Galapagos Islands Vacation | Galapagos Unbound

Galapagos Islands Vacation

Trip Highlights

*Please note that the following information is meant to provide a general overview of your tour. The specifics of your trip will be contained in a pre-trip letter you will receive prior to your confirmed departure.*

 

TRIP LENGTH: 6 Days 

MINIMUM AGE: 7 years

NEAREST AIRPORT: Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), Baltra Airport (GPS)

Sample Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Santa Cruz, Visit Tortoises in the Highlands, Explore Puerto Ayora
This morning, you’ll fly to Santa Cruz, or Baltra, to be exact. This little island off the coast of Santa Cruz is home to the airport. Your guide will be waiting for you and the adventure will begin right away! As you make your way to Puerto Ayora, the capital of Santa Cruz, you’ll begin your first activity with a stop in the highlands to visit a private giant tortoise reserve. You’ll be able to see these massive creatures in their natural habitat cooling off in a watering hole or munching away. You’ll also have the chance to explore some nearby lava tunnels and gain a better appreciation of the natural forces that created these islands.
You’ll continue on to Puerto Ayora, and after a quick check-in, head out to explore town. Santa Cruz is the most populated of all the islands and its bustling port city is the tourist capital of Galapagos. Tonight, your guide will lead you to the Calle de los Kioskos (Kiosks Street). This little back street is closed down each night as the small stall restaurants set up table and chairs in the middle of the street for open-air dining. If you’re looking for where the locals eat, look no further!
Meals Included: L,D

Day 2

Visit Tortuga Bay, Optional Charles Darwin Research Station Visit, Public Boat to Isabela
This morning we’ll take a short walk that ends in white sand and luscious waves. Tortuga Bay is a gorgeous beach accessible only by foot and laden with choices. Do you want to swim, sunbathe, bodysurf or do all three? A leisurely 45-minute path leads to the beach area and along the way you may spot lava lizards and birds in the surrounding trees.
Upon arrival at the first soft, white sandy beach, you’ll be greeted by some perfect surf. Further along you can reach Tortuga Bay, a calm bay that is sheltered by mangroves and ideal for swimming, sometimes friendly baby sharks can be seen here too! There’s a nice walk through a cactus forest, a chance to spot nesting blue-footed boobies or massive marine iguanas.
We’ll head back to town at any time. For those interested, an optional visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station is suggested. We’ll learn about the stations successes in repopulating the islands with the once endangered land iguana and several species of giant tortoise. From the collection of the eggs to the age of release, we’ll observe how the giant tortoises are raised and readied for life on their own.
After lunch, we’ll hop on board for our boat ride to Isabela Island – the largest island in the Archipelago. After check-in, we’ll go for a stroll through the picturesque town of Puerto Villamil. Along it’s white sand beach we’re sure to find the perfect spot to toast in our first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.
Meals Included: B, L
SURFING: Sometimes it’s possible to surf or boogie board at Tortuga Bay. Please tell your guide ahead of time if this is something you’d like to do. 
Day 3

Hike Sierra Negra Volcano and Volcan Chico*, Optional Kayak
Lace up your hiking boots – we’re hiking up a volcano! Sierra Negra is one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos; its last eruption was in October 2005. As we hike to the perimeter of the caldera, we’ll be on the lookout for bird species found only in the highlands like the bright red Vermillion Flycatcher and the elusive short-eared owl. Once we reach the rim, we’ll be met with a 9km view that stretches across one of the most active calderas in the world.
We’ll continue around the rim, stopping at various lookouts along the way, en route to Volcan Chico*. Volcano vents dot the landscape and colorful minerals can be found in some lava rocks. Both “aa” and “pahoehoe” lava flows have occurred here, creating an otherworldly-looking landscape. We’ll cross fields of lava and small lava tunnels until we reach a lookout that boasts breathtaking views reaching to the north of Isabela.
After enjoying a hearty sense of accomplishment, we’ll make our way back to town in early afternoon. You are free to take is easy or partake in an optional activity - a leisurely kayak around the sheltered bay area of Puerto Villamil. Galapagos penguins (the only penguin found north of the equator), sea turtles and rays frequent these shallow waters and blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and pelicans may be seen resting along the shore and in some nearby mangrove trees.
If you prefer, you also have the option to rent a bike and head to the Wall of Tears. Return to town just in time for a sunset dip before your independent dinner. As always, your guide will be more than happy to help you find a local spot to dine.
Meals Included: B, L

Day 4

Visit Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, Fly to San Cristobal, Visit La Loberia
After breakfast, we’ll head off for a leisurely walk through a coastal lagoon. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some pink flamingos along the way! This mangrove-lined path will lead us to Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where we’ll see giant tortoises in all stages of development. The center has almost one thousand giant tortoises training for life on their own!
This afternoon, you’ll take an early flight to the island of San Cristobal, the oldest and eastern-most island of the Galapagos archipelago. You’ll arrive just in time for lunch before you head out for your first activity: a visit to La Loberia.
La “Loberia” is an area frequented by sea lions. In other words, it’s a sea lion hang out! There we’ll be able to watch sea lions sunbathing and vying for our attention. They play, they nap and sometimes, they pose for pictures! If you’re keen for a swim, hop on in.
On the way back to town, your guide will point out their favorite spots to dine.
Meals Included: B, L
Day 5

Snorkel at Kicker Rock, Optional Bike Ride
Today we take to the water to get a glimpse of the underwater world of Galapagos. First, we’ll cruise along the coast in our boat identifying shore birds like the great frigate and famous blue-footed booby. Then we’ll drop anchor for an introductory snorkel where we’ll get our fins wet in search of damselfish, puffer fish, and, hopefully, curious sea lion pups.
Next, we’ll continue to Kicker Rock, or Leon Dormido as it’s known by the locals, to explore the final remains of a tuff cone rising over 143 meters out of the ocean. If Kicker Rock were a building, it would have almost 50 floors! Along the edge and through a channel of this drastic compact ash formation, we’ll be on the hunt for sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, chocolate chip starfish, and, with any luck, a Galapagos Shark or two. Don’t worry: they won’t be as interested in you as you are in them! 
A beautiful beach accessible only by boat will be our final stop. After lunch on board, feel free to spend your time swimming in the turquoise water or snapping photos of Kicker Rock in the distance.
We’ll head back to town late afternoon and have some time to explore town. Perhaps you’ll want to grab a sunset beer or cocktail by the waterfront and watch the spectacular sunset. Another optional activity is to grab a bike and explore town.
Tonight, we head to one of our favorite spots for some open air dining. It’ll be a well-deserved farewell feast as this is the last night in the Enchanted Islands!
Meals Included: B, L, D
Day 6

Optional Visit to Interpretation Center and Tijeretas, Fly to Quito
Today is the last day of your tour and you get to choose how you’d like to spend your morning. Squeeze in some souvenir shopping, head to the beach for one last swim or visit the Interpretation Center to learn about the history and mystery of the archipelago. This educational center explains how the islands were discovered and what makes them so special. You can learn about Charles Darwin’s visit and the present day efforts to protect this amazing World Heritage site. There’s a short hike to Tijeretas, a panoramic lookout over the town and Kicker Rock, for those who are interested.
This afternoon, you’ll fly back to the mainland. If you are spending more time in Ecuador, you may want to book a day tour or excursion to see another part of the country. Safe travels!
Meals Included: B

Travel Arrangements

Travel to Quito: 

The simplest way to get to Quito is to connect through one of several US cities, including NYC, Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, which all offer direct flights to Quito. 

Travel to the Islands:

You'll need to connect through Quito to Baltra Airport (GPS) on the island of Santa Cruz, where this trip officially begins on day 1. 

Getting Ready

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS 

Here at Adventure Unbound our first and foremost goal is for you to have an enjoyable and safe experience. While most of our trips are suitable for beginners, some of our trips are more active than others and it’s important that you understand the physical requirement of the trip you choose. 

All of our trips are active adventures that involve some level of physical exertion and possible exposure to the elements including but not limited to wind, rain, heat, sun, cold temperatures and cold water conditions.  Adventure Unbound is able to accommodate people with physical limitations, disabilities and medical conditions; please speak with your Adventure Consultant if you think you will require any additional assistance while on the trip.  We ask that you consult your Doctor if you have health or medical conditions that could impact your ability to participate in an active and outdoor adventure.  In general, all trip participants must be able to do the following:  

  • Wear all protective and safety equipment that are required by Adventure Unbound and recommended/required by industry wide standards.
  • Load and unload, on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion, the bus and/or van providing transportation for Adventure Unbound activities.
  • Reach the water access points (put-in and take-out) on their own, or with the aid of a qualified companion.
  • Enter and exit a raft, kayak and/or inflatable kayak on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion.
  • Remain seated and balanced in a floating raft, canoe, kayak or inflatable kayak w/ the aid of adaptive equipment, if necessary.
  • Float on their back when entering moving and still water.  The participant must be capable of turning from face-down to face-up in the water with the aid of a Personal Floatation Device and must be able to hold their breath while under water.
  • Remain calm and keep breathing under control in the event of a swim.
  • Climb into the kayak, with the help of another person, should an involuntary swim happen at any point on the water.
  • Make progress toward the shoreline or a boat by swimming in moving water and must be able to exit the water and ascend the shoreline once reached.
  • Participate as an active paddler when instructed by the guide for the duration of trip. 
  • Move about the campsite on their own or with the aid of a qualified companion on all trips that include overnight camping and/or lunch.

PHYSICAL PREPAREDNESS

Whether you are an avid adventurer or it is your first time, you’ll enjoy these incredible trips, and share in our passion for adventure, commitment to conserving the environment, and relishing unique experiences. In addition, we keep our groups small to allow you to not only travel intimately among nature, but to ensure you receive the necessary attention from our guides.

Packing list

Essentials

Insect repellent: This is essential.  A small travel size should be sufficient.

Sun block: SPF 30+ UVA/UVB broad spectrum that is waterproof, sweat resistant, etc.

Water bottle/bladder: One 1 liter, Two 500 milliliters...  However you do it, a refillable water bottle is essential in our effort to reduce waste on all our tours.  Water refills will be provided.

Personal first-aid kit: Your guide will carry a first-aid kit, but it’s best to bring your own.  Waterproof Band-Aids, blister protection/prevention, antibiotic cream, and an astringent at a minimum.  If you’re prone to seasickness or not sure, bring along some seasickness tablets just in case.

Toiletries: Bring everything you may need with you, especially prescription medicines.  Limited supplies and brands are available in the Galapagos. Hotels usually provide a mini bar of soap only.  If you'd like a washcloth or face towel, bring that along as well.

Clothing

Raincoat: Something with a hood that keeps you dry and is breathable as it can be very hot and humid when it rains in the Galapagos Islands.

Sweater/fleece: For cooler evenings and for when you get out of the water after a swim or snorkel in the Galapagos, and for underneath your raincoat if it is cold in the Andes.

Long-sleeve shirts (1-2): Lightweight sunscreen or SPF shirts are the best for boat trips and walks.

Long sleeve rash guard: If you get cold easily in the water, bring something to go under your wetsuit. This is also added sun protection while in the water.

T-shirts/tank tops (4-5): Shirts that dry quick are recommended.  Ones with SPF are even better.

Trousers (1-2): Quick dry hiking pants for the islands and a casual pair for the cooler weather in Quito.

Shorts (3-4): Quick drying, comfortable, breathable.

The Essentials: Undies, socks and something to sleep in for the week.

Swimsuits (2): Suitable for being active in the water; kayaking and snorkeling.

Shoes: Sturdy, comfortable shoes or boots when walking over lava rocks and potentially slippery or muddy trails in the Galapagos.  All shoes should be broken in prior to the trip. Hiking boots are especially recommended for those with weak ankles.

Sandals: Active sandals such as Tevas or Keens that stay on your feet and dry quickly.

Recommended

Sun hat: Baseball cap, visor, sombrero - anything to protect and shield you from the powerful sun.

Sunglasses: Any pair will do. A strap might be useful and polarized sunglasses will help cut the glare from the water in the Galapagos, but that is not a necessity.

Dry bags: Some things you will want to keep dry: your camera, iPod, etc.  Other things you will want to keep contained - like wet swimsuits, muddy boots, & damp towels.  Roll-top dry bags are great and at the very least, tough Ziploc bags.

Beach / travel towel: A small, quick dry, travel towel really comes in handy after snorkeling.

Ear Plugs: For plane rides, potentially nasally bunkmates, and the roosters that live on Isabela Island.

Camera: Plus memory cards, extra batteries and a charger.  Since half the wildlife is underwater, an underwater camera or housing is recommended so you don't miss great shots of life below the surface.

Jump/Thumb Drive: This is a great little tool to share photos among group members at the trip's end.

Optional

Casual clothes: If you'd like to change into something nicer than your hiking shorts for dinner, feel free.

Snacks & drink sachets: If you need something to tie you over or prefer flavored water.

Binoculars: Optional but great for viewing wildlife of the Galapagos Islands!

Hairdryer: Only some hotels have them.

Headlamp/flashlight: Nice to have at night and in the lava tunnel on Santa Cruz Island.

Adapter plug: 110V AC system is used in Ecuador. Canadian and US plugs work fine. Be sure to check if your devices handle the entire 110-240V range (modern iPhones, iPods and computer and camera cables do). If not, you may need a converter.

Alarm clock: There's no wake-up call for the 5am departures...  Just kidding - about the 5am bit. However, you will need something that gets you up on time.

iPod and/or reading material: Totally optional, but great for the plane rides, hiking inspiration and boat trips.

Helpful links

Galapagos Islands Weather Forecast - Check the local weather before you go. 

Trip Adviser - Read reviews from past guests. 

Galapagos Unbound Website - Here you can find information on other Galapagos tours and mainland Ecuador extensions. 

Terms and Conditons

TRIP MEMBERS RESPONSIBILITY
Trip members have the responsibility to choose a trip appropriate to their abilities and interests. We are happy to discuss this with you. Trip members are held responsible for being in sufficient good health to undertake the trip and for preparing for the trip by studying the itinerary and pre-departure information sent by ROW Sea Kayak Adventures.

While most travel, including travel to international destinations, is completed without incident, travel to certain destinations may involve greater risk than others.  ROW Sea Kayak  Adventures urges passengers to review current announcements and advisories, travel warnings, and restrictions issued by the United States Government prior to booking travel to any international destination. Up to date infromation on various international travel conditions can be found at www.state.gov, www.tsa.gov, www.dot.gov, www.faa.gov, www.cdc.gov, www.treas.gov/ofac and www.customs.gov. By offering travel to particular international destinations, ROW Sea Kayak Adventures does not represent or guarantee that travel to such locations is advisable or without risk, and ROW Sea Kayak Adventures is not liable for damages or losses that may result from travel to such destinations.

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures reserves the right to disqualify anyone at any time before or during the trip for medical or psychological reasons. Each trip member is ultimately responsible for his or her own medical expenses. We cannot refund costs of medical examinations or other expenses incurred while preparing for a trip. If you arrive at the start of your trip with a pre-existing condition or injury that was not disclosed in writing to ROW Sea Kayak Adventures and you are subsequently forced to leave the trip because of this condition, you will be charged all extra evacuation expenses and will not receive a refund of any unused trip services. All health information is treated as confidential. 

TERMS OF SERVICE 

RESPONSIBILITY ~ AN IMPORTANT NOTICE
These paragraphs define our responsibility with respect to all of our trips. Please read carefully. Payment of deposit represents an acceptance by the tour member of these terms and conditions.

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. an Idaho Corporation, and its owners, agents and employees give notice that services provided in connection with its itineraries, including transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurants, and other services, are purchased from various independent suppliers who are not affiliated with ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. Although it endeavors to choose the best suppliers possible, ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. has no right to control their operations and therefore makes these travel arrangements upon the express condition that

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. and its own agents and employees shall not be liable for any delay, expense, mishap, inconvenience, bodily injury or death to person, or damage to property occasioned through the conduct or default of any company or individual engaged in providing these services. Each of these passenger conveyance companies, hotels, tour companies, restaurants, etc. is subject to the laws of the state or country where the service is provided.

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. shall not be liable for bodily injury or property damage for any reason, including but not limited to acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, thefts, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulation, discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control.

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures reserves the right, either prior to or after departure, in its good-faith discretion and in circumstances that warrant it, to change or re-price any tour, trip, or expedition.  This includes the possibility of moving to an alternate location due to extreme water conditions, wind conditions, forest fires, road closures and/or acts of God.

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. reserves the right to substitute hotels and leaders and to alter the itinerary when deemed necessary or advisable.

ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. reserves the right to take photographic or film records of any of our trips and may use any such records for promotional and/or commercial purposes.

LIABILITY RELEASE
All of our guests are required to sign a liability release form acknowledging that there are inherent risks associated with the nature of activities planned prior to traveling with ROW Sea Kayak Adventures.  Your trip is not confirmed until ROW Sea Kayak Adventures receives this signed liability release form.  Participation in the tour will not be allowed without a signed completed liability release form, and consistent with ROW Sea Kayak Adventures’ cancellation policy, no refund will be granted.

FOREIGN TRAVEL 
ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. operates our trips in British Columbia, Canada.  All other trips in foreign countries are arranged through and are operated by independent suppliers that provide the goods and services for your trip including, for example, food service providers, equipment suppliers, yacht and other transportation companies, lodging facilities, local ground operators, certain guides, etc.  As a result, we have no right to control their operations and therefore make the described travel arrangements upon the express condition that the ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. its subsidiaries, agents and employees, shall not be liable for any delay, mishap, inconvenience, expense, irregularity, bodily injury or death to person, or damage to property occasioned through the conduct or fault of any company or individual engaged in providing these services.

ITINERARY CHANGES
We do our best to follow our itinerary as published; however, the nature of adventure travel is such that each trip will be slightly different. Weather, park regulation changes, hotel availability, guest ability, and other factors may require modifications. We always do our best to substitute equivalent destinations and activities. ROW Sea Kayak Adventures will not be held responsible for any refunds whatsoever for changes to the printed or scheduled itinerary.

DELAYS
Travel requires a flexible attitude.  Due to factors out of our control, including but not limited to weather, unannounced road construction, etc., delays do occur.  For example, flights sometimes don’t operate as scheduled, roads may wash out, or detours may be necessary.  We advise you to consider these potential factors when planning your travel to our tour destinations, as well as ask for your flexibility and understanding when delays due to factors out of our control necessitate changes to your tour itinerary. 

CANCELLED TRIPS
ROW Sea Kayak Adventures reserves the right to cancel any trip prior to departure for any reason whatsoever, including insufficient sign-ups or logistical problems, which may impede trip operations.  The refund of all land payments received shall release ROW Sea Kayak Adventures from any further liability.  In the event of trip cancellation, ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. is not responsible for expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for a cancelled trip (e.g. visa fees, equipment, nonrefundable advance purchase air tickets, etc.) or for any additional arrangements should the trip member have embarked prior to the scheduled group departure date. A trip cancellation due to insufficient sign-ups would normally occur at least 30 days prior to departure.

MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS
ROW Sea Kayak Adventures shall not be liable for (a) expenses such as additional hotel nights and meals not specified in the individual trip itineraries, but which may be required to get to and from a trip start or end; (b) expenses due to the delay of a trip for any reason (e.g. bad weather, trail conditions, landslides, flooding, sickness, etc.); (c) expenses incurred in recovering luggage lost by airlines, belongings left behind on a trip or in shipping purchases or other goods home from abroad.

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