Opuntia Island Hopping Journey, 5 Days
Activities: Snorkeling, hiking, relaxing on the beach, and wildlife interaction.
Opuntia Island Hopping Journey, 5 Days
Our Island Hopping journeys offer the best of both worlds. You get all the benefits of our land-based Galapagos journeys, as well as a day trip to one of the archipelago’s smaller islands. Experience the best of San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, including their beautiful landscapes, amazing wildlife, and laid-back beach towns, then get a taste of the remote as you visit one of the unpopulated islands of the Galapagos. In the evenings, relax and dine on gourmet cuisine at our boutique Opuntia Hotels. Your Island Hopping journey is led by top naturalist guides who add insight to the activities and surroundings. With Opuntia Island Hopping, enjoy the attractions of three very different islands in only five days!
- Snorkel with sharks, marine iguanas, rays, and sea lions
- Walk amongst giant Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat
- Relax on beautiful beaches with playful sea lions and countless marine iguanas
- Embark on an exciting day trip to one of the small, uninhabited islands of the Galapagos
- Enjoy the exceptional service, comfort, and cuisine of the finest hotels in the Galapagos
- Top naturalist guides serve as your liaison to the local culture and wildlife
- Protect the environment with our sustainable, eco-friendly activities and green hotels
- Support the local economy and get in touch with the local vibe with our land-based model
DAY 1: Interpretation Center, Hike and Snorkel Tijeretas – San Cristobal Island
DAY 2: Snorkel The Northern Coast of San Cristobal Island
DAY 3: Explore The Highlands, Visit Research Station – Santa Cruz Island
DAY 4: Wildlife Day Tour to a Nearby Small Island
DAY 5: Transfer to Baltra to take the Flight to Mainland
DAY 1: INTERPRETATION CENTER, HIKE AND SNORKEL TIJERETAS
After a morning flight from the mainland to San Cristobal Island, we continue to beautiful Casa Opuntia for an energizing lunch, introductions, and a short overview of our trip. Our Galapagos adventure starts with a visit to the local Interpretation Center, where we learn about the unique wildlife, geology, natural history, and social dynamics of the Galapagos.
Now that we know a little more about the islands, we make our way to our first stop, Frigate Hill, where we’ll spot many of the unique avian species of the Galapagos. As we hike over natural lava rock trails, our guides will tell us all about the Galapagos cotton, palo santo, acacia, and cacti surrounding us, as well as the blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, herons, gulls, warblers, mockingbirds, and finches that we spot in the vegetation and sea cliffs. In addition to the diverse wildlife, this walking tour provides marvelous views of the rugged coastline and the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno below us.
During the return trip, we stop at beautiful Carola Beach for a dip, where we´ll snorkel and swim with sea turtles and sea lions and catch the sunset on the beach. We then return to Casa Opuntia for a gourmet seafood dinner. After dinner, you can set out to explore the friendly, laid-back town, and visit the colony of endemic Galapagos sea lions next door. Overnight at Casa Opuntia (L, D)
DAY 2: SNORKEL THE NORTHERN COAST OF SAN CRISTOBAL
Today we take to the water with our snorkels and fins to meet some of San Cristobal’s marine residents. We hug the coastline on the way to Isla Lobos, searching the coves and cliffs for sea turtles, sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and Nazca boobies. In these tranquil waters, we’ll swim with spotted eagle rays, golden rays, 3 Galapagos sharks, starfish, clams, and seemingly infinite species of tropical fish. We might even have the chance to spot some hammerhead sharks! We may visit Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), Punta Pitt or Cerro Brujo. The visiting site will depend on the week day and Galapagos National Park regulations. After a full day spent exploring the seas, we head back to Casa Opuntia for a delicious gourmet dinner and a laid-back evening overlooking the bay. Overnight at Casa Opuntia (B, L, D)
DAY 3: EXPLORE THE HIGHLANDS, VISIT RESEARCH STATION
A refreshing speedboat ride takes us onward to Santa Cruz Island. If we’re lucky, whales or dolphins might join us for the trip. We arrive at the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn’s private dock overlooking beautiful Academy Bay. After checking in, we head to El Chato nature reserve in the Santa Cruz highlands, home to the Galapagos giant tortoise. It is an honor to hike among these fascinating, gentle giants, who can live to be over 175 years old. El Chato is also home to many pintail ducks, finches, frigate birds, egrets, and the beautiful vermillion flycatcher.
Our hike continues through some incredible lava tunnels created by flowing magma. Legend has it that the buccaneers who once frequented the Galapagos used these deep caves to hide Inca gold plundered from Spanish ships! After some pirate stories from our guides, we head up to Los Gemelos, a pair of deep volcanic sinkholes at the high point of Santa Cruz. The path takes us through a forest of endemic Scalesia trees covered in ferns and epiphytes, where we´ll keep a lookout for the resident short-eared owl.
In the afternoon, we stop for a visit at the Charles Darwin Research Center. Scientists at the Research Center rear endemic plants and animals for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. Here we’ll learn about the ongoing conservation efforts to protect the future of the Galapagos. We return to the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn in the evening for a delicious dinner. We soak up the ambiance of Santa Cruz with magnificent views of the brightly-lit ships in the bay and the town beyond. Overnight at Angermeyer Waterfront Inn (B, L, D)
DAY 4: WILDLIFE TOUR TO NEARBY SMALL ISLAND
After an early start and a delicious breakfast, we embark from Santa Cruz on a day trip to one of the nearby small islands: Plazas, Bartolome, or North Seymour. Boats depart to different islands based on a weekly schedule, so our destination depends on the day of travel. The boat ride should take between one to two hours each way, and we’ll enjoy activities like hiking, snorkeling, bird watching, and natural history interpretation. We’ll also have a field lunch during our day trip, and return to Puerto Ayora in time for dinner overlooking the bay. Overnight at Angermeyer Waterfront Inn (B,L,D)
SMALL ISLAND DESTINATIONS:
Plazas: The Plaza Islands are a pair of crescent-shaped islands off the east coast of Santa Cruz. The natural, sheltered bay formed between them has very calm waters and is home to a large sea lion population. We’ll spend some time snorkeling with these rambunctious locals before landing on South Plaza Island and heading out for a scenic hike. South Plaza is famous for its diverse flora and fauna, including land iguanas, red-billed tropicbirds, and prickly pear cacti.
Bartolome: Bartolome Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island, to the north of Santa Cruz. Bartolome has some of the most beautiful lava formations in the Islands. Before hiking to the top of Bartolome’s volcanic cone, we’ll do some snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock, where we’ll see sharks, sea turtles, penguins, and thousands of tropical fish. From the top of the cone, we’ll enjoy magnificent views of Santiago Island, the turquoise water, and the surrounding splatter cones.
North Seymour: North Seymour Island is a small island located to the north of Baltra Island. It is one of the view Galapagos Islands not of volcanic origin, instead created by seismic uplift. The main attraction here is the incredible bird life. North Seymour is home to large colonies of blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Here we will observe these birds hunt, interact, and best of all, engage in flamboyant mating rituals. During a short hike inland, we will also observe palo santo, land iguanas, and many other bird species.
DAY 5: TRANSFER TO BALTRA FOR FLIGHT TO MAINLAND
Finally, it’s time bid a fond farewell as we transfer to Baltra Island for our return flight to the mainland. Your guest coordinator will facilitate your airport transfer. (B)
Rates for Private tour if:
|Number of Guests||1||2||3||4||5 and More|
|Rate per person in double accommodation||$5150||$2861||$2499||$2366||$2299|
Private trips may be confirmed at the date of your choice... contact us to check availability!
Note: rates are valid until December 31/2015.
Accommodations in the premium Opuntia Hotels, all meals as listed (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), private bilingual Galapagos naturalist guide, shared bilingual guide for small island day trip, all sea and land transportation.
Flights to and from Galapagos, entrance fee to Galapagos National Park ($100 USD p.p. subject to change), Galapagos transit card ($20 USD p.p. subject to change), tips, hotel & restaurant beverages.
This itinerary is subject to change without notice due to seasonal changes, inclement weather conditions, and adjustments of Galapagos National Park policy.
BOAT TRAVEL TIME: Two to three hours per boating day
WEATHER: During the warm season from January to May, air temperature is around 77 to 83 F (25 to 28 C) at sea level. During the cool season from June to December, air temperature is around 70 to 75 F (21 to 24 C) at sea level. Temperature decreases with altitude.
WATER TEMPERATURE: During the warm season from January to May, water temperature hovers around 77 F (25 C). During the cool season from June to December, average water temperature is about 72 F (22 C). Water temperature also varies significantly by location.
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO PACK: Walking shoes, rain jacket, water bottle, non-cotton trekking clothes, sunblock, sun hat, and repellent.