Craving an adventure? Dreaming of a week packed with stunning nature and wonderful wildlife? The Galapagos Islands is the destination for you. The rugged Galapagos Islands are volcanic and their coastlines are unmatched; like nowhere else in the world. Perfect for hikes and walking adventures, Ecuador’s famous archipelago is calling all adventurers. Read on to learn a little about hiking in the Galapagos Islands.
Hiking in the Galapagos Islands
Mingling with the seals and admiring otherworld landscapes is all to be expected during a trip to the Galapagos. You will never run out of hills and peaks, beaches and coastlines to explore when you visit the Galapagos Islands. And what better way to experience it all than on two feet?
Hiking trails are found across the Galápagos Islands. Whether you decide to explore the islands with the help of cruise or you opt for a land-based tour, you will certainly have enough opportunities for walking. Many of the hiking trails in the Galapagos Islands involve gentle wandering across coastal trails and volcanic environments. Meanwhile, others are slightly more challenging. One thing is for sure however – all hiking trails in the Galapagos Islands involve sightings of fabulous wildlife.
The best hiking trails in the Galapagos Islands
Whether it’s guided walks, short strolls or challenging hikes you’re looking for, hiking in the Galapagos Islands always makes for an incredible experience. In this article, learn a little about exploring the archipelago on two feet and plan your upcoming adventure. We can’t wait to see you!
Sierra Negra Volcano
Length: around 10km
Perhaps the most famous hike in the Galapagos is the trail to Sierra Negra Volcano. The biggest of the six on Isabela Island and with the largest caldera in the entire Southern Hemisphere, this volcano is certainly one not to miss. The best way to see Sierra Negra Volcano is to hike and explore the area on two feet. Sierra Negra volcano is pretty tall (around 1490m) and as you climb to the top, the temperature drops and clouds shift to reveal incredible views of the volcano. You’ll also capture panoramic vistas of the sweeping island below. The trail at Sierra Negra is just short of 10km in total and the initial climb is somewhat steep. However, once you reach flatter terrain around the rim, the trail is much easier to manage. Expect lava, cactuses and amazing formations created by old lava flows. This is a hike not to miss and an experience you’ll never forget!
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Length: 3.5km loop
Generally considered an easy route, Cerro Dragon (or Dragon Hill) is an amazing hike in the Galapagos Islands, located on the north-western side of Santa Cruz Island. The Cerro Dragon trail goes through a number of different environments and takes less than an hour to complete. It’s unlikely you’ll see many people as you wander, because this short trail is actually not well known! In particular, lovers of nature will love this trail for its great access to iguana habitats. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see some of these great creatures as they go about their days. In fact, the walk itself leads through dry-zone vegetation to a small hill where lots of iguanas live.
Length: 3km each way
Tortuga Bay is a famous Galapagos attraction located on the Santa Cruz Island. Only 20-minutes by water-taxi from the main water taxi dock in Puerto Ayora, it’s easy to get here and it’s totally worth the trip. Those looking for a close up experience with giant tortoises will want to pay a visit to Tortuga Bay, where depending on the season, you’ll see a number of the impressive creatures. Take the well-made hiking trail from the southwest edge of the town. The 3km walk to the stunning white sands of Tortuga Bay will take you about an hour. Passing scrubby forest, your walk will eventually bring you to a sparkling lagoon where swimming and snorkelling is highly encouraged! Whilst you kick back at Tortuga Bay, look out for flamingos, finches, iguanas, pelicans, blue-footed boobies and Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
Wall of Tears
Length: 13km there and back
For those who enjoy a more substantial walk, the hike on Isabela Island to the Wall of Tears is ideal. Not only will you find a little piece of Galapagos Island history as you walk, but you’ll come across beautiful scenery and wildlife on the way. Generally considered moderate to challenging, you should expect to complete this walk in three to four hours.
The Wall of Tears is a historical site which tells a tragic story of prisoners. When Ecuadorian jails filled up after WWII, more space was needed. The Galapagos Islands became the location of choice and soon prisoners were sent to the islands. Prisoners here were forced to construct the wall for no reason other than for punishment and for ‘hard labour’. In some places, the wall is a whopping 20ft tall and 10ft wide. It runs for 300ft! Whilst the cruel Wall of Tears isn’t exactly an uplifting site, it is an interesting one. For those less interested in history, The Wall of Tears walk also reveals some of Isabela Island’s best nature. Halfway along, the walking trail follows the coastline of a white sand beach dotted with lagoons. Native mangroves can also be spotted here.
Looking for some accommodation on Isabela Island? Check out Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge.
Cerro Tijeretas (known in English as Frigate hill)
Length: around 3km there and back
Another excellent choice when it comes to hiking in the Galapagos Islands, is Cerro Tijeretas on San Cristobal island. The island is one of the oldest of the Galapagos and it is the second most populated in the archipelago after Santa Cruz. The main town – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno – is in fact the capital of the province of Galapagos! If you have enough time, you should certainly add this to your list. The hike here – known in English as Frigate Hill – is a great option for those who are looking for independent travel and adventure.
Begin this hike at the Charles Darwin Interpretation Centre on the edge of town. All you have to do to get there, is follow the waterfront heading north. Once you pass the beach, you’ll get to the Interpretation Centre. One of the best things about embarking on this short walk are the views of Kicker Rock, Shipwreck Bay out to sea and Darwin’s cove below. There are plenty of opportunities to look out for turtles, sea lions and other creatures in the beautiful water too. Just remember that the walk to Cerro Tijeretas is an uphill one and perhaps not the best option for a hot day. Climbing a staircase here, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to have a quick break and take some great snaps!
Length: 1.5km there and back
What better way to enjoy Bartolome Island than to walk to the top! With amazing views of Pinnacle Rock below, this is the perfect short walk for the bucket list traveller. As one of the most photographed scenes in the Galapagos Island, the view down to Pinnacle Rock is absolutely worth finding! The walk at Bartolome Island starts with a slight incline amongst an otherworldly brown landscape. Then, a steeper path begins. After only 30 minutes, you’ll reach the top and will be able to capture incredible shots of the Galapagos’ famous rock. Daphne Major, Daphne Mindor and the rest of Santiago Island will also be in view.
Where to stay during a trip to the Galapagos Islands
Ready to book your trip? Excited about hiking in the Galapagos Islands? You’ll need somewhere to stay. Built with sustainability in mind, and customer service at its heart, Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge is the place to stay for families, couples and anyone looking for a home from home on Isabela Island.
“Manany was an incredible host. As a woman traveling abroad alone, I felt safe, and comfortable in this lovely environment. I stayed for 7 nights, participating in tours each day. Manany was awesome at assisting me with communication and transportation on several occasions. She took the time to recommend dining options, grocery locations, anything that I needed. My studio at the Ecolodge was super clean, and nicely decorated. I had use of a bike which made trips to town easy. The short walk to Concha de Perla for snorkeling was really great too. I highly recommend!”
For more information or to book your stay, click here.