Galapagos Elements (Maexgal) offers this First Class 7days/6nights Private Island-Hopping Soft Adventure program on the world-famous Galapagos Islands. This tour is designed for those families or adventurers looking for a close contact with nature while enjoying the fantastic landscapes and marvelous fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands. First, we will visit the magnificent spots of San Cristobal Island. Then, we will head to the historical Floreana Island to visit Asilo de La Paz, which was home of the legendary Witmer family. Our next stop will be on Isabela Island, where we walk up to the rim of the impressive crater of the Sierra Negra Volcano (the 2nd largest crater in the world). Our last visits will be on Santa Cruz Island where we enjoy visits to Tortuga Bay beach, visit the well-known Charles Darwin Station, Las Grietas visitor point and the highlands of Santa Cruz.
Our accommodations will be in small first-class boutique hotels which give us the opportunity to share the life of the locals.
DAY 1. Monday
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island)
San Cristobal Island: Interpretation Center, Cerro Tijeretas & Punta Carola.
Flying from Quito or Guayaquil, you will arrive at around midday (local time) to the airport of San Cristobal Island on the small city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and where you will be greeted at the lobby by our Naturalist Guide. Your baggage will be handled by one of our crew members who transport them directly to the Hotel while our bus transport will take us to the hotel where we welcome you with a drink before being allocated in your rooms. Following lunch our guide will give a short explanation about the afternoon activities. At 2 p.m. we start our walking tour to visit the Interpretation Center of San Cristobal, located in the outskirts of the small city of Pto. Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Province. The guide gives us a great introduction to the islands, from the natural and human history, to the actual efforts taken by the National Park and marine reserve to protect the fragile environment. We then walk up to the place known as Frigate Bird Hill. This short hike starts from the interpretation Center and takes about 30 minutes to reach the top of the hill, where visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the white beaches and the amazing Kicker Rock formation emerging from the Pacific Ocean. The hill is often visited by both the species of “magnificent” and “great” frigate birds who nest here in certain times of the year. Then we descend towards the small cove known as Punta Carola, a place where we find a colony of cute sea lions. A great spectacle! Walk back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.
Included: Transfer San Cristobal Airport – Hotel + Local English-Speaking Naturalist Guide + Hotel Accommodations + Lunch.
Hotel: Miconia Sea Side (www.hotelmiconia.com/seaside).
DAY 2. Tuesday
San Cristobal Island
A.M. San Cristobal Highlands (El Progreso – Centro de Crianza Tortugas – Puerto Chino) /. P.m. Loberia.
After breakfast, our transport will take you up to the highlands of San Cristobal Island. Our first visitor point will be to Laguna El Junco (El Junco Lagoon). Rainwater and condensation have collected for hundreds of years in the caldera of an extinct volcano, creating this haven for frigate birds.
The lake is the main water supplier for the island population and thus of vital importance today. Hiking around the lake offers views of practically the entire island including San Joaquin Hill, the island’s highest point. Our next stop will be at Cerro Colorado Turtle Breading Center. Here we can learn about the hard work developed by scientists to preserve the species of the Giant Galapagos Turtles. There is a nice walk on a trail which permits you to be in close contact with the turtles of the different sizes, from the tiny ones to the giant oldest ones. After this our transport will take us to the south east side of the Island, to a parking area from where a 15 minutes’ walk takes us to a beautiful beach known as Puerto Chino. This amazing place is located 24.5 km from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and it is composed by white sandy beach. Here and with little luck we can observe marine turtles, frigate birds, blue footed bobbies, Galapagos pelicans and other marine birds. The entire area is very scenic. After our visit, we will be transported back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno where you will have time for lunch (on your own). In the afternoon we make a tour to the place known as La Loberia where we find a huge colony of sea lions. The area is a nice small cove where we can swim in the company of playful sea lions. Transport back to the hotel and in the evening, we enjoy a group dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Included: Transfers + Local English-Speaking Naturalist Guide + Hotel Accommodations + Breakfast + Lunch + noted visits.
Hotel: Miconia Sea Side (www.hotelmiconia.com/seaside) (or similar).
DAY 3. Wednesday
Floreana & Isabela Islands
A.m. Travel to Floreana. Visit Highlands of Floreana. Lunch in Floreana and P.m. travel to Isabela. Visit Humedales y Centro Crianza.
Our day starts with and early breakfast and then at 6:30 a.m. and using our first-class Galapagos Element Wind Yacht, we start our 4 hours navigation towards the historical Floreana Island. Floreana has an area of 173 square km (67sq mi) formed by volcanic eruptions like most main islands of the archipelago, with the highest point being Cerro Pajas at 640m (2,100ft). It was named after Juan José Flores, the first president of Ecuador during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the archipelago. It was previously called Charles Island (after King Charles II of England), and Santa Maria after one of Columbus’ ships. In Puerto Velasco Ibarra, the small town existing in the area, is living a population of about 120 persons. The small town has a nice simplicity and exudes a lot of calm and tranquility
Up on arrival at the shores of Puerto Velasco Ibarra, a local community “marine taxi” will transport us from the Yacht to the pier from where a local transport called “chiva” will take us up to the highlands to the place known as “Asilo de La Paz” (Haven of Peace), known for its bizarre history as one of the first occupied spaces of the islands by a German family with the last name of Wittmer. We will enjoy the beautiful surroundings with native flora and perhaps we will encounter some Giant Galapagos Turtles roaming freely on the forest. Later we explore the caves where the Wittmer family used to live and then we return to the town to enjoy a lunch in one of the small local restaurants.
After lunch we start our navigation towards Isabela Island where we expect to arrive after 3 hours of navigation to Puerto Villamil, one the nicest towns of the archipelago. Same as in Floreana, a local “marine taxi” will take us from the yacht to the pier of Pto. Villamil and from where a local transport will take us to the “Iguana Crossing” Hotel located in front of a beautiful beach and where we will overnight for 2 nights. After checking in, we will go for a walk to the place known as “Los Humedales” (Wet-Land). This awesome area is characterized by sandy beaches, rocky shores, and mangroves. During the walk along the main trail, you can see all four species of mangroves found in Galapagos and observe pink flamingos and migratory birds including whimbrel, short-billed dowitcher, Wilson’s phalarope, common tern, blue-winged teal, osprey, black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, greater and lesser yellowlegs to name a few. Continuing the path, we arrive to the Tortoise Breeding Center, where we can see tortoises from all sizes and from different subspecies. After finishing our afternoon visit, our transport will take us back to the hotel. Free time to enjoy the beautiful beach of Puerto Villamil.
Included: Transfers + Yacht Galapagos Element + Local English-Speaking Naturalist Guide + Hotel Accommodations + breakfast + Lunch + noted visits.
Hotel: Iguana Crossing (www.iguanacrossing.com.ec/en/) (or similar).
DAY 4. Thursday
Isabela: a.m. Sierra Negra or Tintoreras. P.m. Free.
Weather depending, in the morning we can visit the beautiful place known as Tintoreras or make a hike up to the rim of the impressive Sierra Negra Volcano.
Tintoreras: Access to this location is easy where visitors can land during high or low tide to this beautiful visitor site located south of Puerto Villamil. It has a small bay of completely calm turquoise waters, where you can appreciate sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays and many more species of oceanside fauna and flora. The bay is connected to a shallow crevice of crystal-clear water which closes when the tide is low and is a favorite resting spot for sharks and fish life. Most of the trail in this visit point is “Ah Ah” type lava, except for a white sand beach and a black stone beach. The first beach we will encounter is popular with sea lions that are found sleeping peacefully, as well as marine iguanas that nest in the area. You can also see some Nolana galapageia plants, a rare endemic plant in the area not common in Ecuador, since this species is typical of continental coastal zones and belongs to a genus whose distribution is restricted to Chile and Peru. The second beach is surrounded by button mangrove (Conocarpus erecta) and white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa). Throughout the trail you can see many marine iguanas in the rocks or under the mangroves.
Las Tintoreras is one of the few places where the iguanas breed successfully because of the absence of non-native animals that could kill the new born reptiles. Various parts of Las Tintoreras are ideal for nesting marine iguanas. During nesting season, be very careful when exploring the area. Reef sharks (here known as Tintoreras) have nocturnal feeding habits and certain individuals remain inside the crevice and marine ponds during the day to rest. For this reason, you are not allowed to swim in this place. We’ll head back to the hotel for lunch and then you will have a free afternoon to enjoy the beautiful beach of Isabela Island.
Sierra Negra Volcano is a large shield-type volcano located at the South eastern end of Isabela Island and it rises to an altitude of 1124m. It sits between with the volcanoes Cerro Azul to the west and Alcedo to the north. It is also one of the most active of the Galapagos volcanoes with the most recent eruption in June 2018.
Our guided tour to the volcano starts at Puerto Villamil with a car drive of about 30 minutes to where we start our 1 to 1.5 hour walk towards the rim of the giant caldera along its East side. The view is amazing and impressive since the caldera, with dimensions of 7.2 x 9.3 kms, is considered the 2nd biggest crater in the world (after the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania).
From the several viewpoints located along the rim of the crater we can observe down inside of the crater the recent lava flow of the 2005 volcanic eruption. After another 2 hours hike from the rim of the Sierra Negra crater to the area known as Chico Volcano, we will find an interesting sight where it is possible to observe some fumes and explore this Martian-like landscape. From here we can also observe the faraway volcanoes of Isabela Island. This last visit is recommended for those tourists with good physical conditions and depends on the group. Return to Pto. Villamil for lunch and afterwards you will have a free time to enjoy the beautiful sandy beach of Isabela.
Included: transfers + Local English-Speaking Naturalist Guide + Hotel Accommodations + Breakfast + Lunch + noted visits.
Hotel: Iguana Crossing (www.iguanacrossing.com.ec/en/) (or similar).
DAY 5. Friday
Santa Cruz Island
Isabela – Pto. Ayora: a.m. Navigation to Pto. Ayora. P.m. Visit F. Llerena Interpretation Center & Charles Darwin Station.
The day starts with breakfast in the hotel and then at 8 a.m. and then transfer to the pier to board our first-Class Galapagos Element Yacht and immediately we start our navigation towards Santa Cruz Island where we will arrive after 2.5 hours of navigation to the city of Puerto Ayora, the town with the biggest population in the archipelago. Disembark and walk to the Ikala Galapagos Hotel where after checking in, we will enjoy a nice lunch. After a short rest we start a walk to visit the Fausto Llerena Interpretation Center where we learn about the Galapagos National Park work and observe turtles of different species and sizes and land iguanas. Here we will also be able to observe the body of the world-famous turtle Lonesome George which now is in exhibition at the museum of the interpretation center. Walking further, we will find the Charles Darwin Station where the scientists develop their research work to protect and conserve the amazing nature of Galapagos. Here we will visit the small museum of the station. Free time.
Included: Transfers + Galapagos Element Yacht + Local English-Speaking Naturalist Guide + Hotel Accommodations + Breakfast + Lunch + noted visits.
Hotel: Ikala Galapagos Hotel (www.ikalagalapagoshotel.com) (or similar).
DAY 6. Saturday
Santa Cruz Island
A.m. Tortuga Bay / p.m. Las Grietas.
A.m. After breakfast in the hotel, we start our day hiking towards the shores of the Pacific Ocean, to one of the most beautiful beaches of the Galapagos, to the place known as Tortuga Bay. After some 40 minutes to 1-hour walk, we arrive to the heavenly spot, where the soft coral sand and nice scenery make this a special location for anyone visiting. The first part of the beach has strong waves so not recommended for swimming but walking west we will reach a beautiful bay of calm water. Here we can observe colonies of Marine iguanas, boobies and marine birds, as well as mangroves, cacti forest and interesting flora of the coast. Time to enjoy the beach and then we will return to the town. Free time for lunch and rest in the hotel and in the afternoon, we will make a walk to visit the place known as Las Grietas. This is a place where you can swim in crystal clear waters surrounded by craggy rock walls. On the way (30 to 40 minutes’ walk) to this place we’ll find plenty of incredible nature on the path to the relatively hidden swimming spot, which you can reach by crossing a rocky lava field and walking by a cactus forest, before finally descending to the cool waters. Jump off the rock platform to make a splash or grab your snorkel to check out the mysteries that lie beneath the surface. Walk back to Puerto Ayora where you will have a free time for last shopping and visits of this dynamic town.
Included: Hotel Accommodations in Double/Twin rooms in the Ikala Galapagos Hotel (or similar) + Professional English/Spanish speaking Galapagos Naturalist Guide + noted excursions + Farewell dinner.
Hotel: Ikala Galapagos Hotel (www.ikalagalapagoshotel.com) (or similar).
DAY 7. Sunday
Santa Cruz Island – Baltra Airport
Pto Ayora – Manzanillo Farm – Baltra Airport
In the morning we enjoy breakfast in the hotel and then with our private transport, we take (20 minutes) you up to the highlands of Santa Cruz island to visit el Manzanillo private farm (or similar) where we will have an amazing experience observing the giant Galapagos Turtles on natural state. Tortoises are very sensitive and will typically withdraw into their carapaces as soon as they see you coming close. It is very important not to bother, touch or feed these amazing animals. Then, we continue our drive (20 minutes) towards the Itabaca Channel which separates Santa Cruz island from Baltra Island, but before we arrive to the channel, we will be stopping by the natural formation known as “The twins” (Los Gemelos) Craters, that lies on the route to the Itabaca Canal. There 2 craters formed by the collapse of the lava flow. Then we continue our trip and after crossing the channel, a public airport bus will take us to the airport where our guide will assist you with the airline check inn process. Enjoy your flight back to the continent (Guayaquil or Quito).
Included: Private transport to the channel + Professional English/Spanish speaking Galapagos Naturalist Guide + noted excursions + public Ferry to cross the Itabaca Channel + public bus to the airport.
| 2019 Private Island-Hopping Tour Gross Prices (US$) per Person:
|Gross us$ pp||8730||6460||5360||4600||4135||3790||3525||3325||3165||2820||2670||2360||1100|
| Included on Price:
Included: private first-class Galapagos Element Wind Yacht transfers within Galapagos Islands as noted on itinerary, first class hotel accommodations in double or twin bed rooms in comfortable small local hotels, English/Spanish local speaking guides, all private excursions as mentioned in the itinerary, noted meals.
Not included: International and Domestic flights, entrance fees to the Galapagos National Park and other parks and reserves, airport taxes, extras, extra drinks, tips, personal expenses, other meals, personal travel insurance, optional excursions.
Hotels & Yacht:
First Class Hotels (or similar):
San Cristobal: Hotel Miconia Sea Side (www.hotelmiconia.com/seaside) (or similar)
Isabela Island: Iguana Crossing (www.iguanacrossing.com.ec/en/) (or similar)
Yacht: Galapagos Element Wind (www.galapagoselements.com)