The magic of Isabela Island
8 Days / 7 Nights
A hotel depends of the category that you choose.
Hotels are subject to change according to availability
Please take the time to read the entirety of the following itinerary as many important details and recommendations about the program are explained within it. If you should have any questions or concerns after reading this itinerary, please do not hesitate to contact one of our travel specialists and we will gladly help provide you with whatever information and recommendations you may require to make planning your travels as easy and as precise as possible.
You can arrive to the Galapagos only by flight, and only from either Quito or Guayaquil (air ticket not included). Our guide will be waiting for you at the airport on San Cristobal Island where the tour will begin. From the airport you will be taken to the hotel to check in to your rooms and leave your bags. After checking in, we will eat lunch in a local restaurant that serves “menu of the day” style lunches (not a la carte). After lunch we will visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Center where our guide will explain how the Galapagos Islands were formed, the evolution of species, the migration of the animals, and the human settlements within the Galapagos.
After visiting the Interpretation Center, we will make our way to “Cerro Tijeretas”, or “Frigate Hill”. Here we can encounter marine animals and also do some snorkeling to see colorful fish species, starfish, sea urchins, or to simply enjoy the cristal clear waters. The afternoon continues with a visit to Playa Carola, where you will have time to enjoy the beautiful beach before returning to the hotel to rest and eat dinner (at a local restaurant). Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
Breakfast. The day begins with a short bus or truck ride (depending on the size of the tour group) to visit the Highlands of San Cristobal. Along the way we will make a stop at the Mirador de la Soledad, where we will be given a magnificent view of the island. Afterwards we will make our way to the Laguna del Junco, the only freshwater lagoon on San Cristobal, and also where frigate birds come to wash their wings. We will then make a short stop at Playa de Puerto Chino before eating lunch at a local farm in the Highlands.
On the way back we will visit “El Progreso” in the highlands, where we will be able to see how the people of the island cultivate their food and wonderful coffee. Return to the hotel to rest and eat lunch at a local restaurant indicated by the guide. Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
At 6:00 a.m. we will prepare ourselves to go to the dock (wake-up at 5:00 AM). We will take the Public speedboat, which leaves at 7:00 a.m. (subject to change), to Puerto Ayora (2 hour estimated travel time).
Upon arrival the guide will take us to eat breakfast, after which we will take a short rest before making our way to the Highlands of Santa Cruz. Here we will have the unforgettable opportunity to observe the famous Giant Tortoises in their natural environment, which also known as Galapagos, and it is from these wonderful creatures which the Islands derive their name. We will also be able to see the famous Galapagos Finches, Bird Wizards, as well as endemic vegetation such as Escelacias forests and Matazarnos. After our incredible encounter with the Giant Tortoises, we will return to Puerto Ayora for lunch.
In the afternoon the guide will indicate the meeting time to make our 45 minute trip to the beautiful white sand beach called Tortuga Bay. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos, and here we can enjoy the white sand, cool surf, pelicans, fish, sea iguanas and other species of wildlife. Return to the hotel to rest before heading to dinner at a local restaurant indicated by the guide. Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
Breakfast. The afternoon before the guide will have indicated the hour to meet to begin the visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where we will be able to observe Lonesome George, the last living Giant Tortoise of his species. We will also be able to see a variety of species of Giant Tortoises in captivity, ranging in age and in which island they are from. We will also listen about the ongoing conservation efforts directed at preserving the Giant Tortoises, as well as the environment of the archipelago as a whole. After this we will make a short visit to the Art Galleries of Puerto Ayora and then eat lunch.
After eating we will begin the journey from Puerto Ayora to Isabela Island at 2:00pm (subject to change) via Public speedboat (approximately 2.5 to 3 hours travel time). Another guide will be waiting for us in Puerto Villamil who will take us from the dock to check in at the hotel. After a brief rest we will take a short walk to visit the Flamingo Lagoon, one of the natural breeding sites of the flamingos that with luck we will see in abundance up close. Return to the hotel to rest and eat dinner at a local restaurant indicated by the guide. Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
Early in the morning (8:00 am), after breakfast, we will prepare ourselves for the Sierra Negra Volcano hike by putting on comfortable walking shoes and possibly a rain jacket, making sure our cameras are stored in waterproof bags, making sure to bring sunscreen, water, and hats, and finally by preparing our box lunch at the hotel to take with us. We will then travel approximately 45 minutes by truck or bus to begin the 12 km hike (appx. 3 hours). The hike is long in terms of distance, but not very difficult as the inclines and declines are quite gradual. There is an option to ride horses for an additional cost, and if interested please let us know beforehand. Sierra Negra Volcano has the second largest crater in the world, measuring approximately 6 miles in diameter and 300 feet deep. We will reach Volcan Chico before heading back, which should provide a spectacular view of the incredible moonlike terrain.
Once we get back to the hotel we will take a short break to rest. The rest of the afternoon will be spent snorkeling in Concha Perla, where we can swim with sea lions, colorful varieties of fish, and with luck sea turtles. Return to the hotel to rest before heading to dinner at a local restaurant indicated by the guide. Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
After breakfast and depending on the tide, we will make our way to the dock and prepare for the kayaking excursion. After listening to the instructions and safety precautions, and once equipped with lifejackets and oars, we will begin rowing towards Tintoreras Islet where we will be able to observe a variety of fauna from our kayaks, including Penguins, Blue-footed Boobies, and Marine Iguanas. We will make our way up to El Faro before heading back to shore (appx. 2 hours). Return to the hotel for lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center of Isabela, where we will be able to see a variety of species of giant tortoises in captivity. We will also hear how this center has successfully been able to breed and raise the giant tortoises in order to preserve many of their endangered subspecies. Afterwards, we will visit the Wall of Tears (Muro de las Lagrimas). Between 1946 and 1959 Isabela Island was used as a penal colony by the Ecuadorian government, and the prisoners were obligated to construct this wall out of the sharp and hard volcanic rocks. The wall is 100 meters long and 7 meters high, and the name is derived from the arduous and painful nature of the conditions in which the prisoners were forced to work and through which many prisoners lost their lives. On the way back we will make a visit to a Lava Tunnel near the Wall, as well as visits to Mirador Orchilla, Estero de Isabela, and Playa del Amor. Return to the hotel to rest before heading to dinner at a local restaurant indicated by the guide. Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
After breakfast we will prepare ourselves for the visit to Tintoreras Islet, for which we will make our way to the dock of Puerto Villamil in order to embark on small speedboats that have a capacity of 12 passengers each. After a short ride (appx. 20 min.) we will arrive at Tintoreras Islet. The name of the islet derives from the sharks that live in the waters surrounding the islet that have whit-tipped fins, which are known as “Tintoreras”. The islet is one of the most fascinating places on Isabela Island and in fact all of the Galapagos. In this one area we can see sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, sea turtles, pelicans, and Galapagos Penguins. As the island is one of the main breeding sites for the marine iguanas, it is an excellent place to see numerous amounts of these creatures close-up. After the hike through the islet, we will get back on the boat and cool off by snorkeling in the waters nearby, where we can see multicolor fish, starfish, sea-urchins, and with luck manta rays, sharks, and sea lions that may swim with us close up. After this fascinating experience we will return to the hotel for lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit the Highlands of Isabela, specifically Campo Duro where we can see approximately 42 Giant Galapagos Tortoises in a semi-natural protected environment. On the way back we will visit the Mirador del Mango, La Cueva de Sucre, and then return to the hotel to rest before eating dinner at a local restaurant indicated by the guide. Accommodation in the hotel selection of your choice.
On the final day we recommend waking up at 5:00 am to have enough time to prepare ourselves for the transfer from Isabela to Puerto Ayora. We will take the Public speedboat, which leaves from the dock at 6:00 am (subject to change), and we will arrive in Puerto Ayora after approximately 2.5 hours depending on the sea. We will eat breakfast there, and then depart for Baltra where you will catch your return flight to either Quito or Guayaquil
Depending on the time of the flights, we may be able to visit two sunken “holes”, similar to craters, known as “Los Gemelos”. (For this reason we recommend booking your return flight for the afternoon). These craters were formed by the collapse of the earth beneath which lava had passed and created giant tunnels, which facilitated the collapse and creation of the craters.
*Itinerary is subject to change without prior warning depending on seasonal changes, weather conditions, and adjustments in policies set by the Galapagos National Park, and other unforeseen circumstances that may arise.
Hotel Selection: The hotel selection depends on the category of hotels that you choose. When you choose the class of hotels that you would prefer, we will indicate to you which hotels are available for the dates of your trip. Hotels are categorized in the following classes: Economic Class, Tourist Class, Tourist Superior Class, and First Class. All hotels that we work with are carefully chosen by us after close inspection. Nature Galapagos & Ecuador is the proud owner of the Hotel San Vicente Galapagos (Tourist Class), and La Laguna Galapagos (Tourist Superior Class), both of which are located on Isabela and for both the quality of service can be assured.
Airfare Not Included: The price of the tour does not include air tickets. We can help with booking your ticket, or you may book your own flights on your own. PLEASE TAKE INTO ACCOUNT which island you will arrive and leave from, and if you choose to book your own flight please try to book your arrival in the morning (before 12am) and your departure in the afternoon (11am or after) so that you will not miss any part of the tour. You can book your flight through either TAME, AEROGAL, LAN, or TAME (recommended).
Restaurants: We utilize local restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which also depend on the category of hotel that is chosen, as not all hotels have restaurant services. Meals are served in the fashion of the local customs as “meal of the day” options; however, if you choose first class hotels you will have a dollar amount to spend on each meal. By patronizing local restaurants, we also contribute to the local economy, which helps maintain “sustainable tourism”.
Guides: We use local guides that often specialize in specific islands and sometimes in specific activities. A guide will accompany you throughout all excursions and visits, give explanations and education on their knowledge of the islands, flora, and fauna, and coordinate the activities each day. In reference to lunch and diner, the guide will also indicate which restaurants will be selected for the meals, which generally will be the same throughout the tour. Distances are short in the Galapagos, and as the inhabited settlements have few residents they are very safe to walk around any time of day with normal precaution. The guide doesn’t go with you to the restaurants, the Guide activities ends before the excursions.
Lunch and Dinner: Consist of the meal of the day (not a la carte). If you would prefer a la carte style meals they can be made available for an extra charge. Please let us know before booking your tour
Public Speedboats: We recommend that before beginning the ride between islands that you take a seasickness pill if you are sensitive to sea-sickness. It is also recommended that you carry on small plastic bags in case of seasickness. The speedboats are not completely covered so please make sure that valuables and electronics, or anything that you do not wish to get wet, is stored in a plastic bag. There are no services onboard the speedboat as space is limited and the journey is relatively short.
Schedule of Excursions: The schedule of the excursions will be coordinated and determined locally through the guide and those responsible for the operations. The guide will indicate what time each activity will start. The transfers between islands on the public speedboats are the only activities that have fixed departure times.
The Rate Includes:
- Accommodation in selected hotels and rooms
- All meals (breakfast – lunch – dinner)
- All land and sea transportation within the Galapagos during the program
- Bilingual naturalist guides for each island and all activities
- Excursions and visits during the program
- Snorkeling Equipment (mask, fins, tube)
- Transfer Puerto Ayora – Isabela – Puerto Ayora by public speedboat
- Transfer Baltra – Puerto Ayora – Baltra (by truck or by bus depending on group size)
The Rate Does Not Include:
- Air Ticket
- Galapagos National Park Entry Fee - USD $100.00
- Isabela Dock Fee - USD $5.00
- Migratory Control Card - USD $10.00
- Soft-drinks and alcoholic beverages