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GALAPAGOS ISLAND EXPLORER - TRIP OVERVIEW
Our Galapagos Island Explorer offers a sweeping exploration of the Galapagos archipelago as well as an introduction to mainland Ecuador. Our multisport adventure has you kayaking, snorkeling, hiking and biking throughout a range of Galapagos islands, allowing you to truly experience the Galapagos rather than viewing it from the sidelines--or well-worn railings of a cruise ship deck.
Our trip takes off on mainland Ecuador with some time in historic Quito. Explore the capital's UNESCO World Heritage Site and scenic views before journeying to the evocative, vibrant Galapagos Islands. For the next seven days, venture through the archipelago's lunar-esque landscapes, lush highlands and tranquil bays. With stops at Isabela, Floreana, Santa Cruz, and San Cristóbal--as well as several geological sites set off in the ocean--there's plenty of opportunities to discover the islands' quirky wildife such as the giant tortoises or blue-foooted boobies, witness historic sites such as the Wall of Tears, engage with the local people as you visit farms and stop by innovative research centers such as the Charles Darwin Research Station.
We named this Galapagos Explorer tour well: explore the Galapagos on this active adventure--don't just view it from a camera lens.
Arrive in Quito on mainland Ecuador. Nestled high in the Andean valley, Quito is surrounded by towering volcanic peaks and incredible views. Depending on your arrival time, Galalagos Unbound is happy to arrange plenty of activities for you so that you can explore Quito's UNESCO World Heritage Site, historic museums and bustling downtown. This evening, meet with your guide and fellow guests for an orientation as well as a delicious Ecuadorian dinner.
After breakfast, begin your day with a brief flight San Cristóbal's Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and truly begin your Galapagos adventure. Relax with a fresh lunch before setting off on a downhill bike ride taking you from the heights of La Soledad down to La Loberia, a sunny beach known for its frolicking swarms of sea lions. Watch the sea lions snuggle and play while sea birds wheel in the sky while you take a break from your pedal. Cool off with a dip in the ocean and join the fray. After, pedal back to town for a relaxing dinner at a tasty local restaurant.
Today we explore more of the Galapagos Island's maritime wonders. We cruise along San Cristóbal's coastline looking out for the bobbing Blue-footed booby and the Great frigatebird wandering the rugged coastline. Catch a glimpse of the colorful life below as we snorkel through the lively channel at Kicker Rock (otherwise known as Leon Dormido). Passing sea turtles, Galapagos sharks, rays and a variety of fish make this an incredible snorkeling experience. After our swim, we relax on a sun-baked beach; explore or soak in the sun next to the salt-sneezing marine iguanas.
Enjoy a tasty lunch on board the boat as we head back to town. We visit the informative Interpretation Center, learning more about this unique archipelago, before discovering a great place for dinner.
Wake up to a fresh breakfast before setting off on a boat ride to Floreana. As we journey toward this less-populated island, look out for passing dolphins surfing the wake or the elegant waved albatross searching for the perfect current. We also stop for a quick dip and snorkel excursion before we dock at the renowned Black Beach. Relax with lunch at Puerto Velasco Ibarra and learn more about Floreana's mysterious, haunting history.
This afternoon takes us into the highlands, where we look for secluded caves where pirates and whalers often sought refuge and fresh water. Take in the marks of history and see the island from a unique perspective before returning for dinner.
We continue our island-hopping ways today as we travel eary to Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago formed from 6 merged volcanoes. There, explore the lush wetlands blanketed in mangroves and dotted with bright flamingoes searching for food in the brackish waters. Up next, we stop by the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, an incredible opportunity to view the endangered tortoises in every stage of development. Learn more about these vulnerable creatures and roam with them in their natural habitat.
This afternoon is yours to explore at your leisure. Relax on a white sand beach, explore what the town has to offer or rent a bike to journey to the nearby Wall of Tears-- a historical landmark denoting the island's evocative history as a penal colony. Later, rejoin the group for another delicious dinner.
Today we head inland with excursions to Sierra Negra Volcano and Volcan Chico. Hike up from Sierra Negra's base to the volcano's extensive caldera--the world's second largest caldera on an active volcano--stretching over 5 miles wide. Enjoy the views and catch your breath before continuing around the rim. Our trek takes us through the lunar-esque lava fields to Volcan Chico. At the summit, you're greeted by panoramic views of Isabela and the surrounding islands. This evening, return to town and relax from your full day with a refreshing dip or a cocktail before dinner.
We return to the seas today with a morning sea kayaking excursion. Paddle along a secluded bay and look out for wildlife such as the Galapagos penguin. Our paddle takes us to Las Tintoteras, or Shark Alley, an islet knwon for its wealth of sea lions, sea birds, marine iguanas and, of course, Galapagos and white tipped reef sharks. Take in the diverse, stunning wildlife before heading back on our return battle.
The afternoon is yours to enjoy before rejoining for dinner in the highlands.
We continue our way around the archipelago with a stop at Santa Cruz. Enjoy the boat trip and its views before docking; then, we head into the island's lush interior. The Santa Cruz highlands offers plenty to see with a network of underground lava tunnels and a local, working ranch. At this last stop you have the opportunity to engage with the Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural, protected habitat as they cool off in mud pools and munch on grass. On our way back to town, we can also make a stop to purchase freshly ground Galapagos coffee--the islands' only export!
Relax with some lunch before stopping at the iconic Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, learn about the center's incredible conservation efforts and their mission to protect the Galapagos Islands' unique ecosystem. After our tour, travel to the sunny beach of Tortuga Bay. Accessible only by foot, walk to this secluded beach and enjoy another dip in the refreshing water. Then, return to your hotel and freshen up for your final Galapagos dinner.
After breakfast, explore the relatively bustling town of Puerto Ayora. There's plenty of final Galapagos adventures to be head before we catch our return flight to Quito. After landing, you have some more time to fit in some more mainland activities before meeting for our final, farewell dinner.
Indulge in one last breakfast before heading to the airport to catch your return flight home. Or, if you're up for some more adventure, there's plenty to explore on mainland Ecuador!
Visit the lush Amazon rainforest, explore the grandiose heights of the Highlands or walk through history in the Quito or Cuenco. Whatever your Ecuadorian adventure goals, our adventure consultants can make it happen!
Dates & Rates
Dates: Every Friday, Year-Round.
Price Per Person: $4404 (Internal flights not included - $605 per person)
Single Supplement - $999
Christmas Trip Supplement $375
Trips are guaranteed with 4 guests. Inquire about smaller groups or private departures.
▪ 9 Nights Standard Accommodation: Private Bathroom
▪ All Land and Sea Transport in Galapagos
▪ Naturalist Guide Authorized by the GNP
▪ Mountain Bikes, Sea Kayaks, Wetsuits and Snorkeling Equipment
▪ Meals daily as specified in Itinerary
▪ Water stations to refill your reusable water bottles
▪ Tips for hotel staff, boat crew and drivers
▪ Flights to and from Galapagos
▪ National Park Entrance Fee $100, cash only
▪ Ingala Fee $20, cash only
▪ Single Supplement of $999 usd
▪ Airport Transfers (Available upon request)
▪ Optional Diving (Please inquire in advance)
▪ Drinks other than water (Soda, beer, etc.)
▪ Meals not specified in Itinerary (2 evening meals)
▪ Tips for Tour Leader/Naturalist Guide
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.
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. 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.
For a month to month comparison of weather and wildlife check out our Galapagos Calendar.
From the U.S. and Canada there are daily flights via Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Miami, to both Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador. If you are travelling only to the Galapagos on this trip, we recommend transiting through Guayaquil.
We do not arrange international air travel but we do have a great air travel specialist we refer you to if you’d like.
This tour includes your arrival day to Quito, so you should fly in on day one.
Round-trip airfare from Quito is not included in the price. However, at your request we can book on your behalf for a flat fee.
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 a good idea to alert your bank that you’ll be traveling to Ecuador so they don’t stop the transactions.
We would love to! 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.
To confirm your desired start date, it is recommended that you book as far in advance as possible. For popular travel times such as the Christmas season, departures typically reach capacity a year-and-a-half to two years in advance. The Lodge Adventure does offer flexible start dates, so contact us for more information.
The Galapagos is surely one of the best places in the world to snorkel. The flourishing ocean life is an ecological treasure, and one of the main draws to the archipelago. You will have multiple chances to snorkel, sometimes at multiple locations in a day. We do recommend you try snorkeling ahead of time for your trip to get the most out of your experience, if you have never done so. Wetsuits aren’t strictly necessary, but “shorty” wetsuits (knees to elbows) of about 2mm are recommended to keep out any chill. We have full snorkel gear available to use including wetsuits.
We provide all of the equipment, while you need to simply bring your clothing and personal gear. We also provide wetsuits and snorkeling gear for your convenience, or your may bring your own. We send a complete list with items to bring such as paddling gloves, a water bottle, flash light, etc. We suggest traveling “light” for this adventure.
We would be happy to arrange a day of diving for you. Diving in the Galapagos is best suited to those with lots of experience as you will be diving in cooler water and there are many currents to navigate - That said we can arrange begginner dives for those who are not experts.
Both trips are ten days in length. This itinerary offers time spent on four islands, rather than the three seen on the Unbound Signature tour. This tour does not offer any beach camping, but local lodging throughout. The Galapagos Island Explorer does offer more frequent departures than the Signature tour. Both tours offer plenty of time spent snorkeling, kayaking and wildlife-viewing.