Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

We shared a ton of photos from our time in the Galapagos Islands in our latest photo essay, so now it’s time to share a bit more (ok a lot more) about the tour itself. The Galapagos has always been high on our “wish list” of destinations, and we are so happy that we finally had the chance to visit. The islands are, of course, known for their abundance of wildlife, but they offer so much more than that when you have the chance to dig just a little bit deeper.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Our trip started off with a couple of days on our own in Quito, Ecuador, and then it was time for our tour with Galakiwi to begin. Galakiwi is one of the few companies offering land based tours through the Galapagos Islands, and they hosted us on the tour as part of a media/press trip. Galakiwi focuses on sustainable travel throughout the islands, and since the owners and staff live and work on the islands themselves, they really know the Galapagos well.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

We had such an incredible time throughout the entire trip, and I have to say the experience came in at one of our all-time favorite trips we’ve taken to date. Not only did we see some amazing wildlife, we also had the chance to participate in some of our favorite adventure activities, such as kayaking, snorkeling, SUP (stand up paddle boarding), hiking, and biking. And, because we weren’t exploring via a cruise ship, we had a unique look into the culture and life of Galapagueños who live on the islands. It was the perfect combination and filled with everything we love about travel: adventure, culture, wildlife and plenty of wonderful people.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

In addition to everything above, our tour departure was actually a special filmed media tour. Basically, this meant that we participated in the tour as a normal guest, but there was someone filming us along the way for a TV Show and a short film! We were traveling with a group of travel bloggers/writers/etc. Our group consisted of Stephanie, Oksana & Max, Kris and Tom, Diana, and Anthony, in addition to the Galakiwi crew, owners Tim & Crystal, Red, Pablo, Pepo, Cristhian, and several other great team members that made the trip possible.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

So, what was it like to travel through the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi? Settle in and get ready for a long one as we spill all the details of our trip—the good, the challenges and everything in between!

Overview of Tour

We went on the 11 Day Galapagos SUP & Adventure Special Edition Tour (a one run tour), which was very similar to their 10 Day Galapagos Adventure Tour that runs on a regular basis. Galakiwi also offers several other specialty tours that focus on activities such as yoga, SUP, biking, or photography. Our adventure tour sent us to all four of the inhabited islands in the Galapagos and we enjoyed one amazing activity after another. The breakdown below is based on the 10 day adventure tour because it was very similar to our tour and it runs every other week throughout the year.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Cost:

All of the tours run at different prices, but the 10 Day Galapagos Adventure tour is currently priced at $4,599.00. It isn’t exactly a budget trip, but you do certainly get a lot of bang for your buck with the quality of the guides and all the incredible experiences, accommodations, and food that is included.

What’s Included:

The adventure tour includes 9 nights in standard accommodations, all fees and gear for the activities, all meals except for two, and drinking water (so be sure to bring a water bottle!). Transportation from Quito to the islands, as well as transportation between and on the islands, is also included. Tips for the local support crew are included in the price of the tour, too.

What’s Not Included:

You are on your own for snacks, drinks other than water, and two meals. While it’s nice to have most everything included in the tour price, we did enjoy being able to branch out on our own to explore more of the local island foods, as well. In addition to the above, you need to cover the $20 ingala fee and the $100 park entry fee (required by all visitors to the Galapagos). Both of these are payable at the airport in cash only so be prepared for that. Tips for the tour leader are at your own discretion, but we highly recommend showing your appreciation to your guide. They are phenomenal and work hard to make your experience through the islands extra special.

Group Size:

The average group size is 10 and the maximum is 16. We loved the small group size and really appreciated having many of the sites we visited to ourselves.

Itinerary

We will be sharing more details about the islands and activities in future posts, but we just wanted to give a brief overview of our itinerary here. Our tour led us to the four islands in the Galapagos with a human population. The adventure tour is an active tour, and while we had downtime here and there, we were on the go most of the trip.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

On our last night in Quito, we met up with our fellow tour group participants and Mauro from Galakiwi, and we were filled in on what our land based adventure tour was going to look like. The next morning we flew to the islands, where our first stop was San Cristobal. We went biking through the highlands, had several SUP sessions, went snorkeling and explored the streets of San Cristobal.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Photo Essay

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Photo Essay

After two nights on the first island, we hopped in a boat and were off to Floreana Island for one night. We spent our time snorkeling, SUPing, and on hikes to the Pirate Caves in the highlands and along the beach in front of our hotel.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Photo Essay

Next up, we made our way by boat to Isabela Island for four nights. During our time on the island we were able to snorkel, kayak, hike up a volcano, bike to the Wall of Tears, relax on the beach, and observe tortoises at the Tortoise Breeding Center.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

The last island we visited was Santa Cruz, and once again we made our way there by boat. We had two nights on Santa Cruz, and we visited a fish market, stopped by a local market, went to a farm in the highlands where we hiked through a cave and saw more giant tortoises, and suited up for another SUP session.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Heading back to Quito on our last day sent us on a taxi, boat, bus and airplane—it was quite the adventure, but we made it with the help of Pablo!

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Photo Essay

Be sure to note that the Itinerary can change based on weather, tides, service availability, etc. The days might not play out exactly as scheduled; however, when changes are made, it’s for the betterment of the tour, so embrace it and know they are aiming to make your trip the best it can be!

Accommodations

All of the hotels we stayed in are owned by local islanders, and while they were standard accommodations, they were all adorable. We stayed at the following hotels:

Casa Blanca hotel on San Cristobal:

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Wittmer Lodge on Floreana Island:

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Hotel Albemarle on Isabela Island:

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Posada del Mar on Santa Cruz:

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Typical Meal Experience

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when it came to our meals, but both Micah and I were pleasantly surprised with the quality and variety of our food throughout the trip. We tried so many delicious dishes, and Galakiwi was even able to accommodate the vegetarians in our group! Most of our breakfasts included a variety of breads, pastries/muffins, fruits, eggs, coffee, tea, and juice.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

When we ate lunch on the go, we were provided with a packed lunch in reusable containers. We usually had chicken, rice and veggies, a granola bar, a chocolate bar, and juice.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Some lunches and most dinners were three course meals at sit down restaurants and the rest of the meals were served buffet style. Most of our meals started with soup (even in the heat!) which was accompanied by popcorn. I’m not sure if we were supposed to, but throwing some popcorn in the soup made it delicious!

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

The main course usually consisted of chicken or seafood (fish, lobster, shrimp), rice or potatoes and salad or vegetables.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Then, for dessert, we had a small sweet treat such as ice cream, flan, fruit and more.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Challenges and Things to Know

Traveling with Galakiwi made the tour run super smooth. They are the tour operator and not a go-between, which means that they are able to craft every part of the itinerary with care and they don’t hand you over to another company during the trip. Plus, the owners and crew all live on the islands, which means they have the inside scoop on all the best things to do.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

That said, there are always bound to be challenges any time you travel. Although all of these points are minor and trivial in the grand scheme of things (and at no fault of Galakiwi), here are the few difficulties we noticed when traveling through the islands and a few details we feel are helpful to know:

  • While there is internet on the islands and all of our hotels had WIFI, it was painfully slow at times. Some spots were better than others, but if you have to access something online, be prepared for a slow connection and don’t count on it always being available.
  • Cash is the norm, and the US Dollar is the currency. Credit cards require an internet connection (see above), so plan on using cash because when cards are accepted, they don’t always work.
  • ATM’s are available on the two larger islands, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, but don’t count on them working all the time. They can run out of money, so basically, it’s best to bring cash with you to the islands.
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen, and try to make sure it’s environmentally friendly! It’s hot and the sun is intense. If you must purchase sunscreen on the islands, you will have to pay a pretty penny for it.
  • Water isn’t abundant on the islands, so try not to take long showers to help preserve water. While you will always have a shower in your hotel room (with Galakiwi at least), the water might not always be hot. And there were a couple of times where my water pressure was reduced to a trickle.
  • I’m going to say it again…remember that the itinerary can change at any time based on a number of factors. Weather, tides, and a variety of other outside factors can influence your trip, so embrace the change and know that Galakiwi always has your best interest at heart.

 

What we Loved about the Tour and Galakiwi

There are so many things we loved about our tour with Galakiwi, so I’m just going to summarize a few of our favorite aspects and moments here:

  • Galakiwi’s focus and commitment to sustainability was really great to see in action. They provide unlimited water for your refillable water bottles in order to reduce the waste created by plastic water bottles. Our breakfasts and lunches that were on the go were served in reusable containers. And we loved the fact that they support the local economy by bringing their tours to small, locally run hotels and restaurants.
  • Traveling to all four inhabited islands gave us a new perspective of the Galapagos Islands. By staying on the islands rather than a cruise ship, we were rewarded with a deeper look into the culture and history of such a magical place.
  • Our tour leaders were absolutely fantastic. The guides are local islanders, and they stay with you throughout the entire trip. It was so great getting to know Pablo and Pepo throughout our 10 days on the islands. Also, our main guide, Pablo, was a phenomenal story teller and so passionate about the islands that he calls home!
  • The ease of traveling with Galakiwi made the trip stress free. We knew we were in good hands, so we were able to relinquish control and let them show us all the best spots on the islands.
  • And last, but certainly not least, we loved the adventure component to the tour. It was amazing to see all the wildlife, but seeing the wildlife while we were immersed in adventure took it to another level. We had the chance to SUP with sea lions, hike and bike next to giant tortoises, and snorkel with sharks, sea lions, and sea turtles, just to name a few.

 

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Behind the Scenes & Filming

As I mentioned above, this trip was a special filmed media tour, which means that we were filmed throughout the tour. One of the reasons for the filming was the TV Show, Facing Waves, which is a show that showcases some of the world’s best paddling destinations. The second filming component was an Adventure in Motion video for ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Assocation), where the goal is to inspire views to experience adventure travel.

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Our tour was basically the same as the normal 10 day adventure tour run by Galakiwi on a regular basis. But, because of the filming, there were a couple of extra activities added in as they were being used to illustrate a point in one of the videos. The filming was all captured by Anthony, and the Galakiwi crew helped with hauling around all the heavy gear. We always get intrigued and fascinated when we have the opportunity to watch people film and do their thing, so it was a fun addition to the trip. Anthony is amazing at what he does, and he will do almost anything for the shot, including hanging over the edge of the boat with his camera while our boat powered through gigantic waves. We can’t wait to see what he captured. I’m not sure when either of the videos will be released, but we will be sure to share the links once we have them!

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

Our Overall Thoughts on the Tour

Even though we normally travel on our own and often avoid group tours, this tour definitely changed our mind about what an organized tour can look like. With ample opportunities for adventure, knowledgeable guides sharing one entertaining story after another, a great group of people, and the ease of handing the itinerary over to capable hands, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Now, excuse us as we go back to dreaming of sea lions and sea turtles…they are just so dang cute!

Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with Galakiwi

 

Special thanks to Galakiwi for hosting us on an amazing adventure! As always, all opinions are our own.

24 Comments
  • Mei from Tarvek with Mei and Kerstin
    Posted at 02:54h, 10 June Reply

    Wow! Reading your post really makes us want to explore the Galapagos! I’ve never been to South America… Kerstin spent 6 weeks in Ecuador and Peru almost 20 years ago, so I guess it’s about time we (re)discover this continent, starting with Quito and the Galapagos! Thanks for this great post: all your info and advices are so useful and complete. All we need is to get a ticket and follow your tips! 🙂
    Mei from Tarvek with Mei and Kerstin recently posted…Annecy: the Venice of the AlpsMy Profile

  • Danik
    Posted at 07:32h, 10 June Reply

    OMG! There is actually more to do on teh Galapagos Islands than I thought. Thought it would be all wildlife but you have lite the passion of desire inside me to get there even more. Love the indepth post and the photos are totally awesome 🙂
    Danik recently posted…The Curious Explorers guide to Paris: Ile de la CiteMy Profile

  • Kacie
    Posted at 09:22h, 10 June Reply

    Equator is literally top of my bucket list at the moment and has been for some time. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford to go to the Galápagos Islands but it looks like a dream come true.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 01:00h, 15 June Reply

      Hope you can check it out sometime! The Galapagos are wonderful and we enjoyed spending a few days before the tour in Quito, as well. Would love to see more of Ecuador sometime, too–there are so many fun adventures there!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Adventure in the Galapagos Islands with GalakiwiMy Profile

  • Chirasree Banerjee
    Posted at 03:14h, 11 June Reply

    Wow! You inspired me to visit this beautiful place. This article is so useful. I am going to refer to this one when we will plan a trip here. I loved all the pictures, especially that red crab.

  • Bob R
    Posted at 08:37h, 11 June Reply

    Heard good things about this company, glad to see you enjoyed it. Galapagos are a dream, unfortunately still a pricey one. One my first visit to Ecuador I opted for the Poor Man’s Galapagos neaar Puerto Lopez, and during my second, never made it to the coast. Hopefully the third time will be the charm. (Galakiwi bookmarked for future reference.)
    Bob R recently posted…A Visit to the Planet’s Oldest GrapevineMy Profile

  • Dannielle
    Twitter:
    Posted at 09:33h, 11 June Reply

    I’ve yet to try SUP! Galapagos Islands have never particularly appealed to me but you make it look really cool and the tour sounds like a decent option if you want everything taken care of. Food looks yummy too!

  • Mimi & Mitch
    Posted at 13:35h, 11 June Reply

    We always wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands. It is also a place for active activities which we absolutely seek when we travel! Absolutely love your photos!

  • Holly
    Twitter:
    Posted at 21:40h, 11 June Reply

    Definitely a bucket list item. Very cool you got to go and experience it. Looks so pretty. I liked SUP so certainly something I would want to do there if I got the chance.

  • Mike Cotton
    Posted at 08:22h, 12 June Reply

    I would absolutely love to visit te Galapagos Islands. The wildlife would be stunning. So too would the photography opportunities. #lifegoals

  • Gokul Raj
    Posted at 00:10h, 13 June Reply

    The landscape is amazing. Kayaking was the fav part of trip when I went to Thailand. I see you got some stunning photos from the kayak esp the one at the sunset.
    Gokul Raj recently posted…Soul Stirring Experiences shared by Travel BloggersMy Profile

  • Aanchal Iyer
    Posted at 04:54h, 14 June Reply

    Haven’t heard about Galapagos Islands but reading your experiences and the pictures this place seems to be very cool,
    Guess the food was quite yummy.

  • Cai Dominguez
    Posted at 21:48h, 17 June Reply

    Thanks for sharing your detailed experience. Its a very beautiful sight and wonderful place. The hotel looks amazing too. Thanks to to your host for running it smoothly. Looks like you really had a great tine here. Hopefully can visit this place soon.
    Cai Dominguez recently posted…What Foreigners Say About Filipinos? #WhenWithFilipinosMy Profile

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