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.  
  • 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. 

Rated 5/5 based on 159 reviews

Images & Videos

giant tortoise in the Galapagos islands
family viewing giant tortoise in the galapagos
person holding turtle egg at research facility
galapagos islands
family in the galapagos
people in the galapagos islands
galapagos
blue footed boobies in the galapagos
water and rock formations in  the Galapagos Islands
land iguana in the galapagos islands
tents in the Galapagos islands
people hiking in Galapagos national park
girl watching sea lions in the galapagos islands
couple in the galapagos islands
city of quito ecuador
sea kayak in the galapgos islands
green sea turtle in the galagagos islands
people standing on lava rock looking into water in the galapagos
galapagos wildlife
people arm in arm overlooking volcano
giant tortoise in the Galapagos islands
family viewing giant tortoise in the galapagos
person holding turtle egg at research facility
galapagos islands
family in the galapagos
people in the galapagos islands
galapagos
blue footed boobies in the galapagos
water and rock formations in  the Galapagos Islands
land iguana in the galapagos islands
tents in the Galapagos islands
people hiking in Galapagos national park
girl watching sea lions in the galapagos islands
couple in the galapagos islands
city of quito ecuador
sea kayak in the galapgos islands
green sea turtle in the galagagos islands
people standing on lava rock looking into water in the galapagos
galapagos wildlife
people arm in arm overlooking volcano

Itinerary

Collapse all days

Day 1

 
Arrive in Guayaquil
 
Fly into Guayaquil 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 : Wyndham Hotel Guayaquil

Day 2

Guayaquil to San Cristobal, Wildlife Watching
 

In the morning, our tour leader will pick us up from the hotel in order to head for the airport and catch our flights to Cristobal Island, the easternmost island in the archipelago. Upon arrival, our Galapagos National Park’s Naturalist Guide will greet and assist us with luggage and transfer. The island is one of the oldest in the chain, and thus its volcanic peaks are greatly eroded and vegetation is more abundant than on other islands. Upon arrival in the provincial capital and second-largest town of Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, we will have lunch. Afterwards, we will try out snorkeling and wet suit equipment before loading our luggage onto our support boat. We will paddle from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to Manglecito Beach. It will take us 2.5 to 3 hours to cover 6 nautical miles. Along the way, we will pass near Lobos Island, where it will be quite easy to approach the local fauna as they rest on the rocks close to the coast. It is a great chance for close up pictures of blue-footed
boobies, brown pelicans, and marine iguanas. Kayaking gives us a vantage point, as it is common to spot sea turtles taking their heads out of the water to breath. If we are lucky enough, we may even find them mating on the water.

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

Day 3

Kicker Rock, Snorkeling, Galapagos Beach Camp

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, Box Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Travel to Isabela, Sea Kayaking & Wildlife Watching

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 breakfast. Leaving our luggage at the hotel we will head to the Tortoise Breeding center, an initiative of the National Park for the conservation of Isabela’s tortoises. We will walk through the marshlands or humedales and along the beautiful white-sanded beach of Puerto Villamil. 

After lunch, 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 and carry on baggage allowance for these small planes is 25lbs per person  If you are over the limit the airline will charge $2 per lb over based on availability. 

ACCOMMODATION : Isabela Hotel
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Sierra Negra Volcano, Hiking, Beach BBQ and Relaxing

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.

Dinner on your own this evening.

 

ACCOMMODATION : Isabela Hotel
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6

Los Tuneles, Snorkeling, Wildlife Watching

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. 

Dinner will be in a local restaurant right next to the hotel. Weather permitting, it will be a BBQ dinner on the beach.

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

ACCOMMODATION : Isabela Hotel
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Box Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Isla Santa Cruz, Darwin Research Station, Sea Kayaking

We wake early and set off for the day’s adventures by sea. We take a 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. 
 
Later, we return to the hotel where you have some time to rest before enjoying dinner on your own.
 
*Note: Boat ride from Isabela to Santa Cruz on Shared Services in groups from 4 to 7 people.
 
ACCOMMODATION : Santa Cruz Hotel
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8

Santa Cruz island - Visit Tortuga Bay and Kayak

From Puerto Ayora we’ll hike on a concrete path for 1.86 miles to get to Tortuga Bay. The hike is easy and runs through a field of prickly pear (Opuntia) cacti, Matazarno, and Palo Santo trees, where mockingbirds and finches are abundant. At Tortuga Bay, we’ll find a beautiful white sand beach where we can spend some time relaxing and watching the wildlife. We’ll walk the full length of the beach until we get to the small shore with very calm waters where we can do snorkel, kayak or simply enjoy the ocean water. In the afternoon, we will kayak for one hour and a half in a calm shallow lagoon where rays, mullets, and sharks can be seen while kayaking along the rocky coastline. In the evening, at to top of our day, we will have a special farewell dinner.

*Note: The kayak activity could vary depending on tides.

ACCOMMODATION : Santa Cruz Hotel
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9

Baltra to Guayaquil, Return Home or Extend Your Stay
 
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 Guayaquil
 
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.
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast

Dates & Rates

DatesAdult (USD)Child (USD)
Mar 02, 2024 to Mar 10, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Mar 16, 2024 to Mar 24, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Apr 06, 2024 to Apr 14, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
May 11, 2024 to May 19, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Jun 15, 2024 to Jun 23, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Jul 06, 2024 to Jul 14, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Sep 14, 2024 to Sep 22, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Nov 09, 2024 to Nov 17, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Nov 30, 2024 to Dec 08, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Dec 07, 2024 to Dec 15, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Dec 16, 2024 to Dec 24, 2024
Lowest Tier Price - Starts on Santa Cruz
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0
Dec 18, 2024 to Dec 26, 2024
Lowest Tier Price - Starts on Santa Cruz
$5,850£0€0$0$0$5,850£0€0$0$0

Supplementary Information

*Free Galapagos Flights

Free mainland Ecuador to Galapagos Islands tickets on select departures. Discount totaling $615 value discount per person on the total tour price. Please inquire for additional details. Promotion does not apply to inter-island airfare. If any of these *dates depart with 8 or more we will also discount the Immigration fee of $20 per person.

2023 Pricing:

  • 4 - 7 Guests - $6820 per person
  • 8 - 12 Guests - $5850 per person
*December Supplement = $375
*Single Supplement = $775 
*Please note that an additional amount of $1020 should be allowed for internal flights and park tariffs.  This is broken down into:
  • $615pp Quito Galapagos Round Trip
  • $300pp Internal Galapagos Flight and Boat Transfer
  • $120pp Galapagos Park Fee and Immigration Tax
 2024 Pricing:

 

 

 

  • 4 - 7 Guests - $6820 per person
  • 8 - 12 Guests - $5850 per person
Please note that an additional amount of $1020 should be allowed for internal flights and park tariffs.  This is broken down into:
  • $615pp Guayaquil Galapagos Round Trip
  • $300pp Internal Galapagos Flight and Boat Transfer
  • $120pp Galapagos Park Fee and Immigration Tax
Single Supplement - $800
December Supplement - $375
 
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. 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.  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
  • Hand-crafted itineraries
  • Professional Galapagos Naturalist Guide
  • Experienced English-speaking guide(s)
  • Double accommodation in hotels and for camping
  • Specialized activity guides based on activity of trip (kayaking, biking, hiking, etc.)
  • All necessary kayaking, camping and snorkeling equipment
  • All transportation as noted on the itinerary
  • All meals and drinks as noted on the itinerary
  • Private pre-tour orientation meeting
Not Included
  • International flights to Ecuador 
  • Ecuador to Galapagos round trip flights (*Free Ecuador to Galapagos flights may be offered on select dates)
  • Internal island transfers
  • $120 National Park Fee and Immigration Tax
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance of any type
  • Additional hotel nights pre or post tour
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation if necessary

Reviews

5
Average: 5 (24 votes)

Reviews

5

Galapagos Unbound Island Adventure - Dec 2022

All of the superlatives which describe perfect and wonderful apply to our experiences on this adventure in Quito and the Galapagos. Our Lead Guide Henry, and his wingman/boss Juan were exemplary in keeping all of our group engaged, educated, and secure in all pursuits. Our group was exceptionally well-suited to the adventures, due in part to Henry's intuitiveness how to read the group and keep us continually informed and aware of the next exciting adventure around the corner! We thoroughly enjoyed camping, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking Sierra Negra, touring all attractions including historic Quito, tortoise preserves to Mr Cabrera's El Trapiche Ecologico Galapagos! Every event was an education and a treat. Our Parque Nacional Galapagos guides were intelligent, informative and their exuberance in teaching us all about their treasured Galapagos Islands astonished us, and rewarded us every day of our adventure. Please extend our sincere gratitude to Christian (San Cristobal), Julio (Isabela), Darwin (Isabel), and Vivi (Santa Cruz). Kudos to ROW and all of the guides, hoteliers, and all residents of the Galapagos that we encountered - all contributed to our unforgettable Galapagos Unbound adventure. May I further extend thanks to both Henry and Juan for their professionalism, knowledge, friendliness, and caring attitudes. I feel like we can truly call them friends.

5

South American Adventure

Travel is gearing up again after the still period of travel restrictions. We started in booking Galapagos Unbound and before we were done booking it, we decided to also add the Peru Unbound adventure, as well. ROW offers solid, personal, very responsive guidance on every step of the arrangements, including help in various country-specific proofs of vaccination status. The Galapagos tour, active in nature with close-up kayaking and snorkeling opportunities, with our local knowledgeable guide, was exceptional. With completion of the tour, the flight from the island to Quito became the beginning of Adventure #2 with a flight to Lima to begin Peru Unbound. "How do you train for hiking Machu Picchu?" we were asked. It starts with taking the stairs rather than an escalator whenever the opportunity arises. Peru is also an exceptional tour with an array of guides based on our location as we traveled from area to area. The overnight family stay while on Armanti Island on Lake Titicaca offered a rare experience. These are the opportunities that are truly memorable. Travel at its best! Thank you, ROW.

5

Que Mas? Listos?

I'm the wife of reviewer Jeremy. Galapagos had been on my bucket list since middle school science class when I first learned about Charles Darwin and how his time on the Galapagos proved instrumental in his development of the theory of evolution. Those college essays that asked who you would want to have dinner with, alive or dead, Charles Darwin was ALWAYS my dinner guest. My husband was reluctant - it is a serious investment - but let me put it this way - I had dreamed of this trip for nearly thirty years - think about the anticipation and expectation I had - and this trip MORE than exceeded those expectations. ROW Adventures made it so seamless and stress-free from booking to the actual trip. The attention to detail, the expertise of the guides - our primary guide Ale, who was with us the whole trip, and our naturalists that varied by island - they were all so knowledgeable and eager to answer our questions and show us the beauty of the Galapagos. Ale would always prep our group before each excursion - filling us in on all the logistics and much more - at the end of her "briefing" she would always comment "Que mas?" - ensuring that she had filled us in on everything and ending with "Listos?" - we were always READY thanks to her diligence and ROW Adventures' attention to detail. (Read the review from Jeremy to hear about one of Ale's other go to phrases!) The wildlife was AMAZING! As my husband noted in his review, the wildlife is simply not conditioned to be afraid of humans and therefore you are literally coming face to face with sea turtles, sea lions, blue footed boobies, finches, iguanas, tortoises and so much more - it is impossible to put into words the uniqueness of this experience! We did a land based excursion vs. staying on a boat and absolutely LOVED it - I can't compare it to the boat excursions but I can tell you we really felt this allowed us to get a wonderful feel of not just the underwater treasures but the islands themselves. In short - if you've been considering a trip to the Galapagos but are wondering if it will be "worth it" - have NO FEAR - it is a once in a lifetime, truly magical experience!

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