Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands is an entirely different world. The islands are famous for their incredible diversity of wildlife that has become Charles Darwin’s inspiration for the Theory of Evolution. And while most visitors would come here to cruise, the Galapagos is also an ideal destination for hiking. The Galapagos National Park has a network of hiking trails taking you to high vistas, with surreal landscapes and incredible wildlife encounters.
So, here are the hiking destinations to try in the Galapagos.
1. Isabela Island
Isabela is a gorgeous island home to fascinating wildlife, such as blue-footed boobies, pink flamingos, and marine iguanas. You’ll also find long stretches of beautiful beaches on the island, making it a great place to enjoy a scenic hike in the Galapagos.
One of the most amazing areas to hike around Isabela Island is the Sierra Negra Volcano. It’s one of the active volcanos in the archipelago and a great hiking spot for those who don’t mind walking along rocky terrains. Reaching the caldera requires hiking three to four kilometres. As you get closer to the volcano’s rim, you’ll find the mesmerising view of the caldera, which last erupted in 2005. You’ll still see the remnants of the last eruption through the craters and lava fields below.
After hiking the Sierra Negra Volcano, it’s worth venturing into the remote northern tip of the island, where you’ll find Albemarle Point, the highest point of the island and home to some unique and endangered wildlife species, including the flightless cormorants and marine iguanas. You can also admire the magnificent Pahoehoe lava flows from here, a naturally solidified lava with wavy forms.
2. San Cristobal Island
San Cristobal is the most tranquil of all the main islands that make up the Galapagos. It has that laid-back vibe you would expect from an island smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For avid hikers, San Cristobal is a delight to explore, especially as it involves insane wildlife encounters. During your hike, you could meet giant tortoises and sea lions hanging out by the shore.
San Cristobal has many exciting hiking trails. One of these trails takes you to the top of a lovely beach called Muelle Tijeretas, where you can enjoy birdwatching. Here, you’ll find great frigates and a variety of boobies species, including the blue-footed and red-footed boobies. San Cristobal is the oldest of all the other islands in the Galapagos, making it an exciting place to explore. It’s a popular spot for hikers and wildlife enthusiasts, given the number of outdoor activities to enjoy here. Aside from hiking, you can enjoy snorkelling, kayaking, and more.
Most of the hiking trails in San Cristobal are easy. Not only that, but the views along these trails are impressive. Some of the best places to enjoy hiking in San Cristobal are Lobos Island, Cerro Brujo, and Pitt Point. You can conquer all three trails, but make sure you come prepared.
3. Santa Cruz Island
The island of Santa Cruz is where most tourists would base themselves on a trip to the Galapagos. It has beautiful lagoons and sandy beaches, home to marine iguanas and giant tortoises. When touring the Galapagos islands, you must look into Tortuga Bay, a lovely beach with a walking trail taking you to lush forests with exotic cactuses.
One of the most popular hikes in Santa Cruz takes you to Cerro Dragon, a lovely hill famous for its abundance of birds and iguanas. The area can only be reached on foot, although it’s also possible to get there by boat. When hiking to Cerro Dragon, the trail will begin at a beach before looping around a hill, where you can stop to admire the breathtaking views before returning to the coast.
Another trail you can walk in Santa Cruz is the one that takes you to the three peaks of Puntudo, Media Luna, and Cerro Crocker. It begins in Bellavista and will then take you through the highlands passing through lush forests before reaching the peak of Media Luna. Head left to get to Puntudo, or head right, for Cerro Crocker.
4. Santa Fe Island
Visit Santa Fe Island if you’re looking for more exciting hikes. The trails on the island consist of steep ravines and rocky paths and are more suitable for experienced hikers. What’s more interesting is that the island is home to unique wildlife, with an abundant population of land iguanas.
You can hike on two different hiking trails on the island. One follows a coastal path, where you’ll come across sea lions and meanders through cacti plantations. The other trail takes you to a steep incline, ending on top of a cliff overlooking Santa Fe’s interior, including the turquoise blue waters of the ocean underneath.
As you hike, keep your eyes peeled on the yellow land iguanas, endemic to the island. You will usually see them feeding on cacti along the trail. Aside from the iguanas, you could also come across the reclusive tortoises. Avid birders will be delighted to spot unique bird species on their hike of Santa Fe, which include the golden hawks, which tend to hover above the ocean.
5. Bartolome Island
Just like Isabela Island, the hiking trails of Bartolome Island are also volcanic. However, unlike Sierra Negra, which erupted in 2005, the volcano in Bartolome Island has not erupted since it’s now considered extinct.
Bartolome Island is also famous for Sullivan Bay, home to a gorgeous beach visited by many tourists during their Galapagos cruise. While at the beach, visitors can walk into a wooden path and staircase that will take them to a lookout that opens to the stunning views of the bay, including the Pinnacle Rock and the barren landscape surrounding it.
The path towards the lookout is steep, cutting through lava fields and into unique land formations resulting from volcanic eruptions that last took place in 1904. Walking through the lava fields is a truly unique experience.