adventure travelers take pictures from a walking bridge overlooking water and jungle of the galapagos
galapagos travelers in kayaks cruise on turquoise water next to a sheer cliff on a sunny day
galapagos solo traveler holding an orange surfboard walks toward the ocean on a sunny day
solo traveler on the galapagos discovery land tour in mid air between 2 cliffs above a narrow strip of water
galapagos adventure traveler laying on a hammock above a field full of tortoises
View Photos
South America Galapagos Islands Land Tour

Galapagos Discovery

The 4-, 5-, or 8-day land-based Galapagos Discovery is the perfect alternative for travelers not interested in a Galapagos cruise, but still want to experience the magic of the Galapagos Islands. Explore the sights and wildlife of Baltra, North Seymour, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, South Plaza and Bartolomé islands on day trips aboard charming Galapagos yachts and by private bus. Each evening return to the comforts of the Finch Bay Eco Hotel, one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World located on Santa Cruz Island, for a good night’s rest, unique and healthy meals and to prepare for the next day’s adventures.

Expert local guides lead daily hiking, swimming or snorkeling excursions to view native birds, iguanas, sea lions and much more. Highlights of the Galapagos Discovery may include visiting the Giant Tortoise Reserve and highlands of Santa Cruz, photographing a sea lion harem on Santa Fe Island, bird-watching at Divine Bay, optional kayaking around Punta Estrada, snorkeling at Punta Carrión, exploring the turquoise waters of South Plaza, viewing Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island and hiking to the acclaimed Tortuga Bay.

Optional activities (at extra cost) may include more challenging hikes, sea kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking and scuba diving. This land-based adventure is meant to explore the Galapagos Islands in a variety of styles that suit your needs. Home base is the exclusive Finch Bay Eco Resort, widely known as the most luxurious hotel in the Galapagos, where delicious meals, a private beach, swimming pool and comfortable cabanas create a relaxing atmosphere to absorb each day’s experiences while on Galapagos luxury trips

Read on for details about this trip, or view all of AdventureSmith’s Galapagos land tours.



Itinerary

8-Day Galapagos Discovery Itinerary

The 8-day Galapagos Discovery land tour begins and ends on Baltra Island, includes three full-day yacht explorations, one full-day land exploration (Santa Cruz) and two half-day land explorations.

Galapagos Discovery route map with stays at Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Read More
Day 1
Arrive Baltra to Santa Cruz Highlands

Upon arrival at Baltra Island, meet the hotel naturalist guides for a trip to Los Gemelos twin pit craters. These great geological depressions of volcanic material have been formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings.

After lunch in the highlands, continue overland to reach the south shore of Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora. Check in to Finch Bay Eco Hotel and enjoy the glorious beachfront location and luxurious facilities.

Accommodations

Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Meals

lunch, dinner

Read More
Days 2 - 7
Galapagos Exploration by Land & Sea

During your 8-day Galapagos Discovery land tour, be treated to three full-day yacht explorations, one full-day land exploration (Santa Cruz) and two half-day land explorations.

The following activities may be on your itinerary, depending on the day of the week (your Adventure Specialist will present you with a detailed itinerary). Each day ends back at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel for dinner, relaxation or optional activities:

Full- & Half-Day Land Excursions
El Manzanillo & the Highlands

Leave Academy Bay by bus and travel nine miles to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there, a short drive across the farming area leads to El Manzanillo, a visitor site at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve. Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher, moister locations during the garúa season or descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red pond that is colored by surface red pond weeds. The area is teeming with life: small-tree finches, large-tree finches, woodpecker finches, vegetarian finches, mockingbirds, flycatchers, ducks, herons and gallinules.

Tortuga Bay & Charles Darwin Research Station

Tortuga Bay is located to the southwest of Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island.  Its name means “turtle” and the island received this moniker because sea turtles favor it as a place to lay their eggs. The stunning white sand beach is considered by many the most beautiful in the Galapagos archipelago. The beach, open from 6:00am to 6:30pm daily, is reached via a marked and cobbled 1.25-mile path that starts at the west end of Charles Binford Street; guests must sign in and out at the national park control point at the beginning of the path. There is excellent bird-watching along the path, with plenty of Darwin’s finches and other seabirds. And for active visitors, it is a great place to kayak, snorkel and surf!

The headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station are located side by side on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. There is an interpretation centre open to the public and also one may view the tortoise rearing program. For those who have already seen them in the wild, a visit to the Centre will expand their knowledge of this unique, iconic Galapagos animal.

Divine Bay

This is the magic of Galapagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the island’s first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side and by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other, as well as cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole bay provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife.

The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm but active sector of the cove which is next to a wooden dock used to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.3 miles) will lead us to the south shore of Santa Cruz Island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices.

Cerro Mesa Trek

Leave Academy Bay by vehicle to climb into the highlands of Santa Cruz. Although 97% of Galápagos land surface is protected, on this island there is an approximately 3-mile belt of sustainable farms, which precede the National Park’s creation in 1959; they ring the peaks of the island and coexist with the surrounding protected land.

The first stop is Cerro Mesa. Bordering the National Park, this private preserve is a great combination of native and endemic forest, a splendid birding area, a natural path for migrating giant tortoises (seasonally they move from areas with better foraging conditions) and home to impressive volcanic formations.

Explore the natural surroundings from a large scoria mount, with a spectacular view over most of the Galápagos’ central islands and islets, and walk 0.8 miles on a gravel path to Santa Cruz’s largest sinkhole. Here encounter giant tortoises, herons, gallinules (in natural water holes) and some of the rarest Darwin finches (like the elusive vegetarian-, woodpecker- and tree finches). Stop for a rest and snacks at a local shelter before continuing down to the Finch Bay dock in Academy Bay, located just a short walk from the hotel.

Full-Day Yacht Excursions
*Note: some excursions operate directly from Puerto Ayora, while others begin or end with an overland drive.

North Seymour Island

North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event; its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few feet high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched on ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey palo santo trees stands just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teeming with life.

On today’s walking excursion along sometimes uneven, rocky terrain, search for passing sea lions, marine iguanas or blue-footed booby nests. Where the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, large flocks of pelicans dive-bomb in a feeding frenzy. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the magnificent frigatebird. In the afternoon, visit Las Bachas beach on Santa Cruz Island, an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Here, enjoy snorkeling and swimming from the glorious white sand and possible sightings of stilts, flamingos and other wading birds in the nearby lagoons.

Bartolome Island

Bartolome is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best-known landmark in the islands. Galapagos penguins—the only species of penguin found north of the equator—walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at the base of the island. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. A dry landing here leads to a 2,000-foot pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route presents a real-life exhibit of volcanology: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and the landing beach.

Punta Carrion & South Plaza Island

Punta Carrion, at the north-eastern tip of Santa Cruz Island, boasts both shallow reefs, mangroves and exposure to rich upwellings to the east. As a result, it’s an ideal snorkeling site with plenty of reef fish as well as occasional sea lions and sharks. South Plaza is a small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs, including sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colors according to the season. South Plaza is one of Galapagos’ most impressive visiting sites, where a dry landing leads to snorkeling and walking options amongst turquoise waters, green seaweed, bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs, scarlet sesuvium succulents, luminescent green prickly-pear cactus, red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies and manta rays.

Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the islands. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted seismically, revealing underwater lava formations. A wet landing on a sandy white beach reveals a sea lion harem and giant prickly pear cactus. Enjoy a hike over uneven, rocky terrain to seek out one of the large dinosaur-like species of land iguana native to Santa Fe Island. Afterward, go snorkeling with diverse marine life.

Accommodations

Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 8
Santa Cruz & Depart Baltra

After a leisurely breakfast, take an overland transfer to the airport in Baltra for the flight back to the mainland.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Shared ground transfers in the Galapagos (flights must be purchased in conjunction with package to be provided); all meals; Charles Darwin Research Station fee; use of snorkeling equipment; three full-day yacht explorations; one full-day land exploration (Santa Cruz);  two half-day land explorations; 7-night accommodation in the selected room; internet.

Exclusions

Air transportation to/from Galapagos; airport taxes; Transit Control Card ($20); Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100 per person); gratuities; activities including sea kayaking, mountain biking, diving or surfing; alcoholic beverages; items of a personal nature; luggage fees or insurance of any kind. Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners require a $124 per person surcharge.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 15% of total trip cost is required per person at time of booking (25% per person during peak season). The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure: 

Standard Season
Up to 61 days – 100% of deposit
60 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Peak Season
Up to 121 days – 100% of deposit
120 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

Most flights to the Galapagos will depart Quito or Guayaquil between 6:00am and 11:00am on day 1 and return between 2:00pm and 6:00pm on the final day. We highly recommend travelers arrive into Ecuador two days prior to their Galapagos cruise. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Upon arrival you may purchase optional activities such as surfing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hikes. Optional scuba diving is also available with a certified dive master and all equipment included at an additional charge. There are numerous opportunities to swim and snorkel. Easy-to-use, sit-on-top kayaks are also available to rent.

Room Configuration

Four of the Finch Bay Suites can be interconnected for families or groups – ask your Adventure Specialist for details.

Families & Children

Children under 12 years old at the time of trip receive 25% off when sharing the room with two adults (applies only to one child per two adults paying full fare). Minimum age of 6 years old for yacht excursions. No discounts apply on Peak Season dates, when an additional fee of $117 (2019) per child is incurred.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the guide’s discretion. Due to the active nature of volcanoes in the Western Galapagos, alternate excursions may be offered. The ability to be flexible makes this type of adventure travel unique.

5-Day Galapagos Discovery Itinerary

The 5-day Galapagos Discovery land tour begins and ends on Baltra Island and includes two full-day yacht explorations and one full-day land exploration.

Galapagos Discovery route map with stays at Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Read More
Day 1
Arrive Baltra to Santa Cruz Highlands

Upon arrival at Baltra Island, meet the hotel naturalist guides for a trip to Los Gemelos twin pit craters. These great geological depressions of volcanic material have been formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings.

After lunch in the highlands, continue overland to reach the south shore of Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora. Check in to Finch Bay Eco Hotel and enjoy the glorious beachfront location and luxurious facilities.

Accommodations

Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Meals

dinner

Read More
Days 2 - 4
Galapagos Exploration by Land & Sea

During your 5-day Galapagos Discovery land tour, be treated to two full-day yacht explorations and one full-day land exploration.

The following activities may be on your itinerary, depending on the day of the week (your Adventure Specialist will present you with a detailed itinerary). Each day ends back at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel for dinner, relaxation or optional activities:

Full- & Half-Day Land Excursions

El Manzanillo & the Highlands

Depart the hotel and be transferred to the Highlands of Santa Cruz. A short drive across the farming area leads to El Manzanillo at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve. El Manzanillo is located on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. The Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) is the largest living tortoise species, weighing up to 550 pounds. They play an important biological role as the top grazer in their habitat. In the wild, these gentle giants slowly barrel their way through the plant cover. The shape of their carapaces varies from island to island. On Santa Cruz, tortoises can be seen year round grazing on the surrounding vegetation, wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-colored pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds).

The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit. On the return to Puerto Ayora, visit one of the island’s lava tunnels, significant geological formations that take you back in time and reveal how lava flows formed the islands.

Tortuga Bay & Charles Darwin Research Station

Tortuga Bay is located to the southwest of Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island.  Its name means “turtle” and the island received this moniker because sea turtles favor it as a place to lay their eggs. The stunning white sand beach is considered by many the most beautiful in the Galapagos archipelago. The beach, open from 6:00am to 6:30pm daily, is reached via a marked and cobbled 1.25-mile path that starts at the west end of Charles Binford Street; guests must sign in and out at the national park control point at the beginning of the path. There is excellent bird-watching along the path, with plenty of Darwin’s finches and other seabirds. And for active visitors, it is a great place to kayak, snorkel and surf!

The headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station are located side by side on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. There is an interpretation center open to the public and also one may view the tortoise rearing program. For those who have already seen them in the wild, a visit to the Center will expand their knowledge of this unique, iconic Galapagos animal.

Full-Day Yacht Excursions
*Note: some excursions operate directly from Puerto Ayora, while others begin or end with an overland drive.

North Seymour Island

North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event; its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few feet high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched on ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey palo santo trees stands just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teeming with life.

On today’s walking excursion along sometimes uneven, rocky terrain, search for passing sea lions, marine iguanas or blue-footed booby nests. Where the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, large flocks of pelicans dive-bomb in a feeding frenzy. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the magnificent frigatebird. In the afternoon, visit Las Bachas beach on Santa Cruz Island, an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Here, enjoy snorkeling and swimming from the glorious white sand and possible sightings of stilts, flamingos and other wading birds in the nearby lagoons.

Bartolome Island

Bartolome is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best-known landmark in the islands. Galapagos penguins—the only species of penguin found north of the equator—walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at the base of the island. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. A dry landing here leads to a 2,000-foot pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route presents a real-life exhibit of volcanology: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and the landing beach.

South Plaza Island

South Plaza is a small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs, including sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colors according to the season. South Plaza is one of Galapagos’ most impressive visiting sites, where a dry landing leads to snorkeling and walking options amongst turquoise waters, green seaweed, bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs, scarlet sesuvium succulents, luminescent green prickly-pear cactus, red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies and manta rays.

Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the islands. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted seismically, revealing underwater lava formations. A wet landing on a sandy white beach reveals a sea lion harem and giant prickly pear cactus. Enjoy a hike over uneven, rocky terrain to seek out one of the large dinosaur-like species of land iguana native to Santa Fe Island. Afterward, go snorkeling with diverse marine life.

Accommodations

Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 5
Santa Cruz & Depart Baltra

After a leisurely breakfast, take an overland transfer to the airport in Baltra for the flight back to the mainland.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Shared ground transfers in the Galapagos (flights must be purchased in conjunction with package to be provided); all meals as indicated; Charles Darwin Research Station fee; use of snorkeling equipment; two full-day yacht explorations; one full-day land exploration; 4-night accommodation in the selected room; internet.

Exclusions

Air transportation to/from Galapagos; airport taxes; Transit Control Card ($20); Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100 per person); gratuities; activities including sea kayaking, mountain biking, diving or surfing; alcoholic beverages; items of a personal nature; luggage fees or insurance of any kind. Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners require a $124 per person surcharge.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 15% of total trip cost is required per person at time of booking (25% per person during peak season). The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:

Standard Season
Up to 61 days – 100% of deposit
60 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Peak Season
Up to 121 days – 100% of deposit
120 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

Most flights to the Galapagos will depart Quito or Guayaquil between 6:00am and 11:00am on day 1 and return between 2:00pm and 6:00pm on the final day. We highly recommend travelers arrive into Ecuador two days prior to their Galapagos cruise. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Upon arrival you may purchase optional activities such as surfing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hikes. Optional scuba diving is also available with a certified dive master and all equipment included at an additional charge. There are numerous opportunities to swim and snorkel. Easy-to-use, sit-on-top kayaks are also available to rent.

Room Configuration

Four of the Finch Bay Suites can be interconnected for families or groups – ask your Adventure Specialist for details.

Families & Children

Children under 12 years old at the time of trip receive 25% off when sharing the room with two adults (applies only to one child per two adults paying full fare). Minimum age of 6 years old for yacht excursions. No discounts apply on Peak Season dates, when an additional fee of $117 (2019) per child is incurred.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the guide’s discretion. Due to the active nature of volcanoes in the Western Galapagos, alternate excursions may be offered. The ability to be flexible makes this type of adventure travel unique.

4-Day Galapagos Discovery Itinerary

The 4-day Galapagos Discovery land tour begins and ends on Baltra Island and includes one full-day yacht exploration and one full-day land exploration.

Galapagos Discovery route map with stays at Finch Bay Eco Hotel.
Read More
Day 1
Arrive Baltra to Santa Cruz Highlands

Upon arrival at Baltra Island, meet the hotel naturalist guides for a trip to Los Gemelos twin pit craters. These great geological depressions of volcanic material have been formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings.

After lunch in the highlands, continue overland to reach the south shore of Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora. Check in to Finch Bay Eco Hotel and enjoy the glorious beachfront location and luxurious facilities.

Accommodations

Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Meals

dinner

Read More
Days 2 - 3
Galapagos Exploration by Land & Sea

During your 4-day Galapagos Discovery land tour, be treated to one full-day yacht exploration and one full-day land exploration.

The following activities may be on your itinerary, depending on the day of the week (your Adventure Specialist will present you with a detailed itinerary). Each day ends back at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel for dinner, relaxation or optional activities:

Full- & Half-Day Land Excursions

El Manzanillo & the Highlands

Depart the hotel and be transferred to the Highlands of Santa Cruz. A short drive across the farming area leads to El Manzanillo at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve. El Manzanillo is located on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. The Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) is the largest living tortoise species, weighing up to 550 pounds. They play an important biological role as the top grazer in their habitat. In the wild, these gentle giants slowly barrel their way through the plant cover. The shape of their carapaces varies from island to island. On Santa Cruz, tortoises can be seen year round grazing on the surrounding vegetation, wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-colored pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds).

The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit. On the return to Puerto Ayora, visit one of the island’s lava tunnels, significant geological formations that take you back in time and reveal how lava flows formed the islands.

Tortuga Bay & Charles Darwin Research Station

Tortuga Bay is located to the southwest of Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island.  Its name means “turtle” and the island received this moniker because sea turtles favor it as a place to lay their eggs. The stunning white sand beach is considered by many the most beautiful in the Galapagos archipelago. The beach, open from 6:00am to 6:30pm daily, is reached via a marked and cobbled 1.25-mile path that starts at the west end of Charles Binford Street; guests must sign in and out at the national park control point at the beginning of the path. There is excellent bird-watching along the path, with plenty of Darwin’s finches and other seabirds. And for active visitors, it is a great place to kayak, snorkel and surf!

The headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station are located side by side on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. There is an interpretation center open to the public and also one may view the tortoise rearing program. For those who have already seen them in the wild, a visit to the Center will expand their knowledge of this unique, iconic Galapagos animal.

Full-Day Yacht Excursions
*Note: some excursions operate directly from Puerto Ayora, while others begin or end with an overland drive.

North Seymour Island

North Seymour Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event; its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few feet high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched on ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey palo santo trees stands just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom. This island is teeming with life.

On today’s walking excursion along sometimes uneven, rocky terrain, search for passing sea lions, marine iguanas or blue-footed booby nests. Where the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, large flocks of pelicans dive-bomb in a feeding frenzy. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the magnificent frigatebird. In the afternoon, visit Las Bachas beach on Santa Cruz Island, an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Here, enjoy snorkeling and swimming from the glorious white sand and possible sightings of stilts, flamingos and other wading birds in the nearby lagoons.

Bartolome Island

Bartolome is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best-known landmark in the islands. Galapagos penguins—the only species of penguin found north of the equator—walk precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at the base of the island. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. A dry landing here leads to a 2,000-foot pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route presents a real-life exhibit of volcanology: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and the landing beach.

South Plaza Island

South Plaza is a small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs, including sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colors according to the season. South Plaza is one of Galapagos’ most impressive visiting sites, where a dry landing leads to snorkeling and walking options amongst turquoise waters, green seaweed, bright orange Sally Lightfoot crabs, scarlet sesuvium succulents, luminescent green prickly-pear cactus, red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies and manta rays.

Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the islands. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted seismically, revealing underwater lava formations. A wet landing on a sandy white beach reveals a sea lion harem and giant prickly pear cactus. Enjoy a hike over uneven, rocky terrain to seek out one of the large dinosaur-like species of land iguana native to Santa Fe Island. Afterward, go snorkeling with diverse marine life.

Accommodations

Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

Read More
Day 4
Santa Cruz & Depart Baltra

After a leisurely breakfast, take an overland transfer to the airport in Baltra for the flight back to the mainland.

Accommodations

n/a

Meals

breakfast

Read More
Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

Shared ground transfers in the Galapagos (flights must be purchased in conjunction with package to be provided); all meals as indicated; Charles Darwin Research Station fee; use of snorkeling equipment; one full-day yacht exploration; one full-day land exploration; 3-night accommodation in the selected room; internet.

Exclusions

Air transportation to/from Galapagos; airport taxes; Transit Control Card ($20); Galapagos National Park entrance fee ($100 per person); gratuities; activities including sea kayaking, mountain biking, diving or surfing; alcoholic beverages; items of a personal nature; luggage fees or insurance of any kind. Christmas and New Year’s Eve dinners require a $124 per person surcharge.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of 15% of total trip cost is required per person at time of booking (25% per person during peak season). The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, based on number of days prior to departure:

Standard Season
Up to 61 days – 100% of deposit
60 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Peak Season
Up to 121 days – 100% of deposit
120 to 0 days – 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

Most flights to the Galapagos will depart Quito or Guayaquil between 6:00am and 11:00am on day 1 and return between 2:00pm and 6:00pm on the final day. We highly recommend travelers arrive into Ecuador two days prior to their Galapagos cruise. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Upon arrival you may purchase optional activities such as surfing, horseback riding, mountain biking and hikes. Optional scuba diving is also available with a certified dive master and all equipment included at an additional charge. There are numerous opportunities to swim and snorkel. Easy-to-use, sit-on-top kayaks are also available to rent.

Room Configuration

Four of the Finch Bay Suites can be interconnected for families or groups – ask your Adventure Specialist for details.

Families & Children

Children under 12 years old at the time of trip receive 25% off when sharing the room with two adults (applies only to one child per two adults paying full fare). Minimum age of 6 years old for yacht excursions. No discounts apply on Peak Season dates, when an additional fee of $117 (2019) per child is incurred.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, National Park regulation or at the guide’s discretion. Due to the active nature of volcanoes in the Western Galapagos, alternate excursions may be offered. The ability to be flexible makes this type of adventure travel unique.

Rates & Dates

Trip Rates & Details

See Deals section for details on flexible booking policies.

2020 Rates
Finch Bay Eco Hotel
From $2215USD
Per Person
Read More
Read More
Accommodation

Learn About the Lodges & Hotels on Your Itinerary

Hotel
Finch Bay Eco Hotel

Surrounded by a national park and set just above a white sandy cove, the Finch Bay Eco Hotel offers close interactions with the Galapagos environment and wildlife. This award-winning eco hotel offers a wide variety of activities for exploring while keeping sustainability of the islands in mind.

Deal

Current Deals on This Trip

Add to Wishlist
Offer expires January 31st, 2021
Flexible Booking Policy On Select 2020 & 2021 Galapagos Trips

Book Galapagos trips with confidence using these risk-free, flexible cancellation conditions.

Testimonial

Hear It from Travelers Who Have Explored with Us

"Incredible Array of Experiences"

This trip was incredibly well planned and went quite smoothly. We stayed at some top-notch hotels and had an incredible array of experiences. Thank you for your professionalism, quick responses, and seamless itinerary.

Overall
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Accommodations
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Meals
5 /5 Star Created with Sketch.
Read More Rectangle Copy 10 Created with Sketch.
Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

Extend Your Trip

Additional Travel Options Before or After Your Land Tour

Add to Wishlist
5 Day Land Tour
Quito & Guayaquil Galapagos Travel Package

Most Galapagos cruises require travelers to find pre- and post-cruise Guayaquil or Quito hotels. This travel package offers an easy, cost-effective way to get to the Galapagos with a comprehensive land package.

From $385USD
Year Round
Add to Wishlist
4 - 5 Day Land Tour
Ecuador Amazon Adventure - Napo Wildlife Center

Spend 4, 5 or 8 days at the Napo Wildlife Center, a luxury eco-hotel and ecotourism project that includes the conservation of approximately over 82 square miles of Ecuador's most pristine Amazon rainforest within Yasunì National Park.

From $1332USD
Year Round
Add to Wishlist
4 Day Land Tour
Andes Highland Haciendas

Spend 4 days with a private guide touring the Andes Highlands, including the world-famous Otavalo market, Hacienda Zuleta and Hacienda Cusin. Traditional weaving, bread doll art and optional horseback riding are unforgettable highlights.

From $2055USD
Year Round
More to Explore

Trips You Might Also Like

Add to Wishlist
5 - 7 Day Land Tour
Galapagos Island Hopper

Explore the Galapagos Islands on our lodge-based adventure on three separate islands: Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal. This 5- or 7-day itinerary is perfect for those looking for a unique way to explore the islands ashore visiting sites often missed on cruises.

From $2875USD
Year Round
Add to Wishlist
5 - 7 Day Cruise
La Pinta Galapagos Cruises

La Pinta is a gorgeous 209-foot expedition yacht, with capacity for 48 guests to enjoy a relaxed yet lavish expedition atmosphere in some of the largest cabins in the Galapagos, plus free WiFi, interconnecting cabins and a kids program.

Special Offer
From $4666USD
Year Round
Add to Wishlist
5 - 6 Day Land Tour
Galapagos Safari

A unique, family-owned property inspired by the magic of African safari camps, Galapagos Safari Camp provides a customizable way to experience the Galapagos Islands. Bordering the National Park in the Santa Cruz Highlands, this luxury tented camp is perfect for families and seamlessly integrates with its surroundings.

From $4035USD
Year Round
Exit Created with Sketch.

Galapagos Discovery

test message
View Wishlist