Our signature Galapagos Unbound tour is the ultimate Galapagos Islands adventure, and we’ve just made it better than ever.
Why This Tour:
- Galpagos Unbound is rated 5/5 on TripAdvisor from 159 unsolicited, independent travelers.
- We have exclusive access for a once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos experience you deserve.
Check out our itinerary below and you can immediately see the Galapagos Unbound difference. We pioneered Galapagos 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 Galapagos Islands have so much to offer the adventurous spirit. While many Galapagos tours yacht-based, island-hopping tours that whisk you from port to port, we understand that you don’t want to just see the Galapagos 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 Galapagos. So we don’t “island hop” on our signature Galapagos Unbound tour: we set up camp.
With Galapagos Unbound, it’s possible to be fully immersed in the Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos is the nature—and outdoor adventure—experience of a lifetime.
But don’t stop with the Galapagos. Quito serves as so much more than a gateway on our Galapagos 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 Galapagos trip.
It’s Galapagos unbounded—without the cruise control.
Galapagos 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 Galapagos Park Service to provide an unsurpassed Galapagos multisport adventure.
- Looking to go on a Family Adventure to the Galapagos? Go here: Galapagos Family Travel
- Wanting a Galapagos + Mainland Ecuador Combo Tour? Go here: Galapagos Multisport
- How about a Machu Picchu stop too before or after your Galapagos adventure?: Machu Picchu Tours
- Here's also a great sea kayaking alternative to this Galapagos trip: Galapagos Kayaking Expedition
Images & Videos
Arrive in Quito
Fly into Quito and begin your Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos Islands with a flight from Quito to San Cristóbal. Our Galapagos 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 Galapagos' 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 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, Galapagos 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.
*Note: Boat ride to Kicker Rock on Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people
Kayak Isabela Island
Early wake up before traveling back to town by boat, no time for breakfast but we will have coffee and snacks on the 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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.
Note - the checked baggage allowance for these small planes is 25lbs per person - you may have a carry on like a backpack. If you are over the limit the airline will charge $2 per lb over.
Hike Sierra Negra
Enjoy a fresh breakfast before heading out into Isabela’s highlands for a new view of the Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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.
*Note Boat ride to Los Tuneles in Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people
Explore & Kayak Santa Cruz Highlands
This morning, we continue our journey along the Galapagos archipelago with a boat ride to Santa Cruz Island. Sitting in the middle of the Galapagos 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 Galapagos Islands’ largest settlement—all can be found here. Santa Cruz also boasts of a trans-island road, providing rare views of the Galapagos 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 Galapagos 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 Galapagos’ 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: Boat ride from Isabela to Santa Cruz on Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people.
The kayak activity could vary depending on tides
Visit the “Trapiche” or Sugar Mill – Visit Garrapatero and Kayak
Activities: Visit the Sugar Mill, relax and kayak on the beach.
Wildlife: Darwin’s finches, Vermilion flycatcher, Saclesia and Miconia forest, frigate birds, manta rays, sea turtles.
After breakfast, we will take a scenic drive towards El Garrapatero. We will pass through Bellavista town, and have the chance to visit a farm that still processes sugar the old fashioned way. The local property owners produce sugar cane and Galapagos coffee, which they then process both in a very traditional manner. One of the family members, who will act as our guide and informant will demonstrate the farming process of coffee and sugar cane and feature the extraction of the sugar cane juice. We will learn of the distillation process until the final product of “Galapagos Moonshine”, and even more exciting, a look and taste of the fruit of the coffee plant in its natural state. Afterwards, we will continue to the beach of El Garrapatero where we will have the chance to relax on the beach, swim on the ocean or kayak to explore the nearby mangroves. In the evening, at to top of our day, we will have a very special farewell dinner. We are invited by a local angler and his family for a delicious dinner with traditional ingredients and the most enjoyable conversation where we can exchange stories and most importantly, have the opportunity to fully immerse in a new culture.
Return to Mainland Ecuador
Say goodbye to the Galapagos 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
December Supplement - $350
Single Supplement - $775
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.
Please note that an additional amount of $1020 should be allowed for internal flights and Park Tariffs.
Tiered Pricing Explained
Our trips are budgeted for full or near full sign-ups which enables us to offer trips at the lowest possible price. Because of numerous fixed costs, it is more expensive to operate a trip for a small group. Therefore, on some of our trips, in order to avoid having to cancel a trip, we have a “tier-pricing” system to avoid canceling a trip with a low number of sign ups. We have found that most people also prefer this alternative to having a trip cancelled. Thus, you will note on our trip prices there may be different price for 6-8 people versus 9-10, versus 11-12, etc...
We may initially invoice you at the higher tier price, and refund the difference depending on the final group size. Trip costs quoted are based on foreign exchange rates current at the time of this printing. We reserve the right to raise the trip fee if there are exceptional cost increases beyond our control.
- Full service of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional Galapagos Naturalist Guide
- 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
- International flights to Ecuador
- Galapagos Round Trip Flights - ($600 per person)
- Internal Island Transfers - ($300 per person)
- $100 National Park fee
- Items of a personal nature
- Alcoholic beverages
- Insurance of any type
- Cost of hospitalization or evacuation if necessary
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.
On this tour, you should arrive on day one of the itinerary. This is included as a travel day to ensure all guests in the group are checked in and ready for the tour of Quito on day two. On the final day, you should expect to arrive back to Quito around 4 p.m. Taking into account the minimum-three-hours check-in required for international flights, you shouldn't plan to depart anytime before 7 p.m. Many guests opt to stay over and fly out the next morning.
The capital city of Quito sits at about 2,850 meters, or 9,350 feet. When spending time exploring the city, some guests do experience mild sensitivity. Arriving a day or two early for acclimation is a great idea if you are afraid you might have issues. Some ways to avoid becoming ill are to drink plenty of water (more than you would normally think to), taking frequent breaks when walking and keeping a slower pace.
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 will be included on your invoice. 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 Unbound Signature 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!
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 kayaking and camping 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 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.
Both trips are ten days in length. This itinerary offers time spent on three islands, rather than the four seen on the Galapagos Island Explorer tour. This tour offers camping on the beach, while the other does not. 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.
These are the only two tours to offer beach camping, however there are only two nights camping on the Unbound Signature tour. The Galapagos by Kayak tour is shorter at nine days in length, and visits two islands rather than three. It does include the most amount of paddling and camping, and is geared more toward kayak enthusiasts in particular. The Unbound Signature tour is a broader multi-sport tour, perfect for families with children.