Galápagos Islands Tours

Why This Galapagos Adventure Tour? 
  • Galapagos Unbound is rated the #1 Galapagos Multisport Tour on TripAdvisor from unsolicited, independent travelers. 
  • We want to know why you are traveling and will accommodate your experience to deliver the most important things you want to get out of your Galapagos vacation.
  • We have exclusive access for a once-in-a-lifetime beach camping experience waking up to sea lions outside your tent!  
  • You kayak over gliding sea turtles and other thriving marine life in private coves and coastlines where nobody else goes.  
  • We intimately connect with local Galapageñans and even have the pleasure of a gourmet spread prepared exclusively for our guests in a fisherman's home!
  • Our guides are personally trained in the "ROW Difference", where others will use only guides provided to them by the National Parks, not trained in delivering the full experience you deserve in what is more than likely a one-time-ever vacation.
  • There is so much more!
  • Please carefully read the itinerary and you'll immediately see our difference.  It's a one-of-a-kind, not run-of-the-mill, Galapagos experience unlike any other tour you'll find.  Further, you can trust our Galapagos programs as we pioneered (first land tours on the islands) and advocated for low-impact, land-based travel to these stunning enchanted isles.

Trip Overview

This Galápagos Islands adventure tour, "Galápagos Unbound,” is a unique, multisport tour that includes sea kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and amazing wildlife viewing. Unlike most tours of the Galápagos Islands, ROW’s journey transports small, personal groups to visit sites that are not on the main tourist routes and allows you to navigate your own adventure. You’re not confined to viewing the archipelago from the deck of a large ship or from well-wrung trails. Rather, you leave the crowds of visitors behind to enjoy the peace of walking, snorkeling and paddling your way through this island paradise. You even spend two nights camping on the islands within the Galápagos National Park—a one of a kind experience as we’re the only tour company with this incredible privilege!
 
While the Galápagos Islands are famous for their friendly, diverse wildlife, there is also a human population located in four small towns within the National Park. Our tour provides a holistic view of the entire Galápagos ecosystem, including the human element since that is very much a part of the landscape. Because we stay in small, local hotels, eat most meals at local restaurants, use local transport and services, and buy all our supplies in the Islands, this trip represents the best in responsible, sustainable tourism to the Galápagos.
 
This Galápagos Island trip was featured in the New York Times Travel Section January 8, 2006. You will find the article entitled "Galápagos Unbound" by Tim Neville. While the original itinerary has been modified somewhat since that time, the essence of this pioneering adventure has not changed. Our expert local guides work alongside Galápagos Park Service certified guides to bring you a superlative Galápagos multisport adventure. These trips are priced based on the number of guests per trip.
 

Detailed Description 

ROW's Galápagos Islands Adventure Tour, "Galápagos Unbound," is a multisport vacation and the first of its kind offered in this tropical archipelago. This trip gets you off the typical cruise-based Galápagos tour and allows you to see the diverse wildlife and scenery of these islands from behind a paddle. Snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking through the Galápagos gives you the most intimate journey possible in this incredible island chain.
 
The Galápagos Islands have been a national park of Ecuador since 1959. Organized tourism began in the 1960s, and the Galápagos remains a far-flung and iconic destination. Because of their famed natural history and remarkable land and marine species, these remote islands are revered the world over. In the effort to preserve and protect the Galápagos, access to the islands is strictly regulated.
 
Most Galápagos Islands tours are cruise-based, carrying from 10 to 100 people. ROW's Galápagos tour, the only of its kind, allows our small groups to visit sites off the main tourist routes. We walk and sea kayak where other, more intrusive travel, couldn't take us; our reward is not only what we see, but also the pleasure we have in getting there. ROW's Galápagos adventure is also the only tour that gives you the opportunity to camp on island beaches and to hike to the rim of a recently active volcano. Our trip is designed to give you intimate contact with a stunning, wholly unique world.
 
Our Galápagos Islands adventure vacation is the most sustainable eco-tour of the Galápagos you can support. First of all, compared to a cruise, this trip uses a fraction of the fuel (based on per person consumption) and thus has a much smaller carbon footprint. Second, a much larger percentage of your trip fee actually stays in the Galápagos Islands compared to cruises. This means your presence has a much stronger economic benefit to the local communities. Third, this is the only trip in the Galápagos that includes camping on an island beach and our camping site is approved and regulated by the Galápagos National Park Service. We are proud that we have developed minimum impact camping techniques that exceed established “Leave No Trace” practices.
 
Few places on earth allow for such close contact with wildlife as the Galápagos Islands. Words simply cannot describe the intense wonder you experience while exploring these oceanic islands where the birds and animals have little fear of humans.
 
On this superlative Galápagos adventure you'll play in the water with sea lions, get within a few feet of blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and the giant Galápagos tortoises. You'll watch pelicans and boobies dive for fish, snorkel in transparent water rich with sea-life, and even swim with sharks if you dare.
 
Our stable and speedy expedition sea kayaks are for two paddlers and specifically equipped for the conditions we encounter in the Galápagos. All kayaking portions of the trip are supported by a panga, or small launch, that ensures everyone's comfort and safety while on the water. Although we recommend that participants have some paddling experience, we begin each Galápagos sea kayaking trip with practice and a safety orientation.
 
Our Galápagos Islands tour takes us to five islands for a wealth of wildlife and ecosystem diversity. Every journey is more than its destination, and we are thrilled to offer a Galápagos adventure unlike any other.
 
Visit this page, Galapagos weather, to get a month to month description to best fit your travel preference. Further, if you need to purchase some gear before your trip, ROW has assembled the more common items at our ROWear online store.

Visit this page, Galapagos weather, to get a month to month description to best fit your travel preference. 

 

Itinerary

 
Arrive in Quito
 
Fly into Quito where your Galapagos Unbound adventure begins, with one of our representative meeting you at the airport and transferring you to your hotel for the evening.
 
ACCOMMODATION : San José de Puembo
 
After breakfast, spend time exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed streets of Quito, including its colonial-era temples and the monasteries of Santo Domingo and San Francisco. Visit the St. Augustine Convent and the Jesuit Church of La Compañía, as well as the Presidential Palace and the elaborate interior of the Church of San Francisco. 
 
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before stopping by the Galapagos Unbound headquarters for a trip briefing and tempting your taste buds with some of Ecuador’s rich chocolate. The late afternoon is free to explore at your leisure before dinner. 
 
ACCOMMODATION : San José de Puembo
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch
 
From Quito, take a morning flight to San Cristobal, the first of the Galápagos Islands on our trip. Next we take a catamaran to our secluded beach camp to settle in and enjoy watching sea lions, blue footed boobies and more as the sun sets. This is also our first chance to get in the kayaks and meet some local wildlife.
 
Our accomodations this evening are at our exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos beach camp. (view photo)
 
ACCOMMODATION : Exclusive Beach Camp
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we will take our kayaks and paddle from our camp for roughly three hours, depending on the weather conditions. Our support boat is always close at hand if you need assistance or tire of paddling. We arrive at another pristine beach for lunch, bird watching and wildlife viewing. Then we continue in our catamaran to Kicker Rock*. Once at Kicker Rock, we snorkel through an amazing channel where you are likely to see white-tipped reef sharks, Galápagos sharks, sea turtles and eagle rays. We are sure to see hundreds of fish and sea stars. By late afternoon we return to relax at our beach camp, watch small hermit crabs scuttle along, as well as yellow warblers and other seabirds. Sunset over the Pacific is usually spectacular.  

Note: The order of the activities can vary depending on National Park schedules.

*Note: Boat ride to Kicker Rock on Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people

Spend another night at our exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos beach camp.

 

ACCOMMODATION : Exclusive Beach Camp
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning we leave for the airport very early so breakfast will be when we get to town, don't worry though we will have lots of hot drinks and snacks on the boat. We fly to the island of Isabela and check into our beachfront hotel and have a local lunch.

Next, we choose our favorite wildlife viewing transportation, our kayaks to navigate Isabela's beautiful bay and beachfront. There is so much wildlife to see from the water, especially birdlife, with some good fortune we will encounter the tiny Galapagos penguin as they love to hang out and nest on the rocks here. Bring your snorkel gear and jump in to explore the underwater wildlife. The pure white sand on the sea floor makes this a perfect spot to snorkel or just watch the show from your kayak. 

Note - The checked baggage allowance for these small planes is 25lbs per person - you may have a carry on like a backpack.  If you are over the limit the airline will charge $2 per lb over. 

 

 

ACCOMMODATION : Hotel Albemarle or similar
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

Rising early, we head to the interior for a very different view of the Galápagos Islands. We drive just under an hour up to the highlands and begin our hike of Isabela’s Sierra Negra. This active volcano last erupted in 2005 and has the second largest caldera in the world with a diameter of approximately six and a half miles. The hike can vary from 6-10 miles and includes viewing the spectacular caldera and incredible lava formations. We return to town with time for relaxing on the beach, walking through town or simply resting.

This evening we have a delicious Beach BBQ.

 

ACCOMMODATION : Hotel Albemarle or similar
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the morning, weather permitting, we take a boat for roughly an hour to Los Tuneles*: a most curious and remarkable lava formation which consists of arches and caves. We walk along the shore and also snorkel in crystal clear water for an insight into the remarkable underwater world. We have lunch aboard the boat. From the lagoon we head to El Finado, here there is an inlet that for many years has been used by local fishermen to rest from their journeys in the ocean, a place with tranquil and shallow waters. Here we will anchor our boat and spend time snorkeling among submerged lava rocks forming caves and small reefs. 

On our way back to town we will visit the Tortoise Breeding Center. This is a conservation project by the Galapagos National Park to preserve and reintroduce to the wild the many and varied species of these gentle giants. 

Heading back to the hotel via the wetlands, we encounter flamingoes feeding in thebrackish waters of the tidal lagoons that are home to them, several species of mangrove and many migratory birds.

This evening, stroll along the white sandy beach and enjoy a leisurely night exploring the town and choosing a local restaurant for dinner.. 

*Note Boat ride to Los Tuneles in Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people

ACCOMMODATION : Hotel Albermarle or similar
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

We wake early and set off for the day’s adventures by sea. We take a chartered speed boat* to Isla Santa Cruz, the urban center of the archipelago and the home of the Darwin Research Station, the National Park Headquarters, and Puerto Ayora. Once we land, we drive on Santa Cruz’s main highway into the lush ecosystem of highlands. Wild Galápagos tortoises lumber throughout these dense forests, and we spend some time walking amongst them as they chew on the vegetation and roam slowly through the diverse environment.

After our time with the tortoises, we visit some of Santa Cruz’s lava tunnels created as hot lava once snaked throughout the earth’s crust. We explore the labyrinth of subterranean twists and marvel at the force of nature before returning to the surface. As the afternoon continues, we find our way to white-coral beach and a nearby shallow lagoon where we kayak for about an hour and a half. Watch for sharks, rays, and seabirds as we kayak along the coastline or flamingos enjoying the calm waters of the lagoon.
 
Later, we return to the hotel where you have some time to rest before we enjoy another fresh, delectable dinner.
 
*Note: Boat ride from Isabela to Santa Cruz on Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people.
The kayak activity could vary depending on tides
ACCOMMODATION : Angermeyer Waterfront Inn or similar
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today our drive to the highlands takes us to a stunning family-owned farm filled with fields of sugar cane and coffee. There, we’re greeted by one of the family who serves as a guide and shares with us the family’s adherence to old-fashioned methods in the creation of quality products. We have the incredible opportunity to see demonstrations of the farming, extraction, and distillation processes that go into the production of “Galápagos Moonshine.”

After our tour of the farm, our travels take us to El Garrapatero Beach whose sandy shores are surrounded by mangroves and adjoined by a freshwater lake. Swim amongst the marine life off the shores, kayak among the mangroves, or explore the lake beyond where herons, stilts, and flamingos enjoy the secluded ambience

This evening, we have a real treat in store as we join a local angler and his family for a very special farewell dinner prepared with traditional ingredients. This is a unique opportunity to engage in conversation and exchange experiences and most importantly, immerse ourselves in a new culture.

ACCOMMODATION : Angermeyer Waterfront Inn or similar
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
 
In the morning we transfer to the airport on Baltra where the original runway was built during WW II by the United States Navy. Late morning or early afternoon, we fly about two hours by jet back to the mainland city of Quito
 
Transfer to the international terminal for your return flight home or continue your travels.
 
Consider our Ecuador Multisport Short Program or a trip to Machu Picchu to lengthen your visit to South America. We can customize any one of these extension trip to fit your travel preferences or length requirements.
 
 
 

Dates & Rates

DatesAdult (USD)Child (USD) 
Nov 09, 2018 to Nov 18, 2018 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Dec 21, 2018 to Dec 30, 2018 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0
SOLD OUT
Jan 11, 2019 to Jan 20, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jan 25, 2019 to Feb 03, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Feb 22, 2019 to Mar 03, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Mar 08, 2019 to Mar 17, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Mar 22, 2019 to Mar 31, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Apr 05, 2019 to Apr 14, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Apr 12, 2019 to Apr 21, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
May 10, 2019 to May 19, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
May 17, 2019 to May 26, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jun 07, 2019 to Jun 16, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jun 21, 2019 to Jun 30, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jul 12, 2019 to Jul 21, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jul 26, 2019 to Aug 04, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Aug 09, 2019 to Aug 18, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Sep 20, 2019 to Sep 29, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Oct 25, 2019 to Nov 03, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Nov 15, 2019 to Nov 24, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Dec 20, 2019 to Dec 29, 2019
Double Departure
$4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Dec 27, 2019 to Jan 05, 2019 $4,990£0€0$0$0$4,990£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW

Supplementary Information

 The price above is our Lowest Tier Price:
 
4 - 7 Guests - $5590 per person
8 - 12 Guests - $4990 per person
 
December Supplement = $150
Single Supplement = $750
 
Prices are based on double occupancy.  If desired, we will strive to pair you up with another single guest to elimate the single supplement fee however, please note that this is not always possible.
 
Please note that an additional amount of $1020 should be allowed for internal flights and Park Tariffs
 
Tiered Pricing Explained
 
Our trips are budgeted for full or near full sign-ups which enables us to offer trips at the lowest possible price. Because of numerous fixed costs, it is more expensive to operate a trip for a small group. Therefore, on some of our trips, in order to avoid having to cancel a trip, we have a “tier-pricing” system to avoid canceling a trip with a low number of sign ups. We have found that most people also prefer this alternative to having a trip cancelled. Thus, you will note on our trip prices there may be different price for 6-8 people versus 9-10, versus 11-12, etc...

We may initially invoice you at the higher tier price, and refund the difference depending on the final group size. Trip costs quoted are based on foreign exchange rates current at the time of this printing. We reserve the right to raise the trip fee if there are exceptional cost increases beyond our control.

December Supplement - $150
Single Supplement - $750

Prices are based on double occupancy.  If desired, we will strive to pair you up with another single guest to elimate the single supplement fee however, please note that this is not always possible.

Included: 

  • Full service of our Adventure Consultants
  • Professional Galapagos Naturalist Guide
  • Double accommodation in hotels and for camping
  • All necessary kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
  • All transportation as noted on the itinerary
  • All meals and drinks as noted on the itinerary

Not Included

  • International flights to Ecuador 
  • Galapagos Round Trip Flights
  • Internal Island Transfers
  • $100 National Park fee 
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Insurance of any type
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation if necessary

Images & Videos

FAQ & More

Where are the Galapagos Islands are located?

The Galapagos Islands (or Archipelago de Colon)are a Province of Ecuador located about 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of the Ecuadorian coast and are located directly on the equator.

What is the weather like?

Visit this page for a month-to-month detail on weather. Because the Galapagos Islands are on the equator, it’s warm most of the year. The warmest season is usually January to April and average temperatures range from a low of 70F/22C to around of 84F/31C. This is also the “wet season” and there may be afternoon thundershowers. During a severe El Nino year, it’s more likely to rain at any time of day. April to December is considered the “dry season” and is cooler, with average temperatures ranging from around 68F/19C to 82F/27C. At this time of year it is not uncommon to have the "garua" (misty rain) early in the morning and in the highlands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Our experience is that the time of year doesn’t make a lot of difference in terms of the amount of rain as there isn’t enough to impact your trip too much.

When is the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?

Whenever your schedule allows! Because it’s on the equator, air temperatures don’t change a lot. However water temperature does fluctuate as much as ten degrees during the year. The cooler Humboldt Current comes up from Antarctica from May to September/October and the sea is cooler and tends to be rougher at this time of year. Cooler water temperatures mean you generally see more sea life because there is more food for the animals that depend on the planktons and other sea nourishment. From November to April, the cooler Panama Current flows from the north and brings warmer water. The sea tends to be calmer at this time of year. If you’re going on our land-based tour then rough water is less of a concern. If you’re doing a cruise, and you are prone to seasickness, you might want to consider coming in the November to April time frame.

For a month to month comparison of temperatures and wildlife activity check out the Galapagos Calendar.

What is the best way to get to the Galapagos Islands?

From the U.S. and Canada there are daily flights via Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Miami, to both Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador. If you are short on time flying directly to and from Guayaquil may save you time as our Galapagos Unbound trip begins in Guayaquil.

Do you arrange international air to Ecuador?

We do not arrange international air travel but we do have a great air travel specialist we refer you to if you’d like.

Do you take care of our ticketing for air travel within Ecuador?

Yes. When you book a tour with us we add your Ecuador flights to your invoice. Flights to the Galapagos depart several times daily from both Quito and Guayaquil aboard Boeing 737’s or Airbus 320’s or similar. Our partners in Ecuador hold space on the flights so we are sure to be able to accommodate you (as long as you sign up far enough in advance).

Will we have to exchange any money before we travel to Ecuador or once in the country?

Ecuador uses the US dollar which was adopted as the official currency in 2000. Be sure to bring cash bills in good condition because bills with markings or tears won’t be accepted. There are also ATM machines in the larger towns. It’s a good idea to alert your bank that you’ll be traveling to Ecuador so they don’t stop the transactions.

Are you able to arrange extensions to our Galapagos tour?

We have been running trips in Ecuador since 1992 and know the country well. We have plenty of ideas for extending your trip whether it be to the Amazon, the Cloud Forest, the highlands in the north or south, or whatever might be your special interest. We can also arrange extensions to Peru and Machu Picchu.

How far in advance should I book?

There are a lot of arrangements to be made for a custom trip like our Galapagos Unbound active adventure. It’s very helpful with our planning if you book four to 12 months in advance. However, if you can’t plan that far ahead, then it’s usually not a problem to book up to about two months in advance. If you find yourself looking for last-minute space just call us and check!

How much snorkeling will I do on this trip?

There is an opportunity for snorkeling almost every day on this trip and the underwater life is a true highlight of visiting the Galapagos. Our trip offers more opportunities than most, and on some days we stop at two or three locations to snorkel.

Do I need previous snorkeling experience?

If you’ve never been snorkeling we highly recommend you practice before the trip. It’s best to buy your own mask and snorkel (around $20-$45) so that you have a good fit and for better hygiene. Fins are less necessary but are nice to have in terms of going a little faster.

Is snorkel gear included?

Yes it is however if you have a favorite mask or fins, you might enjoy bringing your own.

Is a wetsuit necessary for snorkeling?

No, a wetsuit is not necessary, but most people appreciate the extra warmth.

Is it possible to go scuba diving in the Galapagos?

There are one or two opportunities on our trip to arrange for a separate scuba diving experience at an extra cost. Contact us for details.

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