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Kicker Rock, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorSouth Plaza, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorEspanola, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorWaved albatross, Espanola, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorSanta Fe, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorBartolome, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorGalapagos sea lions, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorKicker Rock, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorMarine iguanas, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorGalapagos sea lion, Champion, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorM/V Nemo, Floreana, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorMarine iguanas, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorSea lions, Espanola, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorGalapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, EcuadorOtavalo, Ecuador
 
 
Learn More 11 Days / From $4,995 (800) 543-8917 for Availability Share

Galapagos Hiking & Kayaking Adventure

Our Exclusive Catamaran-Based Odyssey is the Most Unique & Exciting Way to See the Islands!
Please note: This is a Natural Habitat Expeditions trip, meaning it is more active and more physically demanding than our standard Natural Habitat Adventures trips. Please see the section on Physical Requirements.

Day 1:  Quito, Ecuador / San Jorge 
Arrive in Quito and transfer to San Jorge Eco Lodge via a scenic drive into the Andean highlands just outside the city. Our accommodations are in a gracious 18th-century mountain hacienda surrounded by gardens and situated on 200 acres of untouched, protected land. This botanical reserve was set aside to preserve the natural habitat of the many endemic plants, animals and more than 90 different species of birds, native only to the Andes region. Dinner is on your own this evening, in order to enjoy the lodge and its environs at your leisure.

Day 2: Cloud Forest — San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Sanctuary 
This morning we drive to the San Jorge de Tandayapa Hummingbird Sanctuary where we’ll spend a full day exploring the cloud forest with our local guide. As we wander along lush trails we are surrounded by panoramic vistas, tropical plants and flowers including 40 species of orchids, native wildlife and a multitude of birds. The reserve is part of the famed Chocó Endemic Bird Area of northwest Ecuador where as many as 500 different species thrive—one of the best birdwatching spots on the planet. Some 26 species of hummingbirds frequent the feeders during the year, along with flocks of tanagers. Other birds we might see include toucan barbet, golden-headed and crested quetzal, plate-billed mountain toucan, masked trogon, Andean cock of the rock, and many more. We’ll enjoy lunch at the open-air Hummingbird Restaurant, watching tiny whirring visitors frequent the feeders as we dine, offering great close-up photo opportunities. Returning to San Jorge Eco Lodge, we gather this evening for our official welcome dinner.

Day 3: Fly to the Galapagos / Board S/V Nemo II
Transfer to the airport in Quito this morning for our flight to the Galapagos. Our Expedition Leader meets us as we land on the island of Baltra, where we transfer to the S/V Nemo II. This first-class sailing catamaran will be our home for the next week as we kayak the Galapagos. Our first destination is Las Bachas on Santa Cruz, a white sand beach that is a prominent nesting site for green sea turtles. Flamingos are also frequently spotted here in the saline lagoons. Our Expedition Leader is an expert naturalist on the islands’ flora and fauna, whose knowledge enhances our discoveries at every turn. This afternoon we’ll have an orientation to our kayaks, with an introduction to technique and safety, as well as a chance to get fitted into our boats.
Please note: We depart from the hotel very early this morning for our flight from Quito to Baltra, arriving before noon to take advantage of a full afternoon of activities.

Day 4: Santa Cruz Highlands / Tortuga Bay or Charles Darwin Research Station
Discover a different side of Santa Cruz as we ascend to its misty heights. At the Tortoise Reserve, we view these ancient, amiable creatures in their lush natural setting. Nearby, we explore a network of subterranean lava tubes and caverns. Our excursion also includes a visit to Los Gemelos—"The Twins"—two deep pit craters in the scalesia forest that hold a variety of birdlife. After lunch aboard we arrive at Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz. This afternoon, choose between free time in town, a wooded walk to secluded Tortuga Bay for swimming and relaxing on the long sandy beach, or a visit to the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station where international scientists conduct research dedicated to conserving the unique habitats and species of the Galapagos. At the tortoise-rearing facility, see tiny babies bred to help increase the depleted tortoise population, a central part of the station’s conservation mission.

Day 5: Cerro Brujo / Kicker Rock / Isla Lobos
Cerro Brujo on San Cristobal is an expanse of powdery white sand that’s home to a large colony of sea lions as well as blue-footed boobies, pelicans, egrets and marine iguanas. We explore by kayak, paddling near a tuffstone cone where wave erosion has sculpted tunnels and caves. Then we sail aboard Nemo II to Kicker Rock, a dramatic volcanic tuff cone that rises 500 feet above the ocean’s surface. Here we’ll snorkel in deep water to observe and swim with sea turtles, rays of various kinds, as well as gentle reef sharks. By early afternoon we’re bound for Isla Lobos, where we enjoy a delightful swim with the resident sea lion colony and look for feeding marine iguanas.

Day 6: Espanola
Espanola is one of the most prolific wildlife sites in the Galapagos. We hike to the headlands of Punta Suarez where birdlife abounds, with Hood mockingbirds, blue-footed and masked boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and Galapagos hawks. Espanola is also the world’s main nesting site for the enormous waved albatross. In the afternoon we relocate to Gardner Bay. First we’ll relax at an idyllic white sand beach where sea lions laze by the dozens and Pacific green sea turtles frequent the rocky part of the shoreline. We then set out for a sunset paddle along the north shore of the island, along a cliff formed by eroded cinder cones and layers of old basalt, observing giant cacti and many species of birds. Afterward, our catamaran awaits us in the quiet bay.

Day 7: Floreana
On Floreana, we hike through a Palo Santo forest to a brackish lagoon that’s home to flamingos. Then, we travel aboard Nemo II a short distance offshore to Champion Islet, one of the best drift-snorkel spots in the Galapagos. As the current floats us past the steep walls of underwater volcanic formations, we’ll spy large schools of colorful fish as we’re followed by playful young sea lions. Following in the footsteps of pirates, whalers, convicts and colonists, we explore Floreana’s rich history of adventure. One relic of this colorful past is the “Post Office Barrel,” established by British whalers in 1793, where travelers still leave mail for personal delivery by visitors passing through. Late this afternoon, pending conditions, we make a paddle around the mangrove shores of Post Office Bay, where large bull sea lions patrol the rocky territory and reddish marine iguanas bask near the tree cacti.

Day 8: Santa Fe / South Plaza 
On Santa Fe we take a short hike through a forest of prickly pear cacti, looking for the endemic land iguanas that wait patiently underneath for fruit to drop. Returning to our catamaran, we go snorkeling around a small islet, a natural aquarium with great reef diversity. Next, a two-hour paddle along Santa Fe’s north coast reveals large cliffs and sea caves used by many species of marine birds for nesting and roosting, as well as basking green sea turtles and sea lions. By noon we’ll be sailing for South Plaza, one of the smallest islands yet vibrant with diverse flora, land creatures and marine life. We ascend a trail among colorful plants to look for a completely different species of land iguana than we've seen previously, skirting scenic cliffs with dramatic views of the ocean. Overhead, red billed tropicbirds and Galapagos shearwaters fly in large numbers from nearby nests.

Day 9: Sombrero Chino / Bartolome
Sombrero Chino Island, our destination this morning, really does look like a Chinese hat! Our day begins with a two-hour paddle through the Bainbridge Rocks, shaped like a string of floating mushroom tops. We then snorkel in the channel, hoping the resident penguin family will join us. Sailing on to Bartolome, some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos awaits around its submerged base, an underwater playground that’s home to enormous schools of fish, permanently under attack by Galapagos penguins. Sleeping white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and stingrays are also common sightings.

Day 10:  Santa Cruz / Quito
Returning to Santa Cruz, we explore the mangrove ecosystem of Black Turtle Cove. An early-morning tender by panga, or dinghy, takes us inside a mangrove lagoon where spotted eagle and golden rays swim in schools, white-tipped reef sharks rest at the bottom, and sea turtles bask. Birds abound, too, and we’ll likely see pelicans, herons and egrets feeding in the cove. Too soon, our time in the Enchanted Isles comes to a close—our return flight to Quito departs from Baltra Airport this afternoon.

Day 11: Quito / Home
An early morning airport transfer is provided to meet departing flights.

This itinerary is meant as a guideline only, since weather conditions can change without notice and will dictate where and when we can travel. Please be aware that we may adapt our schedule to take advantage of these changes, and local conditions, inclement weather or Galapagos regulations may prevent us from participating in any part of this itinerary.


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