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Galapagos: In Darwin’s Footsteps (2019)

from $6,679.00

A unique trek amid the volcanic Galapagos archipelago

  • Reviews 9 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely / Moderate
  • Group Size Small Group
    6 - 15
All about the Galapagos: In Darwin’s Footsteps (2019).

Extended trekking on the island of Isabela in the remote Galapagos archipelago is a rare privilege and we are one of only a few operators allowed here. As part of this trip we enjoy a three day trek to the 11km wide crater rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano, a hike blessed with striking views of the lava-strewn landscape and its smouldering fumaroles. As well as five major volcanoes, Isabela is also one of the last remaining habitats of the Galapagos giant tortoise. Elsewhere in the Galapagos we undertake shorter walks to appreciate the geological features of these enchanting islands and discover their endemic wildlife.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 4 dinners included
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout. Groups of normally 6 to 15, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs.
* Airport Arrival and departure transfers (at designated times)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Compulsory Galapagos taxes USD$120pp, paid locally

Highlights

  • Three day camping trek to the crater rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano
  • Plenty of island walks to discover the Galapagos landscape
  • Incredible wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities with near-tame animals
  • Plenty of snorkelling opportunities with iridescent fish, playful Sea lions and turtles
  • Island hopping by motorboat but sleep in hotels and lodges (plus 2 nights tents)
  • 3 days walking with full porterage; up to 6 other walks
  • Altitude: sea-level to 1200m in Galapagos, 2850m in Quito
  • 11 nights hotels and guesthouses and 2 nights full-service wild camping in 2-person tents
  • Napo Wildlife Centre extension available
  1. Day 1 Start Quito.

    The group flight usually arrives into Quito this evening. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients.*Accommodation: Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar)**Comfortable Hotel*

  2. Day 2 Quito city tour.

    This morning you’ll have the opportunity to meet your fellow travellers as we have a welcome briefing and take a guided tour of the main sights in Quito. Quito is the second highest capital in the world, standing at 2850m on the western cordillera of the Andes. It is one of the smaller and more attractive of the colonial capitals of South America. Due to the altitude you are advised to take it easy at first.*Accommodation: Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar)**Comfortable Hotel*

  3. Day 3 Fly to San Cristobal; visit the Galapagos Interpretation Centre.

    Transfer to Quito airport and fly to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands. On arrival we settle into our hotel and have the opportunity to get a light lunch in the small town before spending some time at the Galapagos Interpretation Centre. This afternoon we walk to the cliffs at Las Tijeteras to see colonies of frigatebirds and there will be time for swimming and snorkelling close to a Sea lion colony.Today’s walking distance is approx. 5km*Accommodation: Hotel Paraiso Insular (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  4. Day 4 Snorkel Leon Dormido and walk along one of three white sand beaches.

    Travel by small motorboat to Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), an impressive lava tuft formation and stunning views of the cliffs. Several species of nesting sea birds can be found here, including Masked boobies. We will have the opportunity to snorkel and with any luck we will spot Eagle rays, Galapagos turtles, Hammerhead sharks as well as great variety of colourful fish. Continue by boat to one of three white sand beaches where we can walk: Playa Ochoa Beach, Playa Manglecito Beach or Cerro Brujo.  Playa Ochoa is an expanse of white sand dominated by a large Sea lion colony as well as being home to many birds and Marine iguanas, while Playa Mangelecito offer both the opportunity to visit a white sand beach and a mangrove area. Cerro Brujo is located in a volcanic zone,and has abundant vegetation as well as being home to Sea lions, Marine iguanas and many birds.Today’s walking distance is approx. 5km *Accommodation: Hotel Paraiso Insular (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  5. Day 5 San Cristobal highlands walk; snorkelling at Puerto Chino.

    After breakfast we drive to the highlands of San Cristobal. A short one hour walk brings us to the fringe of El Junco Lake, one of the few permanent freshwater lakes in the Galapagos where frigatebirds can often be seen bathing near the lake. The San Cristobal highlands offer panoramic views across the smaller islands lapped by the Pacific. Afterwards we visit a reserve where the famous Galapagos giant tortoises roam free before snorkelling in a nearby bay. After lunch, we can visit La Loberia, a Sea lion nursery, the perfect place to unwind surrounded by colonies of Sea lions and Marine iguanas.*Accommodation: Hotel Paraiso Insular (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  6. Day 6 Boat to Floreana; visit highlands of Floreana.

    A three hour navigation by motorboat takes us to Isla Floreana, one of the first islands to be inhabited in the Galapagos. En route we may see whales, dolphins and sea birds. After lunch we visit the highlands of Floreana, where one of the few sources of fresh water in the entire archipelago exists. Visit lava caves once used by pirates who based themselves on the islands and see a large enclosure of Galapagos giant tortoises.Today’s walking distance is approx. 3km*Accommodation: Hotel Wittmer (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  7. Day 7 Visit Sea lion colony on Floreana; sail to Isabela and visit the historical 'Wall of Tears'.

    After an early breakfast we go on a walk to discover the black volcanic beaches, which are home to Red iguanas and Sea lion colonies. There is also time for snorkelling this morning (please note that on some departures the visit to this beach might be done in the late afternoon on Day 6).  Just before midday we navigate to Isabela and see Tortuga Island, a huge eroded marine crater where thousands of sea birds such as Blue-footed and Nazca boobies, pelicans and frigatebirds nest.This afternoon we visit the Wall of Tears, a sad reminder of Isabela’s very different past when the island was used as a penal colony. Between 1946 and 1959 convicts were forced to build this wall from huge blocks of lava simply as a form of punishment, which, combined with the harsh conditions, led to many deaths. After this sobering visit we hike back to the town through the mangroves, wetlands and along sandy beaches of the coast. This is one of the best places on the islands to view migratory birds, including Wilson’s phalarope, the Blue-winged teal and if we’re very lucky, even osprey. This region has also seen the reintroduction of Galapagos giant tortoises from the breeding centre into the wild and we are likely to encounter several on our walk.Today’s walking distance is approx. 14km *Accommodation: The Wooden House (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  8. Day 8 Start Sierra Negra Volcano trek.

    Today we begin our three day trek around the Sierra Negra Volcano. With its 11km diameter, the caldera of the Sierra Negra is the second largest in the world after the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. After loading our vehicle with all of the equipment and supplies that we need for the next few days, we drive 45 minutes into the highlands to reach the start point of our walk to the volcano on the east side of the island. Our campsite will be pitched up close to the entrance whilst we start our trek towards Volcan Chico. The walk takes us across stark lava-strewn highlands punctuated with miconia shrubs and other vegetation. The otherworldly landscapes are incredible and we pass many volcanic features along the way where we can observe steam fumaroles and a variety of lava formations.Today’s walking distance is approx. 16km*Accommodation: Wild Camping**Full-service Camping*

  9. Day 9 Continue trek and camp on the rim of the crater.

    Today we walk to Volcan Azufre (Sulphur Volcano) whilst our gear is carried on horseback. The trek takes us alongside pastureland which soon changes into highland vegetation with many ferns and interesting plants to see en route. Our camp will be located close to the rim of the crater in a remote area at 900m. With good weather, there are excellent views of neighbouring Volcan Cero and we’ll have the opportunity to descend 100m into the crater to see the sulphur deposits, fumaroles and bizarre landscape. Our walk returns 100m uphill to the crater rim.Today’s walking distance is approx. 16km*Accommodation: Wild Camping**Full-service Camping*

  10. Day 10 To Puerto Villamil via Galapagos giant tortoise breeding centre.

    After breakfast we return to the entrance of the Sierra Negra where our vehicle will be waiting to return us to our guesthouse in Puerto Villamil. On our way back we stop at a Galapagos giant tortoise breeding centre, which is home to tortoises of all ages and sizes.Today’s walking distance is approx. 12km*Accommodation: The Wooden House (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  11. Day 11 Visit Las Tintoreras; afternoon free to relax.

    We spend the morning sailing to the islets and lava channels of Las Tintoreras, one of the best places in the islands to see White-tipped reef sharks, as well as penguins and Sea lions. There will be time for snorkelling today. On this morning’s excursion we may be lucky enough to spot the endangered Chatham mockingbird.The afternoon is free for swimming, snorkelling, walking or just relaxing on one of the beaches around Puerto Villamil.Today’s walking distance is approx. 3km*Accommodation: The Wooden House (or similar)**Standard Hotel*

  12. Day 12 Sail to Santa Cruz; optional visit to Charles Darwin Research Centre; visit Tortuga Bay.

    Navigate by motorboat to Santa Cruz very early this morning and have breakfast at our hotel. After breakfast we have the option of visiting the Charles Darwin Reseach Centre, which is home to the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Foundation. This is the main research centre on the islands and many visiting scientists come from all over the world to study the flora and fauna.  After our visit we’ll have lunch at one of the local restaurants. Our destination this afternoon is Tortuga Bay, a 1km stretch of white sand regarded as one of the best beaches in the Galapagos. The trail leading to the beach is paved and takes between 45 minutes to 1 hour, with possibilities to observe Galapagos finches and lizards along the way. The beach is scattered with Marine iguana’s, who lay amongst the clusters of black rocks or stroll along the sand. In the water turtles can sometimes be seen. Swimming is not recommended here due to strong currents. After a relaxing afternoon, we’ll hike the same route back towards the main town of Puerto Ayora where our hotel is located.Today’s walking distance is approx. 7km*Accommodation: Mainao Hotel (or similar)**Comfortable Hotel*

  13. Day 13 Explore Bartolome, North Seymour or Plazas Island.

    Visit either Bartolome Island, South Plaza Island or North Seymour (depending on the National Park restrictions). South Plaza Island has a remarkable vegetation of succulents and cacti that provide a unique habitat for land iguanas. The iguanas form small colonies at the base of the tall opuntia cacti, waiting for their flowers and dead pads to fall to the ground so they can feed on them. The island’s rocks are home to swallowtail gulls, shearwaters and Sea lions.North Seymour is a flat, boulder-strewn island and is a major nesting site for frigatebirds. It’s also a good place to see Blue-footed boobies performing their courtship rituals, as well as Sea lions playing in the powerful surf. Bartolome is a spectacular scene of dramatic lava cones, perfect clear turqouise sea and affords perhaps the most famous view of the Galapagos Islands, looking across the red cinder cones to the recent black lava fields on James Island. If possible we will snorkel today (usually around Bartolome) where the water is calm.*Accommodation: Mainao Hotel (or similar)**Comfortable Hotel*

  14. Day 14 Fly to Guayaquil; end Guayaquil.

    After breakfast this morning we drive to the airport at Baltra and fly to Guayaquil where it’s possible to connect with international flights this evening from 6pm onwards. Alternatively, you can extend your stay for a few extra nights or join the Napo Wildlife Centre Extension (which starts in Quito). Land only clients may prefer to organise post-tour accommodation for the night in Guayaquil and organise their international flights for the following day, in case of delays returning from the Galapagos to mainland Ecuador.

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Where you stay

Hotels & Wild Camping

11 nights hotels and guesthouses and 2 nights full-service wild camping in 2-person tents.

The hotels and guesthouses on the Galapagos Islands are generally small, family-run establishments with limited facilities, yet all have rooms with en suite bathrooms and hot water.

Camping during the Sierra Negra trek is in wild campsites – horses transport all gear and the local staff will erect tents and perform all camp chores (although of course any help is welcome!) As this is wild camping, there are no purpose built facilities such as showers or toilet blocks. Water will be provided for hand washing/cleaning and there will be a basic toilet tent. Due to national park regulations, all litter and organic food waste will be removed from the park at the end of the trek.

Optional single supplements include hotel nights and single tents.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 4 dinners are included while on this trip.

When camping, meals will be prepared for you by a chef who will cook a mixture of local and international dishes. Some days packed lunches of sandwiches, fruits and juice will be provided whilst at other times, meals will be taken at restaurants. The choice of meals in some areas of the Galapagos can be limited but special dietary requirements can usually be catered for if we are advised at the time of booking. When flying to and from the Galapagos, snacks are usually included on the flights.

This trip has been given grade 2: Leisurely/Moderate.

Most of the walking is at a leisurely pace but the Sierra Negra Volcano trek has been graded moderate. In the Galapagos the underfoot conditions will often be very rough, with some of the walking being done on sharp lava rocks. It is also likely to be hot at times, as the lava reflects the sun fiercely. We recommend this trip to those who are in a good state of physical fitness and who can withstand strong sunshine. A little patience and flexibility are also required, as it is not always possible to follow a strict schedule due to weather and sea conditions and sometimes it is better to do the planned activities in a different order (but almost always on the same day as this activity is originally planned).

Please note that walking times stated are given as approximates only and these usually include lunch and photo stops although this will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Altitude: sea-level to 1200m in Galapagos, 2850m in Quito

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Galapagos

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the wildlife up so close and personal
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo was an amazing group leader in every sense of the word. Everything well organised, always on hand to help . Very good communicator, with a fabulous sense of humour...
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Although the trip says leisurely/ moderate due to the humidity when we travelled some may find the walking harder than they expected.. never underestimate the strength of the sun ( as Pablo would say)
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it !!!!

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Galapagos trip

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved all the snorkelling. My favourites were santa fe and floreana. There was a mix up with bookings - at the end of the trip we went to santa fe instead of bartholome.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian was knowledgable and very patient. There were also galapagos guides who were good. You just had to turn up and everything happened.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took my own snorkel and mask. I was glad i did as i could make sure it fitted properly before i went. You can hire them though. The water was cold and some days you did need a wet suit. I hired one. For the hike i had walking boots and a walking pole. I carried the pole like an ornament most of time. However i think it could get very muddy on the trail. If it is muddy, A walking pole would be handy. The trail down to the suphur mine was steep. You don't need to buy much water. All the hotels had water fountains with filtered water. Souvenirs were more expensive than i thought they would be. I waited until santa cruz to buy things. I got a few bits from darwin research centre. The bus ride from the airport to the hotel can take ages. Sometimes the traffic was horrendous.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Galapagos in Darwins footsteps

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snorkelling with sea turtles ( never seen so many) rays and sea lions and the trek up to the rim of Sierra Negra. View of the caldera was amazing.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Fabian was very knowledgeable , had a great sense of humour and the patience of a saint.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    With hindsight I wouldn't have bothered to take my own snorkel gear - there was plenty available to hire .
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A trip to Galapagos had been on my bucket list for years - I'm not a good sea traveller so opted for this land based trip - it didn't disappoint.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Fascinating wildlife on land and in the sea

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each island and activity on this trip was well worth doing. Snorkling with sea lions, sea turtles, the many colourful fish and underwater landscape - especially Kicker Rock and La Loberia beach. Strolling along the beach in Isabella seeing blue footed boobies and pelicans diving to feed on a shoal of fish was one of many highlights. The panorama walk along the volcano crater on Isabella.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo looked after us well and made sure everything ran smoothly. He had good knowledge of all the areas visited and ensured the best local operators were used for boat trips etc. In addition we used local guides as required by the National Park.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of sun cream - it's very expensive to buy in Ecuador. The weather in October is mild to hot (20-30degC) and remains warm overnight (~20degC) but if you go on the wild camping trip on Isabella then overnight is likely to be much colder! If you don't want to buy a wet suit investing in a rash vest is a good idea as this gives you your own clothes under wet suit and makes taking it on/off easier + you will be warmer. You will spend ~1 hour snorkling at a time and being cold is not much fun. Depending where you sit you can get quite wet on some of the boat trips.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    On our trip the 2-day wild camping trip to Sierra Negra Vulcano, Isabella was replaced with doing same trek on one day due to volcanic activity (Exodus had notified us before the trip) - this is a much longer walk. Having walked along the crater the previous day I opted out and appreciated having free time in Puerto Villamil. On the other day we had a boat trip to Tunneles - which are volcanic rock bridges followed by snorkling. Everyone in our group agreed the alternative itinerary did not take away from the overall experience.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Galapagos Wonderland

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is easy for me it has to be going up Sierra Negra, a real live volcano, awesom power from the very heart of the earth.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Pablo, the leader for our trip was the best his knowledge of the islands was amazing and with the help of the local guides including Joceleyn (not sure of the spelling there) we could not have been looked after better.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare to be amazed at the beauty of this amazing place.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would like to add my thanks to all at Exodus for allowing us the chance to visit these marvellous places wherever in the world they are.

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Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
February 29, 2020
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$6,849.00
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April 4, 2020
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May 2, 2020
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October 10, 2020
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October 31, 2020
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November 14, 2020
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December 19, 2020
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$6,749.00
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