Our signature Galápagos Unbound tour is the ultimate Galápagos Islands adventure, and we’ve just made it better than ever.
Why This Tour:
- Galápagos Unbound is rated 5/5 on TripAdvisor from 136 unsolicited, independent travelers.
- We have exclusive access for a once-in-a-lifetime Galápagos beach camping opportunity!
- Kayak with graceful sea turtles and other uniquely quirkly marine life in private coastlines and coves where few visitors travel.
- Walk along pahoehoe and a’a lava flows as you hike Sierra Negra Volcano and Volcan Chico and witness how the Galápagos Islands were created by raw, uninhibited force and beauty.
- Intimately connect with local Galapageñans--and enjoy an exclusive, gourmet meal prepared in a fisherman's home for our guests!
- Our guides are personally trained in the "Adventure Unbound Difference," where other companies use National Park guides untrained in delivering the full Galápagos experience you deserve.
Check out our itinerary below and you can immediately see the Galápagos Unbound difference. We pioneered Galápagos land tours and have consistently advocated for environmentally low-impact travel through these utterly enchanting "enchanted isles."
With 20 islands, boundless wildlife and a long list of “must-see sites,” the Galápagos Islands have so much to offer the adventurous spirit. While many Galápagos tours yacht-based, island-hopping tours that whisk you from port to port, we understand that you don’t want to just see the Galápagos Islands from a deck, but experience them—don’t want to just want to hit the highlights, but dig deeper into the soul of the Galápagos. So we don’t “island hop” on our signature Galápagos Unbound tour: we set up camp.
With Galápagos Unbound, it’s possible to be fully immersed in the Galápagos Islands’ otherworldly landscapes and actively engage with the local people. Wake up on terra firma to find yourself surrounded by quirky wildlife with our exclusive license to camp within the Galápagos National Park. Spend your days paddling with sea turtles and snorkeling with sea lions in secluded bays only small boats can reach. Step through newly spilled pahoehoe and a’a lava flows and swim beneath volcanic arches eroded by waves over thousands of years. Share a meal with a local fisherman whose tales of the ocean will make you crave the feel of sea spray on your face. There’s little wonder that the Galápagos is the nature—and outdoor adventure—experience of a lifetime.
But don’t stop with the Galápagos. Quito serves as so much more than a gateway on our Galápagos Unbound tour. It’s an evocative destination all in its own right. Misty mountains, luxurious Spanish colonial architecture, Incan ruins and a thriving Old Town: Quito is the ideal Ecuadorian adventure to round out your Galápagos trip.
It’s Galápagos unbounded—without the cruise control.
Galápagos Unbound was featured in the New York Times on January 8, 2006 with Tim Neville's article in the travel section. While our original itinerary has been somewhat modified, the essence remains unchanged as our certified, local guides work with the Galápagos Park Service to provide an unsurpassed Galápagos multisport adventure.
- Looking to go on a Family Adventure to the Galápagos? Go here: Galapagos Family Travel
- Wanting a Galápagos + Mainland Ecuador Combo Tour? Go here: Galapagos Multisport
- How about a Machu Picchu stop too before or after your Galápagos adventure?: Machu Picchu Tours
- Here's also a great sea kayaking alternative to this Galápagos trip: Baja Sea Kayaking
We have updated our itinerary for 2018. If you are looking for the 2017 itinerary and available dates you can find them HERE.
Arrive in Quito
Fly into Quito and begin your Galápagos Unbound adventure. Upon arrival, meet with the hotel’s representative and take their private shuttle to your hotel for the evening.
Quito City Tour
After breakfast, venture out to explore Quito. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quito offers historic sites such as colonial temples and the monasteries of Santo Domingo and San Francisco. Visit the St. Augustine Convent, the Independence Plaza neighbored by the Jesuit Church of La Compañía, the Municipal Building, the Presidential Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace. Next, we continue our exploration with a visit to the Church of San Francisco, an incredible remnant of the New World known for its elaborate interior.
We take a break with some lunch, after which we stop by the Galápagos Unbound headquarters in Ecuador. Tempt your tastebuds with some of Ecuador’s rich chocolate before gathering for a trip briefing and kayaking orientation. Return to your hotel by mid-afternoon and relax before dinner.
Arrive San Cristóbal, Kayak Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to Manglecito Beach
Depart mainland Ecuador for the Galápagos Islands with a flight from Quito to San Cristóbal. Our Galápagos National Park’s Naturalist Guide greets us upon arrival. Take in San Cristóbal’s eroded volcanic peaks and verdant vegetation as you travel to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the provincial capital. Once there, relax with lunch at a local restaurant before getting fitted for your personal snorkel gear which will allow you to experience the Galápagos' marine world in comfort.
This afternoon, settle in for your first kayaking expedition of the trip with a 6-mile paddle from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to Manglecito Beach. The paddle takes you past Lobos Island, where you can spot marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans perched on the rocky coast. You may even be able to spot passing sea turtles bopping their heads out of water to take a breath or even mating.
You arrive to a beach camp welcome from your camp guides, settle in to your tent then either choose to relax and enjoy the view or, if you are up for some more paddling, take one of our SUP boards back out in the calm bay and indulge in more wildlife spotting.
This evening, enjoy camping on a secluded beach and relish the freshly prepared food, tranquil views and the occasional visit by the local wildlife before bed.
Kayak Manglecito Beach to Puerto Grand, Snorkel at Kicker Rock
After waking up to the sounds of waves and wildlife, set off on a morning kayak expedition along the coast to Puerto Grande Beach. Upon arrival, settle in and stretch your legs before hopping in a boat for a ride to Kicker Rock, or León Dormido. Look out for dolphins as we travel, and once there set out for an unparalleled snorkeling experience. Sea turtles, Galápagos and white-tipped reef sharks and eagle rays may be enjoying the narrow channel’s calm waters, and you can expect to see light flicking off hundreds of fish and sea stars clinging to the rocks.
Return to Manglecito Beach by late afternoon and relax with a beverage and a colorful sunset unobscured against the skyline.
Note: The order of the activities can vary depending on National Park schedules.
Kayak and SUP Board Isabela Island
Enjoy an early breakfast as the world wakes up before traveling back to town by boat. There, catch a flight to Isabela Island—the archipelago’s largest island formed from 6 merged shield volcanoes. Amongst the calderas and lush wetlands, more wild tortoises can be found here than on all the other islands combined, and rare endemic wildlife can be spotted. Despite its soaring volcanic views and impressive wildlife initiatives, few Galápagos cruises make it to Isabela—making this a unique adventure.
Our morning travels take us to Puerto Villamil, where we check in at our evening’s accommodations and enjoy some local cuisine at lunch. Up next, we hop in our kayaks and paddle around Isabela's beautiful bay and beachfront. Wildlife is abundant, especially birdlife, and this is probably our best chance to see the tiny Galápagos penguin as they love to hang out and nest on the rocks here. Bring your snorkel gear along as you will have plenty opportunity to jump in and explore beneath the water. The pure white sand on the sea floor makes this a snorkel paradise. We can also arrange for you to explore the bay on a stand up paddle board.
Hike Sierra Negra
Enjoy a fresh breakfast before heading out into Isabela’s highlands for a new view of the Galápagos Islands’ diverse terrain. Our travels take us to the base of Sierra Negra—an active volcano whose last eruption in 2005 left it coated with a remarkable new layer of lava. Hike 6-10 miles to the caldera, the second largest in the world, and enjoy incredible views while looking out for flycatchers, finches and the elusive Galápagos hawk.
Once we reach the caldera’s rim, relax and take in the sweeping views of Isabela laying before you. Then, our hike continues to Volcan Chico, where a lunar landscape of fumaroles and rippling snakes of black lava await you. From the highest points, you can see Isabela’s other volcanoes and the surrounding islands.
After our hike through Isabela’s heights, return to back to town. Enjoy a stroll along the beach, cool down with a swim or explore more of Puerto Villamil before rejoining for dinner. Delicious BBQ is served outside on the beachfront, giving you an excellent opportunity to relax under a Galápagos sunset warmed by a bonfire.
Snorkel Los Tuneles, Visit Tortoise Breeding Center, Explore Wetlands
Take a morning boat ride to Los Tuneles, an impressive and unique lava formation comprised of caves and arches dipping in and out of the water. Explore the shoreline and slip on a snorkel mask to explore Los Tuneles’ underwater labyrinth and the Galápagos wildlife that enjoy playing here. From here, we then move to neighboring El Finado, a becalmed inlet once used by local fisherman for respite from their ocean journeys.
At El Finado, we anchor our boat and once again hop into the water to snorkel amongst the reefs, submerged caves and marine life wonderland. A favorite haunt of white-tipped reef shark, vibrant tropical fish and stingrays, El Finado offers plenty to see. Further into the lush mangroves, you can discover wrasses, parrotfish and hogfishes navigating alongside you in this unique habitat.
After this morning’s snorkel excursions we visit the Tortoise Breeding Center, an initiative by the Galápagos National Park to conserve the many and varied species of these gentle giants. See tortoises at every stage of development and learn about the initiative's work to preserve the species before they are returned to their native habitats.
We return to the hotel via the wetlands, where flamingos add a splash of color to the brackish waters of the tidal lagoons that are home to them as well as four species of mangrove and numerous migratory birds.
This evening, stroll along the white sandy beach and enjoy a leisurely night independently exploring the town.
Explore & Kayak Santa Cruz Highlands
This morning, we continue our journey along the Galápagos archipelago with a boat ride to Santa Cruz Island. Sitting in the middle of the Galápagos Islands, Santa Cruz also serves as the islands’ social and scientific hub as the Darwin Research Station, the National Park Headquarters and Puerto Ayora—the Galápagos Islands’ largest settlement—all can be found here. Santa Cruz also boasts of a trans-island road, providing rare views of the Galápagos Islands’ lush interior and lofty heights.
Our day’s activities take us on Santa Cruz’s highway into the highlands. Here, we stop to visit wild Galápagos giant tortoises. These centenarian, massive creatures can weigh between 200-500 pounds. Walk alongside them as they lumber through mud puddles or munch on a snack and discover why they are one of the Galápagos’ most beloved creatures. After, stop by the Santa Cruz lava tunnels—hollow twists that snake through the earth’s crust once formed by hot lava coursing toward the ocean. Step into these tubes and get a unique view at the island’s geologic history.
This afternoon, enjoy a leisurely paddle in a calm shallow lagoon where we spend a couple of hours enjoying the tranquility and watching for rays, mullet and sharks along the rocky coastline.
Note: The order of the activities can vary depending on the tides and National Park schedules.
Snorkel Bahía Ballena, Learn Trade and Ceviche Recipe from Local Fisherman, Dine with Local Family
After breakfast, we once again hit the water with a short boat ride to Bahía Ballena—an inlet where marine iguanas and Galápagos sea lions bask on sandy beaches and strewn lava rocks. Walk amongst these friendly creatures before slipping on a snorkel mask to explore the marine life that teems beneath the surface. The sandy sea floor, dotted with lava rocks and reefs, houses various species of stingrays, green sea turtles and many kinds of tropical fish. You may even be lucky enough to spot a leatherback sea turtle as they migrate.
When you’re not exploring Bahía Ballena’s underwater worlds, explore the bay’s terrestrial wonders. Darwin’s finch are known to nest here, and you can spot the yellow warbler twittering amongst the prickly pear opuntia and candelabra cacti. Frigatebirds abscond with the fresh fish caught by blue-footed boobies, whose bright blue feet provide a stunning contrast to the lava fields.
This afternoon takes you further into Ecuador’s rich culture with a visit with our boat’s captain, Fabian. As a former fisherman he will show us a glimpse of the fisherman's life on Galápagos and with some luck and skill we catch some fish. Next, watch and help prepare one of the favorite dishes of the islands: ceviche. Enjoy tasting your creation and take the skills Fabian shared with you home to create this for your family and friends.
This evening Fabian shares a special dinner with us at his mother’s house, where you can gain insight into native lifestyle of the islanders, taste the authentic flavor of daily work and enjoy some of his fishing stories. This unique, personal experience is the perfect conclusion to our Galápagos adventure.
Return to Mainland Ecuador
Say goodbye to the Galápagos Islands as you travel to Baltra, where you might catch glimpse of the air base used by the US Navy in WWII. Fly back to Quito, where you may catch your international flight home or continue your Ecuadorian adventure with one of our extension tours.
Dates & Rates
|Dates||Adult (USD)||Child (USD)|
|Jan 12, 2018 to Jan 21, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Feb 09, 2018 to Feb 18, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Mar 23, 2018 to Apr 01, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Apr 06, 2018 to Apr 15, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|May 18, 2018 to May 27, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Jun 15, 2018 to Jun 26, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Jul 13, 2018 to Jul 22, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Aug 17, 2018 to Aug 26, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Sep 14, 2018 to Sep 23, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Oct 12, 2018 to Oct 21, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Nov 16, 2018 to Nov 25, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
|Dec 21, 2018 to Dec 30, 2018||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||$7,995£5,927€6,709$9,859$10,044||BOOK NOW|
Dates in bold are confirmed departures.
We have updated our itinerary for 2018. If you are looking for the 2017 itinerary and available dates you can find them HERE.
Prices are based on double occupancy. If desired, we will strive to pair you up with another single guest to elimate the single supplement fee however, please note that this is not always possible.
- Full service of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional Galapagos Naturalist Guide
- Private services throughout the tour
- Double accommodation in hotels and for camping
- All necessary kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
- All transportation as noted on the itinerary
- All meals and drinks as noted on the itinerary
- All entrance and park fees necessary for the itinerary
- All domestic flights
- Gratuities for guides
- Galapagos Unbound t-shirt
- 20 liter Eddie Bauer travel pack (1 per reservation)
- Personal travel document organizer
- International flights to Ecuador
- Items of a personal nature
- Alcoholic beverages
- Insurance of any type
- Cost of hospitalization or evacuation if necessary
Images & Videos
FAQ & More
The Galapagos Islands (or Archipelago de Colon) are a Province of Ecuador located about 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of the Ecuadorian coast and are located directly on the equator.
Visit this page for a month-to-month detail on weather. Because the Galapagos Islands are on the equator, it’s warm most of the year. The warmest season is usually January to April and average temperatures range from a low of 70F/22C to around of 84F/31C. This is also the “wet season” and there may be afternoon thundershowers. During a severe El Nino year, it’s more likely to rain at any time of day. April to December is considered the “dry season” and is cooler, with average temperatures ranging from around 68F/19C to 82F/27C. At this time of year it is not uncommon to have the "garua" (misty rain) early in the morning and in the highlands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Our experience is that the time of year doesn’t make a lot of difference in terms of the amount of rain as there isn’t enough to impact your trip too much.
Whenever your schedule allows! Because it’s on the equator, air temperatures don’t change a lot. However water temperature does fluctuate as much as ten degrees during the year. The cooler Humboldt Current comes up from Antarctica from May to September/October and the sea is cooler and tends to be rougher at this time of year. Cooler water temperatures mean you generally see more sea life because there is more food for the animals that depend on the planktons and other sea nourishment. From November to April, the cooler Panama Current flows from the north and brings warmer water. The sea tends to be calmer at this time of year. If you’re going on our land-based tour then rough water is less of a concern. If you’re doing a cruise, and you are prone to seasickness, you might want to consider coming in the November to April time frame. Check out further recommendations on when to go here.
For a month to month comparison of temperatures and wildlife activity check out the Galapagos Calendar.
From the U.S. and Canada there are daily flights via Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Miami, to Quito, Ecuador.
We do not arrange international air travel but we do have a great air travel specialist we refer you to if you’d like.
Yes, all Domestic flights between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are included in your trip cost. We will make the arrangements in conjunction with our partners in Ecuador. Flights to the Galapagos Islands depart several times daily from both Quito and Guayaquil aboard Boeing 737’s or Airbus 320’s or similar.
Ecuador uses the US dollar which was adopted as the official currency in 2000. Be sure to bring cash bills in good condition because bills with markings or tears won’t be accepted. There are also ATM machines in the larger towns. It’s also a good idea to alert your bank that you’ll be traveling to Ecuador so they don’t stop the transactions.
We have been running trips in Ecuador since 1992 and know the country well. We have plenty of ideas for extending your trip whether it be to the Amazon, the Cloud Forest, the highlands in the north or south, or whatever might be your special interest. We can also arrange extensions to Peru and Machu Picchu.
There are a lot of arrangements to be made for a custom trip like our Galapagos Unbound active adventure. It’s very helpful with our planning if you book four to 12 months in advance. However, if you can’t plan that far ahead, then it’s usually not a problem to book up to about two months in advance. If you find yourself looking for last-minute space just call us and check!
There is an opportunity for snorkeling almost every day on this trip and the underwater life is a true highlight of visiting the Galapagos. Our trip offers more opportunities than most, and on some days we stop at two or three locations to snorkel.
If you’ve never been snorkeling we highly recommend you practice before the trip. It’s best to buy your own mask and snorkel (around $20-$45) so that you have a good fit and for better hygiene. Fins are less necessary but are nice to have in terms of going a little faster.
Yes it is however if you have a favorite mask or fins, you might enjoy bringing your own.
No, a wetsuit is not necessary, but most people appreciate the extra warmth.
We recommend if you'd like to enjoy some scuba diving, that you stay on the islands for an extra day or two. This can easily be arranged at an additional cost. Please note that most diving locations in the Galapagos are very technical and often require certification in addition to significant experience.