Galapagos Discovery: The Nat Hab Experience

© 

M/Y Tip Top IV Eastern Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1: Quito, Ecuador
Upon arrival at the Quito airport, you are met by our local representative and transferred to our boutique hotel in the heart of Quito's historic Old Town, about an hour away. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own.

Day 2: Exploring Historic Quito
After breakfast, embark on a full day of discovery in Ecuador’s capital. Heralded as Latin America's best-preserved colonial city, Quito's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with cobblestone lanes, elegant plazas and monuments, and ornate gilded churches. On a guided city tour, take in a panorama of the city and surrounding volcanic peaks, visit the 16th-century Church and Convent of San Francisco, and wander through San Francisco Square. Marvel at the baroque splendor of La Compañia Church with its gleaming gold-leaf interior, and survey Independence Plaza, the original center of Quito from which we view the Archbishop's Palace, Cathedral and Presidential Palace.

We also visit an artisanal chocolate shop featuring products handmade from Ecuador's finest cacao and we'll do a chocolate tasting. Ethically cultivated by a women's cooperative using traditional organic techniques, this rare cacao is prized by the great chocolatiers of the world for its heady aroma and unique flavor. Following lunch, the afternoon is at leisure to explore the city further on your own or visit the shops near our hotel, where you can purchase locally crafted goods ranging from hats to wooden toys. This evening, we gather for a welcome dinner with one of our Expedition Leaders.

Day 3: Quito / Baltra, Galapagos Islands—Embark Tip Top IV / North Seymour
Depart early this morning for the Quito airport and our flight to the Galapagos Islands. (Note that we have a short layover in Guayaquil due to scheduling and logistical constraints.) Landing on Baltra, we meet our second Expedition Leader who accompanies us to the pier where the Tip Top IV awaits. This first-class motor-yacht will be our home base for the next week as we explore the islands. Once we’re settled in, join our guides for a safety briefing and orientation to the adventures that lie ahead.

After lunch aboard, we make our first landing at North Seymour, a small geological uplift known for its prolific seabird populations and numerous land iguanas. On a mellow walk, we follow a trail among swallow-tailed gulls, blue footed boobies and the Galapagos’ largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds. As we stroll along the beach, we find marine iguanas and sea lions bodysurfing the northerly swells.

Day 4: Española—Punta Suarez / Gardner Bay
Española holds some of the most prolific wildlife in the Galapagos. Hiking on the headlands of Punta Suarez, we witness abundant birdlife, hoping to see Hood mockingbirds, blue-footed boobies, nesting swallow-tailed gulls and Galapagos hawks. Española is also the world's main nesting site for the huge waved albatross, with a wingspan of 7-8 feet. Return to our yacht for lunch aboard as we sail to Gardner Bay. Next, we do some deep-water snorkeling at one of the offshore islets in Gardner Bay, looking for abundant tropical fish, rays and marine turtles. Ashore, an idyllic white sand beach awaits, where sea lions and Pacific green sea turtles often frequent the rocky shoreline. Our first paddling excursion will take place along the island's north shore, following a cliff formed by eroded cinder cones and layers of old basalt where we observe giant cacti and many different bird species at sunset.

Day 5: San Cristobal—Punta Pitt / Cerro Brujo
This morning we call at one of the archipelago’s oldest islands, San Cristobal, for a visit to Punta Pitt. Located on the easternmost side of the Galapagos, Punta Pitt is one of the only places where red-footed, blue-footed and Nazca boobies are all found in the same place. Look for all three as we hike among volcanic rock formations and ascend to the top for expansive views. Then it’s time to explore the world beneath the sea on a deepwater snorkel among many colorful fishes.

This afternoon we land at Cerro Brujo, or "Wizard Hill." This ancient tuff cone on San Cristobal sits next to an expanse of powdery white sand that's home to a large colony of Galapagos sea lions, as well as blue-footed boobies, pelicans, egrets and marine iguanas. After a walk on the beach to scout for sea lions, with a chance to swim, too, we paddle kayaks along the shoreline of Cerro Brujo, observing tunnels and caves eroded by the relentless action of the waves. At every turn, our discoveries are enhanced by the in-depth knowledge of our Expedition Leaders, who are expert naturalists on the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. Back aboard the Tip Top IV, we sail on to Kicker Rock, a dramatic volcanic tuff cone that rises 300 feet above the ocean's surface. Circumnavigating the rock, look for marine life as we watch the setting sun sink behind the horizon.

Day 6: Santa Cruz — Darwin Station / Puerto Ayora / Nat Hab’s Tortoise Camp
Arrive on Santa Cruz where our day begins in Puerto Ayora, the island’s main town to visit the world-famous giant tortoise-rearing center, run in tandem by Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, international scientists conduct research dedicated to conserving the unique habitats and species of the Galapagos. At the facility, we see the protection pens where hatchlings are bred to help increase depleted tortoise populations, a central mission for both the research station and the national park. To date, more than 5,000 tortoises bred at the station have been released into the wild.

After lunch on board the Tip Top IV, we have a bit of time to wander around Puerto Ayora before ascending into the misty highlands of Santa Cruz where Nat Hab's private Tortoise Camp awaits. The camp’s exclusive setting offers a rare opportunity to spend a night in wild tortoise habitat, and these ancient, gentle reptiles that are the archipelago's namesake often wander right through camp. Accommodations are in safari-style walk-in tents on raised platforms and treehouses with views of the ocean. While rustic, they offer comfortable amenities, including real beds and en suite facilities.

But the real treat of a stay here is our proximity to wild tortoises, which are attracted to the area's lush vegetation, including our Scalesia forest restoration zone. Since 2022, Nat Hab and our guests have planted more than 1,000 of this important tree, endemic to the islands and habitat for myriad diverse plants and animals. However, invasive species and historical deforestation threatens the Scalesia forests, making their conservation a high priority. Tortoises are most commonly seen in camp from July through February. From March to June, we make an excursion to a nearby tortoise reserve for closer views, as they migrate seasonally to a lower elevation.
Please note: At times, Tortoise Camp may be closed due to poor weather conditions.

Day 7: Nat Hab’s Tortoise Camp / South Plaza
Spend the morning exploring a network of subterranean lava tubes and caverns adjacent to Tortoise Camp—one of which is large enough to accommodate our entire group! Return to the Tip Top IV for lunch as we sail to South Plaza, one of the smallest islands in the archipelago that formed by the geologic uplift of the ocean floor. By contrast, volcanic activity gave rise to most of the Galapagos Islands. Home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, South Plaza island is carpeted with the endemic, low-growing succulent Sesuvium, commonly know as sea purslane, which transforms into vibrant shades of orange and purple during the dry season. Prickly pear cactus dot the terrain, providing sustenance for the island’s large population of land iguanas. These reptiles, the smallest iguanas in the archipelago, coexist and interbreed with marine iguanas, resulting in a rare hybrid species found nowhere else. Seabird colonies thrive on the island’s cliffs, including the nesting red-billed tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls, Nazca boobies and blue footed boobies. A colony of about 1,000 sea lions also make their home on South Plaza’s sandy beaches.

Day 8: Bartolome / Sullivan Bay
Landing at Bartolome, we go ashore to climb to the island's highest point for 360° views, passing intriguing geological formations along the path including spatter cones, tuff cones and lava tubes. From the summit, a panorama unfolds of the surrounding islands and Pinnacle Rock, famously shown in the 2003 film Master and Commander. Some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos awaits around the base of this ancient, submerged volcano. This underwater playground is home to huge schools of fish permanently under attack by Galapagos penguins. Gentle, white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and stingrays are also common sightings.

At nearby Sullivan Bay on the east coast of Santiago, we continue our underwater exploration with another snorkeling outing, then take a dramatic walk along a new lava field to observe the hardy new plants that have managed to take root on the barren rock, like the lava cactus. The lava here is the pahoehoe type, which resembles smooth ropes. Those who wish may choose a panga ride on the bay instead, exploring the spectacular volcanic formations, relatively recent lava flows and unique geological scenery.

Day 9: Rabida / Sombrero Chino
In Rabida, we make a wet landing on the beach of maroon-colored sand. Marine iguanas and sea lions are often seen resting in the shade of the caves nearby. Rabida is one of the best places to see pelicans, blue-footed and Nazca boobies on the cliffs above. Behind the beach is a shallow saltwater lagoon that is a seasonal feeding and breeding area for flamingos. These large pink birds feed for hours each day, primarily on pink shrimp larvae that give them their color. While we don’t always see flamingos, we reliably spot pintail ducks and common stilts that also feed in the lagoon. Following a short trail inland through opuntia cactus, Palo Santo trees and scrubby bushes, we find terrestrial birds such as finches, Galapagos doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds. Our visit to Rabida often ends with swimming and snorkeling, which are very good here. Late this afternoon we’ll explore the shoreline of Rabida in our kayaks to admire the red cliffs as we scout for fur seals, boobies and marine turtles.

We continue to Sombrero Chino, a small island off the coast of Santiago, which really does look like a Chinese hat! A paddling excursion here reveals more of the Galapagos' fascinating marine life and striking geology, as we witness the delicate lava and spatter cones on the island’s surface. The small channel of turquoise water provides a beautiful snorkeling site, particularly along the Santiago coast where it is possible to see sharks, sea lions, penguins and rays.

Day: Santa Cruz—Las Bachas / Baltra—Disembark / Quito / Depart
One final outing remains early this morning, an optional sunrise stroll to Las Bachas, a pristine white sand beach with striking turquoise waters and black volcanic rocks. Known for its diverse wildlife, the beach is one of the main nesting sites for turtles. Look for flamingos feeding in the brackish water ponds behind the beach, and scout for crabs, blue-footed boobies, pelicans, marine iguanas and more.

And then, all too soon, our time in the Enchanted Isles comes to a close as we return to Baltra where we say goodbye to the Tip Top IV, her crew and our Expedition Leaders. Transfer to the airport to board our flight to the mainland. Upon arrival at the Quito airport, transfer to our hotel just minutes away, where an overnight stay is included. A complimentary shuttle will return you to the airport in time for your departing flight.


Our goal is to provide you with an exceptional, life-enhancing adventure. In order to achieve that goal, our Expedition Leaders are empowered to make reasonable changes to itineraries while a trip is underway. These decisions might be made to more closely follow the movements of wildlife, to accommodate extreme weather, to take advantage of unexpected opportunities, or generally to improve overall guest experience. For this reason, the above itinerary should be considered a general outline of your trip, but it is subject to change. After all, the very definition of adventure is “an exciting or remarkable undertaking involving the unknown.” In addition, weather conditions in the Galapagos 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, including the optional camping excursion.
Questions?
We've Got Answers!
Talk with an Adventure Specialist
Call Our Boulder Office at 800-543-8917 or contact your travel advisor.
We're Proud of the Reputation We’ve Earned
Outside
Voted "World's Best Travel
Company"
by Outside Magazine
Outside
Natural Habitat Adventures Ranked
“Best Outfitter”
NatGeo
Voted Best Winter Trip: Natural Habitat Adventures' Monarch Butterfly Migration, Mexico
VIEW MORE AWARDS
Physical Requirements
WWF Logo

Learn More

Customize Your African Safari

Let our in-house safari experts create your perfect African adventure. Whether you'd like to travel as a private group on this safari or you'd like to create an itinerary all your own, simply fill out the form to the right or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Learn More
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your interest!
We'll be in touch soon to help with your custom African safari!

Learn More

Customize Your Trip

Let our in-house trip experts create your perfect adventure. Whether you'd like to travel as a private group on our ${tripName} or you'd like to create an itinerary all your own, simply fill out the form to the right or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Galapagos Discovery: The Nat Hab Experience
Learn More
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your interest!
We'll be in touch soon to help with your private trip!

Download Trip Details

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Get our downloadable trip details in PDF format, a handy resource for your travel planning. Inside, you'll find all the info from our website—highlights of the trip, itinerary, accommodations, and full details on dates, prices and logistics—plus a few extras!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Download Trip Details
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Your download awaits…

Thank you for your request! Click here to see your trip details PDF now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Ask a Question

Ask a Question

Fill out our form to receive additional information about our ${tripName}, or give us a call at 800-543-8917.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Galapagos Discovery: The Nat Hab Experience
Ask a Question
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your note!

We’ll be in touch soon with more details.

Send Me Travel Emails

Get the Inside Scoop on the

World of Nature Travel

Our weekly eNewsletters highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Request Your 2023 Catalog

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Nathab 2024 Catalog

Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the planet, while helping to protect the magnificent places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Request Your 2024/2025 Catalog
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Continued - Page 2 of 2
To help us customize your catalog request, please tell us more about your travel needs:
Thank you for requesting a catalog
We’ve received your request. If you have any questions about our trips, please feel free to contact an Adventure Specialist today by calling 800-543-8917.

Get Weekly Updatess

Discover the World's Best

Nature Travel Experiences

Our weekly eNewsletter highlights new adventures, exclusive offers, webinars, nature news, travel ideas, photography tips and more. Sign up today!

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Me Travel Emails
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Privacy Policy
Thank you for joining our email list!

Look for a special welcome message in your inbox, arriving shortly! Be sure to add naturalhabitat@nathab.com to your email contacts so you don’t miss out on future emails.

Send Us a Message

Send Us a Message

Have a question or comment? Use the form to the right to get in touch with us.

Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Send Us a Message
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for your message

We’ll be in touch soon with a response.

Refer a Friend

Refer a Friend,
Get $250 Off
Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab credit you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
Refer a Friend

Earn rewards for referring your friends! We'd like to thank our loyal travelers for spreading the word. Share your friend's address so we can send a catalog, and if your friend takes a trip as a first-time Nat Hab traveler, you'll receive a $250 Nat Hab credit you can use toward a future trip or the purchase of Nat Hab gear. To refer a friend, just complete the form below or call us at 800-543-8917. It's that easy! See rules and fine print here.

Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Thank you for the referral!

We've received your friend's information.

View Our 2023 Digital Catalog

View Our 2024/2025

Digital Catalog

Help us save paper! We offer a digital version of The World's Greatest Nature Journeys. If you'd prefer a mailed copy, please provide your contact details here. To view our digital catalog, please enter your info in the form to the right.
Natural Habitat Adventures Logo WWF Logo
View Digital Catalog
Text Messaging Policy Message and data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe from SMS at any time by texting STOP. Reply HELP for help. 2-4 promotional msgs/month. Informational msg frequency varies.
Happy browsing!

Thanks for requesting access to our digital catalog. Click here to view it now. You’ll also receive it by email momentarily.

Our Trips

Polar Bear Tours

Polar Bear Tours

African Safaris

African Safaris

Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

Alaska Adventures

Alaska Adventures

U.S. National Parks Tours

U.S. National Parks Tours

Canada & the North

Canada & the North

Europe Adventures

Europe Adventures

Mexico & Central America Tours

Mexico & Central America Tours

South America Adventures

South America Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Asia & Pacific Adventures

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Antarctica & Arctic Journeys

Adventure Cruises

Adventure Cruises

Photography Expeditions

Photography Expeditions

Women's Adventures

Women's Adventures

Family Adventures

Family Adventures

New Adventures

New Adventures

Questions? Call 800-543-8917

Contact Us

Have a question or comment?
Click any of the buttons below to get in touch with us.

Hours
Mountain Time

  • 8 am to 5 pm, Monday - Friday
  • 8 am to 3 pm on Saturday
  • Closed on Sunday
Call 800-543-8917
Questions? Click to Chat
Questions? Click to Chat
/galapagos/galapagos-islands-adventure/itinerary/tip-top-iv-east-itinerary/