Galapagos Islands Kayak Adventure

About the Experience

Experience the Galápagos from a front row seat–in the cockpit of a kayak! This itinerary allows for a very intimate discovery of the islands. Whether you are paddling or dog-paddling in the company of green sea turtles and playful sea lions, the sights above and below the water are unmatched.

We’ll camp for two nights on Manglecito Beach underneath the constellations–the Southern Cross is rarely visible from the Northern Hemisphere. On the equator, on a clear night, we’ll be able to see the Dipper and the Cross glitter above.

On this multisport adventure, we’ll stretch our legs on challenging hikes up Frigatebird Hill and the massive rim of calderas like Volcan Sierra. We’ll snorkel in the shadows of the ‘sleeping lion’ (León Dormido–also known as the iconic Kicker Rock) and sneak through lava tunnels in hopes of spotting an elusive barn owl.

Of course we’ll check off all the endemics and Island faves: the blue-footed and masked boobies, frigatebirds, prehistoric marine iguanas, lava herons, giant tortoises and curious penguins.

We’ll poke around biodiverse tidal pools, paddle deep into the mangroves and walk along powder-white beaches. A visit to Isabela’s Tortoise Breeding Center and a wild tortoise sanctuary on Santa Cruz is always a giant-sized highlight. 

If you want to deep-dive into the marvels of the Galápagos, this trip offers all the feels: underwater caves, active volcanoes, countless boobies, eagle rays, sun rays, sea stars and the pin-prick of stars in the canopy overhead. There have been rumours about prickly pear margaritas too!

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Galapagos Islands Kayak Adventure

About the Experience

Experience the Galápagos from a front row seat–in the cockpit of a kayak! This itinerary allows for a very intimate discovery of the islands. Whether you are paddling or dog-paddling in the company of green sea turtles and playful sea lions, the sights above and below the water are unmatched.

We’ll camp for two nights on Manglecito Beach underneath the constellations–the Southern Cross is rarely visible from the Northern Hemisphere. On the equator, on a clear night, we’ll be able to see the Dipper and the Cross glitter above.

On this multisport adventure, we’ll stretch our legs on challenging hikes up Frigatebird Hill and the massive rim of calderas like Volcan Sierra. We’ll snorkel in the shadows of the ‘sleeping lion’ (León Dormido–also known as the iconic Kicker Rock) and sneak through lava tunnels in hopes of spotting an elusive barn owl.

Of course we’ll check off all the endemics and Island faves: the blue-footed and masked boobies, frigatebirds, prehistoric marine iguanas, lava herons, giant tortoises and curious penguins.

We’ll poke around biodiverse tidal pools, paddle deep into the mangroves and walk along powder-white beaches. A visit to Isabela’s Tortoise Breeding Center and a wild tortoise sanctuary on Santa Cruz is always a giant-sized highlight. 

If you want to deep-dive into the marvels of the Galápagos, this trip offers all the feels: underwater caves, active volcanoes, countless boobies, eagle rays, sun rays, sea stars and the pin-prick of stars in the canopy overhead. There have been rumours about prickly pear margaritas too!

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL

Please note: For 2023 departures, this adventure includes a convenient one night pre-trip stay at the Wyndham Quito Airport hotel. As most North American-based flights arrive late in the evening, this will allow you time to reset and refresh for Day One’s early departure to the Islands.

Meet at Avianca Airlines’ Domestic Departure counter of the Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) at 7:00 AM for your 90-minute domestic flight to the capital of the province of Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (SCY) on San Cristobal Island, Galápagos. Your Wild Women guide will be waiting for you at the airport in San Cristobal. 

On arrival, we will take a shuttle to a local restaurant for lunch and get into the Galápagos groove! We’ll have an orientation about what to expect for the coming days before taking a boat to Manglecito Beach. We’ll be spending two nights here immersed in nature with the constellations above and a lapping wave soundtrack to lull us to sleep. Before that, we’ll have a thorough introduction to kayaking in the sheltered indigo bay by our campsite. Get familiarized with the kayaks in this fun and interactive session that will cover correct techniques and essential safety procedures. Expect to paddle 6 nautical miles! 

 

DAY TWO: KICKER ROCK

Our day will begin with a 3 to 4-hour tandem kayaking session (around 6 nautical miles) as we paddle along the dramatic coast towards Puerto Grande camp.

Once we arrive and have had some time to poke around the shoreline of Puerto Grande’s porcelain-white sand beach, we’ll take a boat ride towards Kicker Rock–it’s also known as  León Dormido for its sleeping lion resemblance. This iconic rock formation is actually the eroded remnants of a volcanic tuff cone and is a popular perch for blue-footed and masked boobies and frigate birds. On the shore, barking or basking sea lions can often be observed.

We’ll take full advantage of the biodiversity here and check out the underwater world with a snorkeling excursion. Galápagos and white-tipped reef sharks are found in this area–sometimes hammerheads too! Be on high alert for the elegant swim-by of eagle rays, curious green sea turtles, the colourful blur of reef fish and sea stars too!

In the afternoon, we’ll return to our campsite at Manglecito to take five and swap snorkeling encounters as we absorb the buttery glow of the sunset. If clear skies permit, we might be able to see the Southern Cross. The constellation “Crux” (Cross) is composed of five shimmery stars that are rarely visible in the Northern Hemisphere. On the equator, it’s possible to see both the Big Dipper and the Cross at the exact same time!

 

DAY THREE: SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND

This morning we will climb into our kayaks and paddle out to capture the antics of blue-footed boobies and brown pelicans. The vertical plunge of the boobies when they’re fishing is torpedo-like. Watching the pelicans feed is often comical as terns and gulls land on top of the pelican’s heads, waiting to poach their catch of the day.

We’ll look for sea turtles as they surreptitiously poke their heads out of the sea like periscopes to take in a breath of air. If we’re lucky, we might even witness them mating in the water. We’ll log another six nautical miles on the water before lunch!

In the afternoon, we’ll climb Cerro de las Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill) to take in the coastal panoramas and watch the namesake seabirds—“the pirates of the seas”—as they brazenly steal food from distracted boobies. The deeply forked tails, hooked beaks and fleshy crimson red balloon sacs of the male frigatebirds give them a foreboding, otherworldly appearance. 

If the group is interested in hiking further, we can make a descent into Darwin’s Bay, a coveted spot to snorkel and swim with sea turtles and playful sea lions.

The hiking trail will loop us back to the 300m-long (984 feet) horseshoe-shaped Punta Carola beach. A huge colony of sea lions and marine iguanas can be found here. 

We’ll pause to take in another gorgeous Galápagos sunset as the equatorial sky fades to black behind the candy red and white lighthouse of Punta Carola.

 

DAY FOUR: HIGHLANDS OF SANTA CRUZ

This morning we’ll board a motorboat for a 2 to 3-hour ride towards the ‘big city’ of Puerto Ayora on buzzing Santa Cruz Island. Here, we’ll visit the highlands of Santa Cruz to get up close and personal with the Galápagos giant tortoise. Several sanctuaries conserve native and endemic vegetation for the roaming centenarians. 

En route, we’ll cut through an ever-changing forest of banana, mango, guava and Spanish cedar. Look for egrets–often seen perched on the rumps of cattle! Wild tortoises can be seen along the roadway too–they sometimes create traffic jams with their slo-mo crossings. Have your camera at the ready to snap a pic of the tortoise crossing caution signs!

At the sanctuary we’ll have an intimate encounter with the tortoises–especially if they are having a ‘spa day.’ They can be found submerged in muddy ponds to help combat skin parasites and to help regulate their body temperature on blistering hot days. White-cheeked pintails, herons, egrets and moorhens also like to hang around the fringes of these ponds!

After our time with the tortoises, we’ll continue to explore the incredible volcanic origins of the island by taking a short walk through a lava tunnel. If you have a phone with a flashlight, it will be helpful in navigating this passage through the hardened lava tube. Instead of a light at the end of the tunnel, we may be rewarded with a barn owl spotting! In recent years the tunnel has been home to a pair and a female who likes to purr in the inky darkness for visitors.

 

DAY FIVE: KAYAK PUNTA ESTRADA

Academy Bay in Puerto Ayora is today’s perfect point of departure for our sea kayaking expedition. This casual two nautical mile paddle will allow us plenty of time to observe the flora and fauna we discover along the way! Blue-footed boobies, prehistoric marine iguanas and fire engine red Sally lightfoot crabs all share real estate on the rocky cliffs along the shore. 

We’ll cross the gin-clear waters to Angermeyer Point and paddle past the irresistible mangrove-fringed beach at Finch Bay. In the calm bay of Punta Estrada we’ll be able to kayak close to the tangles of mangroves and look for lava herons and Darwin’s finches.

After kayaking, we’ll give our forearms a break and enjoy a 2 to 3-hour boat ride to our hotel in Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. In the afternoon, it’s all about chilling out in the small port village!

 

DAY SIX: SIERRA NEGRA

The one-hour drive from Puerto Villamil to the highlands of Isabela showcases the dramatic difference in vegetation that favours the significant humidity. The weather immediately shifts with the southeast trade winds.

The lowland landscape of prickly pear and the endemic candelabra cactus that dominate the coastal areas gives way to more lush and diverse flora, including bright bursts of bromeliads and epiphytes (air plants). The path will snake us along to the rim of the Sierra Negra volcano at 1,490m (4,888 feet). 

It’s most recent eruption was in 2005 and a dramatic new layer of volcanic lava lies like a black duvet over the area. Sierra Negra is still an active volcano and is the second largest caldera in the world (spanning approximately 10km or 6.5 miles). Birdlife is abundant here—finches, flycatchers and the sleek Galápagos hawk dominate cruising altitudes while agile lava lizards skittle for cover below.

Following the path from the caldera’s rim, we will encounter Volcano Chico. Its fumaroles (gas and steam vents in the earth’s crust) and some odd-looking lava formations make for an arresting visual record of the Galápagos Islands’ dynamic geological history. The numerous volcanoes and islands nearby can be marvelled at from the uppermost vantage points. We’ll learn about Aa and braid-like Pahoehoe lava, feel the volatile steam and vapour beneath our feet and witness evolution in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments.

After the Sierra Negra walk, you will have the opportunity to explore the area around our accommodations and enjoy dinner at a restaurant of your choosing.

 

DAY SEVEN: TUNELES AND FINADO

From Puerto Villamil, we’ll take a boat ride (1 hour) to a place traditionally accessed by fishermen (and lately tourists) known as Los Tuneles. The unusual and remarkable lava formation consists of underwater arches and caves that were produced by the drastic change in temperature when lava met the ocean water about one million years ago.

Upon entrance to the site, we’ll navigate the labyrinth of rocks and tunnels at a very slow and careful pace (by boat) in search of seabirds, eagle rays and whitetip reef sharks. Maybe seahorses! We will disembark and take a short walk along the shore to observe boobies resting on the rocks and marvel at the giant opuntia and candelabra cacti  as well as red mangroves. We’ll then board the boat for a 5-minute ride to a superb snorkelling spot with water as clear as club soda for an unobstructed experience in the remarkable underwater world.

From Los Tuneles, we’ll take a 10-minute boat ride towards another snorkeling site known as El Finado. This calm, shallow inlet is surrounded by lava rocks and the knotty root system of red mangroves. We’ll swim with rays, rainbow wrasse fish and snorkel into underwater caves where whitetip reef sharks like to rest. 

An al fresco lunch will be served on board before we return to town. The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to spend as you wish! Hot tip: There is a nearby microbrewery owned by a local husband and wife called Zaroa Cerveza Artesanal that previous Wild Women have had a wild time at! You are also free range for dinner tonight…

 

DAY EIGHT: ISABELA’S TORTOISES

Today we’ll go for a smooth-as-pudding paddle around Isabela’s beachfront and bay in search of penguins. The 30cm (12-inch) endemic species are a genuine thrill to see in the wild, whether waddling on land or swimming like Olympians beside the boat.

In the afternoon, we will visit the Tortoise Breeding Center, an initiative of the National Park for the conservation of Isabela’s tortoises. We’ll walk through the marshlands (known as humedales) and along the beautiful talcum sand beach of Puerto Villamil back to our hotel.

Tonight, we will swap stories, reflections and share laughs during our farewell dinner with our Wild Women and naturalist guide.

 

DAY NINE: FAREWELL

It will be a full day of travel–boats, ferries, shuttle buses and planes! Be sure to have a second cup of coffee to charge you up!  First, we’ll have a 2-hour boat ride back to Puerto Ayora to catch a 40-minute transfer to the Itabaca Canal. From here, we will board a 10-minute public ferry to Baltra Island and then take a shuttle to the airport. We will fly back to Quito and transfer to our hotel (dinner at the hotel is included–so are the catnaps on the plane!).

 

DAY TEN: QUITO ONWARDS

Today, we will take a 20-minute shuttle from the hotel to the airport for flights back home. Or, if you’re eager to keep your adrenaline and visuals at the max level, join us on Wild Women’s 4-day Amazon Rainforest Extension!

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!

AMAZON RAINFOREST EXTENSION! (4 DAYS)

Want to stay on for a few extra days of adventure to explore more? We are offering the option of a 4-day Amazon Rainforest extension. This trip extension is only available as an add on to the Galapagos Islands Multisport Adventure.

Please contact adventure@wildwomenexpeditions.com to book!

 

Located in the heart of one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park is rich with extraordinary wildlife and vibrant local culture. Spanning nearly 2.5 million acres of the Amazonian rainforest. Napo Wildlife Center is a gem to be cherished and the only lodge within the Yasuni park boundaries, an important biosphere reserve and the largest tract of tropical rainforest in Ecuador.

Napo Wildlife Center is one of the most successful projects of community tourism in Ecuador. The project has an excellent standard of accommodation and service, making your stay an unforgettable experience in the most biodiverse place on the planet! It is located in the territory of the Añangu Kichwa Community totally inside of the Yasuní National Park, here, hunting and fishing are forbidden in all the area of the Community. And this is one of the main reasons why you can see so much wildlife in its natural state!

 

DAY ONE: CANOE ALONG THE NAPO RIVER

Depart from Quito on your 30-minute flight to Coca over the eastern Andes mountain range. Land about mid-morning and go through airport procedures. Take a 5-minute transfer in local chiva (hired bus) or local taxi from the airport to Port La mision / Francisco de Orellana, which will drive us to embark onto a comfortably covered motorboat.

Here we start a canoe ride along the Napo river for about 2 hours. There will be a lunch box in route. Along the way birds like herons, kingfishers and others can be spotted. After arriving at NWC’s entry dock we disembark for a restroom break and then take a majestic and peaceful 1 to 2 hours dugout canoe ride surrounded by trees overhead, paddling along a narrow creek that connects to the lake where the lodge is located. There is a good possibility we’ll see monkeys of various species, as well as large birds like toucans, parrots or even macaws. Late afternoon arrival to the NWC lodge with the overwhelming view of the Añangu lake, welcome drink and facilities.

 

 

DAY TWO: PARROT CLAY LICKS

Early wake up to reach the parrot clay licks, about 1 hour away from the lodge. Arrive just before parrot activity kicks off at the clay lick between 7:30 to 8:30 AM. A total of 11 species of parrots, parakeets and macaws can be seen. The visit is weather-dependent but usually successful. Later, hike along the forest trail to visit the Kichwa Community of Añangu for sharing time with a family and an intro to their daily activities. Return to the creek and hike through a Terra Firme Forest for about 30 minutes until we arrive at the second parrot clay lick where, if the weather conditions permit, we’ll be able to find different species of parrots, parakeets and even macaws. Lunchbox served at the parrot clay lick observatory. Late afternoon arrival to the lodge.

 

 

DAY THREE: NAPO WILDLIFE CENTER

After early breakfast, depart from the lodge to the finest experience at a canopy tower on the Napo. This 36m high canopy tower is a great way to experience life above the forest floor. This is the second tower at the Napo Wildlife Center (the first is attached to the dining hall and allows great views of the lake).

The tower is located about 30 minutes from the lodge deep within the terra firme forest. As you ascend the 12-floor tower, you pass through different levels of the forest and emerge on top of a huge Ceiba tree. Here you cross onto a wooden platform that is built into the tree and experience a view formerly reserved only for birds. The metal tower itself was constructed to the highest standards, galvanized, and carefully inspected by engineers. Safety is the priority. The platform at the top of the tree was constructed by tree platform specialists as well.

From top to bottom, there is no finer canopy experience in Eastern Ecuador. Flocks of colourful tanagers weave through the canopy; blue and yellow Macaws fly past; a nearby Spider Monkeys searches for fruit; two species of large toucans call in the early mornings and afternoons, and the life of the forest canopy opens before you. Birds that are virtually impossible to see from the forest floor far below are suddenly right beside you, oblivious to your presence.

The canopy tower opens a whole new world to guests of the Napo Wildlife Center! Lunch served at the lodge. Afternoon visit to a terra firme trail, hike along primary forest to discover the forest interior, with possibilities of finding lizards, colourful manakins or the unique and endemic golden mantle tamarin monkeys. After the hike, explore the lake and creeks by dugout canoe with great possibilities of running into a giant otter family on the way…

 

 

DAY FOUR: NAPO RIVER SIGHTS

Early departure and last canoe excursion back to the Napo River. The creek may reveal new sights of giant otters, monk saki monkeys or many other rare birds. Arrive at docking area, use of restrooms and embark on motorized canoe back to Coca; approximately 2-hour boat ride. Check-in for Coca – Quito flight.