Galapagos activity & wildlife holiday, land based

“Our only land based Galapagos holiday tailor made to your needs. Explore 5 islands, stay in island hotels and exercise land legs not just sea ones.”


Quito | San Cristobal | Kicker Rock | Isabela Island | Hike to Sierra Negra crater | Santa Cruz | North Seymour | Bartolome | Stay overnight on 3 islands

Description of Galapagos activity & wildlife holiday, land based

land based exploration – responsible tourism – tailor-made - comfortable hotels – spectacular scenery – fearless wildlife – carefully paced – cultural interaction – off the beaten track - kayak and snorkel - bike and paddle board

Start your holiday with a day in the company of a local in Quito for an excellent introduction to the country as a whole.

Avoid the cruise boats and explore the Galapagos on this comprehensive land-based stay.

Visit five different islands for encounters with the emblematic wildlife: sea lions, iguanas, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, and much more.

Get active as you explore on foot, by bike, kayak and with snorkel to get close to the animals.

Get a more in-depth experience of the islands, combining spectacular scenery and wildlife encounters with a greater understanding of the human inhabitants of the Galapagos.

Relax in the knowledge you can set your own pace and tailor your days to suit you.

Perfect for active families, couples or friends, who prefer not to travel by cruise ship.

This is a particularly good choice for families with active children, and anyone who prefers to travel at their own pace rather than fit in with the schedule of a cruise.

Note: the Galapagos are a genuine year-round destination, so this itinerary can run any day of the year, and can also be adjusted to your needs.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Fly to Ecuador. Fly to Quito today (international flights not included), where you are met and transferred to your first class hotel in a quieter area of the city. Relax after your journey and adjust to the relatively high altitude (2,800m).
Day 2:Explore Quito. Our guide comes to find you this morning and lead you through Ecuador’s capital and its surroundings. Quito is positioned on the flanks of the Pichincha Volcano, and is home to perhaps the best-preserved colonial centre in Latin America. Explore the historic centre to learn about the city’s colonial past, perhaps dropping into the Government Palace en route. Whatever your particular interests though, the day will evolve to suit you. (B)
Day 3:To the Galapagos. Fly from the Ecuador mainland to the San Cristobal Island, where you meet your guide. Start your afternoon with a walk across lava fields to the beach of La Loberia, where sea lions can often be seen playing in the water. This will be your first chance to swim and snorkel with these playful creatures. Look out for marine iguanas, frigate birds and Nazca boobies during your walk; with luck you might find turtles in the water here. (B,L)
Day 4:Visit Kicker Rock. A magnificent rock formation rising up from the sea, this is one of the Galapagos' most iconic sites. Today you join a small group on an excursion by boat up to the towering walls of Kicker Rock, where the water offers some of the best snorkeling anywhere in the islands and the cliffs are home to several species of bird, including blue-footed boobies. Later, you have some free time to explore on your own. There are colonies of sea lions and marine iguanas on a nearby beach, and an hour's walk will take you to a great site for birdwatching and snorkeling. (B,L)
Day 5:To Isabela Island, snorkel and walk. Take a short flight in a light aircraft to Isabela, in the far west of the islands, and check into your beachfront hotel in Puerto Villamil. Take a boat out to Las Tintoreras, where you walk across lava to get close to Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, and basking white-tipped reef sharks. Round off the day by snorkelling or kayaking in Villamil Bay and wandering along the golden sands of the beach. (B,L)
Day 6:Volcano walk on Isabela or snorkelling at Los Tuneles. You have a choice of excursions today: hike up to the crater of Sierra Negra, the world's largest volcano caldera after Ngorongoro, for stunning views across the islands. Or take a boat out to Los Tuneles, one of the islands' finest snorkeling spots, to see sea lions, reef sharks, turtles and rays in the shallow waters. Later on, cycle out to the Wall of Tears, built in the 1940s by prisoners during the Second World War. There is a good chance of seeing giant tortoises along the trail. (B,L)
Day 7:Speedboat to Santa Cruz. Two hour journey to Puerto Ayora, the islands' main town on Santa Cruz (note this can be bumpy). Visit a farm in the highlands to see giant tortoises, then hike out to the white sands of Tortuga Bay, where you can swim, snorkel or paddle amongst sharks, iguanas and sea turtles. (B,L)
Day 8:Visit North Seymour. For each of the next two days, you join a small group and travel by boat out to one of the archipelago's uninhabited islands. Today's trip might take you out to North Seymour, a small island home to large colonies of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions and marine iguanas. (B,L)
Day 9:Visit Bartolome. Today's small group boat excursion might take you out to the tiny island of Bartolome. Walk up to the top of the island for spectacular views across the Galapagos, then head down to snorkel around the base of the emblematic Pinnacle Rock. The visibility here is amongst the best of the week and you might see penguins and sharks around the underwater channels and rock formations. Returning to Puerto Ayora in the afternoon, you might like to have dinner at your hotel where you have a lovely setting overlooking the water as the sun goes down. (B, L)
Day 10:Depart the islands. You have the chance for an early morning walk to the Charles Darwin Research Centre before the transfer back to the airport. Check in for your flight back to the mainland, or even extend your time in the islands. We assume you connect directly out through Guayaquil this evening (international flights not included). (B)

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Our top tip:
Read up on the human history of the Galapagos before you go.
Trip type:
Tailor made.
Activity level:
Reasonably active, but tailor made to suit your abilities.
3* hotels.
Accommodation, some meals, domestic flights, guides, transfers, activities & equipment.
Waterfront restaurants charge fortune. Go a few streets back for the real thing.
Solo travellers welcome. Surcharge for own room.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

While they provide one of the best wildlife holidays in the world, the fragile nature of the Galapagos Islands means that each and every visitor should ensure that their visit does everything possible to maintain and preserve this stunning destination. Boats are very closely controlled by the Galapagos National Park Authority, which is one of the great advantages of cruising on the live aboard yachts in the islands. Land based tours of the Galapagos are subject to few such controls and can therefore be a source of some concern to those who care about a, and want to protect, the Galapagos Islands.

This therefore makes the choice of operator all the more important when booking a land-based holiday to the Galapagos instead of a cruise. Our local partners have impeccable credentials in working in sensitive environments and supporting local community projects which ensure responsible, sustainable and positive tourism.

All of your guides on this holiday are fully authorised and trained by the National Park Authority, so that you get the most out of your time on the islands, but also to ensure that the impact of your visit is minimised. The longer your stay on the islands, the better. Fewer flights means less risk of invasive species arriving into the islands and disturbing the unique native species.

The Impacts of this Trip

It’s easy to forget that the Galapagos Islands have a significant human population (approximately 25,000), who live alongside the remarkable wildlife species. On a land based trip you are also going to have far more interaction with the human side of the Galapagos Islands, which makes for an arguably more ‘complete’ experience of the Galapagos. Many who travel by cruise boat spend no more than an hour or two in an inhabited town (such as Puerto Ayora), but on this trip, as well as in Puerto Ayora, you will stay in two much quieter towns, more like villages really. The holiday provides direct economic benefit to the inhabitants of the islands, as you stay in small, locally owned and run hotels and inns, eating out in a range of local restaurants.

Our local partners on this tour have both a commitment to the sustainable nature of the trip from a community perspective, as well as extensive experience of working with community projects in the islands. These projects include working with farmers and other workers to support non-exploitative means of income. They have a multi-award winning track record of working hand in hand with both local and indigenous peoples in Ecuador and Galapagos to create outstanding travel experiences which benefit both those in the visited-areas as well as the traveller.


3 Reviews of Galapagos activity & wildlife holiday, land based

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 05 Mar 2020 by

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

As most things about the Galapagos Islands are memorable and exciting, it is impossible to identify one particular aspect. However, some of the highlights included: snorkelling with hammerhead sharks and large turtles; observing the numerous sea lions and iguanas that are everywhere; visiting the highlands to see the giant tortoises; seeing penguins on our kayaking trip; the diversity of the landscape from lava tunnels to lush, green vegetation in the highlands; trekking up the Sierra Negra volcano.

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

Heed the advice to use high factor sunscreen at all times, as being so near the equator, the sun is very intense and will burn you in no time!
Consider spending longer than 8 days on the Galapagos Islands if you would like some lie-ins and time to relax. There is so much to do and see that, in order to fit it all in, we were leaving our hotel virtually every morning between 5.30 and 7.30am.

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

Yes. As we were land-based we supported the local economy by drinking in local bars and eating in local restaurants. Also, all of our guides were locals and so benefited from having regular work.
All of the locals were very aware of their environment and the need to strike a balance between enjoying the economic benefits of tourism whilst at the same time ensuring that tourism is controlled so does not have a detrimental effect on the environment or the marine life. There are strict rules about what you can and can't bring onto or take from the Galapagos Islands. There are explicit guidelines in terms of the marine life, ie you are not allowed to touch or feed them. At all of our hotels we were provided with purified water in glass jugs, rather than using plastic bottles.

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

Excellent. The holiday of a lifetime!

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Diane,

Thank you so much for taking the time to review your holiday to the Galapagos with us, we're delighted to hear you had such a good time. Sounds like your wildlife
experiences were pretty extraordinary, even by Galapagos standards!

We also really appreciate your comments on the sustainability aspects of your holiday, that's something we take extremely seriously, and it's great that you felt your
trip struck the right balance. Staying longer is definitely something we like to encourage in all of our destinations, so that's a very good tip!

I really enjoyed planning your holiday with you, and would love for you to travel with us again some time. Do get in touch if you're looking at another journey to
Latin America (or Spain / Portugal).

Best wishes,


Reviewed on 06 Sep 2019 by

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

Very difficult to choose one thing as it was all amazing - probably paddling in the Amazon, and Galapagos and seeing amazing wildlife and snorkelling there

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

Make sure you spend as much time as you can in the Amazon and in the Galapagos - you won't run out of things to do and see, and it is always worth having a guide

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

Yes -all the places we stayed in were run/owned by local people, and the guides were local. The lodge in the Amazon was run by the local community. All the lodges we stayed in (Amazon, Mindo adn Otovalo) made great efforts to be sustainable. Great focus on conservation. The only think that wasn't environmentally friendly was the travle (by air and road).

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


Reviewed on 20 Sep 2015 by

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

All of it ! Surpassed expectations. Micromanagement by competent guides impressive. Just one guide did not speak adequate English ( on a boat tour )

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

Do not even clean teeth using local water.
Sea water can be quite cold ( especially at Kicker Rock). Wet suit hire is cheap and advisable for some
Good mosquito prophylaxis essential

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

Cannot really comment - I fear for the Galapagos with plans to increase tourism dramatically (200,000 -> 500,000 pa)

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

Excellent. Expensive but worth it

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