Depart to Quito. After passing through immigration and customs, proceed to the reception area, where our representative will be holding a sign with your name on it. You will be greeted and then transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito.
Quito and Red Mangrove Galapagos Island Hopping
Experience the Galapagos from a different perspective by staying at hotels on Santa Cruz and Isabela islands. This tour is ideal for travelers that want to explore the Islands without being confined to a ship. You will begin in Quito with a city tour and Middle of the World Monument visit, and continue on to the Galapagos for six days. Highlights include the observation of unique plants and animals, and exploring parts of the Islands that are seldom seen by cruise passengers.
Lodging and Meals: This tour includes accommodations for 8 nights (3 nights in Quito, 2 nights on Santa Cruz Island, and 3 nights on Isabela Island), and 18 meals (8 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners).
Best Time to Go: Year-Round.
Note: The route and program may vary according to National Park policies and regulations, weather conditions, seasonal changes, safety reasons and wildlife encounters.
In the morning, you will have a city tour of Quito. You will explore the bustling streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas, and visit some of its most important churches such as the majestic La Compania and iconic San Francisco, guardians of a stunning multi-ethnic artistic and cultural heritage. You will drive through the traditional neighborhood of San Juan and finish the morning at the Panecillo hillside, with its breathtaking views of the old and modern parts of the city.
Following the city tour, you will be driven to the “Middle of the World City” complex, which is located 11 miles north of Quito. Here, you will see the monument of the equatorial line, a 98 ft high stone trapezoidal monument with a brass globe on top. The monument forms the focal point of a park and leisure area with gift shops and restaurants. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Transfer from your hotel in Quito to the airport for your flight to Baltra Airport in the Galapagos Islands. You will be met by our representative, and transported by bus and ferry to Santa Cruz Island, followed by a 45 minute bus ride to Puerto Ayora, the main village of Santa Cruz Island. Check-in followed by lunch at Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge.
This afternoon, the adventure starts with a trip to “Los Gemelos” (the twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers, a wonderful introduction to the majestic power of the forces of nature and the great biodiversity of the Santa Cruz Highlands. This short, easy hike to each of the twins is swarming with endemic flora and fauna, including a remnant of Scalesia Forest, draped in liverwort, lichens and mosses, where it is easy to spot some Darwin finches and perhaps short eared owls.
After “Los Gemelos”, a short bus ride will take you to a 600-acre private reserve where the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze, and sleep. Sometimes it’s a bit muddy here, so before setting out, you will be provided with a selection of field boots (Wellington boots) to choose from, including large sizes for men.
Walking among the tortoises in wild, will be one of the most treasured moments of your trip. After visiting these prehistoric creatures on their natural habitat, you’ll take a 5-minute ride to the entrance of a 450-meter (1,350 feet) illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 20 feet high in most places, this is an incredible opportunity see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, mineral-colored walls, and the rippled floor formed from lava along this unique lava formations. Overnight at Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge. (B,L,D)
In the morning, depart to the Itabaca Channel via private transportation for about 45 minutes. Upon arrival, you will be instructed about basic techniques of sea kayaking. You will be escorted by a watercraft and guided by a certified specialist to guarantee an outstanding and safe kayaking morning experience.
Begin at the dock where you will take your kayak and start the journey along the shore of this northern part of Santa Cruz Island, exploring the amazing channel that separates Santa Cruz from Baltra Island.
You will be able to enjoy beautiful scenery full of contrasts, the stunning shore cliffs, home of many sea birds such as blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, brown pelicans, among others, that will make this, a dreamlike ride.
There will be snorkeling opportunities from the kayak, with a good chance to see sea lions, green sea turtles and countless schools of tropical fish. Return to the lodge for lunch.
After lunch, you will transfer to Isabela Island. (Depending on the number of guests, the transfer may be by public boat or provided by Red Mangrove). The navigation takes about two hours. En route, you may see marine life including whales, dolphins, and manta rays. Upon arrival, check in at the lodge and enjoy a welcome cocktail on the deck, served with a wide variety of snacks. The naturalist guides will share with you features of their culture and the history of the island. Overnight at Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge. (B,L,D)
Depart to Sierra Negra Volcano. Vehicles of local providers will drive you up through the humid highlands of Isabela, to the slopes of Volcan Sierra Negra, considered the second biggest active crater in the world, at four miles across (10km). You will hike about 800 meters to reach the rim of the caldera (crater), where the views are breathtaking. After about 6 km bordering the caldera on an easy trail, relax a bit and have a snack at a nice resting site under a “Jaboncillo”.
If you feel strong enough, you can continue to Volcan Chico, an otherworldly landscape with fumaroles and amazing lava formations. From here, the landscape is more than spectacular. (Total hike from the starting point to the Volcan Chico area is 8 kms).
Lunch will be served at Campo Duro, a beautiful organic farm, where the owners prepare delicious dishes with fruits and vegetables produced on the farm.
The meals are grilled on lava rock. After lunch, you can walk into the farm or take a nap in a hammock. In liaison with the Galapagos National Park, Campo Duro takes care of giant tortoises that roam freely on the farm.
Return to the lodge where you can swim, relax on the beach in front of the hotel, or explore Isabela on your own. Overnight at Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge. (B,L,D)
Depart from the lodge by speed boat to “Los Tuneles”. Along the way, you may observe Galapagos wildlife including giant mantas rays, sea turtles, and more. You will make a short stop at “Roca Union” where you will be able to see masked boobies, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions and occasionally fur seals from the boat.
Arrival to “Los Tuneles”, a breathtaking site formed by lava arches on the water like labyrinths. Enjoy a panga ride along this site and try snorkeling to experience close encounters with many species of fish, rays, sea turtles and perhaps the Galapagos penguins.
Only here in Galapagos, you will have the chance to snorkel with penguins and sea lions on the same spot! (This activity and time schedule may change according to sea conditions). Return to the lodge for lunch.
Ride through town enjoying the simplicity of this traditional island and search for the Flamingo spots. Visit the Galapagos National Park Isabela Breeding Station were you will be able to know the different species of Galapagos tortoises, the growing process from newborns up to centenary individuals found at this station.
After this visit hike along a beautiful boardwalk for about 45 minutes enjoying part of the Isabela wetlands, with good opportunities to see flamingos and other stunning seabirds. Before returning to the lodge, visit the well-known Playa del Amor (Love Beach) and enjoy the magical feeling of this organic sand beach surrounded by mangroves. You will then have time to time to relax and discover the town of Puerto Villamil on your own. Overnight at Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge. (B,L,D)
After breakfast at the lodge, you will depart to “Las Tintoreras” and a bay tour. At the main dock, you will board a smaller craft to head out across the port, slowing down to view blue-footed boobies and Galapagos penguins sharing the same rocky sunbathing space, before turning a bend and docking. From there, you take an intriguing walk through a jagged lava field, passing abundant colonies of nesting marine iguanas and sea lions, to see a small canal of shallow waters, full of resting white-tipped reef sharks. The views from here are something you will take with you for the rest of your life! The black, treacherous lava field, the emerald green sea, the green mangroves, and the cloud-capped volcanoes of Isabela, create an afternoon backdrop you are not likely to ever forget.
Once you finish the walk, you can snorkel in the warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangroves, for an opportunity to see white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, and, of course, the mystery of the mangrove below the surface. Don’t worry; white-tipped reef sharks are not aggressive, but merely fascinating. Return to the lodge for lunch.
In the afternoon, depart to Santa Cruz. The navigation will take about 2 to 2.5 hours depending on sea conditions. Upon arrival, check in at the lodge and then enjoy a guided tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station where you can learn about one of the most successful reptile breeding programs in the world. Founded in 1964, the Station is supported by over 100 scientists and researchers from around the world, with the unique purpose to study, support and implement the conservation efforts of the islands. Overnight at Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, depart to Baltra Airport for your return flight to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Quito. (B)
Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your return flight to your final destination. (B)
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Prices & Dates
Price per Person
- The above prices are valid until December 31, 2016.
- Room upgrades and additional nights in each destination are available upon request.
Daily departures throughout the year.
- South American Vacations’ expert pre-departure planning services and documentation.
- Airport/hotel transfers including baggage handling.
- Transfers between islands on motor boats.
- Hotel accommodations including service fees and taxes.
- City tour of Quito/Middle of the World Monument.
- Meals as indicated on the itinerary, including soft drinks in the Galapagos.
- English-speaking tour and naturalist guides.
- Tour escort (in addition to naturalist guide) on the Galapagos.
- Use of bicycles on Santa Cruz and Isabela.
- Use of snorkeling equipment.
Price Does Not Include
- International airfare.
- Domestic Airfare ($500).
- Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100).
- Transit Control Card ($20).
- Meals not indicated on the itinerary.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Gratuities to tour guides, drivers, and hotel staff.
- Gifts and personal items.
- Travel insurance.
We will be happy to quote the cost of airfare and travel insurance and to make these arrangements for you.
Group Private: In Quito, all airport transfers are private, and the city tour of Quito and Middle of the World Monument excursion is a group tour. In the Galapagos, all services are operated on a group basis, with a maximum of 14 passengers.
Elevations: Quito is 9,350 feet above sea level.
IGTOA’S Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund: South American Vacations is an active member of IGTOA (International Galapagos Tour Operators Association). In support of IGTOA’s Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, we contribute $20 for each passenger that we send to the Galapagos Islands. You’ll travel knowing that you support the lasting protection of Galapagos Islands.
Sixty percent of the funding of this program goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation for science, conservation, and education. Their work, carried out through the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park, is vital to the preservation of the islands. You can visit their web site to learn more www.darwinfoundation.org. The remainder goes toward IGTOA’s mission of creating a model of responsible and sustainable tourism.
Passport/Visa: For Ecuador, U.S., Australian, Canadian, and EU citizens require a passport valid for at least six months from date of entry and return ticket for stays of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries are advised to contact the Ecuadorian embassy in their country before traveling.
Travel Insurance: In order to protect your travel investment from unforeseen circumstances that may arise before or during your trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. We offer Allianz Global Assistance’s Classic Comprehensive and other plans. The Benefits and Coverage Limits are summarized on our Travel Insurance page. Call your travel counselor if you have any questions or to purchase a plan.
To Book This Trip: For single passengers, we require a non-refundable deposit of $2,200, and for double and triple passengers, we require a non-refundable deposit of $1,900 per person, plus the cost of the airfare (if we make the arrangements for you). The balance of the trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure.