Opuntia Wildlife Discovery, 6 Days
Activities: Wildlife interaction, walking, snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing on the beach.
Opuntia Wildlife Discovery, 6 Days
For a more in-depth, well-crafted Galapagos wildlife tour, look no further than Opuntia Wildlife Explorer. Like our five-day Wildlife Discovery tour, this six-day tour moves fluidly between three islands. The extra day is spent on Isabela Island, where we’ll hike the highlands of Volcan Sierra Negra and learn more about this sparsely populated island while staying in our flagship Iguana Crossing hotel. Our naturalist guides will teach you all about the amazing natural history of the Galapagos as you follow in Darwin’s footsteps to explore the living history of evolution. Get ready for face-to-face encounters with the incredibly friendly endemic wildlife of the Galapagos, as well as scenic hikes, world-class snorkeling, amazing vistas and plenty of time to unwind on the stunning tropical beaches. Our top-rated guides will escort you throughout your journey, and at the end of the day you will relax, dine, and rejuvenate in comfort at the oceanfront Opuntia Hotels.
- Witness breathtaking highland vistas, like the rim of the second-largest caldera in the world
- Explore the living history of evolution face-to-face with endemic wildlife
- Incredible snorkeling sites, including the best sea lion encounters in the world
- Hike through beautiful environments, including an endemic Scalesia forest
- Relax in style on gorgeous tropical beaches, accompanied by sunbathing marine iguanas
- Enjoy outstanding comfort, service, and gourmet cuisine at the boutique Opuntia Hotels
- Our top-rated guides to go in-depth to make every activity interesting, fun, and safe
- Protect the environment – we practice sustainable methods 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: Interpretation Center, Walk and Snorkel Tijeretas - San Cristobal Island
DAY 2: Snorkel the North Coast – San Cristobal Island
DAY 3: Discover Beaches, Lagoons, and Islets – Isaebla Island
DAY 4: Sierra Negra Volcano - Isabela Island
DAY 5: Highlands Exploration – Santa Cruz Island
DAY 6: Visit Charles Darwin Research Station – Santa Cruz Island
DAY 1: INTERPRETATION CENTER, WALK AND SNORKEL TIJERETAS
We’ll meet you at San Cristobal Island at midday, where we head from the airport to the charming Casa Opuntia Hotel, with oceanfront views and some of the best seafood in town. We share a short briefing over lunch before heading to the Galapagos Interpretation Center to get an introduction to the natural and human history of the Galapagos, including the unique evolutionary paths of endemic flora and fauna.
Now that we know a little more about the islands, we make our way to our first destination, with a relaxed walk to Frigate Hill along natural lava rock trails. Along the way, our guides will provide insight on 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 who make this unique landscape their home. We’ll also take in scenic views of the sea cliffs and the vibrant beach town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
On the way back, we stop for a refreshing snorkel at beautiful Carola Beach, where we will swim with sea turtles and sea lions and take in a gorgeous sunset. After a delicious seafood dinner at Casa Opuntia, we recommend you set out to explore the laid-back town and take a leisurely walk down the boardwalk to view the colony of endemic Galapagos sea lions right next door. Overnight at Casa Opuntia (L, D)
DAY 2: SNORKEL THE NORTH COAST
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 ISLABELA’S BEACHES, LAGOONS, AND ISLETS
The next stop in our journey is Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos, which is still growing due to its six active shield volcanoes. Isabela is one of the planet’s true volcanic hot spots. 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 one of the most scenically varied walks in the Galapagos. Our destination is el Muro de las Lagrimas (the Wall of Tears), a soaring wall of volcanic rock built by the prisoners once held in Isabela’s former prison colony, solely to keep them from going stir-crazy. Our hike takes us along immaculate beaches, into an alluring poison apple forest and a lava tube cave, and through brooding mangroves and brackish lagoons. As we pass through these varied ecosystems, we’ll see lots of giant tortoises, flamingos, and other birds.
After lunch, we delve into Tintoreras, a group of lava islands that conceal many tiny coves and hidden beaches. Tintoreras is full of life, including reef sharks, sea turtles, sea lions, and the endemic Galapagos penguin. Our day ends at the beautiful Iguana Crossing Hotel, where we enjoy the infinity pool, rooftop hot tub, and a unique Ecuadorian gourmet dinner. Overnight at Iguana Crossing Hotel (B, L, D)
DAY 4: SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO
Today we drive into the highlands, gaining over 1000 meters of elevation as we climb up the flanks of Volcan Sierra Negra. On the way up, the elevation provides striking views of the volcanoes and sea around us. But the best views are waiting for us at the top! Once the road ends, we walk a bit further to reach the rim of Volcan Sierra Negra. This is the second largest active caldera on the planet, and it seems to go on forever.
We’ll walk part of the rim of this enormous, six-mile-wide crater, and if we’re feeling energetic, we can continue our hike on to the caldera of Volcan Chico. This secondary vent has a surreal landscape, with spectacular lava formations painted in yellow hues by sulfur deposits and fumaroles wafting volcanic gases. After an unforgettable day in this otherworldly terrain, we return to paradise to enjoy our last evening in Puerto Villamil, hanging out on the picture-perfect beaches or meandering through the lazy streets. Overnight at Iguana Crossing (B, L, D)
DAY 5: EXPLORE THE SANTA CRUZ HIGHLANDS
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 the highlands, this time to El Chato, home to scores of Galapagos giant tortoises. The sensation of walking amongst these ancient creatures, which can live to over 175 years old, is indescribable. The giant tortoises share their habitat with pintail ducks, Darwin’s finches, frigate birds, egrets, and the vibrant vermillion flycatcher.
Our next stop is a group of cavernous lava tunnels frequented by the pirates that once roamed the Galapagos and, according to legend, a perfect hiding spot for their plundered Inca gold. We then carry on to Los Gemelos, a pair of massive volcanic sinkholes at the high point of the island. We explore the surrounding forest of endemic Scalesia trees covered in ferns and epiphytes, home to the beautiful but shy short-eared owl. This quiet highland forest exudes a still, spooky feeling. After a full day, we make our way back to the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn, where we sit down to a delicious dinner and enjoy secluded views of the bay, coastline, and town as we celebrate our last night in the Galapagos. Overnight at Angermeyer Waterfront Inn (B, L, D)
DAY 6: CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
After breakfast, we add a final touch to our Galapagos adventure with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Scientists at the Research Station rear endangered and endemic wildlife for conservation purposes and educational programs. We learn about their ongoing conservation efforts, as well as the diverse evolutionary paths of the various giant tortoise and finch subspecies. After our visit, it’s goodbye for now as we transfer to Baltra Island for our return flight to the mainland. (B)
Rates for Private tour if
|Number of Guests||1||2||3||4||5 and More|
|Rate per person in double accommodation||$8235||$4575||$3499||$2946||$2607|
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.