Pure Galápagos: Perspectives by Land and Sea

Pure Galápagos: Perspectives by Land and Sea

About this trip

Explore Charles Darwin’s “Living Laboratory of Evolution” from distinct perspectives on this combined land and cruise adventure. First, embark on a deluxe 16-passenger catamaran and sail among pristine, uninhabited islands home to specially adapted flora and fauna. Next, spend three nights at Scalesia Eco-Lodge, a luxury tented camp in the highlands of Isabela, the perfect base for exploring the geology and biodiversity of the archipelago’s largest island. Enjoy the best of both worlds as you learn about the threats to these fragile ecosystems and the ongoing work being done to protect them. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for this extraordinary place and its people.
PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change without prior notice due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. weather) or at the discretion of the captain, guide, or the Galápagos National Park.

Highlights

  • Climb Prince Philip’s Steps and observe nesting colonies of frigatebirds, boobies, gulls, and other seabirds on Genovesa Island.
  • Walk among the tall Opuntia cactus forests on Santa Fé, looking for the pale yellow land iguana species found only on this island.
  • Visit Los Humedales, where the sheltered sandy beaches, rocky shores, and mangroves provide a nursery for young marine animals.
  • Spend a full day hiking at Sierra Negra Volcano and enjoy expansive views of the caldera and surroundings.
  • Learn how the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center is working to ensure the survival of the islands’ endangered giant tortoises.
11 Travelers

Land Cost

$5,525 - Jan 1, 2020 - Dec 31, 2022

$5,695 - Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2023

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

16 Travelers

Land Cost

$5,475 - Jan 1, 2020 - Dec 31, 2022

$5,650 - Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2023

Book 14 travelers and 2 group
leaders travel for free

16 Travelers

Land Cost

$4,975 - Jan 1, 2020 - Dec 31, 2022

$5,195 - Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2023

Book 15 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Guayaquil

Day 1

Upon arrival at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, after clearing customs and immigration, you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Most flights arrive in the late evening. Arrival into Guayaquil should be on a Tuesday for the Friday cruise departure.

Overnight at Oro Verde Hotel

Guayaquil

Day 2

After a leisurely breakfast and program orientation, explore the area on a walk to Parque Seminario-also known as Iguana Park for the abundant iguanas that reside in this plaza-and the Malecón waterfront, a world-recognized urban renewal project complete with museums, restaurants, bars, and shopping areas. Have lunch along the Malecón, and then continue to Santa Ana Hill for a bird's-eye view of the city. Return to Oro Verde with time to relax before dinner at the hotel.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Oro Verde Hotel

Galápagos

Day 3

Head to the airport for the morning flight to Baltra Island in the Galápagos. (Please note: There is a luggage weight limit of 50 pounds per person. Luggage over 50 pounds is subject to additional fees.) Upon arrival, we meet our naturalist Galápagos guide and make our way by ferry and private bus to the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. En route, visit the highlands of Santa Cruz. Our guide will lead us on a walking excursion on local trails and lightly wooded areas to view native forests and a pair of sinkholes known as the Twin Craters. Then drive to a nearby farm and walk on grassy trails in search of giant tortoises living in the wild. We'll learn more about their diet, breeding habits, and overall biology as we observe them in their natural habitat. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the highlands. Arrive at the hotel in the late afternoon. Gather for a lecture on the Galápagos Islands given by a local expert, then walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Silberstein or similar

Galápagos

Day 4

This morning, check out and walk to the nearby fish market for a chance to interact with locals and see where the seafood for some of our meals comes from. Afterwards, continue to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where our guide will lead us through the facility and introduce us to the station's mission and its tortoise breeding projects. The station is operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation, which plays an important role in scientific research, environmental education, and conservation efforts in the islands. Projects are conducted with the help of a large team of scientists, educators, volunteers, research students, and support staff from all over the world. From here, we'll head to the Itabaca Channel to board our vessel, taking part in a welcome orientation and a safety drill, followed by lunch. This afternoon, visit the secluded Bachas Beach on the northern end of Santa Cruz Island, a great place to see wildlife. Highlights include the rare and endangered Lava Gull, Small and Medium Ground-Finches, Galápagos Mockingbird, and American Flamingo. White-tipped reef sharks, rays, and sea turtles swim close to shore. Later in the day, return to the boat for dinner.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Tip Top V or II

Galápagos

Day 5

Today, explore Genovesa Island, a stunning, horseshoe-shaped island featuring steep cliffs formed by a volcanic caldera. Visit two very different sites on the island, Prince Philip's Steps and Darwin Bay. Named for Prince Philip, who visited the Galápagos in 1965 and again in 1981, the "steps" are a steep natural stairway on a rock face covered in nesting seabirds, primarily Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, with a small colony of fur seals near the landing site. At the top, the trail leads inland onto a plateau passing more booby nests and ends near a lava plain with Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels flitting in every direction. Other birds include the Galápagos Dove, Red-billed Tropicbird, Galápagos Mockingbird, and several endemic songbirds. In contrast, Darwin Bay is a small beach composed of sand and coral rubble. A short trail cuts in along a tidal lagoon before continuing uphill and into scrub full of palo santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and saltbush. Watch and photograph nesting Great Frigatebirds, Red-footed Boobies, and Swallow-tailed Gulls.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Tip Top V or II

Galápagos

Day 6

Cruise to the east end of Santa Cruz to explore South Plaza Island. One of the smaller islands in the archipelago, South Plaza still supports a large diversity of plants and animals. Here, see marine and land iguanas, and maybe a hybrid of the two as we hike trails through a landscape with scattered prickly pear cactus trees. Other wildlife includes sea lions, seabirds, Small Ground-Finch, Common Cactus-Finch, and more. In the afternoon, visit Santa Fé, one of the oldest islands in the Galápagos. Take the trails through dense stands of Santa Fé Opuntia cactus and look for Santa Fé land iguanas-endemic to this island-and Galápagos Hawks.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Tip Top V or II

Galápagos

Day 7

This morning, disembark from the boat in Puerto Ayora, and then travel to Isabela Island by speedboat. Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago, greater in size than all the other islands combined. It is also one of the youngest islands, formed by the merger of six shield volcanoes, five of which are still active. Upon arrival at Scalesia Lodge in Isabela's highlands, check in, and then take a short hike through native habitat to the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, where we can see five different subspecies of Galápagos giant tortoise and learn about their natural history and the conservation issues affecting them. Birds possible along the way include White-cheeked Pintail, American Flamingo, Black-necked Stilt, and Galápagos (Yellow) Warbler. Return to the lodge for dinner. With exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean, Scalesia Lodge's luxury, safari-style tents and beautiful forested walkways are a perfect complement to the previous nights spent at sea.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalesia Lodge

Galápagos

Day 8

This morning, visit a small group of islets known as Las Tintoreras, just offshore from Puerto Villamil. The islets create a sheltered bay with calm, turquoise water that provides habitat for sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays, and the endangered Galápagos Penguin. Check out the shallow crevices for sharks, which rest there during the day. A short loop trail stretches across rough a'a lava rock, where we can see marine iguanas and lava lizards. After lunch, explore Los Humedales ("the wetlands"). The mix of sandy beaches, rocky shoreline, lagoons, and dense mangroves is an important nursery for young marine animals and one of the best sites in the archipelago for migratory shorebirds such as Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Whimbrel, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and Short-billed Dowitcher.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalesia Lodge

Galápagos

Day 9

Enjoy a full day of hiking at Sierra Negra. Measuring nearly six miles across from north to south and more than five miles from east to west, Sierra Negra is one of the most impressive examples of a volcano in the archipelago. The trail to the top passes through lunar-like landscapes and habitat rich in plants and animals. Possible sightings include Galápagos Hawk, Vermilion and Galápagos Flycatchers, Galápagos Martin, Galápagos Mockingbird, and many Darwin's finches: Green Warbler-Finch, Vegetarian Finch, Woodpecker Finch, Small and Large Tree-Finches, and Small and Medium Ground- Finches. Hike to the edge of the caldera and have a boxed lunch while gazing out across the vast black lava field, some of which accumulated from an eruption in 2018. On a clear day, enjoy a view of the other volcanoes on Isabela as well as the neighboring island, Fernandina. Later, return to the lodge. Note: the Sierra Negra hike is approximately 3-4 hours long, over uneven and possibly muddy terrain.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Scalesia Lodge

Guayaquil

Day 10

After breakfast, depart Isabela Island by boat and return to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. From there, we travel back across the island by vehicle. Santa Cruz is has experienced a long history of human settlement and agriculture, but still maintains many of its native ecosystems; most of the archipelago's endemic birds are found here and with luck, seeing a wild giant tortoise is possible on the drive north. Once on the north end, take the ferry across the Itabaca Channel to Baltra Island. Continue to the airport for the flight back to Guayaquil. Arrive at the hotel for dinner and time to rest. Most international flights depart late at night or very early in the morning.

Breakfast-Dinner included
Overnight at Oro Verde Hotel

Day 11

Arrive back home.

Overnight at Depart