Experience the lifestyle in the Valles Calchaquies

5 Days / 4 Nights

OVERVIEW

Overview

ITINERARY

Itinerary

Land & Cruise 8 Days / 7 Nights

Kayak Itabaca

There’s no better introduction to the Galapagos than to get onto the water as soon as possible! Our adventure starts with a visit to the Itabaca Channel, where we’ll explore its beautiful turquoise waters. We’ll get the chance to kayak, snorkel or get on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and see some of Galapago’s famous wildlife, such as blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, a variety of herons and white-tipped reef sharks. We’ll glide through beautiful red mangrove forests and along lava rock cliffs n water so clear we’ll be able to see the marine life in the shallows. Our ocean (sit on top) kayaks come in doubles or singles, and life jackets are provided. A support boat will escort us throughout our water activities to ensure safety and to provide water, snacks and towels between activities.

From the Itabaca Channel we’ll then head up to the Santa Cruz highlands, where our exclusive giant tortoise reserve is located.

 

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Kayak: 1.5-2 hours depending on wildlife activity and kayakers’ skills.

Transportation: boat, swimming, kayak or stand up paddleboard.

 

Lunch at Santa Cruz Highlands 

 

Night at Galapagos Magic (Standard Tent)

Included:  English speaking guide, transportation, excursion, Airport VIP services, attraction, breakfast, lunch, accommodation and dinner.

Today we’ll have a free day to enjoy Santa Cruz. There are different choices of activities available (organized at additional cost or self-guided) or, if you feel like unplugging from the world and relaxing at our Giant Tortoise Sanctuary, you can just take in the views, walk to the Lava Tunnels or simply enjoy the peacefulness.

The different activities available are listed below. 

 

Optional tours:

 

  1. Walk to Las Grietas & Kayak at Tortuga Bay (private basis) USD 235 net per person

From Puerto Ayora main pier we’ll take a water taxi to the “Other Side Pier”. From there, we’ll go on an easy walk for about 1 Km (~0.6 mile) until we reach Las Grietas. This is a stunning geological formation (called fissure) where we can see two impressive rock walls with an elongated crystal-clear water pond ideal for snorkeling. 

After visiting Las Grietas we’ll head to Tortuga Bay. After walking through a deciduous forest for 2.5 Km (~1.5 miles) we’ll reach one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. We will continue walking along this white sand beach for another 1 Km (~0.6 mile) until we reach Playa Mansa, where we’ll have the chance to enjoy special kayak ride around the bay.


  1. Cerro Meza & Kayak at Garrapatero (private basis) USD 236 net per person

This activity starts off with a visit to Cerro Mesa viewpoint, from where we can admire the whole southern shore of Santa Cruz. We’ll then go towards one of the iconic formations in Galapagos resembling a crater, from where we’ll start a hike downhill for about 30 minutes to the bottom of this collapsed crater. We’ll have time to explore the area and regain our energy before starting the hike back uphill for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The route is full of opportunities to find endemic species such as the Wood-pecker Finch and, if we’re lucky, giant tortoises.

After visiting Cerro Meza, we’ll go on a kayak ride at Garrapatero. We’ll walk for about 500 m (~0.3 mile) on flat and easy terrain through a deciduous forest until we reach El Garrapatero beach. There we’ll enjoy kayaking along the beautiful bay for about 45 minutes, and we can go on a short walk to the brackish lagoon where there’s a high chance of spotting pink flamingos.

 

  1. Coffee farm and Sugar Cane mill & Highlights of Puerto Ayora (private basis) USD 219 net per person

In the morning, we’ll leave the hotel and head towards the farming area of El Cascajo to visit one of the most traditional farms in the area, and where we can find true organic coffee and sugar cane plantations. We’ll learn all about the coffee and sugar cane growing and production processes, and visit an artisanal sugar cane mill and distillery where the farmers produce a traditional sugar cane liquor.

Afterwards, we’ll visit Charles Darwin Research Station, matrix of all the scientific research in the Galapagos Islands and where all the most important conservation projects are directed, such as conservation and preservation of giant tortoises and marine iguanas. We’ll walk around the facilities of Research Center where we can find the enclosures where giant tortoises are being bred and those where iguanas are being studied. The Research Center also offers a brand-new Interpretation Center with some of the most important samples of their Collection.

Finally, we’ll visit the wood workshops in Galapagos. Inspired by the unique beauty of the islands and using cedrella wood – one of the species introduced in Galapagos several years ago – local artists have dedicated their lives to capture images of fauna and flora of the archipelago. Their pieces are full of creativity and details that reflect the nature and beauty of the islands. During this visit we will learn more about these skilled hands.

In the morning, you’ll be escorted from Galapagos Magic to Baltra Island. Upon arrival you’ll be escorted on to a short bus ride towards the harbor and then onboard M/Y Galápagos Sea Star Journey Cruise/

 

PM: Dragon hill, Santa Cruz Island

During the afternoon we’ll go visit Dragon Hill, a site open to visitors since 1993. It’s located in northwestern Santa Cruz Island and consists of a trail that leads to a hyper-saline lagoon behind the beachwhere it’s common to find flamingos, pintail ducks and other characteristic bird species from Galapagos. Dragon Hill has been repopulated with land iguanas from Seymour, Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. We’ll take a short walk up the hill, which offers a magnificent view of the bay.

After the visit we’ll board the cruise again.

 

Included: Breakfast, transport, English speaking guide, lunch, cabin, dinner.

AM: Black Turtle Cove

After breakfast we’ll go visit Black Turtle Cove, a little cove located on the northern side of Santa Cruz island. This red mangrove lagoon is very calm and quiet, which has made for an ideal nursery spot for many shark and ray species. Its crystal-clear waters will allow us to see large groups of white-tip reef, black-tip reef and hammer heads sharks, as well as schools of golden rays and spotted eagle rays. It’s also quite common to see marine turtles, sometimes even seen mating in the mangrove-lined waters. Pelicans and herons are also frequent visitors to the area.

There are no docks, so we’ll visit the cove on a small boat or kayak.

 

PM: Chinese hat

During the afternoon we’ll visit the so-called Chinese Hat, a small islet (1 sq km) located just off the southeastern tip of Santiago Island. It is a volcanic cone shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from the north side. On the west we’ll be able to see lava formations raising upwards from the sea, which is why coral heads are found on the lava. The area is an excellent opportunity for interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The landscape is covered by sea lion colonies, marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins.

We’ll spend the night on board. 


Included: Breakfast, transport, English speaking guide, lunch, cabin, dinner

AM: Darwin Bay, Genovesa Island

Our first excursion of the day takes us to Darwin bay, which originated when the crater of this island collapsed below sea level. The wet landing will be on a beautiful white coral sandy beach of the island, which is the ideal place for birdwatchers – we’ll be able to see red-footed and masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, yellow-crowned and black-crowned whimbrels, lava herons, yellow warblers, among others. We’ll walk along a trail, gradually climbing to the edge of the cliff while seeing red-foots nesting in the mangrove trees below. Once we reach the end of the trail at the cliff's edge, we’ll have an incredible view of the island and the amazing diversity of bird species living there.

 

PM: El Barranco, Genovesa Island

In the afternoon, we’ll head to El Barranco, located in the southern part of Darwin Bay and also known as Prince Philip’s Steps. We’ll climb to a plateau that is part of the stretch of land that surrounds Darwin Bay on its eastern side, and which houses a big population of masked boobies and red-footed boobies. We’ll also get to see storm petrels and short-eared owls, which have found in Genovesa lava flows the ideal place for nesting.

 

We’ll spend the night on board the cruise.

 

Included: Breakfast, transport, English speaking guide, lunch, cabin, dinner

AM: Bartolomé Island

Today we’ll visit Bartolomé Island, located across Sullivan Bay. With an altitude of 114 meters, we’ll observe one of the most beautiful sceneries of the Galapagos Islands including volcanic cones, lunar-like craters, lava fields, and the famous Toba, a pinnacle eroded by the sea. There island, which has very little vegetation, has two breathtaking beaches where we can see marine turtles as well as a small colony of Galapagos penguins.

 

PM: The Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island

After visiting Bartolomé Island we’ll head to Santiago Island, also called James or San Salvador Island, located in the western central part of the Galapagos archipelago. It is the fourth largest island in the archipelago (following Isabela, Fernandina and Santa Cruz). Along with some of the large western volcanoes of Isabela and Fernandina, Santiago is also volcanically active, with many young flows and cones to be seen along its coasts. These can be seen from the summit of Darwin Volcano and even from space, with a number of historic eruptions being reported over the last 2 centuries. Santiago actually consists of two merged volcanoes: a typical shield volcano on the northwest end and a low, linear fissure volcano on the southeast end.

 

After the visits, we’ll return to the cruise.

 

Included: Breakfast, transport, English speaking guide, lunch, cabin, dinner

On Santa Cruz Island we’ll take the trail to the highlands leaving from Bellavista. We’ll pass through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone, and then towards the Fern and Sedge zone. If we get clear weather we’ll be rewarded with beautiful landscapes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round. 

 

Finally, you will be transferred to the airport in Baltra Island for your flight back to the mainland.


Included: Breakfast, English speaking guide, transportation

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