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Land-Based Tour

Dallas, TX
Level Contributor
47 posts
4 reviews
Land-Based Tour

Coming to Ecuador in September. Had planned to do an Amazon Tour but that trip has fallen through so scrambling to plan something else. Now planning to travel to Galapagos and do a land-based tour (DH does not want to do a cruise... on this trip, perhaps next time). Looking at a tour through Galapagos Islands... Santa Cruz, North Seymour and Bartholomew. Are these 3 islands a good "start" for a first trip to Galapagos? Will we "miss out" by not going to Isabela? Is this a good company to work with? Is there any other company you would recommend us checking out? Is there a different itinerary we should try to do? We can be in Galapagos 5-6 days. Thanks in advance for any help you can be with our last minute planning!

4 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
123 posts
27 reviews
1. Re: Land-Based Tour

You could fit one day go to Isabela, then do the tunnels the day after and get back to Santa Cruz in the afternoon.

Dusseldorf, Germany
Level Contributor
971 posts
293 reviews
2. Re: Land-Based Tour

From the three inhabitated Islands, Isabela is the most beautiful (and most interesting) one. However, Isabela has no Airport. So, you have to fly into Santa Cruz, spend a night there, take the Ferry boat to Isabela, stay 3 days there, take the boat back, spend another night on Santa Cruz and fly out of Santa Cruz (there are private planes flying between both Islands, but $$$).

Simply book your flights and accomodation on the Islands. Both Islands have all types and classes of hostels, Hotels and vacation Rentals, usually pretty inexpensive.

You can explore the Islands simply by hiking, by Biking, by taxi and by day boat trips. On Isabela, the short boat ride to Las Tintoreras is most rewarding and inexpensive (around $40). You will see penguins, blue-footed boobies, sharks, sea lions (they are everywhere on Galapagos), marine iguanas (also everywhere) and you will swim or snorkel together with sea turtles and sting rays.

In our experience, a land-based tour is not only much more economical than a cruise, you also see much more, especially wildlife (because you have more time to see the animals - it is amazing how many Close Encounters with giant tortoises you will have on a simple hiking/Biking Trail on Isabela).

Just to give you an idea what to expect in Terms of accomodation, I will provide links to the Hotels where we stayed:



Of Course, we used Tripadvisor for Hotel search & booking.

Santa Cruz, Ecuador
Level Contributor
16 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Land-Based Tour

Isabela is a favorite and a 'not to be missed' island in my opinion (I've been living in Galapagos for 10 years now). I'd spend at least 2 nights there. It's smaller, easier to move around and has a handful of great tours. You can hike the volcano, rent bikes to ride to the Wall of Tears and do the Tintoreras or Tuneles tour -- both highlights that are worth the cost. Isabela is picturesque and islandy.

San Cristobal (our home island) is often bypassed but another great island with Kicker Rock -- which can be the best snorkeling in all Galapagos on a good day. It also has a great atmosphere.

In Santa Cruz, Seymour is a great Day Tour and the Highlands Farms are where to go for wild Giant Tortoise spotting. It's the most touristy of all the islands.

Inter-island flights are $150-200 per person one way and are a good option to know about if the sea happens to be rough. You can fly in one island (Santa Cruz for example) and out of another (like San Cristobal). You can have a look at the 6 day itinerary we run to get an idea of how to do it.

Good luck!

Ottawa, Canada
Destination Expert
for Galapagos Islands
Level Contributor
3,607 posts
19 reviews
4. Re: Land-Based Tour

Dear Traveller,

you have indicated above, and on other posts how a land based visit, "in your experience" is superior to a ship based visit.

What is your cruise experience? What ship and how many days? Some ship based visits can be a disappointment, particularly if you are on a very lowest end ship, or on board for just 3 nights (some ships offer very short cruises that don't venture very far from inhabited islands).

While there is no doubt that a land based visit can be a good way to see Galapagos, only those that have done both a land base and a ship based trip have the necessary experience to be able to compare the two and give an experienced based opinion on the pros and cons of each. In the Top Questions for this forum, the big majority of people who have indeed taken both a land based and ship based visit of Galapagos have preferred the ship based experience. If you wish to advise people on this forum on the pros and cons of ship vs land based visits, it's important that your advice is based on real experience of both. Otherwise, you are free to advise on what you liked about your land based visits.

Of course, a ship based visit is more expensive - and if budget is a significant factor, a land based is a viable alternative.

Warmest regards,

Heather Blenkiron

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