Wildlife Explorer Tour - 6 Days
Experience the best of San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, including their beautiful landscapes, amazing wildlife, and laid-back beach towns, then get a taste of the remote as you visit two of the unpopulated islands of the Galapagos. The tour is led by top naturalist guides who add insight to the activities and surroundings. Enjoy the attractions of four very different islands in only six days!
Get ready for face-to-face encounters with the incredibly friendly endemic wildlife of the Galapagos, as well as scenic hikes, world-class snorkeling, amazing vistas and plenty of time to unwind on the stunning tropical beaches. And at the end of the day you will relax, dine, and rejuvenate in comfort at the great hotels.
DAY 1: Interpretation center, walk and snorkel Tijeretas
We’ll meet you at San Cristobal Island at midday, where we head from the airport to the charming Casa Opuntia Hotel, with
oceanfront views and some of the best seafood in town. We share a short briefing over lunch before heading to the Galapagos
Interpretation Center to get an introduction to the natural and human history of the Galapagos, including the unique evolutionary paths of endemic flora and fauna.
Now that we know a little more about the islands, we make our way to our first destination, with a relaxed walk to Frigate Hill along natural lava rock trails. Along the way, our guides will provide insight on the Galapagos cotton, palo santo, acacia, and
cacti surrounding us, as well as the bluefooted boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, herons, gulls, warblers, mockingbirds, and
finches who make this unique landscape their home. We’ll also take in scenic views of the sea cliffs and the vibrant beach town of
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
On the way back, we stop for a refreshing snorkel at beautiful Carola Beach, where we will swim with sea turtles and sea lions
and take in a gorgeous sunset. After a delicious seafood dinner at Casa Opuntia, we recommend you set out to explore the laid-back town and take a leisurely walk down the boardwalk to view the colony of endemic Galapagos sea lions right next door. Overnight at Casa Opuntia (L, D)
DAY 2: Snorkel the northern coast of San Cristobal
Today we will explore the north coast, we may visit Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), Punta Pitt or Cerro Brujo. The visiting site will depend on the week day and Galapagos National Park regulations. On our exploration trip we will make sure to search the nearby coves and cliffs for sea turtles, sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and nazca boobies. Here we’ll have the chance to get
up close and personal with sea lions in their favorite playground. While snorkeling, we will see eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos
sharks, starfish, clams, and thousands of tropical fish. If we’re lucky, we may even come across hammerhead sharks.
As the sun sets on our day under the waves, we return to Casa Opuntia to for a relaxing evening. The gourmet dinner and soft pillows are even better after a full day on the ocean! Overnight
at Casa Opuntia (B, L, D)
DAY 3: Explore the highlands, visit research station
A refreshing speedboat ride takes us onward to Santa Cruz Island. If we’re lucky, whales or dolphins might join us for the trip. After
checking in, we head to the highlands, this time to El Chato, home to scores of Galapagos giant tortoises. The sensation of walking
amongst these ancient creatures, which can live to over 175 years old, is indescribable. The giant tortoises share their habitat with
pintail ducks, Darwin’s finches, frigate birds, egrets, and the vibrant vermillion flycatcher.
Our next stop is a group of cavernous lava tunnels frequented by the pirates that once roamed the Galapagos and, according
to legend, a perfect hiding spot for their plundered Inca gold. We then carry on to Los Gemelos, a pair of massive volcanic
sinkholes at the high point of the island. We explore the surrounding forest of endemic Scalesia trees covered in ferns
and epiphytes, home to the beautiful but shy short-eared owl. This quiet highland forest exudes a still, spooky feeling.
In the afternoon, we stop for a visit at the Charles Darwin Research Center. Scientists at the Research Center rear endemic plants and animals for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. Here we’ll learn about the ongoing conservation efforts to protect the future of the Galapagos. After a full day, we make our way back to the hotel, where we sit down to a delicious dinner and enjoy secluded views of the bay, coastline, and town. (B, L, D)
DAYS 4 & 5: Wildlife tours to nearby small islands
For the next two days, we’ll embark from Santa Cruz on day trips to two of the nearby small islands: Plazas, Bartolome, or North
Seymour. Boats depart to different islands on a weekly schedule, so our destinations depend on the days of travel. The boat rides
should take between one to two hours each way, and we’ll enjoy activities like hiking, snorkeling, bird watching, and natural
history interpretation. We’ll enjoy delicious breakfasts and dinners at our hotel each day, and field lunches during our day trips.
Small island destinations:
Plazas: The Plaza Islands are a pair of crescent-shaped islands off the east coast of Santa Cruz. The natural, sheltered bay formed between them has very calm waters and is home to a large sea lion population. We’ll spend some time snorkeling with these
rambunctious locals before landing on South Plaza Island and heading out for a scenic hike. South Plaza is famous for its diverse
flora and fauna, including land iguanas, red-billed tropicbirds, and prickly pear cacti.
Bartolome: Bartolome Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island, to the north of Santa Cruz. Bartolome offers some of the most beautiful lava formations in the Islands. Before hiking to the top of Bartolome’s volcanic cone, we’ll do some snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock, where we’ll see sharks, sea turtles, penguins, and thousands of tropical fish. From the top of the cone, we’ll enjoy magnificent views of Santiago Island, the turquoise water, and the surrounding splatter cones.
North Seymour: North Seymour Island is a small island located to the north of Baltra Island. It is one of the view Galapagos Islands
not of volcanic origin, instead created by seismic uplift. The main attraction here is the incredible bird life. North Seymour is home
to large colonies of blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Here we will observe these birds hunt, interact, and best
of all, engage in flamboyant mating rituals. During a short hike inland, we will also observe palo santo, land iguanas, and many
other bird species.
DAY 6: Transfer to baltra for flight to mainland
Finally, it’s time bid a fond farewell as we transfer to Baltra Island for our return flight to the mainland. Your guest coordinator will
facilitate your airport transfer. (B)
• Witness breathtaking highland vistas, like the rim of the second-largest caldera in the world
• Explore the living history of evolution faceto- face with endemic wildlife
• Incredible snorkeling sites, including the best sea lion encounters in the world
• Hike through beautiful environments, including an endemic Scalesia forest
• Relax in style on gorgeous tropical beaches, accompanied by sunbathing marine iguanas
• Enjoy outstanding comfort, service, and gourmet cuisine at the boutique Opuntia Hotels
• Our top-rated guides to go in-depth to make every activity interesting, fun, and safe
• Protect the environment – we practice sustainable methods in all aspects of our tours
• Support the local economy and get in touch with the local vibe with our landbased tours
• Flow between islands and activities with minimal transit time and maximum contact
This itinerary is subject to change without notice due to seasonal changes, inclement weather conditions, and adjustments of Galapagos National Park policy.
2017 Price per person in US$: (double occupancy)
Accommodations in the choice of Hotels, all meals as listed (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), bilingual Galapagos naturalist guide, all sea, land, and inter-island air transportation
Comfort Class Hotels: Casa Opuntia – San Cristobal / Casita de la Playa or Volcano – Isabela / Fernandina – Santa Cruz
Premium Class Hotels: Golden Bay – San Cristobal / Iguana Crossing – Isabela / Angermeyer Waterfront Inn – Santa Cruz
Flights to and from Galapagos, entrance fee to Galapagos National Park ($100 USD p.p. subject to change), Galapagos transit card ($10 USD p.p. subject to change), tips, hotel & restaurant beverages.
Boat travel time: Two hours
Small aircraft flight time: 40 minutes
Altitude: 0 – 3,688 feet (1,124 meters) above sea level
Weather: During the warm season from January to May, air temperature is around 77 to 83 F (25 to 28 C) at sea level. During the cool season from June to December, air temperature is around 70 to 75 F (21 to 24 C) at sea level. Temperature decreases with altitude.
Water temperature: During the warm season from January to May, water temperature hovers around 77 F (25 C). During the cool season from June to December, average water temperature is about 72 F (22 C). Water temperature also varies significantly by location.
Suggested items to pack: Walking shoes, rain jacket, water bottle, non-cotton trekking clothes, sunblock, sun hat, and repellent.