A Private Adventure to the Enchanted Islands
We’re offering a way to see another side of the Galápagos, not from a boat, but based at comfortable hotels and lodges on Santa Cruz Island, home to the famous Charles Darwin Research Station—and Isabela Island, the largest island of the archipelago. You’ll set off each day to explore various facets of the islands not usually visited by tourist boats. Excursions include a hike up Sierra Negra Volcano—a chance to see fumaroles and a huge caldera, plus panoramic views of the ocean; snorkeling with Galápagos penguins and marine iguanas at a little-visited site off Isabela Island; and many other activities that can be arranged from the hotel.
These islands are renowned paradise for nature lovers. Their all-but-tame wildlife and extraordinary landscapes never fail to impress—it’s a “must-see” destination for young and old alike. On one of our Private Adventures, you will travel with an intimate group of close friends or family. You will pick the itinerary and the activities, we'll do everything else including provide the expertise of your dedicated guide!
Nature walks, swimming, snorkeling, sea kayaking, hiking
- Kayak and snorkel among sea lions and marine iguanas in the world’s top nature destination
- Hike on an active volcano (whose last eruption was just four years ago!)
- Experience up close and personal encounters with wildlife
- A perfect alternative to our yacht-based adventures
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Quito End Location: QuitoDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Quito
Arrive in Quito. A Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. He or she will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the elegant Swissôtel, a five-star hotel with many amenities, including a beautiful spa and indoor/outdoor swimming pools.
Day 2 : Quito
After breakfast, enjoy a half-day guided sightseeing tour of colonial Quito, the oldest part of the city (residents call it “old town” or simply “downtown”). Your tour may include Independence Plaza, surrounded by important buildings such as the government palace, the archbishop’s palace, and the cathedral built in the 16th century. Among the churches you may visit are El Sagrario, San Francisco, and La Compañia, one of the finest examples of Baroque churches in all the Americas as well as a showcase of the Quito School period. Your guide will explain the history and traditions of Quito and offer special insight into everyday life during the colonial period. After lunch in an area restaurant, the afternoon is free to relax, shop, or explore on your own.
Day 3 : To the Galápagos Islands – Isabela Island
After breakfast at the hotel you have an early transfer to the airport. With your guide, you’ll fly from Quito to Baltra, Santa Cruz Island, in the Galápagos Islands. From here you’ll connect with a local flight to Isabela Island. Transfer to a beachfront lodge in Puerto Villamil, and have the remainder of the day to swim at the beach and explore the village.
Casa Marita sports the charm and atmosphere of a large country home. Its 16 rooms—with ocean or garden views—are individually decorated with fanciful flair.
Day 4 : Sierra Negra Volcano
Today you’ll have a full-day guided nature hike up Sierra Negra (4,890') to see its 30-square-mile caldera, petrified lava formations, and fumaroles, and enjoy spectacular views of the ocean and surrounding islands. (You can also go by horseback at additional cost.) You’ll be transferred to the trailhead at Santo Tomás and from there it’s a 6- to 8-hour roundtrip hike to the rim and back. Picnic lunch en route. Among the bird life you may see are the endemic Galápagos martins (large swallows noted for their flight patterns), vermilion flycatchers, and Galápagos hawks. (Note—the weather here is often rainy; we advise bringing your rain gear.) Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.
Day 5 : Isabela Island
A full day to explore the flamingo mangrove lagoons, swim at Estuary Beach among the mangroves, snorkel with Galápagos penguins and marine iguanas at Las Tintoreras, a small island off Puerto Villamil, visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, where you’ll see tortoises of all ages and sizes, or relax and swim from the beach.
Day 6 : Isabela Island – Santa Cruz Island
Early morning to swim or take a nature walk before a transfer to Puerto Villamil airport for the local flight to Baltra on Santa Cruz Island. Transfer to the main town of Puerto Ayora, stopping to visit the highlands and search for giant tortoises in their natural environment as well as a variety of finches and other specialties of the lush fern- and bromeliad-laden forests, lava sinkholes and tunnels, and marshy lakes and mud holes where the giant tortoises wallow. You’ll explore one of the lava tunnels, then have lunch at a restaurant in the highlands and continue on to the town of Puerto Ayora.
Day 7 : Santa Cruz Island
Full day to enjoy the surroundings of Puerto Ayora. In the morning, we will kayak to Las Grietas, a beautiful calm bay near Puerto Ayora, where natural fissures in the lava cliffs have formed channels often visited by sharks and rays. Or, you can have a full morning visit to Tortuga Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Galapagos. You will arrive to Tortuga beach after an easy 30 minutes walk through a dry forest dominated by giant prickly-pear cactus. Once at the beach, you will be amazed by the beauty of this white-sand beach, one of the best of Galapagos.
In the afternoon you can visit the Charles Darwin Station or one of the nearby beaches. At an additional cost you can choose to go horseback riding on a private ranch in the highlands; take a day dive trip to a nearby island (this should be scheduled ahead of time); or go on a day boat trip to a nearby island with a naturalist guide to view wildlife (North Seymour, South Plaza, or Bartolomé on a space available basis).
Day 8 : Quito
Early morning to swim or take a nature walk before your transfer to Baltra airport for your flight to Quito, or connect with your Mountain Travel Sobek nature cruise in Galápagos. Upon arrival in Quito, you’ll be met and transferred to the Swissôtel. Dinner on your own.
Day 9 : Fly home
Private transfer to the airport for departure on homeward-bound flight, or embark on an extension to Sacha Lodge, Otavalo & Hacienda Zuleta, or Machu Picchu, Peru.
DATES: Best time to go: Year round Departures: Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.
Mimimum age: 6 years old
Call for 2014 prices
11 days option available. Please call for details: 1-800-282-8747
This luxury hotel offers comfort and professional service in an excellent location close to the Old Town and the airport. Large, comfortable rooms and great views of the surrounding area from the top.
Angermeyer Waterfront InnPuerto Ayora
Located on the "Punta Estrada" waterfront, this quiet inn is built around Gus Angermeyer's legendary cave. Lava rocks and drift wood form some of the construction materials for this uncommon piece of Galapagos history. The inn has its own beach, and is within easy reach of downtown Puerto Ayora and the beach at nearby Finch Bay. Its comfortable guest rooms all have en suite bathrooms, and the inn features a guest lounge with full bar service, generous buffet breakfast on the patio each morning, and, of course, excellent views of Academy Bay and Santa Cruz Island.
Casa de MaritaPuerto Villamil, Isabela Island
A comfortable, beach front inn, Casa de Marita, on the island of Isabela, offers incomparable views and access to one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the Galapagos Islands. Guests are invited to share the comfortable lounge, library and bar areas - your home while in the Galapagos.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Luis Die was born in Seville, Spain, and is a graduate of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid with a degree in environmental biology. He is fluent in Spanish, English, and French and has guided in Galápagos for more than a decade. In addition to being a professional nature photographer, Luis is working on a Master’s Degree in geographical ecology and is active with conservation groups on the mainland. Luis is a born teacher and enthusiastically shares his knowledge of Galápagos with people of all ages. He lives in Quito with his wife and twin sons and is our head naturalist guide, working exclusively with Mountain Travel Sobek.