On the Galapagos Islands, you're never alone. Sea lions bask on the beaches, seabirds nest in the thousands, and giant tortoises cover the walking trail. Combining two distinct itineraries, this Galapagos tour for solo travelers offers a tailored blend of everything the archipelago can offer an individual adventurer. You'll island hop and enjoy outdoor adventures with the wildlife, then join a 5-day small-group cruise through the remote eastern islands, immersing yourself in the portraits of natural...
Guayaquil – Exploring the Port City
While Quito delights in its old-world charm, the port city of Guayaquil goes under most tourist radars. It's big and bustling, with the immersion in local life practically guaranteed. After landing in Guayaquil, you spend the day with a local guide who picks out the hidden highlights of the city. Sample street food at vibrant markets, sip Ecuadorian cafe on al fresco terraces, and revel in the colorful chaos that cascades through the city. While it may look daunting if you're on your own, Guayaquil is a fantastic city to explore with a local guide. It offers an authentic revelation of local life and there's never a dull moment. With the natural realm taking up the rest of your vacation, today's a chance to glimpse another side of Ecuador.
Santa Cruz Island – The Galapagos World
Step, step, step... moving on tiptoes you approach a 500-pound giant tortoise, being careful not to scare it away with thunderous footsteps. The tortoise seems to smile, a green blade hanging from its mouth and a languid expression reflecting its sedate heart rate. Crouch and take the photo. Then turn around and there are a whole handful of other giant tortoises ambling around. These iconic species are an epitome of Galapagos evolution and make an ideal introduction to the islands. Next, gaze upon symbols of the geological world, with lava tunnels and the chambers of Los Gemelos surrounded by five-meter high daisies. Lunch is included in these Galapagos highlands, before you're transferred to the coast and a night on the coast of Santa Cruz Island. Sea lions can be heard grunting nearby while self-guided walks reveal the escapades of bizarre seabirds.
Isabela – Kayaking and Snorkeling
Paddle slowly through the Itabaca Channel, watching out for the silhouettes that suddenly emerge from the water. A head pokes from the Pacific, and a sea lion inquisitively says hello, before she somersaults back down towards the fish. After an hour in the kayak, you swap the paddle for a snorkel and are guided along a sublime reef wall. A rainbow of life floats around the coral, from tiny seahorses to the menacing darts of a white-tip reef shark. Sea turtles add elegance to the scene, while the sea lions from earlier continue their playful fishing.
After the morning in the channel, you island hop to Isabela in the Western Galapagos. A spine of volcanic mountains provides the backdrop as you check in for the first of three nights overlooking an unadulterated coastline. Swim out from the beach and the next landmass you would hit is Antarctica. It feels like you're on the edge of the world. Or could it be that you're in the center of everything?
Isabela – Hiking Along Great Volcanoes
Isabela's spine of craters is constantly reshaping the landscape, the cones erupting with annual displays of fire and ash. Calderas hiss, tunnels twist, and Isabela's bed of fire continually evolves. Today's hike to Sierra Negra intimately reveals the force of this volcanic transmogrification. Wander around its rim, peering down into the mystical realm and gazing across to the next volcanic vertebrae.
Then follow the over spilling twists of lava towards another peak, admiring how green can flourish amongst the blackened ash. As the slopes become more fertile, you glimpse giant tortoises and hear the calls of mockingbirds. Keep descending and more birds join the harmony, endemic creatures full of tropical promise and choral tones. Enjoy a picnic lunch amongst these strange slopes, and then return to the lodge by mid-afternoon, where there's a series of self-guided hiking trails that can be explored.
Isabela – Lava Tunnels and the Marine World
Strips of lava don't just flow from elevated peaks. They rise from the water, creating arches and tunnels that stand like poetic sentries above the ocean's swarms. Sites like Los Tuneles are reflected in the Pacific blue, creating a timeless photo of how geological idiosyncrasy dominates the archipelago. Dip your head beneath the surface, and you discover how this molten lava has transformed into crowded underwater reef walls. Sharks swim past tiny seahorses, sea turtles cruise beside eel hideouts, and there are over 50 exotic fish species swarming around.
Keep snorkeling and you journey through a spooky expanse of mangroves, a natural hiding place for the small and delicate of the marine world. Los Tuneles is one of the finest snorkeling sites in the whole Pacific, and whenever you emerge from the water, there's the iconic vista of the arches standing lonely amidst the ocean.
Santa Cruz Island – Discovering Tintoreras
The island hopping continues, and the encounters with marine greats grow more dramatic. Tintoreras is a famed haven for white-tip reef sharks. Normally these pelagic fish wouldn't be found so close to shore and would only be seen on deep-water diving trips. In the Galapagos Islands, they're found at shallow depths along the reef wall, meaning no need for a scuba qualification. Marine iguanas dot the shore, and you watch them sip on the seawater, a snippet of evolution that enables them to survive without fresh water. Watch for long enough and you'll see one sneeze out the salt. Land iguanas inhabit the cliffs in large numbers, further exemplars of evolution to admire before you take the boat back to Santa Cruz and the town of Puerto Ayora. With five days of cruising to come, this evening is an excellent chance to shop for souvenirs and enjoy the scenes around the harbor.
Overnight Cruise – Incredible Birdlife
The Galapagos offers two exploratory paradigms. Island hopping allows you to see the archipelago from many different angles. In comparison, a small-boat cruise ensures you also witness the weird endemic wildlife that's only found on the most remote tips of the islands. Join the cruise this morning and spend a leisurely two hours on the sundeck. Like island hopping, a cruise combines thrilling excursions with tranquil time gazing out onto the seemingly infinite Pacific. Occasionally a dolphin pod or whale cruises past, gracing the scene for a few moments before continuing its migration. There's a lounge and restaurant on the boat, plus a jacuzzi for really slumbering when you're cruising the islands.
After lunch and a welcome briefing on board, the cruise's first excursion is to North Seymour, an island lauded by naturalists for its remarkable nesting site. Magnificent frigates inflate their throat sacks, puffing a balloon of red towards passing females. Blue-footed boobies hop around and extend their wings in an outrageous show of color. Nazca boobies also line the walking trail and just as you're engrossed in tiny chicks, you almost stand on a large land iguana. Access to these sites is extremely controlled, so yours is the only group that is currently stepping beside the mating displays of these seabirds. Return to the boat in the late afternoon and watch the sky get painted by the setting sun.
Overnight Cruise – The Remote Fringes of the Galapagos
You cruise east overnight, heading to the remains of a lava cone that towers above the ocean. The boat sails through the two 500-feet vertical rocks, where you can jump out and snorkel between the rocks. It's another place that reflects volcanic history above the surface and marine abundance beneath it. Keep cruising to Isla Lobos, named for the hundreds of boisterous sea lions that rest on its shores. Some waddle towards your camera, others dive for an afternoon fish, while the big males battle for supremacy on landscapes of rugged rock. Blue-footed boobies watch their show and initially their vibrancy holds you captive. But look around and there's an entire flock of strange birds; brown pelicans, yellow warblers, lava gulls, common noddies, ground finches. With a whole afternoon to play, you can snorkel with the sea lions or follow the tweets to discover more birdlife in the far eastern fringes of the Galapagos.
Overnight Cruise – The Wonder of San Cristobal
Evocative birds steal the limelight today, as you explore the easternmost points of San Cristobal. On a ragged collection of cliffs, you check the feet of different boobies. First brown, then blue, and now red as you explore the only place in the world where all three booby species can be found together. The red-footed variety possesses a mix of colors, their flamboyant feet rising to blue chest feathers and a strange rainbow beak. Zoom out and absorb the scale of the scene, many thousands of birds nesting together on the ancient ash cones. Then zoom in and unravel the detail, like tiny lava lizards picking out flies beside feet that carefully guard eggs.
As with each day, a morning excursion is followed by a few quiet hours on the boat. It's a time to sunbathe, snooze, sip on a drink, and savor the deserted bliss of the islands. It's also usually a time when the boat cruises to a new wildlife site. So on to Cerro Brujo, a dazzling expanse of coralline white sand that slopes into calm turquoise waters. It feels like a scene from a tropical vacation postcard, one of lush waters and a beach without footprints. But Cerro Brujo isn't a predictable or quiet place. Sea lions are the primary residents, and they seem to revel in swimming with snorkelers, or flapping their way around to interrupt sunbathers. Return to the boat where snacks are served to accompany sundown and a three-course dinner comes an hour or so later.
Overnight Cruise – Snorkeling around Santa Fe
Santa Fe land iguanas are patient reptiles. They lie and wait beneath prickly-pear cactus trees, sometimes immovable for days at a time. They wait until a ripened fruit falls, their preferred fre,h foodm and lush fluid to keep them going. And then the iguanas continue their fruity vigil once more. Even when you're just three meters away, they don't seem fussed by your presence. Get close to these iguanas and admire the embroidery of dots that speckle their watchful eyes and alert tongues. These reptiles are only found on this tiny island, and you're close enough to reach out and touch them.
Stand back as the sea lion harem starts bellowing from the beach below. Follow the sounds and there's a battle between two males, one 800-pound giant chasing a rival away from the beach. It's here that you can jump into a kayak for another chance to paddle with sea lions before the cruise continues to South Plaza Island. It is another surreal wildlife spot for eclectic encounters with Galapagos icons: marine iguanas, land iguanas, blue-footed boobies, great frigates, lava lizards, and a succession of small tropical birds. Returning to the boat, you enjoy a farewell evening beneath the stars and a final sumptuous dinner in the restaurant.
Guayaquil – Departure
The Galapagos tour comes full circle as you visit more giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station. These breeding tortoises come from all the different islands, solo travelers that indelibly reflect their birthplace. There's still ten distinct giant tortoise subspecies in the Galapagos, each with a different shell dependent on where it evolved. Spotting them all together allows you to encounter the breadth of local evolution. From here, you're transferred to the airport for an early-afternoon flight to Guayaquil, where you connect to your international departure.
- Island hop through the Galapagos Islands for five days and encounter its surreal wonder on a kayak, on a volcano, and from the ocean-facing balconies of luxury lodges
- Embark on Galapagos tours of the most remote wildlife sites with a 5-day small-group cruise through the eastern islands
- Encounter almost all of the archipelago's famous wildlife, from sea lions to seahorses, and red-footed boobies to giant tortoises
- Lounge on resplendently white beaches that are devoid of footprints but alive with the curious antics of sea lions
- Share the adventure with other solo travelers as you combine two expertly guided itineraries, one based on land and one on the ocean
- Wander through the vivid breeding grounds of seabirds and watch the mating displays of magnificent frigates, blue-footed boobies, and other unique seabirds
- Snorkel into lavish marine worlds where reef sharks and sea turtles are among the residents
For over a million years, the Galapagos Islands have been a prized destination for intrepid solo travelers. The first reptiles arrived here by floating on trees that had fallen from the mainland. Each castaway evolved distinctly dependent on the island it landed on, the first steps in the astonishing wildlife metamorphosis to be found on these volcanic islands. Rather than visit only one island, your Galapagos tour for solo travelers hops between them, enabling you to experience every aspect of the natural realm. Undertake outdoor adventures for the first six days: kayak with sea lions, snorkel with sharks and sea turtles, and hike along the hissing rim of the world's second largest caldera. Then indulge in the serenity of the archipelago, with a 5-day cruise to remote spots in the eastern Galapagos. It's intimate and immersive, every hour bringing remarkable wildlife worlds and the feeling of following in Darwin's footprints. Consider reading more about your highly experienced travel agents for Galapagos Islands who will help craft your perfect customizable itinerary.
After an overnight in the bustling city of Guayaquil, you're welcomed to the Galapagos by giant tortoises. These descendants of the islands' first arrivals cover the highlands of Santa Cruz, marking an evocative introduction to ten days of wildlife. Then an active first few days of island hopping allow you to admire the archipelago from a dozen different angles. Splitting your time between the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela, you enjoy small-group excursions to mystical sites; head underwater at the Los Tuneles lava arches, paddle alongside curious sea lions, walk across volcanic cliffs, and watch seabirds swoop past your ocean-facing balconies. These five days provide a thrilling journey into a realm that's never quiet. Even when you're on a seemingly deserted white beach, a sea lion pokes her head around the corner.
Then experience the cruise, a small-group expedition to the remote islands and islets of the Eastern Galapagos. Discover isolated wildlife sites like South Plaza and Isla Lobos (Sea Lion Island), wander around the mass breeding grounds of blue-footed boobies, and discover the strange endemic characters of the islands. Magnificent frigates nest in the thousands, marine iguanas sneeze out salt, mockingbirds tweet from above, while a kaleidoscope of marine life twinkles along the reefs. It's on these island fringes that you find the eclectic and the wonderful, the marvels of nature's evolutionary spell. Yet the cruise adventure is also a serene one, just you and a small group exploring the volcanic pinnacles of the Pacific Ocean. Like the first reptiles that arrived here, you soon discover that the Galapagos can be a place of supreme solitude. But it can also be a place of new adventures shared with others.
$8,245 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.81 stars based on 189 reviews
Reviewed By Ben G.
Reviewed By David M.
Reviewed By Robert R.
Reviewed By Elizabeth T.
Reviewed By Shonterria S.
Reviewed By sue l.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era