Ecuador Family: The Galápagos

Ecuador Family: The GalápagosEcuador Family: The Galápagos

Ecuador Family

The Galápagos

overview

NEW! Set out on a private, land-based exploration of the singular beauty of the Galápagos and bring the whole family along. Here, among the secluded coves of uninhabited islands, the calderas of active volcanoes, and the bird-haunted mangroves of rich marshlands, you can experience the best of this remote archipelago. Get active on day hikes, boat trips, snorkeling excursions, and swims. Interact with all kinds of wildlife, from giant iguanas and tortoises to friendly sea lions, darting penguins, and raucous blue-footed boobies. Spot fumaroles as you wander among the lava formations of Chico Volcano. Share a private boat trip with a former fisherman who can show you the region’s hidden beauty spots. At night, savor stays on land at two exceptional, family-friendly eco-lodges on two different islands: Isabela and Santa Cruz. Get to know the serenity of white sand beaches at dusk, after the cruise ships have left.

2015 Downloadable Itinerary




Activity Level
Easy to Moderate;
3-4 miles daily
Meet
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Depart
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Family Adventure 
7 days, 6 nights Trip Includes 

gallery

Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Isabela Island
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2
Isabela Island
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3
Isabela Island
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4
Santa Cruz Island
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5
Santa Cruz Island
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6
Santa Cruz Island
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7
Santa Cruz Island
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Day 1

Isabela Island

Fly from Guayaquil to Isabela Island. tortoise breeding center and beach walk; 2-3 miles, easy

Your Country Walkers guide meets you in the Ecuadorean city of Guayaquil and escorts you on your 1½-hour flight to the Galápagos’s Baltra Island. From here, you catch the short inter-island flight to Isabela Island, the archipelago’s most beautiful and diverse. Also the largest of the archipelago’s 18 islands, seahorse-shaped Isabela is 80 miles long and, amazingly, a well-kept secret; it is one of the least-visited of the Galápagos Islands and a perfect base for your adventures. You check into your home for the next three nights in a timeless fishing village with sandy streets where locals and visitors alike walk barefoot. A population of only 2,000 means that you soon slip into the relaxed island pace.

An introductory walk begins on the boardwalk into the marshlands or humedales—brackish lagoons that provide a habitat for four mangrove tree species, marine iguanas, flamingos, and numerous migratory birds. The wooden walkways lead to a tortoise breeding center, which has been responsible for the breeding and release to the wild of more than 2,000 giant tortoises in the past few years alone. From the center with its interpretive exhibits, a walk along the beach takes you through town and to your beachfront hotel, where you may be tempted to take a dip in the swimming pool or stop in town to get a taste of local life with an ice cream or cerveza. Dinner this evening is at the hotel or in town.

La Casa de Marita

Isabela, Galápagos, Ecuador

Located steps from the ocean, this stylish and intimate family-run hotel offers easy access to the beach and the nearby town of Puerto Villamil. Individually decorated rooms offer warm colors and unique artwork with either Pacific or garden views. Outdoor café and lounge seating, with covered balconies and umbrellas, flows from the hotel right out to the sandy beach. The on-site restaurant is committed to serving fresh, local products in tempting regional dishes.

Day 2

Isabela Island

Los Tuneles, easy snorkel; optional surf lesson, easy (additional cost; please inquire at the time of the reservation request)

After a delicious breakfast including fresh fruit and rich Ecuadoran coffee, a leisurely one-hour boat trip transports you from Puerto Villamil to Los Tuneles. A spot traditionally frequented by fishermen, Los Tuneles is a remarkable natural lava formation consisting of arches and underwater caves created by the drastic change in lava temperature when it clashed with ocean water around a million years ago. Galápagos penguins, sea birds, eagle rays, and sharks can be viewed from on board the vessel as it slowly crisscrosses the labyrinth of rocks and tunnels. You disembark for a stroll along the shore, and watch the sea birds peacefully resting on the rocks as you learn about their habitat, dominated by opuntia and candelabra cacti and red mangroves. From here, it’s a five-minute ride to a perfect snorkeling location, where crystal-clear waters usher you into an underwater paradise of marine life.

Optional surf lesson (additional cost; please inquire at the time of the reservation request): Once back in town, you have time for a short siesta before meeting your surf instructor. The most famous beach break of the Galápagos is located a few minutes away from Puerto Villamil. Your instructor assists in selecting the best board depending on your experience and level, provides “on the beach” instruction for all the technical details of this fun activity, and then you get into the water and begin riding the waves, with the full support and assistance of your instructor and team.

Later, a short stroll takes you into town for dinner at one of the casual restaurants.

La Casa de Marita

Isabela, Galápagos, Ecuador

Located steps from the ocean, this stylish and intimate family-run hotel offers easy access to the beach and the nearby town of Puerto Villamil. Individually decorated rooms offer warm colors and unique artwork with either Pacific or garden views. Outdoor café and lounge seating, with covered balconies and umbrellas, flows from the hotel right out to the sandy beach. The on-site restaurant is committed to serving fresh, local products in tempting regional dishes.

Day 3

Isabela Island

Sierra Negra to Volcan Chico; 6-10 miles, moderate, or El Mirador; 4 miles, easy (elevation gain and loss of 500 ft.). Optional horseback ride to Sierra Negra (additional cost; please inquire at the time of the reservation request)

After breakfast, a one-hour drive, likely in open-back pick-up truck, brings you to the Isabela Highlands, where you gain an entirely new perspective on the Galápagos experience. At the starting point of today’s walk, you immediately notice the difference in vegetation and weather. On this southern side of the island, the southeast trade winds bring humidity, so you see the coastal desert cacti give way to more lush and diverse flora, including tropical bromeliads and epiphytes—moss- and orchid-type plants. The path leads to the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano. Rising to 3,690 feet, the volcano last erupted in 2005, depositing a new and dramatic layer of lava. The Sierra Negra’s caldera is the second largest in the world, with a diameter measuring approximately 6½ miles. As you circle the crater, you spot a variety of birds, including finches and flycatchers as well as the Galápagos hawk. Lava lizards scuttle underfoot. From the volcano’s rim, you continue to Chico Volcano with its steaming fumaroles—bubbling gas vents—and unusual lava formations, a visual record of the island’s geological history. From the walk’s highest points, you enjoy spectacular views of Isabela’s other volcanoes and nearby islands. Along the walk, you encounter two types of lava (aa and pahoehoe), feel the steam beneath you, and witness new life being created from scratch. Please note that this walk can be modified to meet your interests and energy levels, or you may also choose to reach Sierra Negra on horseback.

Returning to your hotel in the late afternoon, you have time for a swim in the ocean or swimming pool before venturing into town for dinner at a restaurant that takes full advantage of the warm ocean breeze, providing a little slice of paradise.

La Casa de Marita

Isabela, Galápagos, Ecuador

Located steps from the ocean, this stylish and intimate family-run hotel offers easy access to the beach and the nearby town of Puerto Villamil. Individually decorated rooms offer warm colors and unique artwork with either Pacific or garden views. Outdoor café and lounge seating, with covered balconies and umbrellas, flows from the hotel right out to the sandy beach. The on-site restaurant is committed to serving fresh, local products in tempting regional dishes.

Day 4

Santa Cruz Island

Transfer to Santa Cruz. Private boat tour to Daphne Island with snorkeling options

Today you leave lovely Isabela and fly to the island of Baltra. Upon arrival, you transfer to the Itabaca Canal, just five minutes away, where Favian, a former fisherman, takes you on a short exploration in his boat. Select fishermen, in agreement with local authorities, have exclusive touring rights over a specific Galápagos zone.

Favian takes you on a unique visit through an extraordinary site that few people have the opportunity to see, providing exclusive access to the incredible scenery and amazing marine life of the Galápagos. The excursion provides close encounters with the famous Galápagos sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and marine iguanas. You also learn about the two evolutionary biologists, Peter and Rosemary Grant from Princeton University, who studied Darwin’s finches and showed “evolution in action,” the subject of their Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Beak of the Finch. Continuing to a snorkeling spot, you can swim with tropical fish and other marine life and then break for lunch aboard Favian’s boat, anchored at a secluded beach. Time permitting, while strolling the white-sand beach, with luck, you might spot sea turtles swimming in the water.

Later, you arrive at your home for the next three nights, an eco-resort that offers a private beach, large swimming pool, and convenient access to the trails and beaches of Santa Cruz as well as bustling Puerto Ayora, the Galápagos’s largest town with 12,000 residents. This afternoon, you have free time to relax at your hotel and enjoy its private beach and swimming pool. Or, you may wish to take the complimentary boat shuttle into town to stroll along its quiet streets and explore the shops. Dinner is either at the hotel (perhaps poolside) or in town at a favorite restaurant.

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador

This historical family-run property located on the waterfront has been designed to incorporate the natural surroundings of the Galápagos—highlighting unmatchable views with spacious guestrooms. Near town, but in a serene setting, its private waterfront deck and pier invite relaxation and offer alfresco dining and drinks, and the on-site cozy bar and café has its original fireplace. Please note all guest rooms are nonsmoking.

Day 5

Santa Cruz Island

Highlands of Santa Cruz to visit with the wild tortoises. Tortuga Bay walk & beach; 3 miles, easy

In order to see more of the giant Galápagos tortoise, a 30-minute drive takes you from your hotel to a private farm that conserves pristine native and endemic vegetation for the habitat of these magnificent creatures. The trail that winds through this landscape provides plenty of chances to marvel at the Galápagos tortoise in all its splendor—just don’t forget your camera! These majestic giant tortoises of Santa Cruz—part of a family best known for their dome-shaped shell and gigantic form—are often found partly submerged in mud ponds to combat skin parasites or to regulate their body temperature on warm and sunny days. After becoming acquainted with your new hard-backed friends, you continue on to explore the volcanic origins of the island by walking through the intriguing 1,312-foot-long Lava Tunnel to the other side.

Later, an easy walk just under two miles each way leads to stunning Tortuga Bay. A boardwalk traverses a field of prickly pear cacti and matazarno, and palo santo (“holy stick”) trees, where mockingbirds and finches are abundant. At Tortuga Bay, you come upon the beautiful white sand beach that is often deserted except for the wildlife. Walking the full length of the beach, you arrive at a secluded cove with calm, inviting waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, an ideal place to relax and enjoy the ocean water.

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador

This historical family-run property located on the waterfront has been designed to incorporate the natural surroundings of the Galápagos—highlighting unmatchable views with spacious guestrooms. Near town, but in a serene setting, its private waterfront deck and pier invite relaxation and offer alfresco dining and drinks, and the on-site cozy bar and café has its original fireplace. Please note all guest rooms are nonsmoking.

Day 6

Santa Cruz Island

Snorkeling and swimming at Bahia Ballena. Dinner with fisherman’s family and hands-on cooking class

This morning, a short boat ride takes you eight nautical miles from Puerto Ayora to the sandy beaches of La Fe—an ocean inlet where Galápagos sea lions and marine iguanas bask on carpetweed and lava rocks. Here, you can snorkel through an underwater world of submerged lava formations and small reefs teeming with tropical marine life—king angelfish, barberfish, striped salemafish, damselfish, surgeonfish, and gnarled sea cucumbers. Reaching depths of 30 feet, the sandy ocean floor is home to Pacific green sea turtles and long-tailed stingrays of different shapes and sizes. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the leatherback sea turtles during their migratory stage. On land, La Fe is home to the predominant Darwin’s finch as well as the yellow warbler, who spread their wings among candelabra and prickly pear opuntia cacti in search of food and nesting spots. When they aren’t trying to steal fish from blue-footed boobies, frigate birds keep a close lookout from the red, black, and white mangroves abundant in the lava field landscape.

On the boat trip back, you may throw a fishing line in the water to try your luck, perhaps landing a tuna fish or a bonito that will be on the menu for dinner. You return to your hotel for a short rest before being welcomed at Favian’s home for a family dinner with the catch of the day. Here you can learn to prepare your own ceviche, the favorite dish of the Ecuadorian coast, from the freshest ingredients imaginable—a fitting celebratory dinner to say farewell to the magical Galápagos Islands.

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador

This historical family-run property located on the waterfront has been designed to incorporate the natural surroundings of the Galápagos—highlighting unmatchable views with spacious guestrooms. Near town, but in a serene setting, its private waterfront deck and pier invite relaxation and offer alfresco dining and drinks, and the on-site cozy bar and café has its original fireplace. Please note all guest rooms are nonsmoking.

Day 7

Santa Cruz Island

Departure from Baltra

This morning, you bid the islands adiós before the short drive to the Canal de Itabaca, which you cross by boat to Baltra Island, and from there, catch your flight back to the mainland of Ecuador.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a Country Walkers adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call Country Walkers at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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