Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Group

Galapagos Hiking & Kayaking Adventure (10 days)

Natural Habitat Adventures

Otavalo, Ecuador To Quito, Ecuador

Valid for Departures Now Through: 19 Jun 2018


Day 1
Otavalo, Ecuador
Las Palmeras Dinner

Quito, Ecuador / Otavalo

Arrive in Quito, where our local representative meets you at the airport. Our Ecuador adventure begins with a 2-hour drive to the market town of Otavalo, home to mostly indigenous residents of the Andean highlands. We'll spend the next two nights at Las Palmeras, a 150-year-old hacienda tucked into a lush mountain valley at the base of two volcanoes. Our accommodations are in cozy adobe cottages with log fireplaces to take the chill off the cool mountain nights. Within the compound's tile-topped earthen walls, towering palm trees rise above a perennial garden abloom with hibiscus, bougainvillea, orchids and more, which attract hummingbirds, vermilion flycatchers and other colorful birds. We enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with one of our Expedition Leaders.

Day 2
Otavalo, Ecuador
Las Palmeras Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Otavalo—Hiking in the Andean Highlands

The countryside surrounding the town of Otavalo offers an ideal introduction for hiking in Ecuador. Mountain lakes glisten beneath wide blue skies, while two dramatic volcanoes dominate the skyline—15,190-foot Imbabura and 16,388-foot Cotacachi. With a picnic lunch to sustain us, we'll head off on some local trails to explore the landscape up close. Artisans from local villages in the Otavalo region produce the region's famed textiles, and we'll have a chance to visit a place or two where we can witness artisans making handicrafts and learn about the residents' traditional lifestyles.

Day 3
Baltra, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Baltra, Galapagos Islands / North Seymour

We rise early to make the return transfer to the Quito airport, where we board our flight to the Galapagos this morning. Our second Expedition Leader meets us as we land on the island of Baltra, then transfer to the jetty to board to the S/C Nemo III. This first-class sailing catamaran will be our home base for the next week as we kayak among the islands. After settling into our cabins and a safety drill, we have an orientation to our kayaks. Our Expedition Leader helps us get fitted to our boats and reviews paddling technique and safety information.

We soon set off for our first landing on North Seymour, a small geological uplift where we follow a trail that leads us to swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies and endemic land iguanas. North Seymour is also home to the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds in the Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, we find marine iguanas and sea lions bodysurfing the northerly swells. Back on board the Nemo III, our Expedition Leader offers a briefing about tomorrow's activities, followed by cocktails and dinner.

Day 4
Playa Ochoa, Isla San Cristóbal, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Isla Lobos / Kicker Rock / San Cristobal—Cerro Brujo

After breakfast, we land at Isla Lobos, beginning with a shallow-water snorkel with the resident sea lion colony and a chance to look for feeding marine iguanas. We then take a short ride by panga, or dinghy, along the shores to observe a frigatebird colony prior to a walk inland. Aboard once more, we sail on to Kicker Rock, a dramatic volcanic tuff cone that rises 300 feet above the ocean's surface. Here, depending on conditions, we have our first chance to snorkel in deep water to observe sea turtles, rays and reef sharks. This afternoon we land at Cerro Brujo, or "Wizard Hill." This ancient volcanic tuff cone on San Cristobal Island sits next to an expanse of powdery white sand that's home to a large colony of Galapagos sea lions, as well as blue-footed boobies, pelicans, egrets and marine iguanas. Taking to our kayaks, we paddle the shoreline along Cerro Brujo, observing tunnels and caves eroded by the relentless action of the waves. Later there's time for a hike along the beach to look for sea lions. At every turn, our discoveries are enhanced by the in-depth knowledge of our Expedition Leader, who is an expert naturalist on the flora and fauna of the Galapagos.
Day 5
Espanola, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Espanola—Gardner Bay / Punta Suarez

Espanola is one of the most prolific wildlife sites in the Galapagos. On a paddling excursion along the north shore of the island this morning, we follow a cliff formed by eroded cinder cones and layers of old basalt where we observe giant cacti and many different bird species. We then do some deep-water snorkeling at one of the offshore islets in Gardner Bay. Ashore, an idyllic white sand beach awaits, where sea lions laze by the dozens and Pacific green sea turtles frequent the rocky part of the shoreline. Returning to the quiet bay where our catamaran awaits, lunch is served aboard as we sail to Punta Suarez. Hiking on the headlands, we witness abundant birdlife, hoping to see Hood mockingbirds, blue-footed boobies, nesting swallow-tailed gulls and Galapagos hawks. Espanola is also the world's main nesting site for the huge waved albatross.

Day 6
Floreana, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Floreana—Punta Cormorant / Post Office Bay

This morning we land at Punta Cormorant on Floreana, one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos. Following a trail through a Palo Santo forest to a brackish lagoon, we find pintail ducks, common stilts and bright pink flamingos. As we wind our way past a rich variety of plants, we reach a beach of fine sand where sea turtles lay eggs in the dunes and rays swim in the shallow water. Back aboard the Nemo III, we sail a short distance to Champion Islet just offshore, one of the best drift-snorkel spots in the Galapagos. As the current floats us past the steep walls of this submerged volcanic crater, we spy large schools of fish and bright corals as we're followed by playful young sea lions.

Floreana's rich cultural history is filled with intrigue, including tales of pirates who once hid out here. One relic of this colorful past is the "Post Office Barrel," established by British whalers in 1793, where travelers still leave mail for personal delivery via visitors passing through. After a short snorkel looking for sea turtles and a brief walk to a lava tube, we paddle around the mangrove shores of Post Office Bay, where large bull sea lions patrol the rocky terrain and reddish-colored marine iguanas bask near the tree cacti.

Day 7
Santa Cruz, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Santa Cruz—Tortuga Bay / Darwin Station / Natural Habitat's Tortoise Camp

We reach Santa Cruz this morning, the largest island in the Galapagos. Our day begins with a visit to secluded Tortuga Bay, where a trail leads to a long, pristine white-sand beach that is a sanctuary for many birds, iguanas and crabs that dot the lava rocks. Swimming is permitted in a separate cove nearby, where it is common to view schools of white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and colorful fish in the aquamarine waters. We have a chance to kayak among mangrove lagoons on the bay's edge, where sea turtles are frequently found. After lunch we head into Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz, to visit the world-famous giant tortoise-rearing center located at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, international scientists conduct research dedicated to conserving the unique habitats and species of the Galapagos. At the facility we'll visit the protection pens where hatchlings are bred to help increase depleted tortoise populations, a central mission for both the research station and Galapagos National Park.

Late this afternoon we ascend into the misty highlands of Santa Cruz to arrive at NHA's exclusive Tortoise Camp to spend the night. Our private camp, which offers safari-style tents and treehouses with distant views of the ocean, is tucked among lush vegetation that attracts giant tortoises (most commonly seen from July through February). We have a chance to view these ancient, amiable creatures in their natural setting, and they often amble right into camp. Nearby, we can also explore a network of subterranean lava tubes and caverns. Please note: At times, the camp may be closed due to poor weather conditions.

Day 8
Santa Cruz, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Santa Cruz Highlands / Santa Fe

Spend the morning exploring the highlands with a stop at either El Manzanillo or El Chato tortoise reserve to view more tortoises in the wild. Numbers are lower between March and June, though we do anticipate seeing tortoises year-round. Returning to the Nemo III, we have lunch aboard, then sail for Santa Fe. On a short hike through a forest of prickly pear cacti, look for the endemic land iguanas that wait patiently underneath for fruit to drop. Returning to our catamaran, we go deep-water snorkeling around a small islet, a natural aquarium with great reef diversity, followed by a two-hour paddle along the northern coast that reveals large cliffs and sea caves used by many species of marine birds for nesting and roosting—as well as basking green sea turtles and sea lions.

Day 9
Pinnacle Rock, Isla Bartolomé, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
S/C Nemo III Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack

Bartolome / Sombrero Chino

Sailing on to Bartolome, some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos awaits around the base of this ancient submerged volcano, an underwater playground that's home to enormous schools of fish permanently under attack by Galapagos penguins. Sleeping white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles and stingrays are also common sightings. We then make a dry landing to climb to the island's highest point for 360-degree views, passing intriguing geological formations such as spatter cones, tuff cones and lava tubes. From the summit a panorama unfolds of the surrounding islands and Pinnacle Rock, famously shown in the 2003 film Master and Commander. Over lunch we cruise to nearby Sombrero Chino, which really does look like a Chinese hat! A two-hour paddle through the Bainbridge Rocks, shaped like a string of floating mushroom tops, reveals more of the Galapagos' fascinating marine life. We then enjoy one final snorkel in the channel, hoping the resident penguin family will join us. Back on board, it's time for farewell cocktails and a last convivial dinner.

Day 10
Quito, Ecuador
None Breakfast

Mosquera / Baltra / Quito / Depart

This morning we make a landing on Mosquera, a tiny islet islet that's home to a huge population of sea lions as well as many shorebirds. Keep an eye out for dolphins and orcas, too, which are often seen in this area. Too soon, our time in the Enchanted Isles comes to a close—we say farewell to the Nemo III, her crew and our Expedition Leader this afternoon as we return to the Baltra airport for our return flight to Quito. Here, we meet departing flights or continue onward for those extending their travels to the Amazon rain forest or Machu Picchu.

Tour Features


  • Adventure
  • Cruises & Water Tours
  • Family Vacations
  • Wildlife & Nature


Our Exclusive Catamaran-Based Odyssey is the Most Exciting Way to See the Islands!

It’s no wonder Herman Melville called the Galapagos the "Enchanted Isles.” This far-flung archipelago is unique on Earth. Giant tortoises roam misty meadows. Sea lions loll, nonchalant, on pristine beaches. Iguanas bask on sun-baked lava while sea turtles, rays and penguins swim with snorkelers in turquoise waters. Paddling this primeval paradise is a privilege few visitors get to enjoy. Our Galapagos kayaking permit allows us access to remote places that most visitors never see. Our deluxe catamaran whisks us between anchorages and provides comfortable accommodations. Each day we explore a different island, either on foot or by kayak, or sometimes both. The islands are surprisingly diverse, with new discoveries at each spot we visit.

About Us

Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel & ecotourism since 1985. From our world-class polar bear tours in Churchill to our small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, our professional guides reveal the world’s most extraordinary nature sites. As Conservation Travel Partner to World Wildlife Fund and the world's first 100% carbon neutral travel company, we offer eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between!

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Reviews and Recommendations for Natural Habitat Adventures


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HIghly recommended

By: wh

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2013

Fabulous, fabulous trip to the Galapagos. Every detail perfect. Guides exceptional. A trip we will never forget.
Travel Advisor:  Barbara Fallon


By: Bobbie

Reviewed on: 08 Mar 2014

We had a wonderful trip to Belize with NatHab.  We stayed in gorgeous places and had the best guide anyone could hope to have. We would definitely go with NatHab again.  Everyone in our group of 10 had been on many trips with them.  This was our first, but definitely not our last.
Travel Advisor:  Michelle Bemis

Well run operation!


Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2015

We were very impressed at how NatHab ran the trip. All details were covered and everything went like clockwork. Our guide, Brad, was very knowledgeable and helpful to all. He made sure everyone was well taken care of and all needs were met. We would definitely recommend NatHab!
Travel Advisor:  Debbie Kellogg

Incredible Trip & Organization

By: Torie

Reviewed on: 20 Nov 2016

Both hotels we stayed in were great. I have some allergy restrictions and all of the food provided was outstanding and they took such great care of me. My expedition leader was fantastic. He was so passionate about his job, he was friendly and funny and always went out of his way to make sure everyone was happy and safe. The most important part, the trip itself, was everything I wanted it to be. Even though it was much warmer than it was suppose to be, between the 3 days on the rover, we saw 35 bears. We even saw 3 different kinds of fox and some snowy owls. It was quite the magical experience, especially for a Floridian. The lectures after each day were also very nice. The trip was organized and fun and I'd recommend it to everyone.
Travel Advisor:  Doria Gomez

Tanzania safari

By: Franz

Reviewed on: 18 Feb 2017

Actually we worked with East African Safari Ventures which was fantastic!
Travel Advisor:  Janie Bullard

Natural Habitat Adventure

By: Carla

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2017

This is my 2nd or 3rd trip with NatHab and there will be many more. Professional staff, kind, knowledgeable and always there to please everyone on the trip. A great group.
Travel Advisor:  Barbi Lazarow


By: Tammy

Reviewed on: 14 Sep 2017

I can't even begin to explain how amazing this trip was. Our guides were so knowledgeable, caring and fun. I loved the staff too! It's incredible that a basecamp was set up in such a remote area. Words can't describe the experience. All I can say is, "wow"!
Travel Advisor:  Honey Mistry

NatHab is top-notch at a reasonable price.

By: Al S

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2017

Excellent. This was my eighth NatHab tour, and i have enjoyed them all. they carefully represent the physical level required, describe the food and accommodations accurately, all the while finding the best wildlife viewing opportunities.
Travel Advisor:  Anne Johnson


By: greenland

Reviewed on: 21 Sep 2017

Excellent! I felt very taken care of.
Travel Advisor:  Terri Netzel

Polar Bears, Churchill Manitoba.

By: Vicki & Malcolm

Reviewed on: 13 Nov 2017

Amazing, above and beyond what we'd dreamed of or expected. Tour Guide Teresa Whipple, driver Lindsay and Rover driver Michael....excellent staff for NatHab. They all are people persons, and full of knowledge, caring and great fun.
Travel Advisor:  Coleen Noble

Exceptional tour

By: rb

Reviewed on: 28 Dec 2017

The tour leader was conscientious, thorough, pleasant to deal with, and provided a great tour experience.
Travel Advisor:  Paula Kay Eastham