Ecuador: Founder Led Travel: Galapagos Island Hopping with Heather

Departures: Ecuador

Founder-Led: Galapagos Island Hopping

Say Galapagos, and images of pirates, explorers, giant tortoises and unique species like marine iguanas spring immediately to mind. Known as a destination for nature lovers to explore, Galapagos also has a rich and mysterious human history that is endlessly fascinating.

Experience the magical Galapagos Islands with Heather Murchison, co-founder of Ponte Travels, who will host a small group of travelers on a land-based journey through four of the islands. Emphasizing community-based tourism, Heather will introduce you to the charming residents of Galapagos, human and otherwise.


We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit the communities we visit. For this trip, our donation will go to the: CHARLES DARWIN FOUNDATION—an organization that works to safeguard the Galapagos Islands’ natural resources.


Starting at $3690*

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.


April 4 — 13, 2018

10 Days, 9 Nights

Day 1

Depart for Quito

Depart home for Quito, arriving in the late evening. We’ll be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel, close by the Quito airport.

Day 2

Depart for Galapagos

Early morning flight from Quito to Baltra, gateway to Galapagos. Upon arrival we get ready for our first water adventure in the clear, turquoise waters of nearby Itabaca Channel. Keep your eyes open for wildlife—blue-footed boobies, sea lions, brown pelicans, herons and whitetip reef sharks are easily spotted.

Lunch in the Santa Cruz highlands at one of the private reserves that borders the National Park where giant tortoises inhabit the wild. After lunch, transfer to our exclusive giant tortoise reserve and tented camp where we’ll spend the next three nights. Enjoy a welcome dinner together this evening at camp.

Day 3

Bartolome Island Hike & Snorkel

Board our yacht to Bartolome Island. Upon landing, our hike takes us to the island’s highest point, offering dramatic views. En-route, we’ll learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos.

A dinghy ride along the coastline may yield sightings of the sleek, playful Galapagos penguins. A wet landing on the island’s idyllic and deserted main beach is where we’ll find sea lions at rest and a variety of wading birds feeding. The waters are tranquil here, for easy snorkeling where you might see tropical fish, sea stars, and penguins.

Enjoy lunch on the yacht before returning to Santa Cruz.

Day 4

Tortuga Bay & Charles Darwin Research Center

After breakfast, head to Puerto Ayora, the main town on the island of Santa Cruz, where we’ll walk through deciduous forest to one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago—Tortuga Bay. From here, we’ll look out for marine iguanas, go for a swim, snorkel or just relax on the sandy beach.

After lunch in Puerto Ayora, we’ll visit the Charles Darwin Research Center—the hub for all the scientific research programs in the Galapagos Islands. Witness the results of their successful giant tortoise breeding program and learn more about the islands in the new Interpretation Center.

Day 5

Santa Cruz—Floreana

Early morning departure for Floreana Island by speedboat. Upon arrival on Floreana, transfer to our beach front lodge. Then we’re off to walk or paddle to nearby Black Beach for some snorkeling. Lunch will be served in the nearby village.

In the afternoon, we paddle the pristine waters across the bay to explore La Loberia, a sea lion breeding ground. Enjoy more snorkeling and swimming in the calm, bright water with sea turtles, sea lions, stunning rays and an abundance of tropical fish.

Watch the spectacular sunset from our seaside lodge, then head to the village for dinner where we’ll celebrate another incredible day in the Galapagos!

Day 6

Floreana Highlands

Today we explore the Floreana highlands, where we’ll learn about Floreana’s first inhabitants and the pirates that once visited here. Our guide will relate stories about those inhabitants, and share the mysteries that still surround events that took place years ago.

Back at our lodge we’ll prepare a very special barbecue lunch, featuring delicious local family recipes! Afternoon at leisure to practice your kayak or SUP skills, go snorkeling in La Loberia or simply relax and take in the beautiful Galapagos views from our lodge.

Day 7


Early morning speed boat to Isabela Island where we’ll check into our beach front hotel in Puerto Villamil. Explore the Tintoreras, a group of small islands where we’ll see most of the archipelago’s iconic wildlife here: whitetip sharks, sea lions, turtles, rays, penguins, and of course pelicans and blue footed boobies. After the tour, snorkel in the bay—penguins or sea lions may jump in to play alongside you in the water.

In the afternoon, bike the Wetlands Trail where we’ll see marine iguana colonies and mangroves. At the end of the trail is the Wall of Tears, built in the late 1940’s by Second World War prisoners held at the US base on the islands.

Day 8

Sierra Negra & Volcan Chico

Today we hike up to the crater of the massive Sierra Negra volcano, second largest volcanic crater in the world. On this fascinating walk, we might see Galapagos hawks, finches, flycatchers and short-eared owls en-route.

Later, as we head towards Volcan Chico, you may feel like you’re walking on Mars due to the alien landscape. While it appears to be utterly desolate, a closer look reveals small lizards scurrying among the rocks. From its rim, we’ll enjoy more amazing views along with lava tubes and fumaroles.

On the way back to Puerto Villamil, we’ll have lunch with a local family.

Day 9


Day at leisure for you to explore Isabela on your own. Take a swim in the ocean or relax and enjoy a good book.

This evening, we’ll gather together for a farewell dinner on the beach and toast to the amazing journey we’ve taken together.

Day 10


After breakfast, we’ll transfer to the airport for flights home or extend your stay in South America!

Extend your Stay

Explore the beautiful colonial city of Quito, the lush Ecuadorian Amazon or the spectacular Ecuadorian highlands with an extension.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy. Airfare not included.