The Galapagos in the Footsteps of Darwin
- Duration:6 nights
- Key Facts: Friday departure
- Suitable for: Children aged 8 years and over (younger children may join the holiday, but may not be able to participate in all the activities). Please see terms for details
Transfers: Group airport and activity transfers, as well as inter-island ferry transfers, are all included (private airport transfers may incur a supplement)
- Flights: One internal inter-island flight is included, international flights are not included
Accommodation: 6 nights’ boutique style waterfront hotels in the Galapagos (2 nights Casa Opuntia, 2 nights Iguana crossing, 2 nights Hotel Solymar)
Meals: 6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners
The following activities are all included: Sea kayaking, snorkelling, Kicker Rock, Wall of Tears mountain biking, Active volcano hike, Giant Tortoises, Pirates and Santa Cruz, Sea Kayaking and Paradise, Charles Darwin Research Station (the order of activities is subject to change)
All equipment, tuition and supervision from fully qualified instructors
Services of our representatives or local guides
Please note: International flights to and from the Galapagos Islands are not included in the holiday. Please contact us for a quotation
Due to the current travel advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we are not taking any bookings to Ecuador presently. It is anticipated that the issues in the country will be short lived and that the advice should hopefully change within the coming weeks but until such time we will not be accepting bookings for our trips to the region.
The Galápagos Islands are quite simply a unique place on Earth, full to the brim with spectacular scenery, incredible wildlife, and adventures waiting to be had.
Their rich history is one of pirates, explorers, travellers, and of course Charles Darwin, who formulated his ground-breaking theory of evolution here, making these islands instrumental in shaping world history.
For families, there is so much waiting to be seen and done! We have developed this holiday itinerary as an exciting and active way to discover the Galápagos, with all activities included in the price. Your adventure will take you to three extraordinary islands – San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. In each fascinating location, you will enjoy close encounters with remarkable wildlife as you kayak, mountain bike, and snorkel through natural environments. Along the way, you’ll see the world-famous giant tortoises, as well as the unique species of birds and sea life that reside here.
As well as active adventures, there will also be plenty of time to relax and explore the small towns, white sandy beaches, and crystal clear turquoise waters of the islands with your family.
Many holiday companies feature the Galápagos Islands as part of a cruise programme. However, our itinerary lets you responsibly experience the islands in the company of local, knowledgeable guides. Rather than cruising around the shore, you will see wildlife first-hand when exploring the picture-perfect island bays and snorkelling in the sea; rather than taking photos of the volcanic landscape from a distance, you will go hiking around a crater. You will also get to spend time with the people that call these islands their home and learn about their conservation efforts.
If you would like to enjoy a longer family holiday then why not combine these islands with the wonders of Ecuador during our two-week combination tour?
Day 1 Welcome to the Galapagos Islands!
You will be met at the Island Airport before transferring to the nearby hotel to enjoy a delicious lunch served on the terrace with an amazing view of the harbour. Following lunch, you will explore the nearby visitors' centre which provides information on how the archipelago was formed and learn more about the unique evolution of the animals here.
From here it’s up to the Frigate Hill view point which offers stunning views over the harbour and down towards Charles Darwin Bay below. You will also catch a glimpse of the beautiful Frigate birds who nest here including brown pelicans, gulls and herons.
This afternoon you will have your first snorkelling experience at Charles Darwin Beach. Sea lions, turtles, brightly coloured Galapagos crabs and hordes of tropical fish are regularly found here. You will return to the hotel walking along the picturesque beach, very popular with sea lions in the evenings.Included Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Day 2 Sea kayaking, Snorkelling and Kicker Rock
Today’ journey will take you to some incredible offshore snorkelling sites and along the best kayaking routes on the islands.
After a short boat ride to the kayaking start point you will set off on a leisurely paddle along the crystal clear water, exploring the volcanic rock formed bays and coves full of wildlife. Commonly spotted animals here include sunbathing sea lions, herons and blue-footed boobies and frigate birds.
You will then return to the boat to have lunch before spending the afternoon snorkelling in a sheltered bay which consistently remains one of the best places on the island to interact with sea lions. Turtles and marine iguanas are also regularly seen here along with tiger eels and a range of reef fish.
A short boat trip will then transport you to Kicker Rock; two huge rock massifs jutting out from the ocean – the remains of a volcanic cone which has eroded into the sea. Kicker Rock is home to a different kind of marine life and in the channel between the two rocks you are likely to see spotted eagle rays, golden rays, Galapagos sharks, white tipped sharks, starfish, sea turtles and, if you're very lucky, hammerhead sharks.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 Wall of Tears Mountain Biking
This morning you will take a light aircraft flight across to Isabela Island, the largest and youngest island in the Galapagos.
Here your guide will transfer you to the hotel and allow you to settle in before picking you up with some mountain bikes to head off on the inland trails, exploring the incredible variety of coastal ecosystems. Your first stop will be The Wall of Tears. This dates back to when the island was used as a penal colony and prisoners decided to construct this huge wall of lava rocks to give them a purpose each day – a humbling sight to see.
As you continue on, the route you will take on the bikes is extremely varied from sandy beaches to tunnels made from lava. Heading away from the coastline you will head towards the territory of hundreds of Galapagos tortoises. Be on the lookout for the mangrove finch, flamingos and other shore birds as well as marine iguanas.
Following a relaxing lunch, this afternoon includes another chance to snorkel in this island setting with its new range of marine life to explore! After snorkelling by boat you will explore the small islets of the island and hopefully enjoy sightings of Galapagos penguin, the only penguin which lives on the equator.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 Active Volcano Hike
This morning you will drive as far as the road will take you to the foot of the Sierra Negra volcano. From here you will begin the hike whilst admiring the incredible panoramic views of the surrounding volcanoes and beaches.
The landscape here is otherworldly with spectacular lava formations and dramatic puffing fumaroles to explore as you cross the crater, which has a circumference of over six miles at its widest point. Reaching the rim of the volcano you will enjoy breathtaking views and on a clear day you will be able to see Isabela’s other volcanoes dramatically rising in the distance.
It is possible to continue the hike to a second caldera, or to return to the vehicle, heading back to the beach town where you can relax on the paradise beaches or enjoy the rooftop hot tub.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 Charles Darwin Research Station, Giant Tortoises, Pirates and Santa Cruz
After breakfast, you will say goodbye to the island of Isabela before enjoying a scenic journey towards the next fascinating island, Santa Cruz. Be sure to keep watch for whales and dolphins!
The islands are of course renowned for being the site where Charles Darwin developed his ground-breaking theory of evolution, and today you will learn more about his long-lasting, worldwide impact during a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, a fantastic conservation centre where you will learn more about many of the endemic species you have met so far on your adventure. The centre specialises in educating its visitors and your local Galapagan guide will discuss the scientific and conservation purposes of the centre which are of vital importance in protecting the island’s fragile ecosystem.
From here you will head to El Chato reserve in the highlands which to several subspecies of the Galapagos giant tortoise. Walking through the beautiful scenery whilst watching these slow moving ancient creatures (who can live up to 175 years old), is an unforgettable experience. There is also a wide array of bird life in the vicinity for any keen birdwatchers.
After leaving your new tortoise friends, you will then explore the huge volcanic tunnels that were created by underground lava flows. Legend tells of fearsome pirates once used these tunnels to escape pursuing Spanish ships and stashed plundered Incan gold deep below the ground.
Following your exploration of these geological formations and hearing these fascinating tales of piracy. You will then take part in a short hike to two of the island’s largest volcanic craters, keeping an eye out for some of the local wildlife.
This evening is free for you to explore the liveliest town on the islands, with a range of bars, cafes and souvenir shops.Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 Sea Kayaking and Paradise
This morning you will explore Divine Bay by sea kayak, paddling along the still turquoise waters and exploring some of the high-walled lava channels. Drawn to the warmer, shallower waters in the channels, sea rays and white-tipped reef sharks are regularly found. You can also paddle right up to the fearless red-billed tropic birds, herons and blue-footed boobies and keep an eye out for other wildlife including the brightly coloured sally-footed crabs and marine iguanas perched precariously along the cliffs.
After lunch, a 40-minute hike through a unique dry forest (home to hundreds of land iguanas) will bring you to Tortuga Bay, an idyllic beach with white sand, crystal clear turquoise waters and beautiful views of the ocean. Whether you just want to lie back on the warm sand and relax or head into the water for a swim, this is a real paradise for your final afternoon on the islands!Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 Departure
Today you will be transferred to nearby Baltra Island's airport to meet your return flight to Quito and then home, or to continue your adventures in mainland Ecuador. If you would like us to put together a tailored itinerary for you then simply speak to one of our family travel experts.Included Meals: Breakfast
Included in price
Named after the local prickly pear cactus, Casa Opuntia is a small cosy hotel located right at the end of the boardwalk on San Cristobal Island. Its location, only a few metres from Playa de Oro beach, offers one of the best locations on the island in our opinion.
The hotel has strong environmental practices, with a focus on recycling and using sustainable resources to help to maintain its unique and beautiful local environment.
- The open-air terrace area at the front of the hotel is where you will enjoy your meals, looking out across the waterfront. These are a mix of traditional and locally-sourced seafood dishes (such as the hotel’s famed ceviche) and some international flavours. Fresh produce and delicious tropical fruits feature throughout
- The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool with terrace and enjoys close proximity to the beach (very popular with the local sea lion colony in the late afternoon and evening) ensuring a relaxing hideaway with lots of opportunities to photograph the local wildlife
- We also highly recommend taking a walk along the boardwalk to pick up some souvenirs, and enjoy a refreshing cold drink
- Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas
- The hotel has an honour system for the bar (including alcoholic drinks) so we would recommend bringing some cash if you would like to indulge in a cold drink around the hotel swimming pool
Hotel rooms: The hotel only has 13 bright and modern rooms in total. All rooms are en-suite and offer air-conditioning and an in-room safe for valuables. They are very bright and the decor is in keeping with their beachside location.
The rooms at the hotel vary in size and can accommodate between two and four people in double, triple and family rooms (subject to availability).
Hotel La Casa De Marita
This boutique-style hotel boasts a remarkable location right on the beach, with each room featuring either an ocean or island view.
Listen to the Pacific lapping the shores every morning before getting ready for your island adventures. Upon your return, relax in the hammocks overlooking the sea with a book from the hotel library.
- Dine in the hotel restaurant for tastes of Ecuador, Peru and international cuisine all made using local, organic ingredients.
- Explore Marita’s gardens – the source of most of the restaurant’s food.
- Make use of the free WiFi available throughout.
- The hotel offers both island and beachfront views – either is a beautiful option and can accommodate up to three people.
- All rooms come with AC, WiFi, minibar and are geared for comfort and space during your stay.
This wonderful family-run harbour-front hotel is known not only for its perfect coastal location but also for the warm welcome that visitors receive.
The hotel was founded on strong environmental beliefs and is designed to be an unobtrusive, modern and comfortable base surrounded by idyllic island scenery. The owners have worked in these islands as guides for decades and have a deep-rooted passion and exceptional level of understanding when it comes to the natural world.
- The restaurant enjoys beautiful views of the harbour which is illuminated in the evening. The food served here focuses on the delicious seafood that is available on the island although there are alternatives available
- The swimming pool and hot tub also share this wonderful view and are a real favourite with families. The pool area is also popular with some of the local wildlife and it is possible to find pelicans and sea lions lazing by the pool too!
- Free Wi-Fi is available throughout
- We would highly recommend walking a little further along the harbour during the afternoon to see the fishermen bringing their catch to shore. They are always met by plenty of curious, enthusiastic (and hungry!) local animals and it really gives you a sense of the local culture.
The comfortable and modern rooms all have en-suite bathrooms and air-conditioning as well as complimentary bottled water, a hairdryer, telephone and in-room safe. They are bright and well furnished and the majority also offer a sea view.
Dates & Prices
We include more, no hidden costs
For our full booking terms and conditions please click here
Holiday group size (approximate)
Minimum 4 people and maximum 20 (approximately)
We always try to provide an approximation of the group size you can expect to be with for the duration of each of our holidays. It may be that you are joined by others for parts of your holiday (such as transfers and particular activities) but the above number reflects those you can normally expect to be with from beginning to end. If group size is something which is particularly important to you, please speak to our Travel Experts and they can suggest the best holidays for you.
Tailor-made holiday group sizes will vary for all activities as will the group size for any additional activities you book.
Minimum numbers required for a holiday to operate
Some of our holidays require a minimum number of participants to operate (as listed in the ‘Group Size’ section). If your holiday departure has not yet reached the minimum number, you will be told at the time of booking. In the unlikely event that your chosen date is not guaranteed by nine weeks before your scheduled departure date, we will contact you to discuss the available options as per our booking conditions.
The order of activities is always subject to change and you will be provided with your final itinerary upon arrival at your destination.
Please note that some of our holidays may incur a single supplement. Please speak to one of our Travel Experts who will provide you with a quotation.
Medical history and advice
We want our holidays to be accessible as they can be and will do our best to accommodate any special requests and requirements where possible. We have a wide range of holidays and destinations and so our travel experts will help find the best holiday for you.
In order to give us the best possible chance to do this we ask that if you or any member of your party has any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday or has any special requirements, that you tell us at the time of enquiry or booking. You must also promptly advise us if any medical condition or disability which may affect your holiday develops after your booking has been confirmed. You may need to provide a doctor’s note and proof of insurance in some cases as the health and safety of our clients is absolutely paramount.
In providing this information you are allowing us to work with our expert local partners to ensure that your whole party can enjoy the holiday. By letting us know in advance we can discreetly work with you to adapt any part of the holiday which may potentially be challenging. Being able to prepare for this in advance makes an incredible difference to what we can offer and minimises any impact on your party and the rest of the group.
Unfortunately, if you choose not to share this information with us in advance then it may limit some or all of the itinerary you have booked, and we cannot be held accountable for any additional costs or missed activities resulting from this.
Insurance is not included in your holiday, but it is a pre-requisite to travelling with us. You will need to ensure that you have cover for all the activities that you will be participating in during your holiday.
It is extremely important that you take out a suitable travel insurance policy at the time of booking. Plans do sometimes change, and you will need this policy should you need to cancel your holiday.
If you are struggling to find a suitable policy then details of our preferred provider, who will cover you for all the activities we offer, can be found on our website by clicking here. Please note that this policy is available to EU residents under the age of 75 only.
If you have a reduced level of mobility, then please contact our travel experts to discuss the suitability of this holiday in relation to your requirements.
Experience and fitness
Most of the activities we offer have been designed for beginners who have no prior experience and are of all age ranges and fitness levels. Our guides provide expert advice, tuition and instructions prior to any activity going ahead. Activities are designed to be enjoyed and not endured, but some, do require a more basic level of fitness than others. If you have any questions, then please contact one of our Travel Experts who can provide first-hand advice.
The only holidays which are not as suitable for complete beginners are the multi-night safaris which involve several days in wilderness cabins travelling by either snowmobile or husky safari. Again, this all depends on the individual taking part, but some prior experience and understanding of these types of activities can be very helpful and a greater level of fitness is recommended.
Guides & Safety
When partaking in any activity, it is imperative that everyone in your group listens very closely to the instructions provided by the guide and that they are abided by at all times. Our guides are experts in their field and no one knows the environment better than these highly knowledgeable and experienced providers.
Prior to starting any activity, please make it clear to your guide if there is any element of the safety briefing you are unsure of or would like to clarify before you set off.
Our guides will always take local conditions into account when considering whether an activity can go ahead. This is, in part, why your itinerary is subject to change at short notice. This rarely happens, however, if it does, we will always endeavour to reschedule the activity for later in your holiday. If this is not possible then the cost of the activity will be refunded to you when you return home.
Our guides' word on activities is always final and your safety is their principal concern at all times; please respect their decisions. By following their instructions, your safety and enjoyment during each activity will be greatly enhanced.
NB: In order to participate in our holidays, all guests must be able to understand instructions given in English. These instructions may be delivered verbally or in writing and will include vital safety information and ongoing instruction during activities.
Minimum and Maximum Age
The minimum age for this holiday can be found in the ‘Key Facts’ section of the holiday overview.
Younger family members may be able to participate but may not be able to take part in all activities. Please contact one of our Travel Experts if you have any questions.
Booking activities locally and equipment hire
Additional activities can be booked locally in almost all our destinations. However, as per our booking conditions, we cannot be held responsible for any injury or loss incurred through participation in activities which are booked at your destination outside of our holiday itinerary (see our ‘Terms and Conditions’ for further details).
When arranging any such activity please always ensure that safety is your primary concern.
In some of our destinations, you can borrow or hire equipment for use in your free time. You do so entirely at your own risk. You must ensure that you are properly prepared, have the necessary equipment and knowledge (maps, etc) and ensure that where applicable, you follow marked routes. We recommend discussing your plans with the local teams who will be able to advise on the most suitable options for you.
Always let the reception/guide know where you are planning to go and take a torch and mobile phone (with the hotel/guide’s phone number stored). It is also a good idea to leave your contact number and the time you expect to return to the hotel should the hotel need to contact you.
If your trip includes car hire the named driver must have a credit card registered in their name which they can present when they collect their car along with their driving licence, as a deposit will be held on the credit card. Please see your trip dossier for full details.
Travel Safety and Foreign Office Advice
Our clients’ safety is at the centre of everything we do, and our operations team continually assesses and monitors the destinations we feature. We carry out thorough risk assessments and work closely with all of our suppliers to continually follow best practice. For up to date travel advice the UK government offers its Travel Aware website as well as the advice detailed below.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice
We receive all updates from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) with regards to travel advice and we always ensure that we follow this advice in our operations. The FCO issues travel advisories for countries based on a very wide range of factors. They may provide notification about things as simple as a football match and crowds, or they may go so far as to advise against all travel to a region. We ask all our clients to refer to the relevant Travel Advice by Country for the destinations they are visiting in order to make an informed decision on the safety of the destination based on the details provided. It also provides vital information regarding entry requirements, embassy information, local laws and customs as well as specific safety and health. Guests should take responsibility for keeping themselves up to date with this advice. Please also ensure that, if you are transiting through another country, you have read the advice and meet the entry requirements for that destination too.
The FCO travel advice is applicable to British Passport Holders. Most governments will issue their own travel advice for a region and, if you are not a UK resident then you can find some helpful links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/ New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/ Canadian Consular Affairs Bureau http://voyage.gc.ca/ The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html
If the FCO deems that there is an unacceptable level of risk for UK citizens then, together with the government, they may issue an advisory against all travel to a region or country. If such an advisory is published, then we will act accordingly, and this may require the cancellation, curtailment or amendment of a holiday itinerary. These decisions are made on the basis of ensuring our clients’ safety and will affect all clients on the holiday, regardless of their nationality.
If one of our local experts suggests an amendment due to a situation which develops locally then we may also take the decision to amend an itinerary appropriately.
If we have to cancel your holiday prior to departure you will be offered the option of an alternative trip (where any price difference will either be refunded to or covered by you) or a full refund of the monies paid.
If we have to curtail a holiday, then you will be refunded for any costs for the elements we have been unable to deliver, where we have been able to secure a refund from our suppliers. If we must reroute a holiday, then any basis for refund is determined on a case by case basis and dependent on whether the central holiday experience was provided or not.
Flight schedule changes and connecting transportation
On your documentation, we will confirm your flight schedule. Sometimes the flight number, routing and timings might change prior to your departure. If the change is classed as a significant change then we will contact you to discuss this. Please see our booking conditions for details.
Flight schedule changes can impact on your pre and post-holiday travel arrangements if these have been booked separately to your holiday. We strongly recommend that you do not book transport (such as trains or transfers), car parking or non-connecting flights to the departure point for your holiday until you have received your final confirmed travel times when your final travel documents are issued. We are not responsible for the effect of any schedule change on your pre or post travel arrangements. We strongly recommend that you do not purchase non-flexible or non-refundable tickets to avoid cancellation and penalty charges.
Booking your own flights - cancellation disclaimer
If you have chosen to book your own flights, then you will need to wait until we confirm to you that the holiday departure has met the minimum numbers required to run (if applicable to your chosen holiday). Once the holiday is guaranteed to run, you will be informed and you can then make your arrangements.
If transfers are included in your holiday, please ensure that any potential flights will be met by our standard transfers (speak to one of our Travel Experts for advice) otherwise private transfer supplements may be applicable. Once your flights are booked, please send us a copy of your detailed flight itinerary.
Please be aware that most tickets are non-refundable in the case of cancellation. For this reason, we strongly advise you check the rules of the ticket and check the limitations of your cancellation insurance before booking. We cannot be held liable, in the unlikely eventuality that we should be forced to cancel or amend your trip, for losses incurred relating to any flight booking you have made.
Payment and cancellation terms:
Please note that the following payment and cancellation terms supersede those mentioned in sections 2 and 7 of our general booking terms and conditions.
- A deposit of 25% of the total holiday cost is required at the time of booking. Full payment is required 63 days prior to departure.
- More than 63 days prior to departure - Loss of deposit (including the full cost of flights or other services where paid at the time of booking)
- 63 to 43 days prior to departure - 40%
- 42 to 32 days prior to departure - 60%
- 31 or less days - 100%
This was our 4th trip with Activities Abroad and the very best. 11 January 2019 by The Newman Family
The Galápagos Islands as a destination completely lived up to our expectations of this very special trip. This together with a most excellent guide, Juanfe Duran, who accompanied us all week and was very knowledgeable, friendly and made sure we were all safely taken care of for all our activities and transfers, made it a truly unforgettable holiday of a lifetime. The 3-day eco-lodge trip afterwards in the Amazon was very good too. The whole family loved the snorkelling with the abundance of sea animals and the chance to see wildlife we’d never seen before up close, including hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas and sea lions. Brilliant!