Meet sea lions and bunk on the best islands

Take in the highlights of the unique flora- and fauna-rich islands of the Galapagos on this eight-day Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid. From rubbing shoulders with giant tortoises to gazing up in wonder at the spectacular blue-footed boobies’ synchronised fishing technique, the Galapagos offers the chance to see an abundance of rare creatures at close range. We’ll show you the best islands, coves and natural wonders, and give you plenty of time to explore (with local advice!) so you can spend your time the way you want. Snorkel with sea lions, swim with sea turtles and relax in paradise.


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Destination
Ecuador
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Wildlife
Code
GGRR
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Get your blood pumping as you scale Sierra Negra Volcano during an epic hike, then cool off with a swim in the perfect waters of Isla Isabela’s beaches.

  • Many come to Isla Santa Cruz just for the giant tortoises. Get up close and personal with these enormous animals as they drag themselves through the sand.

  • Learn about the unique habits of the marine iguana. This dinosaur-like little creature has an iridescent sheen and is only found on the Galapagos Islands.

  • Birdwatching at the Galapagos is quite an experience. Watch the aerobatic routines of blue-footed boobies and the death defying stunts of the frigate birds as they whizz through the air.

  • This Lonely Planet Experience combines plenty of must-try activities and islands with generous mounts of free time, so you can explore the Galapagos at your own pace.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip begins in Quito, where elevation can cause altitude sickness regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Medical and health information’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

  • The itinerary 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.

  • This trip includes a 17-kilometre hike (approximately 5–6 hours) on rocky terrain.

  • Understandably, many of our travellers’ express interest in scuba diving in the Galapagos. We are now able to assist with booking this activity, though please note that our staff are only able to do this through a provider that meets our internal safety policy. Speak to an Intrepid agent at the time of booking for more information.

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

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

Itinerary

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with some time to spare before the meeting, consider exploring the city on an Urban Adventure like the Quito Market Discovery.
Optional Activities
  • Cotopaxi - National Park Hiking Tour - USD95
  • La Ronda - Free
  • Antisana Trek Full day from Quito - USD120
  • Quito - Papallacta Hot Springs (Full day) - USD70
  • Quito - Bellavista Cloud forest (Full day) - USD110
  • Urban Adventures: Quito Market Discovery - USD98
  • Urban Adventures: Quito Sweet & Culinary Experience - USD104
  • Urban Adventures: Condors and Culture in Otavalo - USD756
  • Urban Adventures: Quito Legends and Culture Tour - USD79
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

We recommend not partaking in any strenuous activity until you have time to gauge your reaction to the city’s high altitude, as some people experience mild symptoms of attitude sickness such as dizziness, shortness of breath and sleeplessness.

Please note, some optional activities require a minimum of two passengers to operate and prices listed are subject to change. For more information on Urban Adventures in Quito, visit urbanadventures.com/destination/Quito-tours.
Transfer to the airport and board your flight around midday (an Intrepid representative will provide detailed flight times on the evening of Day 1 during the welcome meeting). Arrive in Isla San Cristobal and meet your leader at the arrivals lounge. Meet the travellers who began their journey in the Galapagos Islands and get straight into it with a visit to the Interpretation Centre to learn about the human and natural history of the archipelago. Afterwards, go for your first snorkel at Tijeretas, a small cove where you can swim with sea turtles, rays, and sea lions!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center (45 minutes)
  • Isla San Cristobal -Snorkelling in Tijeretas hill
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day on Isla San Cristobal. You may also like to take an optional boat ride to Kicker Rock or Isla Lobos – one of the most recommended activities. You'll be able to observe the famous Galapagos marine life along the way as well as the opportunity to go snorkelling with sea turtles, eagle rays and the harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kicker Rock excursion - USD120
  • Frigate Bird Hill - Free
  • Mann Beach - Free
  • Snorkelling gear rental - USD5
  • Isla Lobos. - USD80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please note the Isla Lobos optional activity can only be booked with eight or more passengers.
Early in the morning, take a 2.5-hour public speed boat ride to Isla Santa Cruz. On arrival, have breakfast and settle into the hotel before a mid-morning visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museums contain information about the islands and the conservation efforts being made to preserve the unique ecosystem here. It's also a great place to have close encounters with giant tortoises. In the afternoon, head to the higher part of the islands to observe these giants roaming in their natural habitat.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Centre (45 Minutes)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll travel to Isla Isabela where you’ll check-in to the hotel and enjoy breakfast. The island is the largest in the Galapagos and one of the most volcanically active places on earth. You have a free day here to explore at your own pace. A worthwhile optional activity today is an excursion to Las Tintoreras, where white-tipped sharks rest during the day and marine iguanas nest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Isla Tintoreras - USD47
  • Isla Isabela - wetsuite rental - USD15
  • Kayak rental - USD50
  • Isla Isabela- Snorkeling in Concha y Perla - Free
  • Isabela Island – Snorkelling gear rental - USD5
  • Tunneles Snorkelling - USD120
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the day with a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre for a close encounter with these placid giants. Here you can see tortoises in different stages of development as well learn about the preservation program of this unique species. Take a bus to the highest part of Isabela Island where Sierra Negra Volcano is located. Weather permitting, go for a hike up to the crater to enjoy spectacular views and the possibility of sighting the rare vermillion flycatcher. The challenging 17-kilometre hike takes between 5—6 hours, but at the top you'll be able to enjoy spectacular views. 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 - Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre (1 Hour)
  • Isla Isabela- Sierra Negra Volcano Hike (5-6 Hours)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes that offer good support for today’s rocky climb.

During the rainy season it can get quite muddy and there is an option to hire gumboots locally should you wish to do so. It can also get quite hot and there isn't much shade along the way, so be sure to come prepared with your reusable water bottle, hat and sunscreen.

Unfortunately, recycling isn't available on Isabela, so please take your plastic rubbish with you.
Travel back to Santa Cruz in the morning and enjoy a free day. Consider taking part in some of the optional activities available, such as an excursion to Tortuga Bay, an immaculate natural paradise where you can go kayaking, observe marine iguanas and birds or swim with harmless sharks in an alcove.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Tortuga Bay walk - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to these enchanting islands. The flight back to Quito leaves at midday and should arrive in the late afternoon. A representative from Intrepid will take you from the airport to your hotel. Enjoy a free evening in Quito.
Optional Activities
  • Quito Market Discovery - USD99
  • Quito - Papallacta Hot Springs (Full day) - USD70
  • Quito - Sweet & Culinary Experience - Urban Adventures - USD103
  • Quito - Old Town & Gastronomic- Urban Adventures - USD99
  • Condors and Culture in Otavalo - USD156
  • Quito - Otavalo Indian Market (Full day) - USD70
  • Quilotoa - Quilotoa Lagoon (Full day) - USD100
  • Quito - Bellavista Cloud forest (Full day) - USD110
  • Cotopaxi - National Park Hiking Tour - USD95
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for the final day. If you want to spend more time in Quito, speak to an Intrepid booking agent to secure extra accommodation (subject to availability). You can get to know the city on an Urban Adventure. See urbanadventures.com for details.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

5 breakfasts

Transport

Plane, Speed boat, Private vehicle, Public bus

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights)

Included activities

  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center (45 minutes)
  • Isla San Cristobal -Snorkelling in Tijeretas hill
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Centre (45 Minutes)
  • Isla Isabela - Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre (1 Hour)
  • Isla Isabela- Sierra Negra Volcano Hike (5-6 Hours)

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Galapagos Discovery trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may change, so secure your trip today!
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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT NOT AVAILABLE
Due to hotel availability a single supplement is not available on this trip.

STARTING IN THE GALAPAGOS
This trip has a shorter version GGRX which doesn't include flights to and from Quito and starts in the Galapagos.

GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA PORT FEES
A Galapagos Transit Card fee of USD 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.

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

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.

HOT WATER FACILITIES:
Please note that in the Galapagos many of the hotels hot water services are limited and as such hot water may not always be available and cold showers maybe the only option.

INTERNAL FLIGHTS:
Please be advised that for the internal flights on this tour the airline only provides a small snack on the flight. You may wish to take your own snacks as it is a long travel day.

GALAPAGOS PARK RULES:
Strict rules apply in the Galapagos Islands aimed at protecting and preserving its unique biodiversity. Intrepid strongly agrees and supports these rules which range from times of the day that a destination can be visited to the distance kept between people and wildlife and especially not removing anything from the environment ( shells and corals for example) – all these rules will be explained in more detail by your Leader on the ground. Not adhering to these rules can lead to hefty fines for travellers and can result in Intrepid losing the license to operate in the Galapagos Islands – these rules must be adhered to by all, without exception. Failure to adhere to the rules can result in being removed from the trip without refund.

For more information, please follow this link: https://www.galapagos.org/travel/travel/park-rules/

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.

View Essential Trip Information

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