportation: boat, swimming, kayak, stand up paddleboard
From Itabaca Channel we head up to the Santa Cruz highlands where our exclusive giant tortoise reserve and tented camp is located. Perched high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, Magic Galapagos Tented Camp will be our home for the next two nights. The sounds of nature will be our lullaby in the evenings, and the Milky Way will be our night light. We’ll be able to feast our eyes on the mountains and forest surrounding the lodge, and enjoy the peace of having the entire hillside to ourselves, with the exception of seasonal resident giant tortoises. Lunch at Santa Cruz Highlands
Watching the colorful sunset from Magic’s western perch is the perfect segue into evening. Dinners are sumptuous three course affairs, prepared by expert chefs in an open-air kitchen in the main lodge. A favorite post-dinner activity is a short walk to the natural lava tubes on the reserve for a night cap in the one-of-a-kind ‘Lava Lounge!’ It’s the perfect spot to relax around the fire and share stories from the day’s adventures.
Day 2: Santa Cruz Island - Bartolome Island
Today after breakfast we will head back to Itabaca Channel to continue our National Park and Marine Reserve exploration. The Sea Finch yacht has operated since December 2010 from its base in Puerto Ayora. The Sea Finch carries a total of up to 16 guests, who can enjoy the air-conditioned dining lounge, as well as various outdoor sitting areas with beautiful views of the Islands.
The Sea Finch will deliver us to Bartolome Island, which offers one of the most dramatic views in the Galapagos Islands. A 600 – meter pathway takes visitors to the highest point of the island, where you will learn from our expert naturalist guide about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos. After the walk, a dingy ride along the coastline will give you the opportunity to see the Galapagos penguin. This curious bird nests among fissured lava flows and ventures into the crystal-clear waters of Bartolome to fish.
A wet landing on the main beach of the island will give you the opportunity to enjoy the sandy beach where sea lions rest and a variety of wading birds feed. The area has tranquil waters, offering a great snorkeling experience where you can observe tropical fish, sea stars and perhaps even see penguins under water.
Optional: Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos Capital
For those who are interested, we can make a late visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, where you will learn about the Darwin Foundation´s conservation efforts in the Galapagos National Park. This is where the world famous Lonesome George used to live. We’ll also spend some time in town, having a drink and walk along Pt. Ayora’s main road with nice little boutiques, etc.
** These excursions are subject to availability and change without prior notification
Day 3: Santa Cruz Island - Floreana Island
After a final breakfast at Magic Galapagos, we say goodbye and depart for Floreana Island. We will leave early for our two hour speedboat crossing. This peaceful island is home to the Galapagos’ smallest human population. Because only 150 people call Floreana home, it is the least developed and most natural of the four inhabited islands. It was the first inhabited islands in the Galapagos, and descendants of the original population still live here. Once a pirates’ lair, the island’s history is full of mystery and legends about its first inhabitants.
During our stay, we will be hiking, learning about the fascinating local history and also seeing some of the Galapagos’ special wildlife. We may see giant tortoises, frigate birds, sea lions, Darwin’s finches, petrels and marine iguanas, among other species.
Upon arrival on Floreana, we will take an open-air ‘chiva bus’ to Floreana Lava Lodge, which overlooks one of the Galapagos’ most beautiful and secluded bays. The lodge is operated by Claudio Cruz, a descendant of one of the Island’s original inhabitants. We are lucky to be hosted by Claudio, as he is able to share his deep knowledge of the Island and its history with us, as well as to meet several of his family members during our stay, giving us special insight into life on Floreana.
Once we are settled in, we can walk or paddle (kayak or stand up paddleboard) to nearby Black Beach for some snorkeling. After time in the water to whet our appetites, we will walk to a restaurant in the nearby village for lunch. The restaurant is part of a community tourism initiative that Tropic helped to develop and has been working with since 2012.
In the afternoon, we set out once again to paddle the pristine waters (kayak or SUP) across the bay to explore La Loberia, a sea lion breeding ground. Once there, we can enjoy more snorkeling and swimming in the calm, bright water with sea turtles, sea lions, stunning rays and an abundance of tropical fish.
Later we will return to the lodge (30 minute walk or kayak/SUP) for a warm shower. We will watch the spectacular sunset and then head to the village for dinner where we will celebrate another incredible day in the Galapagos.
Day 4: Floreana Island - Exploring the Floreana Highlands
After breakfast, we leave to explore the Floreana highlands on our open-air bus (chiva) - an unbeatable, historic, and comfortable way to see the island. On the way, our naturalist guide will share the colorful history of some of Floreana's first inhabitants, such as the Wittmers (whose descendants still live on the Island), the ‘Baroness,’ and the pirates that once visited here. They will also tell us about the "Enigma of Floreana," involving the mysterious deaths of several of the Island´s inhabitants. The enigma is a riddle from the 1930’s that has never been solved and was featured in the film “The Galapagos Affair.”
After driving into the highlands, we reach Asilo de la Paz (Peace Haven) where our hike begins. We walk up to this historic site, explore the pirate caves, and visit the freshwater spring that provides water for the entire Island, with our guide sharing stories and history along the way. As we traverse the hillside, we can expect to see giant tortoises lumbering around in the vegetation or even on the trail.
We depart Asilo de Paz walking down through a rural area where the local people grow produce for their own consumption. This is a fascinating example of how the island people survived in this remote place and over the years were able to develop an understanding of the local environment and now work to preserve their unique agricultural knowledge. On our way back to the coast, we will make a stop at Claudio’s farm, La Primavera, where we will watch the extraordinary behavior of the frigate birds who ‘dance’ as they wash their salty wings in the fresh water lake on the farm. With a little bit of luck, we may be able to see males puffing up the red pouches on their chests in an attempt to attract females. We’ll also see where some of the delicious fruit and vegetables that we’ve been eating at the lodge come from.
From La Primavera farm we continue by chiva down to Las Palmas, where the Island’s first permanent inhabitant, the eccentric Dr. Ritter, lived and is buried. Arriving in 1926, the German physician believed that with a combination of exercise and the right vegetarian diet he would live to be 150 years old. He didn't, but his story is one of the many strange episodes that make up the intriguing history of the island. Making our way back to the lodge, we will be treated to spectacular views of the Floreana shoreline.
Back at Lava Lodge we will prepare a very special barbecue lunch, featuring delicious Cruz family recipes! After lunch, we have a free afternoon. Practice your kayak or SUP skills, go snorkeling in La Loberia or simply relax and take in the beautiful Galapagos views from the Lava Lodge. Dinner on the island
Day 5: Floreana Island - Baltra Island - Departure day
Today we take an early morning speed boat back to Santa Cruz and then transfer by land to Baltra for our onward journey or flight back home.
2016-2017 price per person, double occupancy in US$: $2250. Single supplement = US$182. Surcharge for Dec. 17-Jan. 5 = $182
2017 Dates: Feb. 4-8, March 4-8, April 1-5, April 8-12, April 15-19, April 29-May 3, May 20-24, May 27-31, June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21, July 1-5, July 15-19, Aug. 5-9, Aug. 12-16, Aug. 19-23, Aug. 26-30, Sept. 9-13, Sept. 16-20, Sept. 23-27, Sept. 30-Oct. 4, Oct. 21-25, Oct. 28-Nov. 1, Nov. 4-8, Dec. 2-6, Dec. 9-13, Dec. 16-20,
Included: Accommodation, All meals, Airport VIP services on arrival, Transfers & ground transportation, Boat excursions with snorkeling on a sharing basis, Speed boat transfer on a sharing basis, Kayak, SUP and snorkeling equipment, English-speaking naturalist guide, Activities and visits detailed in the itinerary
Not Included: Flights (all flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands can be arranged upon request), Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US $100 per adult/$50 per child under 12), tourist transit card (US $20 per person), Beverages, Laundry service, Insurance (prior to your journey please ensure your travel insurance is valid in your country of origin), Gratuities
Magic Galapagos is a million miles from the world’s hustle and bustle. Set in the highlands of Santa Cruz (and away from the waterfront crowds), this totally unique property surprises and delights. All six safari tents and four tree houses have gorgeous views, and guests are surrounded by nature as they sleep. Magic is a place to relax, walk the beautiful mountainside, turn your gaze to the beautiful heavens and to admire nature. Giant tortoises call Magic Galapagos their home much of the year, and guests might see a handful slowly moving through the grounds or many dozens dotting the meadow.
Sunsets from Magic are, well, magic! Enjoying the last light of day with a cocktail on the meadow deck is a relaxing pastime, as is sharing stories of the days’ adventures in front of the open-air main lodge’s crackling fire. Magic serves sumptuous, three course dinners. The chefs use their culinary skills in the open kitchen to turn local ingredients into creative and elegant dishes. An after dinner stroll to the ‘Lava Lounge’ for a nightcap is the perfect way to end the day.
Screened tree houses are equipped with a flush toilet and a basin/vanity with running water, as well as a small deck and bench. Twin beds are comfortable and windows allow guests to look at the stars as they fall into a peaceful sleep. Magic’s raised, walk-in safari tents are similarly equipped. There are two shared bathhouses with flush toilets and hot showers.
The 10 independent cabins at the Floreana Lava Lodge are each equipped with 2 twin beds (bunk beds for up to 3 people are also available). Each ocean front cabin has its own bathroom, front porch, a reading and shady area to provide privacy and enjoyment of the outdoors.The lodge also has a common area where guests can relax together and savor a welcome drink while enjoying the striking Galapagos sunsets. A 5 minute walk brings you to the beach for a fantastic snorkeling experience with sea lions and sea turtles.
Services & Amenities: Air conditioning, Reading lamps, Clock radio, Hot water, Hair dryer, Night tables, Individual safe deposit boxes, Wireless Internet. The lodge also has a laundry and snack bar.