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Island Hopping - 6 Nights Itinerary

On a Surtrek “island-hopping tour,” non-seagoing travelers can enjoy the highlights of the Galapagos Islands without compromising their comfort and need to be on solid land. Instead, travelers spend their nights in modern hotels on the islands, while heading out each morning on speed boats that take them to a different island each day. In this way, boat trips are combined with trekking, wildlife watching and snorkeling excursions.

This well thought out 7-day itinerary through the “enchanted Islands” will bring you face-to-face with 150-year-old giant tortoises on your first afternoon. Over the course of your stay, you will visit the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela, as well as Bartolome or South Plazas Island, and North Seymour Island or Santa Fe Island, where a unique natural environment will be in store for you. Snorkel with sea lions, soak up the sun with the iguanas, or simply marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds you on any given day in the magical Galapagos archipelago!

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Testimonials

“We loved every moment of our trip and could not have done it without Ligia and Surtrek. I highly recommend them!”Irene Alcock

Highlights
Galapagos Islands, Tortuga Bay Beach, Sierra Negra Volcano, Tintoreras Islet, Las Tuneles, Wetlands
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1: Flight from the Ecuadorian Mainland to the Galapagos Islands – Santa Cruz Highlands – Puerto Ayora
Day 2: Island-Hopping Tour to an Uninhabited Island
Day 3: Island-Hopping Tour to an Uninhabited Island
Day 4: Tortuga Bay Beach / Speed Boat Ride to Isabela Island
Day 5: Sierra Negra Volcano / Tintoreras Islet
Day 6: Los Tuneles / Wetlands
Day 7: Early Morning Speed Boat Ride Back to Santa Cruz Island / Transfer to Baltra Airport
Galapagos Map
Detailed Itinerary
Day 1
Flight from the Ecuadorian Mainland to the Galapagos Islands – Santa Cruz Highlands – Puerto Ayora

You will be picked up from your hotel in Quito and driven to the airport for your flight to the legendary Galapagos Islands.

Upon arrival in the archipelago at the Baltra airport, you will travel by shuttle bus to the Itabaca Channel, followed by a 5-minute ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island, and then an hour’s drive to the town of Puerto Ayora.

En route, we will stop at a Highlands Reserve to see amazing Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild. You will also have a chance to walk through lava tunnels before having lunch at a local restaurant.

We will reach Puerto Ayora in the afternoon, where you will check in at your selected hotel and still have plenty of free time to explore the town at your leisure. Later that evening, there will be a welcome dinner for you at a local restaurant.

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Lunch - Dinner
Day 2
Island-Hopping Tour to an Uninhabited Island

[To protect the fragile environment of the Galapagos Islands, the park administrators control the flow of visitors to the various islands. Consequently, just in case one site reaches is visitor limit for this day, therefore becoming unavailable for us to visit, we are proposing alternative sites for days two and three.]

Option 1: BARTOLOME ISLAND*

  • Departure: 6 a.m. (Approximately) bus pick up.
  • Travel time: After being picked up from your hotel, a 40-minute bus ride will take you across the island to the Baltra Channel, where we will embark onto a passenger boat that has a restroom and plenty of room to relax for the 2-hour journey to Bartolome Island.
  • The Tour: The tour begins with a hot breakfast on board the boat, along with a short introduction and tour briefing by a National Parks-accredited bilingual (English/Spanish) guide. Once we reach the island, we will disembark and take a short 40-minute walk up to the 114-meter-high summit of the island. The dramatic views here make this a fantastic spot for group photos. The trail leads through a wild and otherworldly moon-like lava landscape, a walk that advances along a wooden boardwalk built to protect visitors and the erosion of the trail.

A hot lunch and refreshments are provided back on the boat. After this, you will have a chance to go snorkeling in a small sandy cove in which you can try to keep up with the speedy Galapagos penguins there. Numerous varieties of colorful reef fish, green sea turtles and various rays are also often spotted around this snorkeling site. The best way to photograph the penguins, however, is during the ride in a "panga" (a small boat), which will take you close to the rocks and around Pinnacle Rock. It's possible to get within 3 or 4 meters of the birds while they look on, seemingly uninterested in your fascination with them.  A light snack will be provided on the return trip to Baltra Channel, where the bus will drive you back to your hotel.

  • Return:  Approx. 5 p.m.

(*) Bartolome Island is situated just off the east coast of Santiago Island and is one of the younger islands in the archipelago. This island and Sullivan Bay (off Santiago Island) were named after naturalist and lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, who was a lieutenant on board the HMS Beagle. Though having a total land area of just 1.2 sq. km., Bartolome Island offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the archipelago. The island consists of an extinct volcano and a variety of red, orange, green and black glistening volcanic formations.

 

Option 2: PLAZAS ISLAND*

  • Departure: 8 (Approximately)  a.m. bus pick-up
  • Travel Time: A 40-minute bus ride, followed by a 1-hour boat ride.
  • Tour: Once on the island, we will follow a path through a forest of Opuntia cactus, which often reach heights of 10 meters. Sometimes it's difficult to know where to step due to the large numbers of land iguanas that inhabit the island; they feed on the succulent flowers of the cactus plants here. A 1 km.-long trail will take us through sea lion colonies and along a cliff top where Swallow-tailed gulls and other species nest. This is an excellent vantage point for photographing a variety of sea birds. Lunch will be served on the boat before we proceed to Punta Carrión (near the Baltra Channel) to go snorkeling with sea lions and non-aggressive Whitetip reef sharks.
  • Return: Approx. 4:30 p.m. (depending on sea conditions)

(*) Plazas Islands consists of two small islands just off the east coast of Santa Cruz Island, though visitors can only visit the southern island.

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 3
Island-Hopping Tour to an Uninhabited Island

[To protect the fragile environment of the Galapagos Islands, the park administrators control the flow of visitors to the various islands. Consequently, just in case one site reaches is visitor limit for this day, and therefore becomes unavailable for us to visit, we are proposing alternative sites for three.]

Option 3: NORTH SEYMOUR ISLAND*

  • Departure:    8 a.m. (Approximately)
  • Travel time: After being picked up from your hotel, a 40-minute bus ride will take you across the island to the Baltra Channel, where you will embark onto a passenger boat that will have a restroom and plenty of room to relax for the 40-minute journey to North Seymour Island.
  • The Tour: The tour begins with a guided tour by a National Parks-accredited bilingual (English/Spanish-speaking) guide. We will trek along a 2.5 km trail through the nesting sites of the largest breeding colonies in the islands. Here you will find Blue-footed boobies, Magnificent and Great frigate birds, and swallow-tailed gulls. This will also present a chance to see sea lions, Galapagos land iguanas, marine iguanas, lava lizards and pelicans.

At the conclusion of the land tour, you will return to the boat for a hot lunch and refreshments before travelling to Las Bachas Beach on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island. Here you can go snorkeling or take a relaxing walk along the beach. While snorkeling, it's possible to see many colorful types of reef fish, various rays, benign Whitetip reef sharks and Green turtles.  Returning to the Baltra Channel, the bus will then transport you back to your hotel.

  • Return: Approx. 4 p.m. (depending on sea conditions)

(*) North Seymour Island — 1.9 sq./km and located approximately 7 km north of Baltra Island — is the site of one of the largest and most active sea bird breeding colonies in the islands. It is a very dry island with no natural sources of water, leaving the animals, namely land iguanas, to rely on the succulent flowers of the cactus plants for nourishment. Whatever time of year, there is always some kind of courtship, mating, nesting or chick rearing to observe.

 

Option 4: SANTA FE ISLAND

  • Departure Time: 8:00 a.m. bus pick up.
  • Travel Time: A 40-minute bus ride, followed by one and half hour boat ride.
  • The Tour: Upon your arrival on the island, you will be treated to a raucous welcome by the local sea lion colony. Following your naturalist guide, you will walk along a trail that will lead you to Santa Fe Island's main attraction: a towering forest of giant cactuses. Scattered around these cacti trees you'll see a number of the island's indigenous sun-seekers, including marine and land iguanas, as well as rainbow-streaked lava lizards. If you're lucky, you may even spot land tortoises - the island's namesakes. After the trek, you'll be able to plunge into the cool sea and snorkel in the company of sea lions, Lion fish and sea turtles.

Santa Fe Island (its English name is Barrington Island) is a 24 sq. km. islet that lies about 20 km. southeast of Santa Cruz. Quite popular for day trips, there is good anchorage in the attractive bay on the north side of Santa Fe. A short 300-meter trail will take you to one of the tallest stands of opuntia cactus on the island to find more land iguanas. Other attractions include a sea lion colony, excellent snorkeling, marine iguanas, and of course tropical birds (Blue-footed boonies, Frigatebirds, Galapagos gulls).

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 4
Tortuga Bay Beach / Speed Boat Ride to Isabela Island

After enjoying your included breakfast at the hotel, the morning adventure will start. We will go on a trip to Tortuga Bay, a white-sand beach stretching alongside natural emerald-green ponds filled with thousands of colorful fish. It's also common to see turtles, marine iguanas and pelicans.

After lunch, we will leave for to Isabela Island by speed boat, a voyage of about 2-1/2 hours, depending on sea conditions. Upon our arrival, you will check in at your hotel and still have time to leisurely explore the town. Dinner (included) will be at a local restaurant that evening. You will then return to hotel for the night.

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Breakfast - Dinner
Day 5
Sierra Negra Volcano / Tintoreras Islet

Following breakfast, we'll head out for the Sierra Negra Volcano. After driving to the highlands of Isabela Island, we will start hiking up the slopes of the volcano to the edge of its crater. The Sierra Negra — reaching an altitude of around 1,500 meters, and having an outer diameter of approximately 9 kilometers — is the second largest lava dome in the world. We will hike along the cone to the resting place on its northeast side. 

We will have lunch at Campo Duro, which is a charming organic farm whose owners prepare their food with locally grown fruits and vegetables. Cooked on a lava-rock grill, you can enjoy a delicious lunch that will be followed by a walk along fruit tree trails. Or, you can opt to just take a nap in one of their hammocks and breathe the clean, pure air beneath a huge Mango tree.

During the afternoon, we will visit Las Tintoreras, taking a short boat trip across Isabela Island's harbor. After passing the sea lions and pelicans that bathe in the sun on the fishing boats there, we will reach the small island of Las Tintoreras. Here, we will take an easy walk through the bizarre lava landscape with its huge colonies of marine iguanas. A colony of sea lions also live here and it's common to see whitetip reef sharks resting in the water near the shore.

The views from here will be memories that you'll carry for the rest of your life! The treacherous black lava field, the emerald green sea, the red mangroves, and the cloud-capped volcanoes of Isabela Island create an afternoon backdrop you're not likely to ever forget.

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 6
Los Tuneles / Wetlands

After breakfast, we will go to Los Túneles (“The Tunnels”), an area of naturally occurring underwater stone tunnels located about an hour from the town of Puerto Villamil. Here, you can watch huge manta rays and turtles. In the background, you should be able to spot the Sierra Negra Volcano, looming like a tower above the island. At Los Túneles, you will have a chance to go snorkeling with Galapagos penguins and tropical fish.

During the afternoon, we will hike to the Humedales, the wetlands of Isabela Island. With a little luck, you'll be able to see flamingos in the lagoons. We will also cross lava tunnels that are very popular among marine iguanas.

Afterwards, we will continue to the "Wall of Tears," one of the most touching human-built monuments in the archipelago. The huge stone mound (8 meters high and around 200 meters long) was built in the 1940's by prisoners of a penal colony that was here from 1946 to 1959.

Lunch will be served at a local restaurant, and in the evening we will return to the hotel for the night.

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 7
Early Morning Speed Boat Ride Back to Santa Cruz Island / Transfer to Baltra Airport

We will head out on an early morning departure (6 a.m.) to Santa Cruz Island. Upon arrival, we will visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station*. This center includes an information center, a museum, a library, and a tortoise breeding station. Park rangers and park managers — along with others who make tremendous efforts to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site — work here for the conservation of the islands. In the tortoise breeding center you can see tortoises of different subspecies that are being prepared for reintroduction into their natural habitats.

Enjoy your last look at these "enchanted islands," a unique and wondrous paradise! You will then be accompanied to the Baltra airport for your return flight to Quito.

(*) Note: Depending on sea conditions and the schedule for the flight departing from Baltra, the visit to Charles Darwin Station will be schedule for first or last day.

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Breakfast
2017 - Price per person
2 PersonsSingle Supplement
Hotel CategoryDouble
First-Class Superior or LuxuryUS$ 4,276US$ 1,767
First ClassUS$ 3,889US$ 1,283
TouristUS$ 3,044US$ 482
Hotels
ISLANDTouristFirst ClassFirst-Class Superior or Luxury
Santa CruzVilla LagunaSol y MarFinch Bay
IsabelaAlbemarleCasa de MaritaIguana Crossing
Included in the price:
  • Accommodations in a double room (in selected hotels or comparable ones)
  • Private transportation
  • Professional bilingual (English/Spanish-speaking) guide services
  • Excursions, as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals, as indicated in the itinerary
  • Speedboat passage between islands (shared basis)
  • Island-hopping land tours (shared basis)
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Immigration Control Transit Card: $20 per person
Not included in the price:
  • International flights & Domestic flights (Quito – Galapagos Island – Quito)
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee: $100 per adult
  • Public bus transportation from Baltra – Itabaca Channel – Baltra ($10 per person for TAME airline passengers)
  • Travel Insurance (highly recommended)
  • Personal expenses
  • Items not included in the itinerary
  • Drinks
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Use of wet suits
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Island Hopping

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Testimonials

“My parent wanted to go to Peru and see Machu Picchu, Titicaca lake and Nazca Lines. Surtrek made a perfect customized plan for them. ”Nakyoung Park

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