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16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

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16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

Hello everyone. This forum has been so very useful in my planing for a trip of a lifetime so i am calling on your excellent services again.

My girlfriend and I are going tobe in the Galapagos for 16 days including transport days. We do not want to do a cruise but rather be land based and go to islands and see what we can on day trips. We are planning to base ourselves on the three main islands of San Cristobel (where we fly in), Isabella and Santa Cruz (where we depart - Baltra). We had thought of a split of 5 SC, 6 Isa and 5 SC based on what we have seen of the attractions and islands surrounding these.

What are your opinions? How long would you spend on each island and which is really the best to based on for day trips?

Thanks so much in advance.

Munich, Germany
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1. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

There's a lady named Helen in this forum who is an expert on the area so hopefully she can reply and give you more guidance.

All I can say us that we just spent 8 days on the islands with a cruise and we thought it was to long. Before booking the cruise we looked into the option of staying in a hotel but it seemed as though you're restricted to the inhabited islands. I believe the other islands are accessible only if you're on a cruise or have your own ship. As I understand there are fees associated with each island "landing" - I font think that day trips are possible. But I might be wrong.

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2. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

I think you're referring to Heather, one of the DEs for this forum.

You're right that you can only stay on the 3 inhabited islands if you're not on a naturalist cruise. You can do day trips from Santa Cruz to 5 other islands: N. Seymour, Bartolomé, Santa Fé, S. Plaza, and Floreana. (I think you can do a day trip to Floreana from San Cristóbal, if I remember an earlier post on this forum.) Costs are probably around $120/person, but I'm not sure about that. Not all trips run every day and some of the more popular ones can sell out during busy times. You can only do 1 day trip a day, due to long travel times (sometimes more than 2 hours 1 way) on a small speedboat.

The map on this Web page shows you the various visitor sites: www.galapagospark.org/onecolmap.php… . Those colored magenta and blue can be visited on your own, without a certified Park guide. Santa Cruz has a number of sites near Puerto Ayora and into the highlands, where you can see Giant Tortoises living free. On Isabela, you can visit areas around Puerto Villamil, but you can't get to the western shore landings without being on a naturalist cruise. You can also arrange a short hike to Volcán Sierra Negra from Puerto Villamil. You can probably arrange day trips to other areas on San Cristóbal when you're on San Cristóbal, but I've not read much about that.


trip report at http://galapagos2009.wordpress.com/

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3. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

That is ample time on the islands and if you schedule enough activities you won't get bored as mad2live482 did. There is a lot of logistics involved in getting around and booking everything...so hope you're up for that! You can't jsut hop from one island to anotehr whenever you want ;) (One of the reasons people turn to tours is the peace of mind, lack of hassle.) Isabela Island if my favourite. You can get a guide to hike up Sierra Negra Volcano for a full day, snorkel with sea turtles, visit Tintoreras and Los Tunneles...all with required guides. Concha de Perla is a little spot to snorkel or swim on your own and renting bikes to head out to isolated beaches or the wall of tears will also keep you busy.

San Cristobal is where I've spent most of my time in the islands. Mann beach, Loberia beach, the Interpretation centre, Kicker Rock, Isla Lobos, El Progresso, El Junco and the mini Galapaguera you can visit all on your own except Isla Lobos/Kicker Rock...lots of places and things to do here as well.

There is a massive cotton treehouse you can stay at in El Progresso, complete with running water. Definitely makes fora fun night that most tourists, especially cruisers, would never have a chance to do.

Santa Cruz is the big city...lots going on...and after two days of visiting the CDRS / Tortuga Bay I feel like it loses it's charm. But that's when you can take day tours to places like Seymour Island.

So, with that said....I'd maybe cut out a couple days from some islands and spend them at Floreana. There are 4 (not 3) inhabited islands. Floreana has next to no facilities (a couple places to stay, a few restaurants)...as less than 200 people live there. But it is worth the effort to spend a couple of days for swimming, hiking, visiting the pirate caves.

My breakdown would be: 4 Cristobal, 2 Floreana, 5 Isabela, 5 Santa Cruz (with 2 of those days being full-day tours to other islands)

Oxford, United...
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4. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

Thanks so much for your feedback!

FunMonty, we feared it would be a lot of hassle but to be honest it isn't just on cost grounds that we didn't fancy a cruise, we also aren't too keen on sleeping on a boat and also sticking to other people's schedules. So we have to be up for some serious independent planning i guess :)

Your break-down of days is particularly helpful as even looking at all of the options of what you can do you still can;t get a very good feel for where exactly is the best place to stay and for how long. So i think we will follow your sound advice and do that split. Would you recommend booking accommodation in advanced based on that breakdown or will there just not be enough places advertised online for Galapagos? I say this as i notice it doesn't have a great deal of accommodation options here on TA when usually there are hundreds for any given place!

The cotton treehouse sounds brilliant so thanks for that tip! Also had not really registered Floreana so that seems like a real goer!

Thanks again, any further advice would be very gladly welcomed!

Albuquerque, New...
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5. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

Depending on your interests you might want to spend a night or two on Floreanna. It has a very interesting history. There are some interesting hikes and decent wildlife viewing. My TA picture is a marine iguana taken near the boat dock on Floreanna. But, accomodations are a bit basic. We went there on a land based tour, so you would have to do some research. We spent two nights there and I enjoyed it a lot, but I have rather esoteric interests. Read up on the history of the island before going.

Oxford, United...
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6. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

Thank you for the tip-off. We are both nature lovers and don;t mind a little roughing it at all. It sounds like Floreanna is right up our street.

Bristol, United...
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7. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

Just be aware that Floreana is not a place you can just turn up and check into a hotel. If you are not on a tour, you will need to pre-arrange your passage to/from the island, your accomodation and food. There is also no transport except for the tourist bus that is reserved for the organised groups and if you are lucky a workers truck that you might be able to get a lift with. There are no shops to buy food or drink.

Getting to the highlands will involve a very long walk requiring you to take plenty of water. There are no maps or signs but basically go up the hill and keep going until the road runs out. A path then takes you through the tortoise enclosure. Look out for the medium tree finch - the only place in the world you will find it. Picture on my website - this was used in the new book "The worlds rarest birds":


If you want lunch the day you walk to the highlands you will need to have brought it from Puerto Ayora before you came to the island - must be self preserving as there are no fridges in the cabins. Note many foods are banned from transport betweeen islands.

If you are interested, I recommend you contact the red mangrove hotel on Santa Cruz and see if they can arrange things for you (they own the cabins on Floreana and run boats there). There is a restaurant if you have advance bookings and breakfast is noremally arranged just a short walk away. Only water is provided at the cabins.

Note that if you purchase accomodation from outside the islands and send a copy of your passport, you do not pay tax.

Dave Peters

DP Software

Saint Louis...
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8. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

We just spent about that much time in the Galapagos -- the first 4 days on a cruise, then 5 on Puerta Ayoro, 5 on Isabella, and then back to Puerto Ayora for 2 nights (really 1 day) since we left from there. The 5 nights on PA were good, and we didn't even do any boat day trips (I got seasick on the cruise and was over boats by the time we got to PA). We did a lot of walking -- Tortuga Bay, Las Grietas, took a highlands tour, Charles Darwin Station, etc. We explored a lot of random little spots that I'm not sure most tourists really see -- I dunno, there wasn't a ton more to "do" other than day trips, but walking around town, waiting for the best light to photograph the iguanas on the rocks, eating in different restaurants -- we did plenty of active stuff, but also spend time relaxing and just enjoying being there.

Isabella -- that was great, but we did feel like 5 days was a bit much. It's partially because the food options were really limited, and you only need 2 days to do all the "stuff" (3 if you want to climb Sierra Negro). There were maybe 6 restaurants that were open at any given time, most of them served almost the same stuff, and vegetarian options were really limited -- though we found one place w/ a chef who put together amazing lunches for us. Anyway, it was gorgeous and relaxing, but I really regretted not making time for San Cristobol, and easily could have sacrificed 1-2 days on Isabella to do something else.

For your schedule I would suggest maybe only 3 full days on Isabella plus the afternoon you arrive there and the afternoon you leave (there's a 2:30 boat to Santa Cruz so you can definitely do something that morning). The other islands you might want to do more activities where you start early in the morning (highlands of santa cruz, day trips to other islands, etc.), but on Isabela I think the only all-day thing is Sierra Negro. You can do Las Tintoreras in either the morning or afternoon and we did that in the afternoon and snorkeled with green turtles, sea lions, tons of fish, rays, and penguins -- not sure if the morning is as good, but the afternoon was definitely a great time for that tour.

9. Re: 16 days in Galapagos, how many on each Island?

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