Relaxing island hopping packages that are not focused on extreme sporting activities are an excellent option to explore as much as possible of the enchanting archipelago in an adventurous way. Photography, hiking, swimming and snorkelling are just a few of the most popular activities that enhance the experience on land and the spectacular underwater world just offshore.
Here, we offer you a sample itinerary that includes visits to three very distinct islands. As ever, the activities in our programmes can be adapted to your interests. Unlike our select Galapagos cruises, departures for Ishpingo Tours’ land-based packages are available every day of the year – an advantage for guests who are on a limited schedule and wish to visit other regions of the country.
Island hopping packages are offered in tourist, tourist superior and first class hotels and rates vary according to class and length of tour.
For larger groups (more than 8 passengers), a permanent bilingual guide is recommended instead of different local guide on every island. Depending on your needs and expectations, we can also offer a private speedboat for trips between islands.
We strive to ensure our tours are unique and include visits to special and interesting places that are normally not in the itineraries offered by other local operators.
If you would like to dive, we will be pleased to offer you daily diving tours starting from Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristóbal Islands with a minimum of 4 divers per excursion.
Accompanied by your English-speaking guide, the first activity on this Galapagos adventure is an excursion to the island’s highlands and the Galapaguera also known as the Cerro Colorado. Located on the northeast corner of the island, it is home to giant tortoises in captivity. After the visit, lunch today will be served at a farm nearby.
The journey continues to El Junco Lagoon, the only permanent freshwater lake in the Galapagos. Its name comes from a common local plant called junco. The lagoon is located about 700 metres above sea level, almost perfectly round in shape and approximately 6 meters deep. Galapagos pintails, moorhens and pied-billed grebes live here. Also, frigatebirds are often seen in the lagoon washing the salt from their feathers.
Before descending into town, enjoy a spectacular view of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Bay. Overnight will be at a hotel in Puerto Baquerizo, which is located a the southern tip of the island. This is the capital of the Galapagos province and home to its largest number of inhabitants. (Lunch included)
In the morning, sail to Lobos Island, named after the frolicking sea lions that play and rest on its rocky shores. It is also home to brown pelicans, great frigatebirds, lava gulls, yellow warblers, blue-footed boobies, common noddies, and small and medium ground finches. In the channel’s clear water snorkelling is also a favourite activity of visitors, especially since this is one of the best sites to swim underwater with sea lions.
Nearby Kicker Rock, often referred to as the León Dormido (Sleeping Lion), is an interesting shaped island made up of two rocks that jut out of the ocean. The small island is home to a large colony of sea birds. This is also an excellent place to swim and snorkel to observe the many reef fish, rays, marine iguanas and seals in addition to Galapagos and Hammerhead sharks. It is quite common to spot large graceful sea turtles gliding effortlessly through the water.
Afterwards, travel on to Puerto Grande, with its white sandy beach, to relax and enjoy a box lunch before heading back to town. Spend the evening exploring Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and enjoy a relaxing evening and the delicious local cuisine. (Breakfast & lunch included)
After a speed boat ride to Santa Cruz Island, enjoy a visit to the The Charles Darwin Research Station, just outside the town of Puerto Ayora. Although not necessarily a tourist site, it is one of the most visited locations in the Galapagos. Arrival is by sea, so it is necessary to pass through mangroves, which gives the opportunity to spot some of the largest marine iguanas sunning on the dock. The first stop is Van Straalen Hall, a visitors centre where one can learn about the island’s climate, geology, natural history and conservation efforts currently being implemented. This scientific station is home to turtles ranging from 3 inches (new hatchlings) up to 4 feet long. Sub-species of turtles can be observed interacting with one another. Many of the older turtles, used to being around humans, will even stretch out their heads for a pet. The baby tortoises are cared for until they are about four years old and are able to survive on their own.
Turtles live in water and tortoises live on land. Note that touching the tortoises (or any other animals) in the Galapagos is not allowed.
Afterwards, enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before heading to one of the islands’ most beautiful white sand beaches, Tortuga Bay.
Later, enjoy dinner on your own and have fun exploring the town of Puerto Ayora. (Breakfast & lunch included)
A hike to the highlands of Santa Cruz leads to Primicias Ranch, an excellent place to explore the bush and search for the famous giant Galapagos tortoises. Afterwards, visit the island’s fascinating lava tunnels before having lunch in a typical restaurant.
Later, continue on to another of the archipelago’s most beautiful beaches, Garrapatero. Here, the calm, turquoise water is perfect for snorkelling and observing the local marine life. Also present are flamingos and other interesting sea birds.
Later, enjoy another peaceful evening in Puerto Ayora. (Breakfast & lunch included)
A morning trip around the bay includes visits to Punta Estrada, Germans Beach, the Grietas and the Channels of Love and the Grietas. Along the way, many seabirds and sea lions can be observed in addition to the beautiful marine life under the surface when stopping to snorkel. Back in Puerto Ayora, lunch will be served before boarding a speed boat to Isabela Island.
Isabela, named after Queen Isabel of Spain who funded Columbus’ voyage, is by far the largest in the archipelago, representing 58% of the islands’ total land mass.
After a 2-1/2 hour speedboat ride and checking in to the hotel, take a walk around Isabela’s beautiful Flamingo Lagoon and soak in a dramatic change in scenery.
Afterwards, return to explore the town of Puerto Villamil and enjoy it’s laid-back atmosphere along with a relaxing dinner with the locals. (Breakfast & lunch included)
Today, a 4-hour scenic trek leads to the Sierra Negra Volcano. With an altitude of 1,124 metres, it is often referred to as one of the world’s most beautiful with its 7-kilometre-wide crater and extraordinary views of the island and sea. It is also one of the most active in the archipelago, with its last eruption being in October 2005.
Lunch is served in Campo Duro, a nearby farm where it is possible to observe the Isabela Giant Tortoise.
Located just a short distance from Puerto Villamil, the Tintoreras Islet is teeming with wildlife. Here, the clear turquoise waters are home to white-tipped reef sharks that can be seen resting around the lava canals, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. Surrounded by mangroves, this is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can successfully reproduce. After a chance to snorkel, return to town for a chance to relax and enjoy the evening. (Breakfast & lunch included)
Cape Rosa is 45 minutes by sailboat from Puerto Villamil and located on the western side of the island. Here, surrounded by the crystal clear waters, walk along the connected lava tunnels where you can observe rays, penguins and dozens of sea turtles. This is also the perfect place for snorkelling and swimming along with the rich variety of marine fauna.
Another unique experience of this excursion is the possibility of seeing different sizes of manta rays on the trip to and from Isabela. During their mating season, they float upside-down on the surface as if waiting for a passing tourist to take their picture.
In the afternoon, visit the historical Wall of Tears that was built by prisoners back when the island was a penal colony. Then it’s on to the Orchilla viewpoint from where the entire coastal wetland system can be observered. This includes the town of Puerto Villamil, Poza de los Diablos, beaches and the volcanoes and islets located southeast of the island – a photographer’s paradise on clear days.
Before returning to the hotel, continue on to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre where tortoises of all sizes and ages can be observed. This is a great place to learn about the work being performed to help with the recovery of wild populations. (Breakfast & lunch included)
Today there are two options to reach Baltra to take the return flight to the mainland. One is a speedboat ride to Santa Cruz in order to transfer by public ferry to Baltra, and the other is a 30-minute direct flight from the local airport on Isabela to Baltra’s airport. The planes are small and can carry a maximum of 5 to 9 passengers. (Note that there are no flights on Sundays.) The flight incurs an additional charge and must be booked at least 48 hours in advance. (Breakfast included)
B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner
BL = Box lunch