Opuntia Wildlife Discovery 5 Days
- August, 02-06
- September, 09-13
- October, 07-11
- November, 05-09
- December, 03-07
Activities: Wildlife interaction, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing on the beach.
Opuntia Wildlife Discovery 5 Days
Traversing three islands in only five days, this tour offers a top Galapagos land-based experience that highlights the best of San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz, each with its own distinct personality and wildlife. Experience the unique evolutionary paths of endemic species as you move between islands quickly and comfortably. No other five-day tour includes this many locations and activities. Hike through gorgeous environments, swim and relax on pristine tropical beaches, and snorkel with incredible sea life in turquoise waters. Your journey will be led by our top-rated naturalist guides who will teach you all about the wildlife you encounter and make sure you get the most out of every activity. You’ll spend your evenings enjoying the first-class service, comfort, and cuisine of our boutique Opuntia Hotels. Discover the experience of a lifetime with Opuntia’s land-based wildlife tour!
- Follow Darwin’s footsteps to meet the endemic wildlife of the Galapagos
- Snorkel pristine waters, including the best spot for sea lion encounters in the world
- Enjoy hikes through a wide variety of environments and ecosystems
- Relax in style on gorgeous tropical beaches accompanied by marine iguanas
- Enjoy first-class accommodations and gourmet cuisine at the boutique Opuntia Hotels
- Trust in our top-rated guides to make every activity interesting, fun and safe
- Protect the environment – we value sustainable practices in all aspects of our tours
- Support the local economy and get in touch with the local vibe with our land-based tours
- Flow between islands and activities with minimal transit time and maximum contact
DAY 1: Visit Interpretation Center, Hike and Snorkel Tijeretas in San Cristobal
DAY 2: Snorkel the Northern Coast of San Cristobal
DAY 3: Discover Isabela’s Beaches, Lagoons and Islets
DAY 4: Explore the Santa Cruz Highlands
Day 5: Visit the Charles Darwin research Station
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 will explore the north coast, 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. On our exploration trip we will make sure to search the nearby coves and cliffs for sea turtles, sea lions, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and nazca boobies. Here we’ll have the chance to get up close and personal with sea lions in their favorite playground. While snorkeling, we will see eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos sharks, starfish, clams, and thousands of tropical fish. If we’re lucky, we may even come across hammerhead sharks. As the sun sets on our day under the waves, we return to Casa Opuntia to for a relaxing evening. The gourmet dinner and soft pillows are even better after a full day on the ocean! Overnight at Casa Opuntia (B, L, D)
DAY 3: DISCOVER ISABELA’S BEACHES, LAGOONS, AND ISLETS
Our journey continues to Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos, constantly changing and evolving due to the six shield volcanoes that make it one of the most volcanically active spots on the planet. After a short small aircraft flight, we settle into Iguana Crossing, Opuntia’s flagship hotel, set between a pristine white-sand beach and wildlife-filled wetland. We then set out on a one-of-a-kind hike that will take us through an incredible variety of coastal ecosystems on the way to the Wall of Tears, a towering wall of lava rocks built by the prisoners of Isabela’s former penal colony solely to keep them distracted from their solitude. Along the way, we’ll spot giant tortoises, flamingos, and other wildlife as we pass through white sand beaches, an alluring poison apple forest, a gaping lava tube, dark mangroves, and brackish lagoons.
After a nourishing lunch, we set out to explore Tintoreras, a group of small islets filled with hidden coves and isolated beaches. Here, we find the endemic Galapagos penguin, as well as reef sharks, sea turtles, and sea lions. At the end of the day, we retire to Iguana Crossing, where we can relax in the infinity pool, hot tub, or neighboring white sand beach. The chefs at Iguana Crossing serve us a delicious Ecuadorian gourmet dinner, and we finish the evening with a stroll down the expansive beach and the sand streets of idyllic Puerto Villamil. Overnight at Iguana Crossing (B, L, D)
DAY 4: EXPLORE THE SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS
An invigorating speedboat ride takes us to our next destination, Santa Cruz Island. Along the way, we keep an eye out for whales and dolphins in the ocean around us. We’ll 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 late afternoon, we return to the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn to celebrate our once-in-a-lifetime trip with a delicious farewell dinner. We soak up the ambiance of our last night in the Galapagos with magnificent views of the brightly-lit ships in the bay and the town beyond. Overnight at Angermeyer Waterfront Inn (B, L, D)
DAY 5: CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
Before we head to the airport, we have time for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where local scientists rear endemic plants and animals for educational, scientific, and conservation purposes. We’ll learn about the ongoing conservation efforts to protect the future of the Galapagos. Finally, it’s time bid a fond farewell as we transfer to Baltra Island for our return flight to the mainland. (B)
Rate for Set Group Departures:$2150Rates for Private tour if:
|Number of Guests||1||2||3||4||5 and More|
|Rate per person in double accommodation||$7022||$3901||$3490||$2694||$2440|
Private trips may be confirmed at the date of your choice... contact us to check availability!
Accommodations in the premium Opuntia Hotels, all meals as listed (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), bilingual Galapagos naturalist guide, all sea, land, and inter-island air transportation.
Flights to and from Galapagos, entrance fee to Galapagos National Park ($100 USD p.p. subject to change), Galapagos transit card ($10 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 hours
SMALL AIRCRAFT FLIGHT TIME: 40 minutes
ALTITUDE: 0 – 3,688 feet (1,124 meters) above sea level
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.