Private Journeys

Private Galapagos: Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands

8 days from £6,826pp

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands / Galapagos Islands

Itinerary

map marker Map

DAY 1

Arrive in Quito and transfer to your luxury hotel.

Upon arrival at Quito, Ecuador’s high altitude capital city, you’ll be met at the airport and taken by private transfer to your luxurious boutique hotel in the main square of the Old City. Casa Gangotena is a restored Renaissance-inspired mansion, with ornate neo-classical furnishings and spacious rooms. Relax in the terrace bar or the quaint patio garden, sample delicious food in the small restaurant and enjoy the complimentary cultural activities on offer.

Quito

DAY 2

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, scenic light aircraft flight to Isabela Island.

From Casa Gangotena you’ll be taken by private transfer to Quito airport where you catch a flight to the Galapagos Islands. Your next journey to Isabela Island is truly unforgettable- take in breathtaking scenery on a twin engine light aircraft with only 5-9 passengers. After touchdown you’ll drive for 20 minutes up into the highlands to reach Scalesia Lodge, your home for the next three nights. Enveloped in wild forests, the Lodge features an ultra-contemporary glass-fronted main building housing the restaurant and lounge areas. You’ll be staying in one of the 16 safari camp-style tents, fully-equipped with a king-sized bed and modern facilities. Soak in the easy-going atmosphere and choose from an astounding range of excursions and activities on offer, including hikes, volcano visits and snorkelling trips as well as wildlife-spotting.

scalesia lodge

DAYS 3-4

Enjoy excursions and activities around Isabela Island.

Choose from a wide range of excursions on offer at Scalesia Lodge, with different activities scheduled each day. You may wish to visit the white tip reef sharks and penguins of islet Tontoreras, or the thriving mangroves, natural pools and solitary beaches of Los Humedales, frequented by magenta-hued flamingos.

One of the best snorkelling destinations is Los Tuneles, a marine paradise where lava flows have produced many arches and tunnels both under and above water. The magnificent formations are replete with Galápagos green sea turtles, sea lions, manta rays, parrot fish and yellowtail surgeonfish among many others. Another area renowned for its vibrant marine life is Concha de Perla Bay, where you can snorkel alongside penguins and sea lions in warm, crystal clear waters.

Keen hikers can ascend to the smouldering craters of enormous active volcanoes Sierra Negra and Volcan Chico, or delve into Sucre’s cave in the thriving agricultural region of the island. Plus, there is always plenty of time to enjoy the sparkling beaches of Puerto Villamil with biking, surfing and kayaking all available at an extra cost.

Isabela

DAY 5

Light aircraft flight and private transfers to Finch Bay hotel.

It’s a short drive back to the Isabela airstrip, where you’ll once again enjoy stunning aerial views of the islands aboard a light aircraft to Baltra airport. From here you’ll be taken by private transfer across the Itabaca channel to Santa Cruz, the most populated island in the Galápagos. Drive up into the rugged highland forests to reach the twin volcanic craters Los Gemelos. At 600m above sea level, these volcanic sinkholes are home to many Darwin’s finches. After lunch you’ll continue to the town of Puerto Ayora and make the short hop to Finch Bay hotel on a water taxi.

Finch Bay overlooks the lush greenery and glittering waters of Punta Estrada. Rooms are bright and spacious and lead out to a private terrace or balcony, with décor inspired by the natural tones of the surrounding beach. The property is mindful of its ecological responsibilities with energy conservation and water-saving measures, but the facilities remain comprehensive with a large pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, restaurant, bar and spacious sun terrace.

Finch Bay offers an array of relaxing, active and expeditionary excursions including snorkelling, diving, sea kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and day trips by boat to other islands.

Santa Cruz

DAY 6

Visit neighbouring islands by yacht, optional beach dining experience.

Join highly-qualified naturalist guides for a day of exploring nearby islands on Finch Bay’s own motor yacht. The island you visit will depend on the day of the week.
North Seymour (Mondays and Sundays) is a low, flat island that shelters silvery grey Palo Santo trees and raucous colonies of blue-footed boobies, as well as plenty of sea lions, marine iguanas and lava lizards.
Bartolomé island (Tuesdays and Saturdays) is a moonscape formed by cinder cones and lava bombs, whose summit offers panoramic vistas over the surrounding islands. You’ll enjoy time on the beach, snorkelling with Galápagos penguins and sea turtles.
Though South Plaza Island (Wednesdays and Fridays) is one of the smallest islands, it is home to an impressive array of wildlife: sea lion colonies bask on smooth rocks, iguanas populate a cactus forest and swallow-tailed gulls, tropicbirds and shearwaters nest along the cliff edge.
Santa Fé Island (Thursday) is one of the oldest and most beautiful islands of the archipelago, boasting sheltered coves and turquoise lagoons which abound with white-tipped sharks, sea turtles and sea lions. Among forests of prickly pear cacti, look out for a large land iguana endemic to Santa Fé and the harmless, stealthy Galápagos snakes.

In the evening you have the option to dine al fresco, enjoying a 3-course meal set up especially for you on the beach.

sea lion galapagos

DAY 7

Excursion to Divine Bay, Charles Darwin Research Station and a star gazing workshop.

The aptly named Divine Bay is a tranquil haven for wildlife, protected from ocean swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side and a gallery of mangrove trees on the other. Hundreds of herons cross the bay each morning and return at sunset, while noddy terns and blue-footed boobies perch along the cliffs. Snorkel in the inviting waters of the cove, where sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.

You’ll also learn about the natural history of the Galápagos Islands at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island, home to a giant tortoise sanctuary. Later that night, weather permitting, join an experienced guide on a mesmerising star gazing workshop where you’ll admire glittering constellations from the deserted beach.

Blue footed booby

DAY 8

Private transfer to airport.

You’ll be collected from the hotel and taken by private transfer to Baltra airport for your return flight to mainland Ecuador.

galapagos sand

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