IN THE COMPANY OF THE ISLANDERS
After being used for centuries by pirates and whalers the Galapagos were finally claimed by Ecuador in 1832, and since that time have supported a small population, centered mainly on the island of Santa Cruz. And who better to tell you about what life is like here.
On San Cristobal you´ll have a chance to meet, eat and chat with some of the local people. You’ll share a meal with a local family that makes its living fishing on the islands, where you’ll be able to listen to their stories about how their ancestors came to the Galapagos. And on Isabela you’ll be based in the fishing community of Villamil, a small village on the South East of the island where the community is the heart of the program.
The local people are in the front lines defending the environment. Their participation is an essential element in keeping the Galapagos environment in pristine condition. That’s why island communities are involved in all aspects of our program, and why contact between travelers and the community forms an vital part of the company’s commitment to the conservation of the Galapagos. And Galapagos Ecological Adventures’ program makes sure that the money you spend stays on the islands and supports the local people’s efforts.
Day 1: Fly to San Cristobal Island, and transfer to your hotel. After a tasty lunch, we’ll ride bikes to the Interpretation Center, and then on to the Loberia, a great spot to see colonies of sea lions.
Day 2: Today is the perfect day for taking to the water. We start with a great intro to kayaking, paddling from the Puerto Baquerizo beach to Cerro de las Tijeretas or Frigate Hill, which gets its name from the large number of Frigate Birds (Tijeretas) that live and nest there. Later we’ll snorkel at Leon Dormido, enjoy some fantastic kayaking next to a cliff filled with Galapagos birdlife (experienced paddlers can catch a big wave), and then try some snorkeling, with the chance to see dozens of harmless sharks and a colorful rock channel teeming with tropical fish.
Day 3: Today we’ll take an early morning flight to Isabela Island and check into our hotel. After breakfast we’ll head to the small Tintoreras islands, a Galapagos in miniature. Here we’ll see white tipped reef sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays and Galapagos penguins. There’s also the chance to snorkel in the clear, turquoise waters of the bay, where we’ll be able to get a close up of the islands’ famous underwater life. In the afternoon we’ll visit the giant tortoise breeding centre.
Day 4: Today it’s time to stretch our legs. We’ll visit Sierra Negra, the largest crater of all the Galapagos volcanoes. It is a spectacular hike, and a perfect primer on the geology of the archipelago. We’ll enjoy some spectacular vistas over the island before returning to our hotel.
Day 5: This morning we’ll leave from the white sandy beach in front of our hotel and paddle to Villamil Bay, passing rays, penguins, and blue footed boobies, and watching the friendly sea lions that paddle along with us. In the afternoon we will walk the Wetlands Trail, through the mangroves and marine iguana colonies, to the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940’s by WWII prisoners housed at the island’s US base.
Day 6: We’ll leave in the early morning sun and travel by speedboat to Santa Cruz Island. After checking into our hotel we’ll head to the Highlands to see Giant Tortoises, and then explore lava tunnels and the ‘Los Gemelos’ a pair of giant volcanic craters. In the afternoon we’ll head to the spectacular white sand beach at Tortuga Bay where we can swim, snorkel, walk on the beach, and paddle amongst marine iguanas, sharks, and sea turtles.
Day 7: After a morning visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, we transfer to Baltra for our return flight back to mainland Ecuador. Of course, if you’ve fallen in love with these ‘enchanted’ isles – many people do – you can decide to extend your stay for a few days. There’s lots of scuba diving and naturalist day trips you can take to explore some of the other fascinating Galapagos islands.