Lava Tunnel, 1 hour.
The Royal Palm sits in a valley between two extinct, cinder cone volcanoes; our estate has 9 different areas of geological interest including craters, superficial lava tunnels, multi-chambered tunnels, sink holes, craters, collapses and of course our main lava tunnel which is an 800- meter / 0.4 miles walk underground through a 1½ million years of natural structure formed by rivers of fast flowing (1800°c / 3300°f) liquid lava. A walk through these tunnels will take you on an exciting journey back in time to the very formation of these volcanic islands.
Just five minute’s ride from the reception, the Hotel Lava Tunnel, discovered in 1974 is the largest and interesting of any lava tunnel found on Santa Cruz. You descend through a collapse in the roof of this cavernous formation and follow 600 meters of illuminated trail that leads you through a labyrinth of different tunnels over specially constructed bridges and stairways. You will encounter different minerals, pyroclastic flows, mineralizations of different compounds, five different types of stalactites, cave-adapted vegetal life forms and sweet water pools. These all lead to a spectacular exit through a natural vent in the roof. … this really is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie! Back up on top, we finish our walk at the Barn Owl hideout for a visit! Our experienced Naturalist Guide will share a lot of environmental information and history about the Royal Palm Estate.
This is an accompanied tour either with a naturalist guide or with a member of the hotel staff. The tour is suitable for anyone with reasonable level of fitness. Non-slip walking shoes are essential.
Includes: Guide, flashlights and safety helmets
Entrance Fee: Adults $6.10 / Children $3.05
Naturalist Guide prices: From $110 per guest (minimum of 2 guests)
(subject to change)
Nature Trails on the estate
Did you know that the hotel and villas only take up 4% of the Estate! That leaves a whopping 463 acres of natural habitat for you to explore! No wonder we are so pro-nature at the Royal Palm - we share our space with 3 endangered species: - Miconia Plants, the Galapagos Crake and the Galapagos Petrel.
Here is an example of just one of our nature trails!
You depart from the Royal Palm Restaurant Terrace, which overlooks our stunning private estate positioned between the Miconia and Fern micro-climate zones. Our Miconia Walk, unique in Santa Cruz, is a 20-minute trail, where you will find Miconia Robinosniana - an endangered plant, in its natural habitat. There are several introduced species such as Mossy trees of Guaba, Guava, Quinine, Shrubs of Ginger, Wild Blackberry, Elephant Grass and lots of colorful Impatience flowers and Koleos. The Miconia Forests are the preferred nesting habitat for the Galapagos Crake – another highly endangered species. Throughout the year, you can see an abundance of birds that live in these forests including Short-Eared Owls and Barn Owls, Cattle Egrets, Galapagos Petrel, Groved Bill Ani, White Chick Pin-tailed Duck, Vermilion Flycatchers, Yellow Crowned Warblers and various Darwin Finches.
Pick up a map from reception and enjoy the adventure!
This is a free activity for Royal Palm and Villa Escalesia guests
Save the Miconia
MICONIA is an endemic shrub found only in the highlands Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands in the Galapagos archipelago which is their only natural habitat. Its full scientific name is Miconia Robinsoniana and it grows to heights of 3-4 meters at altitudes of between 500 - 700 meters above sea level. Through-out the year, Miconias oscillate between a green color in the hotter months and they turn slightly reddish in the humid and rainy seasons.
Miconias are from the Asteraceae family and their local name is “Cacaotillo” due to the resemblance of its leaves with Cocoa husks! The leaves have red stalks and a distinctive parallel venation. The flower heads are composed of small purple petals on long white stalks. The fruit that grows on top of these flowers is shiny, purple colored and sweet “Miconia Berries”. There are 7 micro-climates on Santa Cruz and the Miconia Zone gets its name from the dense, mostly treeless heath of Miconia Robinsoniana shrubs, benefiting from high levels of rainfall. The Miconia Forests are the preferred nesting habitat for the Galapagos Crake (1.) - another highly endangered species. Other birds that live in these forests are Short-Eared Owls, Yellow Crowned Warblers (2.), Galapagos Fly Catchers(3.), and various Darwin Finches.
Since 2007, The Royal Palm Hotel has pioneered a reforestation program for this specie, which today can be found in our gardens, on the verges by the main roads and along our nature trails which meander deep into the heart of the Miconia Highland Forests on our Estate. The Miconia is endangered and is considered by scientists to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Now you can play a part in the future of this unique eco-system by planting your very own tree! You will have the chance to meet one of our Galapagos National Park team experts who will explain how your contribution will help the future of the Santa Cruz Highlands. It takes less than 30 minutes and they will help you to plant your Miconia Robinsoniana! The cost of the activity is $30 per person and this money goes towards getting rid of invasive and introduced species from the areas for reforestation. It also pays for the compost and fertilizer needed to prepare the ground for planting. Each year, The Galapagos National Park cultivates 2,000 Miconia plants from seedlings in their greenhouses which are our future forests!
Recently, we have experienced the worst drought conditions for decades; this threatens the Miconia’s existence even more, as they perish without sufficient rainfall and water. So now, more than ever before, we are asking for your participation and help.
None of this is possible without your help and support, so thank you!
Group bookings welcome; please contact us on [email protected]