Ecuador's most famous destination - the Galapagos Islands - offers discovery and adventure. During your visit, you will explore three of the islands where you will see an array of incredible wildlife, from the iconic giant tortoises to rays and penguins. You will experience all of the best ways to see the Galapagos - hiking, boat travel, kayaking, snorkeling and stand up paddleboarding.
We dive into adventure just after we arrive! We will enter the airport through a special VIP lounge where you will have a chance to change clothes, put on some sunscreen and get a cool drink before we transfer to the Itabaca Channel to explore its turquoise waters. We will have a chance to kayak, snorkel and stand up paddleboard (SUP) where we will see some of the famous Galapagos wildlife such as blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. There’s no better introduction to the Galapagos than to get on the water upon arrival! We will glide through beautiful red mangrove forests and along lava rock cliffs on water so clear we can see sea life in the shallows. Our ocean (sit on top) kayaks come in doubles or singles, and life jackets are provided. A support boat escorts us throughout the water activities to ensure safety and to provide water, snacks and towels between activities.
From Itabaca Channel we head up to the Santa Cruz highlands where our exclusive giant tortoise reserve and tented camp is located. Perched high on a hillside overlooking the ocean, Magic Galapagos Tented Camp will be our home for the next two nights. The sounds of nature will be our lullaby in the evenings, and the Milky Way will be our night light. We’ll be able to feast our eyes on the mountains and forest surrounding the lodge, and enjoy the peace of having the entire hillside to ourselves, with the exception of seasonal resident giant tortoises. Watching the colorful sunset from Magic’s western perch is the perfect segue into evening. Dinners are sumptuous three course affairs, prepared by expert chefs in an open-air kitchen in the main lodge. A favorite post-dinner activity is a short walk to the natural lava tubes on the reserve for a night cap in the one-of-a-kind ‘Lava Lounge!’ It’s the perfect spot to relax around the fire and share stories from the day’s adventures.
The Sea Finch boat will deliver us to Punta Carrion, where we will have the chance to snorkel in its beautiful waters. We will have the chance to see a variety of tropical fish and graceful rays, and if we’re lucky, we might see white-tipped reef sharks that rest on the sandy ocean floor. In the afternoon, we will visit South Plazas Island. Just a few hundred meters from the eastern shore of Santa Cruz Island, the Plazas Islands were formed from an uplifted seabed, almost giving them a tilted tabletop quality. We will disembark (dry landing) on South Plazas where we will be greeted by a colony of sea lions. As we make our way up the shore, we will come upon a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents. The succulents are a beautiful groundcover in color contrast to the luminescent green prickly-pear cactus grove that dots the shore – it’s an incredibly unusual and memorable vista. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath the cactus patiently waiting for pears to drop. As we make our way further along the trail, we approach the southern cliff of the island. From there, we will observe nesting swallow-tailed gulls and several sea birds such as tropic birds, Nazca and blue footed boobies, as well as spend time taking in the beautiful views. We’ll enjoy lunch on the yacht with island views before returning to Santa Cruz. Along the way, we will likely see rays, turtles and other marine life as our boat speeds through the Pacific waters. We will then head back up into the Santa Cruz highlands for another memorable night at Magic Galapagos.
On Tintoreras we will see almost all of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife: white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. It’s like the Galapagos in miniature! After walking on the island, we will have a chance to snorkel in the bay. Don’t be surprised if some of the penguins or sea lions jump in to play alongside you in the water! In the afternoon, we bike the Wetlands Trail where we can see marine iguana colonies and a number of different types of mangrove trees (all four can be seen here) as well as enjoying the network of trails, beaches and historic sites. At the end of the trail is the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940’s by Second World War prisoners held at the US base on the islands. Our guide will explain the importance of the Wall of Tears, giving us a glimpse into the lives of the island’s previous inhabitants. On this network of trails you will catch some beautiful views of the village below and we will have the chance to see birds and, maybe even some wild giant tortoises. After our ride, we will return to the Isabela Beach House to freshen up before heading into the heart of Puerto Villamil for dinner.
This fascinating walk usually begins with some morning fog and drizzle which sometimes persists in the shadow of the volcano, adding to its mysterious character. Despite the drizzle, we might see Galapagos hawks, finches, flycatchers and short-eared owls en route. When we reach the rim of the Sierra Negra crater, the second largest in the world after the Ngorongoro in Tanzania, we will see the real reward for our efforts. The crater is so large, and the views so expansive, that photos can’t do it justice, but bring your binoculars and camera anyway! Later, as we head towards Volcan Chico, we may get the feeling we are walking on Mars due to the alien landscape. While it appears to be utterly desolate, a closer look reveals small lizards scurrying among the rocks. From its rim, we will enjoy more amazing views along with lava tubes and fumaroles. After Volcan Chico and its extreme landscape, we will relax under the shade of a lovely “jaboncillo” tree to enjoy a delectable picnic lunch while taking in the spectacular and expansive views over the central and northern parts of Isabela Island. In the distance, we will be able to see Fernandina, Pinzon and Santa Cruz Islands. We then head back down to complete our day of hiking (16 km in total) and relax on the beaches of Puerto Villamil.