Galapagos Islands Volunteer Vacation
11 days from Galapagos to Galapagos Islands
From $ 4980
Duration11 days

Join a unique 11-day opportunity to help conserve this amazing world treasure. The Galapagos Islands are home to a distinct mix of tropical and temperate environments as well as an unparalleled plant and animal ecology. The lack of natural predators has left many of the inhabitants fearless and friendly—meaning we can expect up-close encounters with giant tortoises, penguins and marine iguanas. This trip offers the chance to combine a love of travel and a passion for conservation. In partnership with Conservation Volunteers International Program, we give our time to assist with the preservation and protection of the animals who call this island home. Our adventure begins on the island of San Cristóbal and ends on the island of Baltra in the Galapagos. Explore vertical cliffs, sandy beaches, rocky shores, and coral reefs in the company of like-minded adventurers. With supervision from our extraordinary guides, our work provides assistance in the conservation and preservation of sea turtles and the Galapagos giant tortoise. This REI volunteer vacation is offered in partnership with Conservation Volunteers International Program. Discover additional details about the trip on the ConservationVIP website.

This tour is operated by

  • Duration: 11 days
    Service level: Standard
  • Starts in: Galapagos
    Physical Grading: Average
  • Ends in: Galapagos Islands
    Ages: 18+
Galapagos Islands Volunteer Vacation - Tour Map


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Day 1: Welcome to the Galapagos and San Cristóbal Island!

Start place: Galapagos

Our volunteer trip begins in the Galapagos Islands. Plan to arrive by 1pm on San Cristóbal Island. If you are flying to the Galapagos that morning, board your early flight to San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos (airport code SCY), either from Guayaquil (GYE) or Quito (UIO) via Guayaquil. Upon arrival in San Cristóbal, airport travelers pass through the entrance formalities, including paying your Park entrance fee of $100 - have this handy in US Dollars - then proceed to the baggage area. After retrieving your bags, make your way independently via a short taxi ride to our hotel.
We will have an orientation and briefing at the hotel beginning at 2pm. Here we will meet the other volunteers, the Conservation VIP trip leaders and the local guide. After our orientation we will take a one hour hike to the San Cristobal Interpretive Center to gain an understanding of some of the special natural resources in the Galapagos National Park. Returning to the hotel, we will test fit our snorkel gear in the pool before dinner. After dinner the evening is free to explore the small town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno or enjoy the beach and boardwalk at Playa de Oro. Dinner included.
Meals: D
Day 2: Get oriented to our sea turtle research project.
Depending on winds and tides, we will either begin our introduction to the Galapagos with a bus ride across San Cristobal to Puerto Chino or visit Laguna El Junco and La Galapaguera reserve. At Puerto Chino we walk for 20 minutes on a paved trail through a dry forest until we arrive at the beach. Here we hope to see blue-footed boobies, pelicans, and sea lions as well as frigates, mockingbirds, and several species of Darwin finches and hopefully, sea turtles--all thriving in their natural environments. Laguna El Junco, which is the largest fresh water lake in the archipelago, is located in a crater in the highlands of San Cristóbal on the southern half of the island. The lake harbors a large population of wading birds, as well as frigates, mockingbirds, and several species of Darwin finches. Reaching the lake requires a short uphill walk among highland tree ferns and ends with a spectacular panoramic view. On our return from Laguna El Junco, we will tour La Galapaguera, a native dry forest reserve and breeding facility for giant tortoises. This will be our first introduction to the Galapagos giant tortoise captive breeding program, one of our projects later in the trip.
In the afternoon we will travel to the Galapagos Science Center, University of San Francisco de Quito, and meet with researchers who will orient us to our first volunteer project. We will be participating in a survey and census of sea turtles as part of ongoing research on the impacts of increased tourism and boat traffic on sea turtle populations. All meals included.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 3-4: Help researchers with a sea turtle census while boating and snorkeling.
Our project for these two days consists of assisting researchers with a sea turtle census. We will have the opportunity to look for and photograph turtles while snorkeling at sites assigned by the scientists, to help identify the individuals by their unique markings, patterns and any injuries, and provide other assistance with the survey.
The sea turtle research projects will involve entering the ocean water from rocky shorelines and also taking a boat, one hour each way, to Kicker Rock and surface snorkeling in water that will be too deep to touch or see the ocean bottom. All trip members will be expected to participate as snorkeling is the only way to achieve the work needed for this project. Wetsuits and flotation devices will be provided and are required.
Kicker Rock, the jagged remains of an old tuff cone whose flanks are home to thousands of sea birds, is famous for incredible snorkeling and diving. While we are looking for sea turtles there is a good chance of being visited by a curious sea lion and seeing Galapagos sharks, golden rays, and dozens of species of tropical fish. With a little luck we may also swim above hammerhead and blacktip and/or whitetip sharks! All meals included.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 5: Transfer to Isla Isabela and visit a tortoise captive-breeding center.
Following breakfast at the hotel, we will spend the morning shuttling from San Cristóbal to Isla Isabela by small plane. Isabela was formed by six volcanoes and is the largest island in the Galapagos. Five of these volcanoes remain active, making this island one of the most volcanically active places on earth. This is a remarkably beautiful island and one of the youngest in the archipelago. Isabela is also known for its beautiful and expansive white sand beaches and for having the largest population of giant tortoises.
We will spend our first two nights on Isabela in a hotel in the laid-back village of Puerto Villamil. Those who arrive on an early flight will have time to explore the nearby coastline (look for marine iguanas!) or enjoy one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the Galapagos while the others are transferring to Isla Isabela.
In the afternoon we will visit nearby Centro de Crianza, the Tortoise Center of Isabela, and learn more about the National Park’s captive breeding program. The Center houses over 800 individuals of several species of tortoise, and we will see both hatchlings and the older breeding animals. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore the sand streets, waterfront and small stores in Puerto Villamil. All meals included.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Visit Las Tintoreras and the Wall of Tears.
After breakfast we will take a boat to Las Tintoreras, a set of small islets within Isabela Bay where there is opportunity for further turtle census work. The islets are filled with wildlife. While we are looking for sea turtles, watch for marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, whitetip reef sharks, sea turtles, penguins and much more in the crystal blue waters!
In the afternoon we will change our activity and bike to an infamous site from Isabela’s not so distant past. We’ll pedal out to the Wall of Tears, a historic site that dates back to the 1940s when Isabela was a penal colony. The wall was built by prisoners using huge blocks of lava for no other reason than to keep the prisoners busy from the madness of isolation.
With miles of unpaved sandy streets and roads, mountain bikes are the perfect mode of transportation on Isla Isabela. We will make a number of stops as we pedal through protected wildlife areas on our way to the wall. On our return, there are opportunities for beach/shoreline cleanup, while keeping an eye out for the mangrove finch, American oyster catchers, blue-footed boobies and pelicans, herons, flamingos and many other shore birds, as well as marine iguanas swimming and basking in the sun. Watch out for giant tortoises and iguanas on the road! We return to our hotel in Puerto Villamil in the late afternoon. All meals included.
Snorkeling: 1.5 hours; Mountain biking: 10 miles, unpaved, sand and gravel roads with some rolling hills
Meals: B, L, D
Day 7: Travel to an eco-camp and get oriented to our tortoise project.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer by van to Campo Duro Eco-Camp in the cooler foothills of the Sierra Negra Volcano for our Galapagos tortoise project. Campo Duro is an enchanting location set in the cooler lush, tropical highlands. Accommodations include fully equipped sleeping tents with mattresses and bedding, outdoor private showers, bathrooms with flush toilets, and a thatched roof restaurant and bar. Most of the fruits and vegetables served are grown organically in the onsite gardens. Food is cooked in wood-fired stone ovens.
Campo Duro works in concert with Galapagos National Park, providing a reserve to help raise tortoises from 3 to 8 years old. This afternoon we will be oriented to the projects at Campo Duro, which may include planting and weeding tortoise enclosures; building a pond; repairing and building enclosure fences and working in the organic garden. Weather permitting, we will have a campfire, share stories and learn more about the "Enchanted Islands" called The Galapagos. All meals included.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 8: Engage in volunteer work on the Galapagos giant tortoise projects.
Today will be spent working on the Galapagos tortoise projects at Campo Duro. All meals included.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 9: Finish our giant tortoise projects and return to Puerto Villamil.
This day finds us wrapping up our projects at Campo Duro. In the afternoon we will return to Puerto Villamil and check in to our hotel for our last two nights in the islands. All meals included.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 10: Hike to the rim of Sierra Negra volcano.
After breakfast we will depart for Volcán Sierra Negra. We’ll drive through the highlands where giant tortoises feed on the abundant vegetation to the slopes of the volcano where our moderate hike begins. The hike through rugged terrain (the trail can be muddy depending on the weather) ends at the stunning caldera, the second largest intact crater in the world after the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. Sierra Negra last erupted in June 2018. On a clear day you can see not only the six-mile-wide caldera, but views of the other volcanoes beyond and the surrounding coastline. Enjoy a box lunch while taking in the amazing views around you.
Upon our return to Puerto Villamil, we have the late afternoon to explore the shops in town or just relax at the beach or in the hotel. Our last evening in the Galapagos will be a great time to reminisce about our days on the islands at our farewell dinner. All meals included.
Hiking: 6-9 miles, up to 5 hours. Cumulative elevation gain 1,260'. Terrain: uneven trails that may include slippery or rocky sections.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 11: Complete your volunteer trip in the Galapagos Islands.
This morning after breakfast we fly from Isla Isabela to Galapagos International Airport (GPS) on the Island of Baltra, where travelers can catch a departing flight in the afternoon to Guayaquil and/or Quito. Breakfast included.

End place: Galapagos Islands

Meals: B



  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 11
  • accommodations in the Galapagos Islands in hotels and eco-camp
  • inter-island flights
  • boat and van transfers noted on the itinerary while in the Galapagos Islands
  • gratuities for services provided to the group
  • trip leadership and support staff
  • group tools
  • bikes and snorkel equipment
  • orientation and training
  • Accommodation

    Hotels, 8 nights, Tented eco-camp, 2 nights

Dates & availability: Galapagos Islands Volunteer Vacation

Departing Finishing Catalog Price Sale Price Seats left
Departing Mon, 11/30/2020 Finishing Thu, 12/10/2020 Catalog Price $ 4980 Sale Price $ 4980 10 Book

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