Tourists taking pictures of sea lions in the galapagos islands.
Galapagos Islands travel guide, explore the best of the islands
Written by Ornella Bressan
On 24 May 2024

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the Galapagos Islands and mainland Ecuador with our curated travel plan, featuring insider tips from 38 year old local Ecuadorian, Alejandro Miguel.

Before reading the recommended itinerary, you should first know that most of the activities you will do will have to involve a guide as the chain of Ecuadorian islands are a protected nature reserve so having a guide with you is mandatory.

Public speedboats in the Galapagos islands cost $30 per person and take no more than 2 hours and 30 minutes to travel between each island. 

Most guides in the islands provide lunch, hike and snorkel activities, bilingual guides and snorkel equipment, but you can also bring your own or rent it which is around $3-$5 a day.

Now, here is what you have been waiting for:

Day One & Two

Arrival in Quito or Guayaquil – If you arrive in Quito you should visit: 

  • Visit Middle of the World monument where you will see and walk the equatorial line 
@thetravelingwellburys You have to stand on the equator in Ecuador! #travelecuador #mitaddelmundo #equator ♬ original sound – Jake & Morgan

  • Visit Intiñan Equator Museum and immerse yourself in an interactive museum where you will learn about the history of Ecuador as well as experiments that will prove that you are indeed in the middle of the world

Day Three

Arrival at Baltra airport in the early morning. You can get the most from the second you arrive by adding a tour where you will:

  • Be greeted by your guide that will take you to the highlands in Santa Cruz island, visiting a private ranch to see the giant tortoises roaming free in their natural habitat
  • Afterwards, you will be guided to see the lava tunnels formation

@ecuador_turismo_ 📌 Túnel de Lava, Galápagos #Ecuador #allyouneedisecuador #turismoecuador #turismo #world #travel #southamerica #fyp #foryou #parati #visit #tour ♬ Peaches – Justin Bieber

  • Lastly, arrive at Puerto Ayora to take the public speedboat to Isabela island before 3 pm where you will have your accommodation booked for two nights.
    The schedules of the ferries are very limited with one being at 7 am and the last one of the day at 3 pm.

Day Four

Dedicate this day to a tunnel excursion, where you will have the chance to snorkel and see penguins, white tip sharks amongst other marine life.

Take the rest of the day to explore the island by bike and find time to see:

  • The giant tortoise breeding centre
  • Punta Cormorant, or Flamingo Lagoon where you might have the chance to see the group courting dances of the flamingos during their breeding season
  • Snorkel at Concha de Perla where you will possibly swim with marine iguanas

Day Five

Wake up early in the morning and decide between Sierra Negra volcano or Las Tintoreras.

  •  If picking the active volcano, you will need to book a guide to be able to to hike through Sierra Negra, which will take around five to six hours to complete.
    Hiking shoes and breathable summer clothes are recommended as although it is a gradual hike, the heat of the volcano as well as being near the equatorial line makes for a very hot temperature
  • If choosing Las Tintoteras, instead of a hike you will get to do some snorkelling.
  • Head to your new home in Santa Cruz by taking the last speedboat at 3 pm to Puerto Ayora where you will stay for three nights

Day Six

@barbara.riofrio

craziest trip of my life

♬ Evergreen – music &lt3

Dedicate this day to visit either Bartolome island, Santa Fe island or Seymour in Baltra island where you will essentially get to snorkel and hike. However, here what is special about each island:

  • In Bartolome, snorkelling is considered to be the best of the Galapagos island – enjoy watching penguins, sea lions, white tip sharks, rays, and green sea turtles in their habitat
  • In Santa Fe there is no infrastructure compared to other islands since it was always unpopulated and its formation also doesn’t come from volcanic eruptions but instead volcano uplifts.
    Enjoy snorkelling or hiking around the island seeing land iguanas, cactuses, before stopping for some bird watching 
  • Return back to Puerto Ayora

Day Seven

  • Visit Charles Darwin Station on your own where you will need to pay a $10 entry fee and get a glimpse of Darwin’s history foundation as well as present research
  • Visit Tortuga Bay where you will see a white sandy beach and the marine iguanas – snorkelling here won’t be possible as the current are too strong
  •  Visit Las Grietas for some more hiking and snorkelling

Day Eight

Time to say goodbye to Galapagos islands and fly back to the mainland. 

Day Nine

Dedicate this day to visit the Otavalo Indigenous Market, the largest indigenous craft market in South America, or Cloud Forest.

@seanob.productions Have you ever been to the cloud forest? Mindo, Ecuador is the absolute perfect destination for a balance of relaxation and adventure. . . . . . #ecuador #travel #jungle #forest #cloudforest #dronevideo #drone #film #southamerica #firstvideo ♬ original sound – seanob.productions

Day Ten

Decide if you would rather spend time in the nature or in town by either visiting the Cotopaxi National Park or explore Baños de Agua Santa, which offers a variety of activities — You could also do both and dedicate one day to the National Park and day 11 to Baños.

@thelesbianpassport ♬ original sound – Allyssa | LGBTQ+ Travel

Day Eleven

Stay for the whole day in Baños and bike through the avenue of the waterfalls, Pailon del Diablo.

Alternatively, you can visit the End of the World Swim followed by Casa del Arbol.

Day Twelve

Continue your journey in Ecuador or bid farewell before flying back home.

Credit Featured Image: Xplore Galapagos

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