Galapagos activity holiday

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05 Jan 2017
£ 1995
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23 Feb 2017
£ 1995
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25 Mar 2017
£ 1995
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16 Apr 2017
£ 1995
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02 May 2017
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24 Jun 2017
£ 1995
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01 Jul 2017
£ 1995
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03 Aug 2017
£ 1995
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01 Sep 2017
£ 1995
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25 Oct 2017
£ 1995
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21 Nov 2017
£ 1995
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18 Dec 2017
£ 1995
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Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Galapagos activity holiday


For this trip we use Opuntia Lodges which were founded on three overarching principals: comfort, service, and sustainability. The Opuntia hotels we use have many local investors, and use locals to supply a wide array of services including small grocery stores, supply companies, marine and land transportation, small boat crews, local tour operators, drivers, guides and coordinators.

The environmental policy is:

Commitment to Sustainability:
Our partners are committed to environmental sustainability. People come to the Galapagos to enjoy nature, and we must help ensure that this incredible environment remains pristine for many generations to come. Therefore, our colleagues have been a leader in hotel sustainability on Galapagos is constantly looking to innovate. We invite you to review our following eco-practices, and if you have any comments or suggestions to please share them with us, as we understand that sustainability is an ongoing process.

Launch of Carbon Neutrality Project:
We have partnered with Hacienda Tranquila to work towards carbon neutrality by reforesting native trees. Our partners are funding the planting and nurturing of 10 endemic Matazerno hardwood trees each month, or 120 trees per year. After approximately 3 years since initial planting, each Matazarno tree we plant should absorb roughly 148 kilograms of CO2 per year. With help from the fact 50% of San Cristobal’s power comes from renewable wind energy, this reforestation project should make us carbon neutral by 2015. By 2016, we should be sequestering more CO2 than it is emitting. These numbers are not perfect and do not factor in food or the shipping of products and supplies; however, this is merely the first phase in a larger sustainability initiative.

Besides fighting climate change, ourselves and Hacienda Tranquilas’ reforestation project is helping to restore Galapagos’ highlands to the natural state it was in before the invasion of invasive species. Galapagos tortoises, finches, mockingbirds, and other species depend on endemic forests for survival and are threatened by the new invasive plant species that Hacienda Tranquila is working to remove. By 2020, Hacienda Tranquila aims to reintroduce Galapagos tortoises to the land they have restored. We hope Casa Opuntia’s and Hacienda Tranquila’s partnership can serve as a model for how private businesses and conservation organizations can work together to brighten the future of our planet.

Waste Management:
We do not sell any disposable plastic bottles. Instead invite our guests to fill their water bottles from our jug of purified drinking water. If our guests do not have their own water bottles, they may purchase one from our reception desk or ask to borrow a drinking glass. We do sell bottles of beer and soda, but only in reusable glass bottles. The field lunches we prepare are packed in reusable hard plastic containers with metal silverware. We strive to produce zero plastic, paper, cardboard, or Styrofoam waste from these lunches. We separate recyclable glass and plastic from all our trash. We separate the organic waste from our kitchen to be used for future composing or livestock feed.

Water and Electricity:
Our table linens, towels, and bed sheets are preferably sun dried to save electricity. We use low-flow shower heads in order to save water. We use energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs. We offer a towel reuse program, which gives guests the power to help us conserve water and electricity. We use motion sensors on our hallway lights, so electricity isn’t wasted when no one is present. We have a professional regularly check and maintain our air conditioning system to ensure that it remains energy efficient.

Cleaning and Hygiene Products:
Our cleaning liquids are all biodegradable and are stored in reusable containers. We provide our guests with only biodegradable soaps and shampoos.

We purchase hand-picked local organic fruits such as oranges, guabas, guayabas, and passion fruits from a local charitable volunteer organization, This helps to support their incredible environmental, social, and community projects and reduces our carbon footprint because the produce does not need to be shipped from afar. You can expect these delicious fruits as part of your breakfast. We also purchase hand-picked, hand-peeled, sun dried, manually ground organic coffee from Hacienda Tranquila. We doubt you will ever again be able to find coffee this fresh and close to the earth. Our chicken, fish, eggs, and other foods when available are also local.

Our local tour operator is socially and environmentally committed to sustainable ecotourism practices. They proudly preside over ASEC (Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association), where they have the opportunity to contribute to Ecuador´s tourism industry both at an operational and political level. ASEC looks after the welfare of local communities through development initiatives and environmental conservation practices. They helped establish the first certification standards for nature-based hotels, and are currently in the process of becoming the first Ecuadorian operator to be Ecotourism certified by the new Smart Voyager for operators standard.

They also work closely with the International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and abide by Leave No Trace camping and environmental standards.

If you are our guest, you can expect:
- To receive information to help you minimize your impact on local cultures, plants, and animals.
- That your trip costs and fees will contribute to the welfare of community members and the conservation of their natural environment, since we hire local guides and use local services.
- To travel in small groups to ensure minimal environmental impact.
- To avoid areas which are under-managed or over-visited.


Our Galapagos trip is a land based program, rather than a liveaboard boat trip. The reason for this is that land programs directly benefit the sustainable development of the small Galapagos communities. These traditional fishing and small merchant towns have unsuccessfully struggled to forge a living amongst strict commercial and national park limitations. Although tourism is the logical development alternative, the great majority of Islanders have not been able to participate or benefit from off shore boat operators. Land tours are now revitalizing the local economy and allow Islanders to integrate themselves in the tourism economy.

Reviews of Galapagos activity holiday

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 15 Aug 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The whole thing. A complete and utter difference from UK life. Exceeded all expectations. Arrangements worked well. The contrasts in landscape, flora, fauna, people, buildings, wealth, weather, food, transport and so forth were just extraordinary in the true sense of the word in the Galapagos. So glad we did
such a variety of activities too and stayed on land to have the flexibility to do our own thing at other times.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Add a day or so at either end!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It was good to support local small business including hotels, transport, shops and restaurants. The guides were great re protecting the islands and their
unique landscape and fauna and advice concerning this. We did learn some of the conservation links and inter-relationships of the flora, fauna, climate etc.
It is hard though to feel too smug when one has flown such a long way!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

5 star

Reviewed on 15 Jan 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The SEA LIONS are great encounters. Especially on San Cristobal Island being such close proximity with them on beaches is almost unheard of anywhere else in the world! That is a real specialty of the trip!

Walking the Volcano surfaces on Isabel Island was amazing too!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Organised tours don't seem to include the chance to be able to Scooba Dive with the Sea Lions or other sea life, so best to book that separately by extending your holiday by 1 day or skip the least favored day of the pre-organised activity and do it. It shouldn't be missed.
Sea lions behave differently when you are in the same realm as them, deep under water. They come up and say hello. During snorkeling this doesn't really happen! If you want REAL close encounter with these sweet and entertaining creatures, it is a MUST DO!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I certainly looked after the place by not throwing rubbish around and fed the animals. Me being there did not reduce environmental impact at all because all transport is by buses and cars which do have carbon emissions, but that can’t be helped unless we give everyone bicycles. :-)

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Well organized and very enjoyable! Great lunch spots in nice nature settings.

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