Active Galapagos Tour – Intrepid Travel

Written By: The Planet D

The thing we loved the most about our Intrepid Travel Active Galapagos Adventure was the fact that we stayed on land each night.

It gave us an intimate view of life on the Galapagos islands.

I bet you didn’t know this, but 28,000 people live on the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador and contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stay on a boat to tour the Galapagos Islands.

Wanna Know What It’s Like on an Active Galapagos Tour?


We were wary about not being on a cruise of the Galapagos. We thought that it was the way to do the Galapagos Islands and when we chose our adventure with Intrepid in January, I have to admit we didn’t dig deep into the research.

It wasn’t until we returned from Antarctica that we actually looked closely at our itinerary and saw that we weren’t on a cruise ship.

“Oh no” we thought to ourselves, “isn’t the Galapagos Islands all about cruising from destination to destination?”

It turns out that we wouldn’t have done it any other way.

We had plenty of time in the water snorkelling on five different occassion where we swam with sharks, played with sea lions and watched iguanas chomp on algae while the famous Galapagos giant turtles swam by.

Starting the Trip

snorkelling the galapagos
Dave Taking a closer video of the wildlife

We kayaked in the bay of St. Isabella where sea lions followed and jumped alongside our boats and we lazed on secluded beaches on pristine white sand.

What really struck home was when we talked with our guide Sambo. He told us that many people don’t realize that they can stay on the Galapagos Islands.

The come here and give their money to the large corporations who own the ships and the local people never see a penny. With tours like ours, the money goes directly to the local economy.

Exploring the Islands

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Our Guide Sambo

We ate at local restaurants, had the evenings to walk around the island and shops at stores and markets and drank fresh Ecuadorian coffee at locally run coffee shops each morning. It was heavenly.

Our favourite Galapagos island was San Cristobal. It had that laid back feel of a Caribbean town with the unique atmosphere that only the Galapagos can have.

Sea Lions slept on park benches and waddled through the streets while Boobies, Frigate Birds and Pelicans basked in the sun.

Active Galapagos Tour

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Mountain Biking on San Cristobal

We spent 2 nights on San Cristobal where we started off with a downhill mountain bike ride followed by a nature walk and stop at the beach fabulous meals at local eateries.

The fried white fish was my favorite! And we had amazing snorkeling trips from our own personal boat that we had for the entire week.

Off to San Isabella

boat in Galapagos Islands
Our Boat in the Galapagos Islands

En route we stopped for some fantastic snorekeling where we really got up close and personal with sea lions.

We even stopped at the island of Florenza for a hike in the jungle to explore a Pirate’s Cave and have our first encounter with the giant Galapagos tortoise.

Feeling thoroughly exhausted and sunburnt from the past couple of days, it was straight to bed after our buffet dinner at our family-run guest house on San Isabella.

It’s a good thing too, we had an early start for our volcano hike the next morning through the spectacular lava fields and cones of the still active Sierra Negra.

Sierra Negra – Active Volcano

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Dave and Deb at Sierra Negra Calderra in Galapagos

The last eruption only happened in 2005 and we hiked around the world’s second largest Calderra. (If you are wondering, the largest is in Yellowstone, USA)

It was on this island that we had dinner at the coolest restaurant/bar on the beach, Bar de Beto.

We had delicious coconut shrimp, but it wasn’t necessarily the meal that caught our attention as much as the atmosphere.

Located directly on the water they had a huge fire burning and cool music playing. This is definitely a place for chillling.

Activities in the Galapagos

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Having a Blast Snorkelling with Active Galapagos

We spent three glorious days on this island, kayaking, hiking, cruising and spotting iguanas. I can’t decide it the snorkelling was the highlight or if it was the kayaking.

Interacting with sea lions above and below the water is an incredible experience and as we paddled along the shore, sea lions played and followed our kayaks for the entire excursion.

They are so curious and cute, you just want to sweep them up and cuddle with them.

Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz is the point where all the large cruise ships stop and it felt like Grand Central Station. This is the tourist hub of the Galapagos and Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts were abundant.

That’s ok though, they were all standing in line to wait for their zodiacs back to their ships as we had the evening to enjoy drinks at the local bars and shop at the local shops.

We had two days here where more hiking, sea turtles were on the agenda, as well as a trip to the Charles Darwin Station.

We even had the opportunity to surf on the most pristine beach you’ll ever see.

Unfortunately, we were on round two of our sunburns so we passed on more sun and spent the afternoon walking along the vibrant streets of Santa Cruz shopping for souvenirs and enjoying a much-needed siesta after this action-packed, extraordinary travel through the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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23 thoughts on “Active Galapagos Tour – Intrepid Travel”

  1. Helo,

    We will be in the Galapagos Islands on march 2018 for seven days. We will Visit Santa Cruz Island, Isabella Island and San Cristobal Island.

    Do you have the Émail adress of SAMBO . We will need a guide.



    • They were simple but good. Above basic accommodations but not luxurious either. We stayed at local hotels on the islands and they were great. Double beds with private baths.

  2. We just finished the same Intrepid Active Galapagos trip with Sambo and loved it. Although I haven’t done a cruise, I can’t imagine not staying on the islands and walking around interacting with the environment and people. Highly recommend it. Galapagos is amazing!

    • I agree with you Donna. I can’t imagine not being on land. it is getting into the vibe of the island that is truly special. And the highspeed boats take you to where you need to go during the day.

  3. I did Intrepid’s Active Galapagos land-based tour in February, and I highly recommend it. Sambo was a great guide! He was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the Galapagos Islands. It was nice to see his picture in your article.

    • Hi Hilda, Thanks for taking the time to stop by. I am so glad that you loved the Active Galapagos tour as well and how awesome is that that you had Sambo as a guide as well. He is great!

  4. This sounds like such a fun trip! And this is why I love Intrepid Travel so much – that you actually stay ON the islands and your money goes directly into the local economy.

  5. This looks like so much fun! I’d much rather stay on the islands instead of on a ship. I will definitely look for a trip like this whenever I get around to visiting the Galapagos!

  6. I definitely did NOT know you could stay on the Galapagos islands. It seems like a great way to take a tour and a great way to contribute to the local economy.