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Tour Highlights

  • Explore one of the world's most stunning natural environments and discover the incredible biodiversity of the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve

  • Swim with marine iguanas and fur seals that inhabit the Cuatro Hermanos group of islands

  • Swim around the volcanic crater of Tortuga with its numerous sea lions and sea turtles to keep you company

  • Circumnavigate the dramatic Tuff crater island of Daphne Major

  • Traverse the coast of one of the archipelago's oldest islands, Santa Cruz

  • Learn about the critical conservation work being carried out on and around the islands


Join us on a once-in-a-lifetime swimming holiday in one of the most breathtaking locations on the planet: the Galapagos Islands! Lying on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean, this vast volcanic archipelago is home to an abundance of plant and animal species not found anywhere else on earth.

With its incredible level of biodiversity, the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve form part of a truly fascinating corner of the natural world. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835 and from his observations developed the Origin of Species.

This trip is a real wildlife exploration both above and below the water, as we swim in crater rims, around isolated islands and across beautiful bays. If you love the idea of getting up close and personal with stunning wildlife then this trip is for you!


Who is this trip for?

Think of this trip as a combination of exploration, observation and swimming. The trip is ideal for the swimmer who is as keen to explore remote volcanic coastlines as to tread water and view exotic wildlife above and below the water. Although swim locations and distances are provided, these are subject to change, depending on the weather and any changes issued by the National Park authorities.


What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in Galapagos Islands with full safety escort and support boats
  • Full permissions for open water swimming supplied by the Galapagos National Park
  • Two SwimTrek guides and two experienced local boat pilots
  • The trip is continually accompanied by Galapagos National Park Guides who can give in depth information on the archipelago and its wildlife
  • Six nights accommodation (3 nights on Santa Cruz & 3 nights on Isabella islands)
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • Transfers to and from the airport at the start and end of your trip
  • Transfers between Santa Cruz & Isabella islands on Days 4 and 7

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Galapagos National Park entrance fee (US$100 per person)
  • INGALA Transit Control Card (US$20 per person)
  • Evening meals
  • Gratuities for local guides and boat pilots

Day 1

You will be taken to the Highlands, which offer a lush contrast to the beaches and arid lowlands that we’ll experience for the rest of the trip. We get a chance to check out the celebrated Giant Galapagos Tortoise roaming in its natural habitat.

After lunch at Rancho Primicias, we travel to the south of the island and our base for the first three days at Puerto Ayora, which is at the centre of the Galapagos Islands conservation efforts. After time to rest and relax, we meet for an acclimatisation swim on the shore of Academy Bay, which gives us an opportunity to become familiar with the local conditions.

Day 2

We travel to the islands of Daphne Major & Minor, situated north of Santa Cruz. Our first swim is to Daphne Island, which is a classic example of a tuff crater, jutting 120m out of the sea. This island is home to a variety of Galapagos birdlife, including Blue Footed Boobies, Frigate and Tropic Birds, to name a few. We carry out a full circumnavigation swim around the island. The underwater topography here is both diverse and spectacular.

After a good lunch onboard our support boat we travel to Daphne Minor, also a centre of scientific research. The waters are home to countless invertebrates and pelagics. We carry out another circumnavigation of its coastline. ​

Day 3

After breakfast at the hotel we travel by boat to Santa Fe Island. Located southwest of Santa Cruz, this is one of the oldest islands in the whole Galapagos archipelago and a real favourite for swimmers. While we are unable to land, we do swim along its dramatic coastline with its numerous blowholes, sea caves and protected bays. Colonies of Californian sea lions and Barrington land iguanas roam the island.

The morning swim is a coastal along the dramatic west coast. Lunch is taken at the stunning Santa Fe Bay with its resident Sea Lion colony. In the afternoon we swim out from the Bay and head east along cliff ledges filled with frigate birds and seals.

Day 4

We journey to the isolated island of Pinzon, which marks the geographic centre of the Galapagos Islands. Our first swim is a snorkel in a small cove which is home to vast numbers of sea lions and marine iguanas. It is a fantastic experience to swim with them. From here we head out and go clockwise around Pinzon taking in other bays and coves. Pinzon is home to its own species of Giant Tortoise and you may see these as you swim along the coast.

The afternoon is given over to transferring by boat to the island of Isabela. It’s a fabulous sea journey, from which we can see the whole Galapagos island group laid out in front of us. The peak of Volcan Wolf (1,707m) on Isabela is clearly visible.

Our hotel is located directly on a sandy beach, so there is plenty of opportunity to take a swim on arrival before heading out for dinner in the nearby town of Puerto Villamil.

Day 5

Today is a real highlight of the trip as we venture to Isabela’s south side and the desolate island of Tortuga, whose crater rim is the only remnant of a collapsed volcano. The island is a nesting site for a large variety of seabirds including frigate birds and the elusive red-billed tropicbird, as well as being a sanctuary for sea lions and marine iguanas. The sides of the volcano crater create a protected natural cove. The day is broken into 2 swims, the first on the inside of the crater and the second on the outside edge. It really is a swimming experience quite unlike any other.

After time to check into our new hotel and lunch in Puerto Villamil, we head out on our support boats to Los 4 Hermanos, a group of rocky islands with stunning underwater vistas. The uncommon Galapagos Fur Seal can be seen lying on ledges. The swim here in the island group features caves and tunnels with starfish and sea urchins lining the cliff edge walls. Tropical fish abound during our traverse. There are also good opportunities to see white tipped reef sharks, Californian sea lions and sea tortoises.

Day 6

After breakfast we head out on our support boats to Los Cuatro Hermanos (Four Brothers), a group of rocky islands rising out of the Pacific Ocean off Isabella’s East coast. They feature stunning underwater vistas and definitely offer some of the archipelago's more adventurous swims. The uncommon Galapagos Fur Seal can be seen lying on ledges. The swim here feature caves and tunnels with starfish and sea urchins lining the cliff edge walls. Tropical fish abound during our traverse and the islands are well known for its local Manta Ray population. There are also good opportunities to see white tipped reef sharks, Californian sea lions and sea tortoises.

During the day there is an opportunity to snorkel, as well as swim, as the sea floor is so varied and flourishing with life. We may find ourselves staring at penguins or face-to-face with the most playful and delightful Galapagos native, the sea lion. The emerald waters abound with marine life including the internationally-renowned Galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies. Sea turtles are also common residents of this area. It’s a wonderful way to bring to an end this week of swimming and exploring in the Galapagos Islands.

Day 7

For those departing the Galapagos today, there is an early morning transfer boat back to Santa Cruz which connects with our transfer bus back to Baltra Airport arriving at the airport by 1030. Your trip may be over but your memories will undoubtedly last a lifetime!

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Baltra Airport, Baltra Island, Galapagos (Airport code: GPS)

Start Time: 12:30 on Day 1

Finish Point: Baltra Airport, Baltra Island, Galapagos (Airport code: GPS)

Finish Time: 10.30 on Day 7

Trip Information

Equipment to bring along with you

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item
Swimming Costume x 2
Swimming Goggles x 2*
Small Daypack
Sun Hat and Sunglasses
Towel
Walking Shoes / Sandals
Waterproof Sun Cream (high SPF)
Sweater / Fleece / Waterproof Jacket
Sea sickness tablets (if susceptible)
Waterproof camera
Aqua Shoes / Sandals
Rash Vest**

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

**Due to the archipelago’s location on the equator, the sun can be very strong and we strongly advise that you bring a rash vest with you

Swim Hats, Flippers, Rashvests and Water Bottles

SwimTrek will supply swim hats. We will have a limited supply/range of flippers, rash vests and wetsuits available on the trip, but we cannot guarantee sizes for all. If you have your own flippers, rash vest and wetsuit we recommend that you bring these with you to maximise your enjoyment of the trip. Please note that SwimTrek will provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along.

Snorkel Equipment

Our boat partners in the Galapagos Islands will carry a limited range of snorkel equipment which can be used by our guests, however, if you have your own mask, snorkel, etc., that you’d like to use, please feel free to bring this along with you.

Swimming Distances

This tour is different within SwimTrek because of the regulations set by the Galapagos National Park. For conservation reasons, the amount of time we are allowed in the water will sometimes determine our swims rather than what is listed below. Due to the unique nature of this tour and the abundance of wildlife, we will undoubtedly be stopping to look at marine life which may affect the distances swum. As a rough guide, we plan to undertake the following swims:

Swim Distances
Daphne Major Circumnavigation 2½km
Daphne Minor Circumnavigation 1km
Santa Fe West Coast 3km
Santa Fe North Coast 2km
Pinzon 2½km
Isla Tortuga (Inner Rim) 3km
Isla Tortuga (Outer Rim) 1½km
Hermano Mayor (Big Brother) 3½km
Hermanito (Little Brother) 1½km

Swimming Conditions

The Galapagos Islands is one of the most diversified ecosystems anywhere on earth. The variety of sea life is staggering, with sea lions, sea turtles and penguins to name but a few. Swimming in the Galapagos will be a memorable and fantastic experience, however you need to be aware that certain marine life such as jellyfish, sharks, sea urchins and coral could be present during the swims. All of our swims are carried out under the approval of the Galapagos National Park, who control the areas from where we can operate. In the areas that we swim, there is a long history of snorkelling/swimming, so sea life is used to human interaction. If you suffer from anaphylaxis please consult the office prior to booking.

Walking Distances

The walks on this trip take place on footpaths and unsealed trails, as well as more challenging terrain, such as lava. We advise that appropriate walking shoes are worn for all walks. Please note that you can opt to stay on the boat rather than participating in walks, if you wish.

Temperatures

Month Water Temp* Air Temp*
February 25˚C / 77˚F 27˚C / 81˚F
March 25˚C / 77˚F 28˚C / 82˚F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Ecological Awareness

SwimTrek is conscious of the importance of protecting the world’s natural wonders. We are acutely aware of our responsibility to not only take care of the natural environments which we are lucky enough to explore, but also to educate our guests about the importance of conservation efforts and responsible tourism. It’s for this reason that we have worked so closely with our partners in the Galapagos Islands to ensure that our trips are conducted in as responsible and sustainable way as possible. The rules surrounding where we swim, how long we are in the water for, and how we behave during our time on the islands are extremely strict and rigorously enforced and we work tirelessly to minimise the impact of our presence on local marine life and the natural habitat.

Group Size

This trip has a maximum group size of 15 people with two swim guides and a boat crew. The trip will be split into a maximum of two groups based on speed, each of which will be accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort.

Getting There

To get to the Galapagos Islands you must fly into Baltra Airport (airport code: GPS). Please be aware that in in order to get to Baltra Airport, you will need to transit through either Quito or Guayaquil, which, due to arrival and departure times, often requires an overnight stop. It is also worth mentioning that there is a limit of 20kg for checked luggage (per person) on the flight to Baltra.

We recommend getting quotes from several different flight specialists as there are many different routes to the Galapagos and you may decide to stop en-route somewhere. Please keep in mind the start and finish times of the tour when booking your flights and the transfer times.

Flights from the U.S.

Flights to Quito and Guayaquil are available from most major U.S. cities, however please be aware that these may include a stopover in other cities, before catching a connecting flight.

Flights from the U.K.

Flights include KLM (via Amsterdam) and Iberia (via Madrid). Other routes include stopovers in U.S. cities such as Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, etc. When travelling via the U.S., please ensure that you leave enough time between connecting flights and you meet US visa entry requirements (e.g. ESTA)

Flights from Europe

There are direct services to Quito from Amsterdam (KLM) and Madrid (Iberia), as well as indirect flights from other major European cities. Again, if you are planning to travel through the U.S., please keep in mind transit times at airports and ensure that you leave enough time between connecting flights.

Flights from Quito/Guayaquil to Baltra

Once you arrive in either Quito or Guayaquil, there are several airlines which operate flights to Baltra airport. These airlines include Tame, Avianca and LATAM, who all operate morning flights to Baltra which arrive in time to catch the transfer below.

Arrival and Departure Information

Arrival Information

If your flight arrives before 12:30 on Day 1 of the trip, the following applies:

Upon landing at Baltra Airport, you will be met by a VIP team member, who will have a SwimTrek sign, to escort you to the VIP lounge. Here you will have access to bathrooms, refreshments and comfortable seating. You will need to provide the VIP staff your passports, the US$100 entrance fee and the luggage stub you will have received upon your earlier check in for your flight to Baltra. The staff will then collect your luggage and process all of the passport and entrance paperwork whilst you relax in the lounge. Once the last guests (whose flights are due to land before 12:30) have arrived, you will be escorted to a private van which will take you across Baltra Island (approx. 10 mins) to the Itabaca Canal. You'll then take a short boat trip (approx. 5 mins) across to Santa Cruz. From there, you'll have a 25-minute bus ride to the Highlands tour.

If your flight arrives after 12:30 on Day 1:

Upon landing at Baltra Airport, you will be met by a VIP team member, who will have a SwimTrek sign. You will need to provide the VIP staff your passports, the US$100 entrance fee and the luggage stub you will have received upon your earlier check in for your flight to Baltra. The staff will then collect your luggage and process all of the passport and entrance paperwork. The VIP team will organise a taxi for you, at a cost of US$40 for up to four people, to either transport you to the Highlands tour or directly to the hotel. Please note that the Highlands tour will run from approximately 14:00 - 16:00 and you should allow up to two hours from the time that your flight lands to get to the Highlands tour or the hotel.

Departure Information

Applicable for all trips, except the 3rd - 9th March 2018

On the last day of the trip, a SwimTrek boat will depart from Isabela at approx. 06:30. This boat will take approximately two hours to reach Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz (this is where the Posada del Mar Hotel is located). From here, it will take approximately 1.5 hours to then reach the airport, by boat and van. The approximate arrival time is 10:00, however, this may vary by up to 30 minutes either way, depending on sea conditions, connections etc. Guest should not plan to be at the airport any earlier than 10:30.

It is recommended that guests arrive at the airport at least two hours before their flight in order to check in and reach their departure gate in time. With this in mind, we recommend that guests book their outbound flights for 12:30 or later.

If anyone has booked an earlier flight, there is the option to catch a boat which leaves Isabela at 06:00 and arrives at the airport at approximately 09:30. Again, this may vary by up to 30 minutes either way, depending on sea conditions, connections etc. Any guests who choose this option would need to cover the cost of their own travel, which would be $40 per person for the boat transfer and $40 for up to four people for the taxi transfer across Santra Cruz.

3rd - 9th March Trip Only

On the last day of the trip, a SwimTrek boat will depart from Isabela at approx. 06:00. This boat will take approximately two hours to reach Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz (this is where the Posada del Mar Hotel is located). From here, it will take approximately 1.5 hours to then reach the airport, by boat and van. The approximate arrival time is 09:30, however, this may vary by up to 30 minutes either way, depending on sea conditions, connections etc. Guest should not plan to be at the airport any earlier than 10:00.

It is recommended that guests arrive at the airport at least two hours before their flight in order to check in and reach their departure gate in time. With this in mind, we recommend that guests book their outbound flights for 12:00 or later.

Practical Information

Payment Terms

Due to the unique nature of this trip, our payment terms vary slightly from other SwimTrek adventures. The payment terms and conditions for our Galapagos Islands trips are as follows:

Payment Type Due Date Amount Due
Trip Deposit At time of booking 25% of trip price
Final Balance 120 days prior to departure Outstanding balance

Accommodation

Due to the large distances between the islands, we stay at two different hotels during our trip; the Posada del Mar on Santa Cruz Island and the Casa de Marita on Isabela Island. The accommodation is simple, local-style and all rooms are based on twin share with en suite facilities. Single Supplements are available, however please be aware that these are limited and may sell out quickly. We offer an option to upgrade from the Standard rooms to the more spacious Superior rooms.

Extended Stay

If you require additional nights accommodation before or after the tour, this can be arranged through our local agent. Please contact the SwimTrek office if you would like to book extra nights.

Meals

All breakfasts are included on the trip, as well as all lunches on Days 1 - 6. Dinners are not included, giving you the opportunity to decide when and where you would like to dine. To help with budgeting, dinners range from $25-$35 for set menus or buffets. Soft drinks are $1-$2 and beers are $2-$4. Please note that some restaurants may not accept payment by credit card so we recommend that you take some cash with you for these occasions.

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover items such as dinners, entertainment, shopping etc. The local currency is U.S. dollars and cash bills should be in good condition and small denominations, it is often be difficult to change $100 and $50 bills on the islands. There are ATMs on Santa Cruz Island and at the Baltra airport, however there are no ATMs on Isabela Island. You can exchange money at the Quito or Guayaquil airport before boarding your flight to the Galapagos.

All people entering the Galapagos Islands must purchase an INGALA Transit Control Card from the Consejo de Gobierno in Quito or Guayaquil airport before departing for Galapagos. The price of this card is US$20 and must be paid in cash at the INGALA window prior to checking in for your flight.

Upon arrival at Baltra Airport, a $100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee per person must be paid in cash as you pass through immigration. This money is used to conserve and restore the land, water, and animal populations, and to educate the human population about conservation. Please note that this fee must be paid before you reach the area of the airport where ATMs are available, so you will need to bring this cash with you on your flight.

Tipping

Gratuities for the local guides and boat crew are purely voluntary but always welcome. For those who are inclined to tip, an amount of $5-$10 per person per day for the local guide is suggested, with smaller amounts for boat crew and drivers.

Passports and Visas

Visitors to the Galapagos Islands require a full passport that should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Most nationalities, including citizens of the European Union, U.S. and Canada, do not require a visa to enter Ecuador (unless the expected length of stay is longer than 90 days in one year), however please check your own situation and be aware that visa regulations do change.

Travel Insurance

As well as covering open water swimming, your travel insurance must also cover emergency medical evacuation. This is due to the fact that access to medical treatment on the islands is limited and there is only an emergency helicopter service between islands. For further information about travel insurance, please visit our Travel Insurance page.

Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit www.travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Tap Water

Due to the quality of the drinking water, we recommend that you only drink bottled water whilst in the Galapagos. You should also use bottled water to brush your teeth.

  • Sealions, penguins, rays, mantas, turtles, tortoises, pelicans, iguanas....and then there's the swimming! Treat yourself to this trip. It will enrich your life.

    Aedín C. CHE- 2017
  • Swimming in the Galápagos Islands is a dream come true - it is a magical trip and the wildlife is extraordinary. I overcame my fear of swimming with rays and saw a manta ray as big as the boat and loved the adventure. The wildlife was mesmerising and having sea lions, pelicans and penguins swimming with you is truly unforgettable....it has to be top of every swimmer's bucket list - thanks so much to Kelly, Marlys and Fernando, all the boat crews and Chad and the office team!

    Tan L. UK- 2017
  • Extremely well organized and thoughtfully choreographed swims in exotic locations all over the world.

    Elizabeth R. USA- 2017
  • Life enhancing swims with the creatures of another world

    Rebecca. UK- 2017
  • SwimTrek Galapagos, the ultimate in safari swimming.

    Andrew R. UK- 2017
  • An extraordinary experience: gorgeous setting, intimate contact with sea life including sea lions, iguanas, turtles, birds and fish, terrific Swim Trek staff and wonderful travelling companions. A perfect journey.

    Lois D. USA- 2017
  • A wonderful, unique week of swimming amongst abundant sea-life.

    Joseph C. China- 2017
  • Galapagos, unbeatable!

    Debbie C.UK- 2017
  • Where, in the course of just one swim, can you see hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, giant manta rays and sea turtles? Simply awesome!

    Gary, E.USA- 2017
  • Galapagos Archipelago is an amazing sea swimming experience... just WOW,

    Ellery M, UK- 2017
  • It is a very special place to swim and I feel privileged to have been able to experience it. A fantastic itinerary made amazing by flawless logistics and world class guides. Once-in-a-lifetime experience!

    Lucy, B- UK-2017
  • The Galapagos are magical. On every swim, we told our guide, "Wow, that was the best swim yet!"

    JP, H. USA- 2017
  • Truly the trip of a lifetime! You have surpassed yourselves!!

    Andy, L- UK, 2017
  • This trip was very special due to the exotic sea life .The sea lions seemed to enjoy our company as much as we did theirs.

    Ann B, UK-2017
  • Just amazing! Everytime I thought a day couldn't get any better..... it did!! So buzzing .... I nearly bubbled over!

    Jill C, UK-2017

Enter guest details to see which departures can accommodate your party:

Dates Availability Price From
20 Jan -
26 Jan, 2018
Trip Full
27 Jan -
02 Feb, 2018
Trip Full
03 Feb -
09 Feb, 2018
Trip Full
10 Feb -
16 Feb, 2018
Trip Full
17 Feb -
23 Feb, 2018
Trip Full
24 Feb -
02 Mar, 2018
Trip Full
03 Mar -
09 Mar, 2018
Trip Full
10 Mar -
16 Mar, 2018
Trip Full

Accommodation

La casa de marita small
Posada del Mar & Casa de Marita

During this trip we stay at both Posada del Mar and Casa de Marita. Posada del Mar offers simple accommodation in Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz, while Casa de Marita is a wonderful hotel which is surrounded by white, sandy beaches and turquoise seas on Isabela Island.