3 DAYS / 2 NIGHTS
Isabela Island Extension
Combine one of our safaris on Santa Cruz Island and extend your stay in the Galapagos Islands by taking an exciting flight by small plane to the largest island in the archipelago, Isabela. Stay at one of our recommended beach-front properties while discovering Isabela’s charming sights and intriguing creatures.
Spend your days hiking volcanoes, snorkelling with sea lions and penguins, swimming off the beach and visiting historical sites.
You will be accompanied by your private guide throughout the journey.
- from $2,890 per person
Sample itinerary, in brief
The below sample itinerary is just that, a sample. All our Safaris are flexible and we will adapt them to your party’s needs and interests.
- Type of activity:
- LAND EXPERIENCE
- SEA JOURNEY
- DAY 1TRAVEL BY SMALL PLANE TO ISABELA. VISIT THE WETLANDS AND THE ‘WALL OF TEARS’.
- DAY 2EXPLORE THE SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO AND TINTORERAS.
- DAY 3RETURN TO BALTRA AIRPORT BY SMALL PLANE.
- DAY 3+… OR EXTEND YOUR TRIP FOR ANOTHER NIGHT TO INCLUDE LOS TUNELES
Isabela Island Extension
The Enchanted Islands are seldom seen from above. With this extension, we fly you to Isabela on a small propeller plane for a bird’s eye view of the archipelago’s volcanic formations. The semi-submerged craters, turquoise waters, rocks and islets are breathtaking. Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos, and one of the most volcanically active places on earth.
LOS HUMEDALES AND WALL OF TEARS
After arriving on Isla Isabela, settling into your hotel, and having lunch; spend the afternoon exploring Los Humedales - the wetlands of the island.
The area is home to each of the four species of mangroves found in the Galapagos, sandy beaches, a tortoise center, and a lookout over the bay and the island. A handful of trails intertwine into a network that reveals the wildlife and flora of the coast. The mangroves of the wetlands play an important part in the eco-system, and their underwater root system are breeding and nursery grounds for fish, rays, green turtles, and sharks. Above ground, flamingos, and penguins use the forests to raise their young.
Common sightings in the wetlands include a variety of land birds such as black-necked cormorants, blue-footed boobies, and ospreys. Other neighborhood residents are the Galapagos tortoise, marine iguanas, and sea lions.
You will also have a chance to visit the Isabela Breeding Center; a project undertaken by the Galapagos National Park to protect the different species of tortoises on the island during their formative years. The center releases tortoises into the Los Humedales reserve, where they are seen meandering along the trails.
Afterwards, visit the Wall of Tears which was built over 14 years during the 1940s and 50s when the island was a prison colony. The wall is located 5 km west of Puerto Villamil, the island’s main hub. Hundreds of prisoners were forced to build the structure; carrying volcanic rock from other parts of the island in blistering conditions to the site. Although the wall was never finished, one theory suggests that it was supposed to be part of a formal prison on the island.
Getting to the wall is an adventure. From the trailhead outside of Puerto Villamil the uphill path is sandy at the start, and eventually turns to rough gravel as it hugs the coastline and winds through mangroves. The journey passes beaches, scenic outlooks, and a cemetery where the original settlers of the island are buried.
The wall is a reminder of the stark difference between the Galapagos of the past and of the present. The collection of stones piled eight meters high and a hundred meters long is insightful for its lack of merit. It’s an example of how the islands have changed, going from a rugged exile for prisoners to a bucket list destination for travelers from around the world.
The prison colony eventually ended when prisoners revolted. Today, many of the descendants of those who worked on the Wall of Tears still live on Isabela. The local folklore says that the wall is haunted, and when venturing too close one can hear the cries of the men who toiled to build the structure.
EXPLORE SIERRA NEGRA VOLCANO AND TINTORERAS
Northwest of the main town of Puerto Villamil, Volcan Sierra Negra (1490m), home to the second largest active volcanic crater in the world, towers over the island. The shield volcano last erupted in 2005, sending 300m fountains of lava into the night sky. During an active day immersed in the lavish landscape of the island, our trip traverses an 8km trail around the eastern side of the volcano that culminates in breathtaking views of Isabela and the nearby islands.
In the course of the accent, the journey takes you through several microclimates. The trail starts in the cloud forest, where delicious guava fruit and a variety of birdlife await. Along the way, your guide will point out Galapagos hawks, short-eared owls, flycatchers, and finches that often frequent this route.
The hike continues through petrified, out-of-this-world lava fields, which can be challenging at points. Once at the 6-mile diameter crater, the temperature of the air rises slightly due to the lava flowing underneath the crust. Hiking around the rim gives way to panoramic views of the surrounding cloud forest, the highlands of Isabela, and the most recent lava formations of the expansive crater itself.
Depending on the weather conditions, the trail may be muddy and hard to navigate, and the view might cloud over. Due to the crater’s altitude, the view from the top is often clear when the conditions below are overcast. As our tours are private, you do not have to complete the full trail and you can shorten the visit if needed.
After the visit to Sierra Negra, we will take you to a short boat ride from the main town of Puerto Villamil to Las Tintoreras Islet. The first stop is offshore, near a colony of penguins.
The Galapagos penguin is one-of-a-kind; the only member of its species to live north of the equator. The endemic penguins are on the endangered species list, and the work of the Galapagos Conservancy has helped to increase their numbers over the recent years with the construction of artificial nests that are the sight of 43 percent of the penguin breeding activity in the area.
After arriving on land, explore the nooks and crannies of the islet’s lava formations, including submerged tunnels carved into the rock where white-tipped reef sharks rest. The waters of Isabela are an important feeding area for Galapagos wildlife, drawing a variety of species to the cool seas.
On the shore and along the trail, blue-footed boobies, great blue herons and a large population of marine iguanas make the short hike an adventure. There is a marine iguana breeding colony here, and during its peak it is hard to navigate the trail without watching where you step every few paces!
While the creatures above the water are fascinating; the rich, underwater life is also worth discovering during a snorkeling session in the open waters. Sea lions and turtles, marine iguanas, and rays are some of the creatures sighted amidst vibrant schools of fish when the conditions are right.
- DAY 3 RETURN TO BALTRA AIRPORT BY SMALL PLANE
- DAY 3+ OR EXTEND YOUR TRIP FOR ANOTHER NIGHT TO INCLUDE LOS TUNELES
- Internal flight Baltra-lsabela-Baltra
- Private English-speaking naturalist guide
- All meals
- Transfers & ground transportation
- Wetsuits and snorkeling equipment
- Activities and visits detailed in your chosen itinerary
- Laundry service
- Insurance (prior to your journey please ensure your travel insurance is valid in your country of origin)
- Extra baggage fee (over 25lb)
…biking to the ‘Wall of Tears’, or extending your hike at Sierra Negra to include Volcan Chico
VOICES OF GALAPAGOS
Our Experts Say
“Combining Santa Cruz with Isabela Island works really well… the beautiful flight over the ocean, the spectacular caldera at Sierra Negra, and my favourite snorkeling site in the Galapagos – Los Tuneles.”
“I’ve always liked the hike up to the Sierra Negra crater. It’s such a dramatic view: a massive crater here in the wilds of the Pacific”
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