Our Exclusive Small-Group Nature Immersion Led by the Islands' Most Experienced Guides
Six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador, surrounded by open ocean, a volcanic archipelago straddles the Equator. The Galapagos Islands, forged of black lava and named for the giant tortoises that are among their most noted inhabitants, are like no other place on Earth. Home to a profuse array of unique wildlife, the islands offer an immersion in nature that feels primeval. Iguanas and blue-footed boobies share the beaches with us, unconcerned by our presence, and friendly sea lions play with us in the turquoise water while penguins and turtles glide past. Herman Melville, who visited the Galapagos in 1841, a few years after Darwin, called them the "Enchanted Isles"—an apt moniker for a realm that remains otherworldly, even today.
Our flagship itinerary is an immersive exploration of the Galapagos, with a full week aboard privately chartered motor yachts that carry just 14–16 guests
Snorkel with sea lions, swim with turtles, sunbathe with iguanas, scout for whales, and spend a night with wild tortoises at our private camp in the highlands of Santa Cruz
Travel with the most highly trained naturalist guides in the Galapagos—each trip is led by two Expedition Leaders, for the best guide-to-guest ratio in the islands
There are Big Differences in Galapagos Trips! Why Choose Us?
The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s premier nature travel destinations, and deservedly so: there may be no better place on Earth for close-up encounters with wildlife than this remote archipelago that’s home to an assortment of unique and gentle creatures. It’s thus essential to experience the Galapagos in a way that affords intimate interactions with wildlife, with personalized interpretation by top naturalists—something you don’t get with larger cruise ships and formal lectures, or less-qualified guides. With Nat Hab, you’re assured a superior Galapagos nature adventure. Here’s how:
Small Groups Ensure Intimate Nature Encounters With just 14 to 16 guests aboard our private chartered yachts, and each departure led by two highly trained Natural Habitat Expedition Leaders, you'll explore the Galapagos in a small group with no more than 7 to 8 other travelers.
The Best Guide-to-Guest Ratio in the Galapagos The standard ratio is 16 guests to one naturalist guide—that’s what most boat tours in the Galapagos provide. Our ratio is 7 to 8 guests per guide. This makes a big difference! It not only allows us to explore in smaller groups, but we can offer different activities at the same time: for instance, one group can snorkel while the other opts for a panga ride. And with two Expedition Leaders, you get a full interpretive experience: a naturalist guide accompanies each panga when we go out with two smaller boats for close-up exploring. On most other boats, just one panga will have a guide while other misses out on more personalized attention and commentary.
Private Chartered Yachts Keep Operations Within Our Control Rather than sending you through a local ship-owner who takes bookings from many sources, we run every element of our Galapagos trips—from meeting you on arrival in Quito through the chartering of our small ships to escorting you to the Quito airport for your homeward flight. Only by managing each step of our operations can we ensure that your trip is superlative—and we don’t settle for less!
An Exclusive Stay at Our Private Tortoise Camp on Santa Cruz
Exclusive to Nat Hab alone is an optional overnight at our private Tortoise Camp in the highlands of Santa Cruz, where wild tortoises roam freely over this remote parcel of private land overlooking the Pacific Ocean far below. Unique accommodations, rustic but comfortable, are in raised safari-style canvas tents and elevated treehouses (all with en suite facilities), surrounded by nature, with a communal dining room and lounge space warmed by a log fireplace.
The World's Finest Naturalist Guides Natural Habitat Adventures is known worldwide for employing the highest-quality guides in the industry. Our group of elite Galapagos Expedition Leaders averages more than 15 years’ guiding experience each. Additionally, they receive training and resources from WWF’s world-renowned scientists. Our philosophy on this is pretty simple: A nature adventure is only as good as the guide, so we simply must provide the best! See Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
Secluded Snorkeling Experiences Snorkeling is the highlight for many Galapagos visitors. Inquisitive sea lions, sea turtles, penguins and schools of vividly colored fish provide endless excitement in the islands’ clear waters. But it can be disappointing if you’re traveling aboard a larger ship to find dozens of fellow snorkelers surrounding you, interfering with your experience. In our small groups accompanied by two Expedition Leaders, marine life is front and center, and you’re the sole audience.
The Itinerary Makes a Difference As WWF’s conservation travel partner, we're privileged to have some of the world’s top wildlife biologists helping us develop our nature adventures. WWF is especially active in the Galapagos, and our itineraries are specifically designed to provide our small groups with close-up wildlife viewing experiences in the most personalized manner possible. All of our seven-night itineraries include visits to some of the most remote natural areas in the outermost Galapagos Islands, which have more wildlife than the more commonly visited central islands.
See More of Ecuador with a Stay in Quito or the Andean Highlands Ecuador, though small in size, is one of the world's most geographically and culturally diverse countries. As a complement to your Galapagos immersion, our itineraries include a visit to Quito or the Andean highlands—a richer experience than just flying in and out of Guayaquil. You'll stay at an authentic colonial hacienda and sample a taste of Ecudorian culture that's distinctly different from what you'll encounter in the Galapagos. Delve into the mountain culture surrounding Otavalo's volcanoes. Or explore Quito's complex colonial history, reflected in extravagant churches and European, Moorish and indigenous influences that transformed the 16th-century downtown into a modern World Heritage Site.
Look for Spectacled Bears & See Andean Condors on Hacienda Zuleta Departures
Guests who choose select departures aboard the Ocean Spray will enjoy a stay at historic Hacienda Zuleta, the top-ranked guest hacienda in Ecuador and also the best place to view wildlife in the region, including Andean condors and spectacled bears. The hacienda also produces handmade cheeses, yogurt and cream from its herd of dairy cows, as well as organic produce from its extensive gardens. A stay at Zuleta is sure to include excellent cuisine, among a host of noteworthy experiences.
Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Outstanding Galapagos Experience With Natural Habitat Adventures, you receive our exclusive guarantee, clearly stating that we will meet the lofty expectations we set in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
Feel Good About the Way You Travel We all care about the planet, and you can travel with us knowing that the emissions from your trip are 100-percent carbon-offset—Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company.
Natural Habitat Adventures is WWF's Travel Partner Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel as well as the exceptional quality of our worldwide adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat as its worldwide travel partner, a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!