Galapagos Island Hopping: Santa Cruz and San Cristobal With Locals
For those that crave an insider's track to local life, we're excited to introduce our newest Galapagos itinerary. Polo and Jacqui live in the Galapagos; he on Santa Cruz at his Giant Tortoise Reserve and Camp, she on San Cristobal at her beautiful and artistic Casa Blanca B&B. He loves his highlands home just as she loves her residence on the shore. Yet they share a deep love for the Galapagos…and each other. Our new itinerary gives travelers the chance to fall in love with the Islands, as well as with the locals like Polo and Jacquie who inhabit them.
Polo and Jacqui will host your guests and help them get to know the Islands through their eyes. On Polo’s island, the Galapagos’ most populous, visitors will be guided on adventures that range from kayaking to underground exploration. In the evenings, they will settle into Polo’s highlands retreat and get a feel for why he loves his mountain and Santa Cruz Island so much.
After active days on Santa Cruz, travelers will journey to Jacqui where the pace slows to ‘island time,’ and they can enjoy the luxury of toes-in-the-sand relaxation. On San Cristobal, visitors get a glimpse of Jacqui’s artistic spirit and create their own adventures around Jacqui’s favorites. She will recommend and guide their journey, making for a totally personalized experience.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL TO GALAPAGOS – SANTA CRUZ
After arriving at the Galapagos Islands you will pass customs where you need to pay the Galapagos Entrance Fee of 100 USD per person in cash to enter the islands. We 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 where the transfer will be waiting to take us to an exclusive giant tortoise reserve where our tented camp is located.
Perched high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, Magic Galapagos Tented Camp will be your home for the next two nights. The sounds of nature will serenade you in the evenings, and the Milky Way will be our night light. We’ll be able to feast our eyes on the mountains and forests surrounding the Camp and enjoy the peace of having the entire hillside to ourselves, with the exception of seasonal resident giant tortoises.
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 reserve’s natural lava tubes, for a night cap in the one-of-a-kind ‘Lava Lounge’ bar. It’s the perfect spot to relax around the fire and share stories from the day’s adventures.
Night at Galapagos Magic (Standard Tent)
Included: Airport VIP services, transportation, English speaking guide, excursion, entrance fees, dinner and accommodation.
DAY 2: SANTA CRUZ – Highlands Tour
Early in the morning we will go to Garrapatero Beach, where our kayaking activity takes place. We’ll paddle from the beach along the bay for about 45 minutes. We can also take a short walk to the brackish lagoon where we have high possibilities of finding pink flamingos.
Then, we drive to an off-the-beaten-path area of Santa Cruz Island, the Cerro Mesa viewpoint, from where we can admire the whole southern shore of Santa Cruz. We will continue towards one of the iconic formations in Galapagos that resembles a crater where we will start a hike downhill for about 30 minutes to the bottom of this collapsed crater. We’ll explore the crater floor and relax a bit, then start the hike back uphill (45 min - 1 hr). During our hike, we will have excellent opportunities to find endemic species such as the woodpecker finch, or if we are very lucky, giant tortoises.
After a delicious lunch we will visit “EL Trapiche” (trapiche is the Spanish word for sugar mill). We will have the opportunity to glimpse into the daily lives of the locals by experiencing how they produce sugar cane. Here you can see how this rustic, mule-driven sugar cane press operates. You will also learn about different cane alcohol distilling techniques as well as some traditional coffee roasting tricks.
We finish the day with the visit to Los Gemelos (the twins), two large craters that were once underground magma chambers. When the magma chambers caved in they left two huge, impressive looking craters.
Night at Galapagos Magic (Standard Tent)
Included: Breakfast, transportation, English speaking guide, excursion, lunch, dinner and accommodation.
DAY 3: Santa Cruz
After breakfast we will go to Puerto Ayora where we will walk to the beautiful Tortuga Bay beach where you can spot marine iguanas, go for a swim, snorkel or just relax on the pristine sand. Turtle Bay is a beautiful white sand beach, so named because it is a nesting site for the black turtle.
After a delicious lunch we will visit The Charles Darwin Research Center, which is the hub of all scientific research in the Galapagos Islands. It is from these headquarters where all the most sensitive conservation projects are being directed. The conservation and preservation of giant tortoises and marine iguanas are some of the examples of the Center’s labor. We can walk along the core of the Research Center where we can find corrals where the giant tortoises are housed for breeding projects, as well as the corrals where land iguanas are being studied. The Research Center has a brand new Interpretation Center with some of the most important samples of the Center collection.
Then, we head to Chocolápagos where we will meet the owner, Juan Daniel Navarro, who will explain the history of cacao in Ecuador and around the world. He was born in Galapagos and has a beautiful family with whom he started this sweet business a few years ago. Juan Daniel will demonstrate the tempering process and how to make a delicious chocolate tortoise. You will have the chance to choose between two types of Ganaches to fill your chocolate, the toughest decision of the day! There will be time for questions and then you’ll get to indulge in your handmade chocolate.
Night at Galapagos Magic (Standard Tent)
Included: Breakfast, transportation, English speaking guide excursion, lunch, entrance fees, dinner and accommodation.
DAY 4 : SANTA CRUZ to SAN CRISTOBAL
Early in the morning we will head to the Puerto Ayora dock to take the public speedboat to San Cristobal. Transfer to hotel. Several supplementary activities can be arranged on San Cristobal Island at extra cost. Check our suggestions below and ask our sales consultants for further information.
Visit to Kicker Rock
Leon Dormido, made of two rocks in the form of an obelisk jutting dramatically out of the sea, is considered one of the top snorkel and dive sites in the Galapagos, and here yo can use the snorkeling equipment to explore a channel between the rocks. Stingrays, white-tipped reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, turtles, tropical fish and eagle rays all live in the waters around Leon Dormido and if you are lucky you may even get to spot dolphins and whales!
Galapagos Bird Life, Land, and Marine Exploration
Hiking to Cerro las Tijeretas or Frigate Hill, which gets its name from the large number of Frigate Birds (Tijeretas) that live and nest here. On our walk along the lava rock trails we will be able to see interesting endemic plants and the spectacular birdlife of the Galapagos. There are great views of the coastline and our first encounter with the underwater marine life at Darwin bay.
Then, continue on to the striking Carola Beach where you can take another dip if you want. Here you will find sea turtles, sea lions, and marine iguanas.
Back at Mann Beach you can kayak (additional cost), providing a perfect end to a perfect active and relaxed day in these enchanted islands.
Highland San Cristobal
Visit Cerro Colorado Reserve. From the entrance of the Reserve we will walk slightly more than a kilometer to Puerto Chino beach. This is a spectacular beach where you can find endemic plant species and colonies of seals and other animals, and where we will have time to snorkel.
You can also visit and take a relaxed walk around El Junco lagoon. This body of water is the largest source of fresh water on the island.
Night at Hotel Casa Blanca (standard room)
Included: Breakfast, transportation and accommodation
DAY 5 : San Cristobal
Day at leisure.Night at Hotel Casa Blanca (standard room)
Included: Breakfast and accommodation
DAY 6: San Cristóbal Island - Mainland
It is time to say goodbye to the enchanted islands, but before taking your flight to the continent you will have the chance to explore the town and buy some souvenirs.
Included: Breakfast and transportation
2023 price per person in US$:
1 person in single = $4274, 2 people in double = $2426
3 people = $2104, 4 people = $2101
single supp. = $871
Included: Accommodation, Meals as described above, Airport VIP services on arrival, Transfers & ground transportation, Boat excursions with snorkeling on a sharing basis, English-speaking naturalist guide, Activities and visits detailed in the itinerary
Not Included: international Flights , Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US $100 per adult/$50 per child under 12), Beverages, Laundry service, Insurance (prior to your journey please ensure your travel insurance is valid in your country of origin), Gratuities, meals not mentioned
Galapagos Magic 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 have gorgeous views, and guests are surrounded by nature as they sleep. Galapagos Magic is a place to relax, walk the beautiful mountainside, turn your gaze to the beautiful heavens and to admire nature. Giant tortoises call Galapagos Magic 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 Galapagos 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.
6 raised, walk-in tents, Hot water, Wireless Internet, Laundry service
Hotel Casa Blanca is located in the main street of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno - San Cristobal Island. The hotel has an incredible ocean view.
Each room offers a cozy atmosphere, as they were decorated by her owner Jacqui Vasquez who got her inspiration by the Islands ambiance. Jacki and her 3 daughters started the business 13 years ago, when the hotel had just 2 rooms, but with their efforts they now have the perfect option for your staying.
Hotel Casa Blanca has 7 comfortable rooms, located in 2 floors, each room has its own style. All the rooms has private bathroom, hot water, air conditioning and fan, TV cable, frigobar, WiFi.
It is located close to the pier, restaurants and souvenir shops
Guests at Galapagos Magic will be helping to fund the planting of 48,000 native Escalecia trees on 12 hectares of land protected on the Magic Reserve and inhabited by the Galapagos’ most iconic animal – the giant tortoise.
In addition to the preservation and restoration of this land, the project will construct two drinking pools for the tortoises and other resident wildlife, create a nursery to grow more native trees and other vegetation, construct an nature center dedicated to the tortoises and other remarkable Galapagos wildlife and build an interpretive trail through the protected grounds.
This new project with Galapagos Magic is providing a haven for wildlife along with an escape from the bustle of port towns for people looking to immerse themselves in the magnificent nature of the Islands. Now guests at the lodge can feel proud of the contribution to this innovative project made by their stay and can even plant a tree during their visit.