Explore these otherworldly islands in a week

Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin on this wildlife-filled Lonely Planet Experience through nature’s playground. Snorkel with sea lions, get up close to giant tortoises, scale a volcanic crater and discover the incredible evolutionary history of the Galapagos Islands, all under the guidance of an expert naturalist guide. With accommodation on Isla San Cristobal, Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela, this trip is perfect for people who don’t want to tour the islands on a cruise. Included activities are both educational and immersive, while still allowing you plenty of free time to relax or get active at your own pace.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Finish
Isla Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Destination
Ecuador
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Wildlife
Code
GGRX
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 15

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

  • Snorkel in Tijeretas and keep an eye out for eagle rays, Galapagos sea turtles, sea lions and plenty of colourful fish.

  • Scale a volcano on Isla Isabela, a 17-kilometre hike that rewards you with epic views across the island plus the possibility of sighting the rare, red-feathered vermilion flycatcher.

  • Head to the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz to see giant tortoises munching grass, walking slowly and chilling in their natural habitat.

  • You have the option to tailor your experience with unforgettable optional excursions like nature hikes, boat trips and scuba diving.

  • Learn about Galapagos’ natural and exploratory history with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn about conservation efforts to preserve their ecosystems.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves day travel by boat between the various islands of the Galapagos. The good news is that seasickness can often be managed with medication and by consulting a health professional before you travel.

  • The trip includes a 17-kilometre hike (approximately 5–6 hours) on rocky terrain. We recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes that offer good support.

  • 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.

Itinerary

Welcome to your Lonely Planet Experience with Intrepid! Meet the other travellers in your group, either at San Cristobal Airport or the hotel listed in the ‘Joining point’ section of the Essential Trip Information. Check in to your hotel and then kick-start your adventure with an included visit to the Galapagos Interpretation Center to learn about the human and natural history of this island cluster. Afterwards, you’ll have your first snorkel at Tijeretas where you may be joined on your swim by sea turtles, rays, fish 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.
Special Information
If you’d rather Intrepid do all the busywork for you, consider booking your tour on the Galapagos Discovery Lonely Planet Experience (GRRR), which follows the exact same itinerary and includes flights to and from Quito.
Enjoy a free day on Isla San Cristobal, with plenty of optional activities on and off the island if you want a little structure. The optional boat ride to Isla Lobos is one of our favourite excursions and gives you the chance to snorkel with varied marine life, spot birdlife on shore and relax near sea lions on the beach.
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 must have a minimum of eight passengers to depart.
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 – and 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 for this unique species. Take a bus to the highest part of Isabela 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; 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 when you leave.
Return to Isla Santa Cruz in the morning and enjoy breakfast on arrival at the island. Your day is free so you can explore at your own pace. Maybe take part in an optional activity like the excursion to Tortuga Bay – an immaculate natural paradise where you can go kayaking, observe marine iguanas or swim with harmless sharks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Tortuga Bay walk - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
With no activities planned for today your Galapagos adventure comes to an end after breakfast. Bid any travellers continuing on to Quito goodbye. You are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policy. If you wish to leave the Galapagos Islands today, you are responsible for organising your own flights, as well as travel arrangements to the airport.
Optional Activities
  • Scuba Diving - Galapagos islands - USD280
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
If you wish to leave the Galapagos Islands today, please note that your closest airport is located on Isla Baltra, to the north of Isla Santa Cruz. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi to the port (approximately USD 26), followed by a ferry across a small channel (USD 1) and then a bus to the airport (USD 5).

If you plan on departing from an alternative airport in the Galapagos, you will need to make your own way there, which will involve ferries and other modes of transport. Your tour leader can advise you on the best mode of travel and assist you with transport. If you choose this option, please ensure you allow enough time for transfers and delays – talk to a booking agent to confirm timing.

If you’d rather Intrepid do all the busywork for you, consider booking your tour on the Galapagos Discovery Lonely Planet Experience (GRRR), which follows the exact same itinerary and includes flights to and from Quito.
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

6 breakfasts

Transport

Speed boat, Private vehicle, Public bus

Accommodation

Hotel (6 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

Trip departures are unavailable.

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

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Important notes

GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA PORT FEES
Before you board your flight to the islands, at either Quito or Guayaquil Airports, you need to purchase your Galapagos Transit Control Card (USD 20) at the Consejo de Gobierno counter in the entrance hall; if you haven’t purchased this card you might be denied boarding. You will need to be at the airport at least two hours prior to the departure time as this can be a lengthy process. You will also need to have cash on hand as credit cards are not accepted.
After you have purchased the Transit Control Card you will have to take your luggage to the SICGAL counter where they will seal your bags. Then proceed to the check-in counter of your airline.
The Galapagos park fee (USD 100) and Isabela Port fee (USD 10) are payable upon arrival in 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, which could mean you need to buy a new card and flights at your own expense.

JOINING POINT INSTRUCTIONS
Please see the joining point instructions included in your Essential Trip Information. It's important you let us know no later than 15 days prior to departure where you plan to join this trip

TRIP FINISH POINT
This trip finishes at a centrally-located hotel on Isla Santa Cruz, usually Lobo de Mar Hotel. For those who need to organise departure flight, Baltra Airport is the closest airport.

SCUBA DIVING IN GALAPAGOS:
You also have the option later in this adventure to go scuba diving. To take part in this activity, you will need to already have a scuba diving certification. All dives finish by 12.30 pm and, since you need to wait at least 18 hours between diving and boarding a flight, you will need to stay in Santa Cruz at least one additional day. Where you will dive depends on when your trip ends and how long you can stay in Santa Cruz. See below for diving locations and experience level required:

Mondays: Dive off Floreana. Basic/Intermediate level
Tuesdays: Dive off Santa Fe. Basic/Intermediate level
Wednesdays: Dive off Seymour Canal & Mosquera Sur. Basic/Intermediate level
Thursdays: Dive off Gordon Rocks. Advanced level
Fridays: Dive off Beagle & Daphne. Intermediate level
Saturdays: Dive off Seymour Punta & Mosquera North. Basic/Intermediate level
Sundays: Dive off Gordon Rocks. Advanced level

We can assist you to book extra accommodation and we can make a booking with the diving company for you.

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

STARTING IN QUITO
This trip has a longer version, trip code GGRR, which includes return flights from Quito.

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.

HOT WATER FACILITIES
Please note that in the Galapagos, many of the hotel's hot water services are limited and, as such, hot water may not always be available. Cold showers may be the only option.

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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