You will have the opportunity to visit two of the most important Islands. In Santa Cruz you will explore the highlands with a unique vegetation where you can see giant tortoises. Besides you will visit the Garrapatero beach which is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing. You can also discover the ocean with crystalline water in a kayak and explore the Tintoreras Islet at Isabela. You will be able to watch sea lions, marine turtle, iguanas, manta rays and the local Galapagos Penguins. A must see visit is the Sierra Negra volcanic crater, the second largest active volcanic crater in the world.
Once you’ll arrive to Baltra airport, a Spanish speaking driver, will wait for you to drive you to the Highlands of Santa Cruz.
The highlands of Santa Cruz are a deep green, contrasting beautifully with much of the dry, lower islands. The dominant vegetation in the highlands is the Scalesia trees, creating the lush green color. After we will do, a short ride will take you to a 600-acre private reserve where the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze, and sleep. Walking among the tortoises in wild, will be one of the most treasured moments of your trip.
After visiting these prehistoric creatures on their natural habitat, we’ll take a 5-minute ride to the entrance of a 450-meter (1350 feet) illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 20 feet high in most places, this is an incredible opportunity see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, mineral-colored walls, and the rippled floor formed from lava along this unique lava formations.
Afterwards you will get lunch on the Santa Cruz Highlands or Puerto Ayora Town and the driver will take you to your hotel.
After breakfast, you will bike to Garrapatero (2 hours approximately). This beach access is by a short walking along an improved trail through diverse flora such as Poison Apple trees and Mangroves. Flamingos often frequent a small lagoon near the beach and the white sand beach is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing.
After a break at the beach, you will discover the ocean by Kayak. A guide will be accompany you. In the late afternoon, the driver will bring you back to your hotel.
Around 6.30 am a driver will take you to the pier to check in on the speed boat. From Santa Cruz pier to the Speedboat, you will have to take a water taxi. Once arriving in Isabela you will have to take a water taxi from the Speedboat to Isabela’s pier. At your arrival, you will pay $10pp entrance fee (Isabela local tax). Finally, a Spanish-speaking driver will take you to your hotel.
In the afternoon, you will have a Kayak ride at “Las Tintoreras”. It is a chain of small islets full of cove and hidden beaches. The islet of Tintoreras is situates in the south of Puerto Villamil. It has a bay where it is possible to see sea lions, marine turtle, iguanas, manta rays, etc. This bay is connected by a superficial crack with crystalline water, which is closed off during low tide. In this crack, it is possible to see the sharks from Blanca Point swimming with the rest of the tropical fish and sea lions. It is necessary to travel in a boat to get to Tintoreras, and the access and routes are easy. It takes about 10 minutes from the dock of Villamil Port to get to Las Tintoreras. There, you will find the local Galapagos penguin, as well as reef sharks, marine turtles and sea lions.
Climbing the Sierra Negra volcanic crater is simply not to be missed for geology lovers and adventure seekers. Since its last eruption in 2005, the geographically unique Sierra Negra Volcano is home to incredible lava paths adorned with the local plant and animal life.
On the way to Sierra Negra Volcano, there is an evident change of scenery, as you get closer to the highlands, from volcanic dryness with black soil and little vegetation to a humid forest with local and foreign plants introduced into the environment. Sierra Negra is an excellent place for birdwatching (finches and “curracas” among many others). There are two paths to take, depending on the stamina of each person, one is a circuit which goes until the Sierra Negra Volcano lookout, and the other path goes is a straight way to the to the Chico Volcano.
In the morning, we will travel by car to the highlands of Isabela, following the route until the end of the road. There, we will begin a hike to a new geological world. During the hike, we will have the opportunity to admire the beautiful views and incredible contrast between the volcanoes and the sea, to finally arrive to the edge of the Sierra Negra volcanic crater, the second largest active volcanic crater in the world. From there we will walk around this enormous 30 square mile crater. If we still have the energy, we can continue walking top the Chico Volcano, a place with unique scenery where there is a fusion of shades of red, oranges, yellows and blacks. Here, we can observe fumeroles and spectacular lava formations. On the way back from this hike, which can only be describe as Mars-like, we can enjoy our last evening on the beaches of Isabela Island.
No meals included
Around 5.20am a driver will take you to the pier to check in on the speedboat. From Isabela pier to the Speedboat, you will have to take a water taxi again. Once arriving in Santa Cruz you will have to take a water taxi from the Speedboat to Santa Cruz’s pier. Finally a Spanish speaking driver will take you to the Itabacca Channel. From here, you have to cross the channel and take a bus or a taxi to get to the airport and catch the latest flight.
Gulliver Expeditions is a tour operator that organizes Ecuador Tours to travelers that like to experience a mix of adventures such as Climbing Ecuador Volcanoes, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding as well as traveling along the deepest landscapes in the Ecuador Amazon Rainforest to the stunning sceneries of the Galapagos Islands.