Region Overviews: Galápagos Travel Guide: Overview
Describing the residents and habitat of the Galápagos Islands takes creativity and an exhaustive vocabulary. Nowhere else on Earth can you find such a collection of wildlife.
Embark on an island escapade like no other. The Galápagos archipelago is an isolated natural sanctuary, home to some of the world's most unique tropical ecosystems above and below the sea. Encounter Galápagos giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies. Explore volcanic calderas and stunning beaches. Each day aboard our expedition ship brings a new adventure.
THIS ITINERARY: 8 days, 7 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Casual Plus Ship
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
Days 1-3 Your adventure begins in Baltra, the gateway to the Galápagos Islands | Journey on an eco-boutique expedition ship each day to unique coves and remote islands with opportunities to hike, snorkel and kayak at world-class sites | Get acquainted with iconic blue-footed boobies, plus red-footed and Nazca | Stroll along and climb lava-strewn terrain and desert-like landscapes | Donning a snorkel and mask, discover an underwater wonderland of fascinating sea life.
Days 4-6 View giant tortoises and learn about the breeding and life cycle of the islands’ most famous residents | Watch tiny Galápagos penguins dart and dive among the waves and Nazca boobies perched on rocky cliffs | Relax on idyllic sandy beaches with sunbathing sea lions | Hike along cactus-dotted cliffs in search of the prehistoric-looking Galápagos land iguana.
Days 7-8 Bike through Santa Cruz’s verdant highlands and visit an eco-farm that produces coffee and sugarcane | Take to the water in sturdy sea kayaks to gain a new perspective of the coastline and wildlife—if luck is on your side, you might spot rays, sea turtles, dolphins or sharks! | Explore the far reaches of this archipelago, with endless opportunities for exploration on land and sea | Look for lava lizards and frigate birds as you hike through acacia forests and take in panoramic ocean views | In a Zodiac, navigate calm turquoise waters in a sheltered lagoon | Savor a final evening under the stars while moored in the turquoise waters of a sheltered lagoon.
This intimate yet spacious boutique expedition ship delivers comfort, personalized service and amenities including an outdoor bar, hot tub and stargazing deck. (pool)
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Please note: Due to the multiple stateroom options available on this trip, reservations can only be made by contacting one of our Trip Consultants on 800-462-2848 or via email.
Click on dates for specific ships, pricing, and itinerary variations. Price is per person, double occupancy.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and fitness levels. Several routes and a range of levels are offered each day so you can choose how much or how little activity you want to do. Learn more about how we determine activity levels.
Our Galápagos walking routes are generally easygoing on beach or dirt paths, but some trails require more agility navigating over dried lava flows or rocky surfaces. The terrain is predominantly flat and rolling with few steep or technical sections. If it rains, the trails can become muddy. Biking in the Galápagos is mainly along paved roads with some bike lanes and some short stretches of dirt road. We take multiple boat rides during this trip including 2- to 3-hour ocean crossings between the different islands in the archipelago. We also spend a good amount of time doing water-related activities such as snorkeling and kayaking in the open ocean. If you're prone to seasickness, we recommend you bring non-drowsy motion sickness medication such as Dramamine (especially in the summer months when water can be a bit rougher).
The key to a stellar day's ride is a bike that's perfectly in tune with your cycling style… Backroads has you covered with the best bike fleet in the world! Read on for your available bike options for this trip.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
The ship we sail on is like a floating expedition boutique hotel, so you can visit a new destination each day without touching your suitcase once you've settled in. Our ship is custom‐designed with a variety of inviting spaces that offer plenty of room for both relaxing and socializing. Our ship is vastly smaller than most cruise ships, with up to just 100 passengers. We sail with up to 30 Backroads guests on the Galápagos Legend ship.
If you're new to Backroads active cruise trips, there are a few things you need to know. Although our average group size is larger than a typical Backroads tour, our ship-based trips feel smaller and much more intimate than a typical cruise.
Additionally, even with an itinerary subject to fixed nautical schedules and national park regulations that may occasionally limit our time on shore, we get out and explore far beyond the cruise norm.
Being onboard a ship provides the benefit of being able to take advantage of ship amenities: the fitness room, hot tub and a pool. In addition, there is the opportunity to relax in the inviting common spaces or the privacy of your room. Your Trip Leaders will have information on the array of options to choose from.
If having longer routes or more flexibility to explore is important for you, we recommend choosing one of our River Cruise or Hotel trips. If you love meeting new people and having more time to relax aboard the ship, and enjoy the ease of unpacking once, you'll love our approach to active ocean cruising. Nobody does it like we do.
All meals are served aboard. On-ship meals, though delightful, are meant to appeal to a wide cross section of passengers and may at times feel more conventional and less reflective of the region than on Backroads Hotel trips.
In contrast to our Hotel trips, which typically have similar room categories, the Galápagos Legend offers a wide range of stateroom categories to choose from. The top-tier staterooms often fill fast, so book as early as possible if this is important to you.
Please note that there is an ample amount of travel time on this trip, and we may have earlier mornings than you are used to on Backroads trips—including as early as 4 a.m.—due to our flights between the Ecuadorian mainland and the Galápagos Islands. We'll be flying on commercial flights with Avianca or LATAM Airlines aboard twin-jet planes. Also, be prepared for wet, windy conditions and bring seasickness medication if you think you'll need it, especially in summer months when the waters can be a bit rougher.
The Galápagos Islands are a welcoming and fascinating place, yet complex and at times logistically challenging due to national park regulations. So while mid-trip itinerary changes are possible, rest assured your Trip Leaders will be at the ready with excellent alternate activities. Also, in accordance with the national parks' environmental protection regulations, hikers in the Galápagos need to be accompanied by our local naturalist and hike in designated areas.
Most hikes on this trip are remote and do not intersect with roads. Vehicles or boats will get us to and from the trailheads, but the nature of these trails is such that we won't see our vehicles along the route. Ample trail support in the form of water and encouragement is provided by your Backroads leader and local guides.
Although the Galápagos Islands are part of Ecuador, they can feel worlds away from the mainland, with challenges including slow or nonexistent internet and ATMs possibly running out of cash. Service onboard our ship and at hotels and restaurants can lack a sense of urgency.
During the trip there's time for you to enjoy a scuba diving adventure. This activity is often a highlight for those who choose to do it, but due to liability issues and because it may not be to everyone's liking, it's not included in the cost of the trip and participation is at your own risk.