Amazing wildlife, both on land and underwater, is the drawcard of the remote Galapagos Islands. Tour the Galapagos' outstanding natural beauty and interesting history by foot, boat and bike on this active adventure. Trace Darwin's theory of evolution, spot colourful, bizarre and beautiful creatures and have an experience that is completely out of this world as you discover the incredible Galapagos Islands.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Destination
Ecuador
Style
Original
Code
GGSHC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 12
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Get acquainted with the beautiful churches and graceful boulevards of Quito, Ecuador's capital

  • The Galapagos Islands played a profound role in forming Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Explore the islands on this in-depth adventure, coming face-to-face with some of the most extraordinary wildlife on earth

  • Get your blood pumping as you scale a volcano on Isabela Island, and kayak in beautiful Isabela Bay

  • Get up close and personal with giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island. These nearly extinct creatures are one of the greatest drawcards to the Galapagos

  • This is a land based Galapagos trip, we use locally owned hotels on the islands. On this trip you will have more opportunities to interact with the locals as opposed to staying on a boat.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves a lot of travel by speed boat between the various Galapagos Islands, the rides can be quite bumpy at times. The good news is that seasickness can often be managed with medication. Consult a health professional before your trip.

  • Wildlife is a big focus on this trip, with activities like bird watching and swimming.

  • This trip includes a 17 km hike (approximately 6-7 hours) on rocky terrain. We recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes that offer good support.

  • While you're free to go diving if you choose, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity. This is part of Intrepid's internal safety policy.

  • The sun in the Galapagos islands is incredibly strong due to its close proximity to the equator, ensure you are well prepared with suncreen, sun hat, sunglasses and a rash guard if desired.

  • This trip does include snorkeling on multiple days throughout the itinerary. Confident swimming skills are required to take part in this tour.

  • This trip visits Quito which is at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.

Itinerary

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America, sitting at an altitude of 2,850 metres with a view of Volcan Pichincha on the horizon. On day 1 there is a city tour to show the beautiful Colonial style buildings and help you explore the nooks and crannies of cosy Old Town. We’ll be back in Quito at the end of the trip, giving you a chance to further experience the city.

Notes: Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness, regardless of age, gender or fitness. Please see the 'Is This Trip Right For You?' and 'Health' sections in the trip notes for more information.

Optional Activities in Quito:
Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do. This trip doesn’t include much time in Quito, so a few extra days to explore it is recommended. Great activities are available through our local office – just email quitodaytours@peakdmc.com before departing or, once you’re in Quito, give our office a call +593 9 94014877 and they will happily assist you.

Urban Adventures: If you are interested in any of the Urban Adventures listed you will need to contact Urban Adventures directly. For more information on the activities mentioned below and contact information for Quito please visit: http://www.urbanadventures.com/contact-us

Otavalo Market, a full day tour of the biggest Indian market in South America in the northern town of Otavalo, full of local handicrafts to take home for your friends, and the Cotacachi leather market.

Cotopaxi Volcano, for something more active, head out to the 5,897 metre high Cotopaxi Volcano – drop by the National Park museum, then hike for around 2 hours and visit the picturesque Limpiopungo Lagoon.

Quilotoa Lagoon, if you’re into lagoons, maybe take a full day trip to the stunning Quilotoa Lagoon. Early in the morning, drive 3 hours south through the local communities and Andes views of the Avenue of Volcanoes. Then hike (2 hours return) to the beautiful Quilotoa volcano crater lagoon, before returning to Quito. Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs – take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4,150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano.

Cloud Forest, maybe get in touch with the region’s incredible nature with a shared services trip to the Cloud Forest – take a guided hike through a reserve on the edge of the Choco Bio-region, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world, and get acquainted with the exuberant vegetation, bird life, and the fascinating adaptations to life in this special environment.

Papallacta-Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs – take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4,150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano.

Please note, the prices listed below include entrance fees, however these are paid separately by you during the tour. Some tours require a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.
(Please note prices listed are subject to change)
Optional Activities
  • Quilotoa - Quilotoa Lagoon (Full day) - USD100
  • Quito - Papallacta Hot Springs (Full day) - USD70
  • Cotopaxi - National Park Hiking Tour - USD95
  • Quito - Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Quito - Old Town & Gastronomic- Urban Adventures - USD99
  • Quito - Otavalo Indian Market (Full day) - USD70
  • Quito - Bellavista Cloud forest (Full day) - USD110
  • Quito - Total Quito Tour: Quito Old Town, Panecillo Hill, Equator line & Intiñan Museum - Urban Adventures - USD92
  • Quito - Sites by night - Urban Adventures - USD55
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Welcome to lush Isla San Cristobal. Your Galapagos adventure is finally here! Kick it off with a classic local pastime: snorkelling in La Loberia La Loberia. You'll get to swim with playful sea lions and maybe even some sea turtles. Tonight you may wish to head out with the group and enjoy some ceviche (fresh raw fish and lime) in the balmy night air of this island paradise.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla San Cristobal- Snorkeling in La Loberia (1.5 Hours)
Optional Activities
  • Wetsuit (shortsleeve) hire for 7 days - USD40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
There are two ways to hook up with your group once you arrive. If you're coming from Quito on Sunday, you can meet your guide in San Cristobal airport at 11:30 am. If you're arriving from Quito on Friday, you can do the same thing at 12:30 pm. Prefer to arrive a little early and check out some of the island on your own first? That's totally fine, you can join the group at the Hotel Casa de Nelly after 12 pm on whichever day the tour is scheduled to begin.

Please advise us where you plan to join this trip no later than 15 days prior to departure. If you are going to be late for either of these meeting times, please contact the local emergency number located in the 'Essential Trip Information'.
Skate across clear waters teeming with marine life on the way to the shapely Leon Dormido (kicker rock) or uninhabited Isla Lobos, depending on the weather and how rough the ocean is. The bulbous, bright red chest of the frigate birds that nest in both areas makes them easy to spot, though the blue-footed boobies tend to be trickier because their feet are as pale and clear as the sky and sea. Both areas are spectacular for snorkeling, and manta rays and harmless Galapagos sharks frequent their waters. Eat lunch on the boat then head to the Interpretation Center to learn about the history of the 'Enchanted Islands'. Next, climb Frigatebird Hill (Cerro Tijeretas), an invigorating hike that rewards with spectacular views.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal - Excursion to Leon Dormido or Lobos Islands
  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center (45 minutes)
  • Isla San Cristobal - Cerro Tijeretas View Point (1 Hour)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
This snorkeling is in open sea, on occasion the currents can be quite strong so it's particularly important you are a confident swimmer for this activity. If you have any concerns, please ensure you speak with your leader.
The heat and the sunshine make waking up early in the Galapagos a fair bit easier than doing it at home, but if you're still half-asleep a morning boat ride to Floreana Island should wake you up. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as dolphins and whales, as these majestic mammals are occasional residents of the ocean here. On arrival to the island, snorkel in the sapphire waters and then break for lunch. Afterwards venture to a black sand beach which belongs to the Witmers, decedents of some of the first settlers on the Galapagos. The town here, Puerto Velasco Ibarra, has about 150 residents and an intriguing history involving deaths, disappearances and murders. Later in the afternoon, wave goodbye to Floreana and continue to Isabela Island where you will spend the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Floreana - Snorkeling
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Isabela Port Fee: Please note when you arrive at Isabela, you'll need to pay a port fee of USD 10
You may have seen plastic flamingos decorating lawns before, but trust us when we say they are a lot more majestic in person, as you'll see for yourself during a visit to a brackish lagoon where we will be able to observe the slender pink birds. In the afternoon after an informative visit, board a small pangas (boat) and set sail for Tintoreras. Explore this isolated islet and popular iguana nesting site on foot and then snorkel with colourful fish next to winding underground lava tubes. This area is frequented by green sea turtles that like to rest on the calm, sandy bottom, which is pretty brave when you consider their proximity to infamous 'Shark Alley'. Late afternoon, return to town in search of your own sandy resting spot and enjoy your first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Isabela -Tintoreras or Shark Alley (2.5 Hours)
  • Isla Isabela - Flamingo lagoon visit (30 Minutes)
Optional Activities
  • Wetsuit (Short sleeve) Hire for 7 days - USD40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Jump on the bus in the morning and in less than an hour you'll be beneath the the Sierra Negra Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos and the second largest crater in the world. Weather permitting, take a challenging hike of around 17 km up the rocky mountain, which takes between five and six hours. After the hike, make your way back to town in the late afternoon for some free time to curl up with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim before dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Isabela- Sierra Negra Volcano Hike (5-6 Hours)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Sierra Negra Hike: Please ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes that offer good support. During the rainy season it can get quite muddy. There's an option to hire gumboots locally, should you wish to do so. During the hike it can get quite hot, there isn't much shade along the way so be sure to come prepared with your hat, sunscreen and plenty of water (we recommend 2 litres per person).
Unfortunately, recycling isn't available on Isabela, so please take your plastic rubbish with you.
You haven't really kayaked until you've done it in the morning of the coast of Isla Santa Isabela. After that dreamy start to your day, hop on a speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, where you've got a free afternoon to do as you please. Maybe head to a restaurant that offers a typical Eduadorian lunch package, simply referred to as ‘Menu’. Usually this consists of a fresh juice, a basic entree (usually a soup) as well as a main meal. These lunch deals are very popular throughout Ecuador so it’s a great way to eat like a local.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Centre (45 Minutes)
  • Santa Cruz Highlands Visit (3 Hours)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we will hike approximately 3.5 km to Tortuga Bay beach where we will head out on a kayak excursion in a protected bay. Along the way, keep an eye out for eagle rays, sea turtles and more of our friends the blue-footed boobies. In the afternoon Head to the Charles Darwin Research Station. By now you've probably grown attached to these gorgeous islands and this is a great opportunity to learn more about conservation efforts currently underway to preserve their unique ecosystems. You can even get close to giant tortoises which are being raised for the repopulation program. In the evening, enjoy an included group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tortuga Bay Kayak Excursion (1 Hour)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
We say goodbye to the Galapagos today and take a flight back to Ecuador mainland for the next section of this adventure.
Guayaquil, officially Santiago de Guayaquil, is the seaside gateway to the next section of your South Ecuador adventure. First things first, join your group and tour leader for a meeting at 2 pm. After the meeting, feel free to use the rest of your afternoon and evening to explore Guayaquil. Maybe take a stroll along the boardwalk overlooking the Guayas river, which is particularly lively in the evening. Here you’ll find monuments, interesting sculptures and food stalls where the humble plantain is made into everything from dumplings to chips.
Note: As this is a combination trip, the compostion of your group may change and you will be joined by a new Tour Leader.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast we’ll take a 3.5 hour bus ride to what many consider Ecuador’s most attractive city. See for yourself why this medieval fortress town earned a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during a tour of the city. Cuenca is a study in how architecture can complement environment, where ornate buildings are built into craggy cliff faces. After the tour, the rest of the day is yours. Why not wander this imminently strollable city while munching on a skewer of cuy? This rich, roasted meet is popular all over the Americas, but is particularly renowned in Cuenca, though you might know the animal by its Western name: guinea pig!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
It’s entirely up to you how you spend today, though there are many optional activities you may wish to take advantage of. Located about 30 km away, Cajas National Park makes a fabulous day-trip. There are plenty of walking trails that will lead you through the diverse park, where steep hills covered in feathery shrubs meet rocky valleys and tangled forest. If you’re looking for gifts, the quaint town of Chordeleg is just an hour away from Cuenca, where you’ll find markets overflowing with the intricate handiwork of the many local silversmiths and jewellery makers. If you’d prefer to stay in Cuenca, remember that beauty lies around almost every corner of the city, making it a lovely place to lose yourself in.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Rise and continue your journey deeper into the South of the country. Private transport will ferry you to Vilcabamba, but before we arrive there will be a stop in Saraguro, named after the Kichwa Nation indigenous folk who have called the area home for over 500 years. After a tour of this small town and the beautiful central church, a typical local lunch will be served in neighbouring farming village of Namarin. Although the contents of lunch will depend on the day, be prepared for rustic, hearty dishes made from potatoes—a staple of Southern Ecuadorian cuisine.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today we will explore this verdant valley town via a walking tour, wandering roads shared by tame livestock such as donkeys. This relaxed town was once named the “Valley of Longevity,” and while claims of residents extra-long lifespans have since been disproven, there’s no doubt the mineral-rich produce, clear mountain water and fantastic weather make for a happy and chilled out community. Later, we will travel to Podocarpus National Park where you can breathe deep the heady scent of orchids and spot endemic plant species. Spend up to 3 to 4 hours wandering this biodiverse park, including natural wonders like the mist-filled elfin forests you’ll find at 3000 metres elevation.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your day is as clear as an Ecuadorian summer sky. You could opt to see more of nature’s bounty at the Tapichalaca Reserve, or follow the white crosses that line the road on an invigorating 2 hour hike from the centre of town up Caraarango to the shrine of Tuku Tuku. If you’re seeking something more relaxed, why not sip a blood-red horchata (a drink infused with local roots and herbs) and then perhaps walk to the lush banks of the Vilcabamba River. This body of water was the subject of the first court battle to successfully cite Ecuador’s constitutionally protected right for nature to flourish free from man-made interference, and you can experience up all the ambiance that was protected by the ruling.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
A 4:30 am pick up time from the hotel is necessary to try and make the famous craft markets of Otavalo. A boxed breakfast will ease you into the day before the short journey to the airport, where the hour-long flight to Ecuador’s capital leaves at 7:20 am. Upon landing, a private van will take you on the almost 2 hour drive to Otavalo, where you can shop for dramatically patterned textiles, handwoven bags and knick-knacks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Explore the epic green valleys of Otavalo in the morning. Next, inspect the fine leather goods of nearby Cotacachi, where expert tailors can fit you on the spot if you so desire. If you do buy a jacket, perhaps remove it before arriving at the Peguche Waterfalls, a spot so enchanting it’s no surprise local Shamans observe Summer solstice here. After a hour-long hike of the area surrounding the falls, return to Quito for a free afternoon.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today marks the end of your adventure with Intrepid, though there is so much more to explore in Ecuador and beyond if you have the time.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

13 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Plane, Speed Boat, Private Vehicle, Taxi, Public bus

Accommodation

Hotel (16 nights)

Included activities

  • Isla San Cristobal- Snorkeling in La Loberia (1.5 Hours)
  • San Cristobal - Excursion to Leon Dormido or Lobos Islands
  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center (45 minutes)
  • Isla San Cristobal - Cerro Tijeretas View Point (1 Hour)
  • Floreana - Snorkeling
  • Isla Isabela -Tintoreras or Shark Alley (2.5 Hours)
  • Isla Isabela - Flamingo lagoon visit (30 Minutes)
  • Isla Isabela- Sierra Negra Volcano Hike (5-6 Hours)
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Centre (45 Minutes)
  • Santa Cruz Highlands Visit (3 Hours)
  • Tortuga Bay Kayak Excursion (1 Hour)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

NEW TRIP
Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA PORT FEES:
A Galapagos Transit Card fee of US$20 is payable on departure from Quito Airport (or whichever airport in Ecuador you are flying to the Galapagos from). The Galapagos park fee (US$100) and Isabela Port fee (US$10) are payable upon arrival to the islands (cash only). These amounts are in addition to your trip payment.
When booking, please ensure that your details are correct and they match your passport.
Your passport must match the booking details provided to us; otherwise it could cause issues with your transit card and internal flights resulting in purchasing a new card and flights at your own expense.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS:
A single supplement is available on this trip.

INTERNET IN THE GALAPAGOS:
Some of the hotels in the Galapagos do have internet connections however it's often very slow and may not always be functional.

DIVING IN THE GALAPAGOS:
We do not offer diving as a part of our Galapagos program and due to Intrepid's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity

PASSPORT DETAILS REQUIRED
Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to certain sites. Additionally on certain trips it's needed to book bus, train or flight tickets. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.