Galapagos Sea Turtles & Tortoises
The Galapagos Islands are a biological paradise. Here, animals both marine and terrestrial, have adapted to the unique climate. Over a week on the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela, we will snorkel with green turtles, see giant tortoises both in the wild and as part of a conservation program, plus penguins, sea lions, marine iguanas, black tip reef sharks, rays, and much more.
2023 Date: March 4-12 (7 spots left)
Price: $3,995 per person (double occupancy).
Includes: Meals (as detailed in the itinerary below), lodging, all activities, bilingual guide, tips, and a donation to turtle conservation.
Excludes: Airfare to Ecuador & the Galapagos, personal items, and medical insurance.
Will SEE: Green sea turtles (in the water), Galapagos tortoises, sea lions, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, pink flamingoes
Probably will SEE: Rays, black tip reef sharks, Darwin’s finches,
May SEE: Penguins, seahorses, many species of birds and fish
Chance to SEE: Green sea turtle (nesting), manta rays
As of now, covid vaccinations remain required for this trip in 2023.
We try to pair up individuals with others of the same gender. If that is not available, the single supplement is $400.
Minimum recommended age is 12 years old.
Group size is limited to 12 people maximum and a minimum of 10 people are needed to confirm the trip. We are currently at 5 people registered.
Discounts available: $90 discount pp for paying by check & $150 discount for kids 17 years old and younger.
Monthly payments are available.
* Please note: We give 100% refunds on any trips that we need to cancel and our cancellation fees (when travelers cancel) can be used on any future trip, no expiration or penalties, except for cancellations made within 60 days of travel when payments to local providers has already been completed. See our full terms and conditions.
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DAY 1: ARRIVE TO GUAYAQUIL
Fly into Guayaquil International Airport (GYE) and transfer to the hotel, where the group will meet. Those who arrive in time for dinner will head out on the town. Get a good night’s sleep, as we will head out early to fly to the islands. No meals are included this day. Overnight at Hotel Macaw, a short distance from the airport.
DAY 2: TRANSFER TO SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
We will depart early for the airport to fly to the island of Baltra (2 hour flight). From there, we will transfer to the town of Puerto Ayora, where we will meet our bilingual naturalist guide for a welcome lunch. While there, we will visit the famous Charles Darwin Research Station, which for decades has led conservation and restoration efforts on the island. We will spend the night at Lava House Hotel in Puerto Ayora and have dinner at a local restaurant. Meals: BLD.
DAY 3: SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS AND TRANSFER
Heading up into the highlands of Santa Cruz you will enter into the agricultural sector. Just beyond the small town of Bellavista you will enter into one of a locally owned ranch. Wandering around these farmlands, we will take a guided walk to see the famous massive giant tortoises. After a snack of local fruit, we head up the road to a 300 meter long lava tunnel. While we recommend long pants and a flashlight, the tunnel is large enough and artificially lit so that you would be fine without one.
After departing the farm property we will head further upland to stop at a set of twin sinkholes known as “Los Gemelos” (the twins). Located on either side of the road, there are short interpretive trails which give you a unique opportunity to appreciate the endemic scalesia forest while looking out for birds like the Galapagos rock dove, the vermillion fly-catcher, tree finches and others.
After our tour, we will transfer to the island of Isabela (2 hour boat ride), where we have an orientation with our local partner IOI. The group will stay in a local mid-level hotel, double occupancy. Dinner and all meals will be together, family-style. Meals: BLD.
DAY 4: BIKE RIDE TO THE WALL OF TEARS, WETLANDS EXPLORATION, & SNORKELING
We will start early getting our mountain bikes for a ride to the Wall of Tears and a visit to the beach to learn about the history of this area. The Wall of Tears is a historic ruin surrounded by dry, desert-like vegetation. On the trip back, we will visit the Estero (estuary), a lava tunnel, and the ponds to look for wildlife. (Please note that bike riding experience is needed to participate in this activity).
After lunch, we will walk to the nearby Concha de Perla lagoon where we may see sea turtles, fish, rays, and other wildlife. Here we will test out our snorkeling gear and get used to the cooler waters of the islands. Each evening, participants will have the option to walk the nesting beach in the evening looking for nesting green turtles. Please note that this is not a significant nesting beach and encountering a turtle is not highly likely. Meals included: BLD.
DAY 5: VOLCANO SIERRA NEGRA HIKE & OPTIONAL KAYAKING
This morning, we will hike the Sierra Negra & Chico volcanoes. This is a fairly strenuous hike that takes two hours each way. Be prepared for rain or shine as the weather in this area is unpredictable. The Sierra Negra crater is the second largest in the world and is active but not erupting. After passing the crater, you will continue to the Volcan Chico (small volcano) which has impressive examples of volcanic formations. On clear days, you can see the entire northern part of the island and Fernandina Island. The tour takes approximately 5 hours.
On the way back to town in the mid-afternoon, the group will stop at a local farm for a delicious farm-to-table lunch with a great view of the island and surrounding area. Meals: BLD.
DAY 6: CUEVA DE SUCRE / MIRADOR DEL MANGO & TINTORERAS / CALERA
After breakfast, we will travel into the highlands to explore the fascinating vegetation and geology of the island. The Cueva de Sucre (Surcre Cave) is a naturally formed tunnel in the national park that takes about 10 minutes to walk through with a roughly 500 meter long trail. The trail goes through tropical vegetation, passes through the tunnel, and ends at a reforestation project that is growing endemic plants to the island. After this walk, the group will head to Mirador El Mando (Mango Viewpoint) where the group will see endemic vegetation.
After returning to the hotel, we will have lunch and rest and in the afternoon take a short boat ride to visit Tintoreras, a rocky outcropping that is home to sea lions, iguanas, and penguins on land, and green turtles and white tipped reef sharks in the water (which are not aggressive or dangerous). We begin with a short hike over the lava rocks, stopping to take pictures of the sea lion populations that have colonized the two sandy beaches. Obey signs to keep off the iguana and sea lion breeding areas, as the populations are extremely susceptible to human interference. Back on the boat, you will also have a chance to visit the point of this rocky outcropping where a small colony of Galapagos penguins reside.
After that, we take a short boat ride to La Calera. This spot is best at low tide to see the marine iguanas feeding and crossing along the channel. Here you can also find a group of green sea turtles resting along the sandy bottoms. This calm crystal clear channel is home to many fish species and even some resident shrimp. Later, we return to our hotel for dinner and a relaxing night. Optional turtle night walk after dinner. Meals: BLD.
DAY 7: TUNELES & TURTLE RESEARCH
Tuneles is a spectacular area along the coast consisting of volcanic rock with tunnels of ocean water flowing through. You’ll see desert vegetation on top with iguanas and blue footed boobies with green sea turtles moving slowly through the tunnnels. We will take time to wander around and look for turtles and sharks which can be regularly seen passing through. During the 1 hour+ ride to and from the site, look for turtles and manta rays which may be actively mating near shore. We will then move to a different section of the area where the group will snorkel green sea turtles and see other ocean wildlife such as seahorses.
After some time for rest, there will be a late afternoon optional pulling invasive plants from the lagoon. Please note that this is a physically demanding activity that requires being in the water. Optional final turtle walk after dinner. Meals: BLD.
DAY 8: RETURN TO GUAYAQUIL
This morning, the group will take a charter boat back to the Baltra Airport to fly to Guayaquil. We will likely arrive to the city late morning, so you can either catch an evening flight home or stay the night and have free time to explore the city including the malecon along the Rio Guayas (Guayas River), which has museums, parks, shops, restaurants, and more. Hotel and meals after breakfast are not included today.
DAY 9: RETURN HOME OR EXTEND YOUR STAY
WHY TRAVEL WITH US?
All profits support conservation efforts
Work directly with local researchers
Turtle Conservation: $745 of the price
Local Communities: $2,175 of the price
Travel Expenses: $1,035
Is This Trip Right For Me?
This will be an active trip that requires good physical fitness including long hikes, bike riding, and snorkeling. Both the city of Guayaquil and the Galalpagos are safe destinations, receiving more than 200,000 visitors per year. We will be staying at mid-level hotels in safe neighborhoods in both places. Be prepared for a lot of time in and on the water, snorkeling with wild animals including white tipped reef sharks, a docile shark that is not aggressive or dangerous. The most strenuous activity is the Sierra Negra Volcano hike, which is optional.