Galapagos Wildlife Spectacular

The tame and spectacular wildlife of Galapagos is a photographer's dream. Here, a pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds preen, the male showing-off its amazing plumage (Mark Beaman)

The tame and spectacular wildlife of Galapagos is a photographer's dream. Here, a pair of Magnificent Frigatebirds preen, the male showing-off its amazing plumage (Mark Beaman)


Tuesday 22nd May - Sunday 3rd June 2018
(13 days)

Ecuadorian Andes Extension: Tuesday 3rd June – Sunday 8th June (6 days)
Leaders: Mike Watson and a local naturalist guide
Group Size Limit: 15


The Galapagos archipelago is special for the naturalist in many ways. It has one of the highest rates of endemism of any island group in the world and harbours many unique creatures, including several forms of giant tortoise, the strange Marine Iguana and no less than 29 endemic species of birds, plus a series of near-endemics and breeding endemics. It is largely unspoilt by development, its ecology has not been extensively disrupted or even destroyed by harmful introductions of alien species and it is renowned for the total fearlessness of its wildlife, allowing extremely close yet harmless approach. Moreover, it is a starkly beautiful group of islands.

The islands are also justly famous as the birthplace of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution through natural selection and the inspiration for his book The Origin of Species, formulated after his visit over 170 years ago. This world in microcosm is situated on the Equator some 1000km (600 miles) out into the Pacific Ocean off Ecuador. Here Darwin found a raw, active volcanic world that was geologically young and had never been joined to the continents. He found it inhabited by a strange, almost random, selection of plants, reptiles, birds and mammals – all of which had apparently reached the islands by chance and were in the process of ‘coming to terms’ with their new-found environment, slowly evolving into new species that would be adapted to an often harsh and demanding habitat.

Thanks to the isolation of the archipelago, its general inhospitability to man and the generations of zoologists who followed Darwin and made the world aware of the unique phenomenon that is the Galapagos, many of the islands can still be seen in a fairly similar condition to that which Darwin viewed them in 1835. Although depredations by whalers, sealers, settlers and passing mariners took their toll of wildlife in the past, the Ecuadorian government declared most of the 8000 square kilometres (nearly 3100 square miles) of the archipelago, which consists of over 50 islands, a national park in 1959. It is now carefully protected as one of the most precious of the world’s natural showpieces.

On some of the flatter islands, recent lava flows, some smooth and rope-like, others jagged and clinker-like, still await their first covering of vegetation, while older flows nearby are already thick with cacti, spiky shrubbery and white-barked Palo Santo trees adapted to the arid climate. The volcanic peaks rise to over 1700m (5578ft) and the scant soils support a thicker, lusher vegetation that benefits from a more humid climate. Along the coasts, beautiful white, black and red sand beaches contrast with mangrove-fringed lagoons and tall cliffs of volcanic cinders. Isabela, one of the more recently formed islands, is the largest in the archipelago at over 100km (60 miles) long, and at the other extreme are tiny eroded islets, remnants of old volcanic cones, that now support large and spectacular seabird colonies. This variety of terrestrial habitats combined with surrounding cold oceanic currents with their abundant marine life makes for a rich pattern of wildlife. The isolation of the Galapagos has of course stimulated the evolution of endemic plants and animals – many confined to single islands within the archipelago. This will make every day of the tour a unique experience in itself, as we sail from island to island finding new sights and new species at each.

A visit to Galapagos provides an unforgettable, absolutely fantastic wildlife experience for every type of photographer and natural history enthusiast. Our tour has been specially designed to be the ultimate in wildlife photographic tours to Galapagos, aiming to provide an in-depth appreciation of the islands (as part of a dedicated natural history group) in a way not possible on the large cruise ships, which take up to 100 or more passengers (many with little interest in wildlife), whose much shorter periods ashore inevitably make for a rushed and incomplete experience.

We shall be travelling on our own privately-chartered, exceptionally comfortable motor yacht, allowing us to visit areas only accessible to smaller boats (and get there without spending too much time over it). The itinerary has been carefully worked out to ensure that we have plenty of time at each place we go ashore to see the wildlife and to appreciate it in our own way. It will give us an excellent chance of finding all of the islands’ accessible endemic birds and we shall also come face to face with the famous Giant Tortoises that gave their name to the archipelago (galápagos means ‘riding saddle’ in Spanish and is probably a reference to the shell shape of some of the endemic forms).

During our voyage through this magical archipelago we plan to visit Seymour (or North Seymour), Genovesa (or Tower), Santiago (or James), Isabela (or Albemarle), Fernandina (or Narborough), Floreana (or Charles), Española (or Hood), Santa Cruz (or Indefatigable) and San Cristóbal (or Chatham). Cruising amongst the islands is an intensely exciting experience, yet at the same time wonderfully relaxing, with time between landfalls to watch this strange world (and some fine seabirds!) pass by, and whilst at anchor, get into the water and snorkel amongst beautiful tropical fish and ever-curious sealions. Of all the wildlife journeys we make on this marvellous but threatened planet of ours, we rate our Galapagos voyages amongst the most amazing and most memorable experiences. 

In recent years the Galapagos National Park authority has greatly tightened the regulations affecting landings. All yachts and larger vessels now have a rigid timetable of landings, which cannot be modified (whatever the charter companies or tour operators tell potential guests, hoping to lure the unwary onto their boats!). As a result, for anyone with a keen interest in wildlife, it is vital to select a yacht which has an authorized itinerary that includes all the key islands, and in particular Genovesa (or Tower), deservedly renowned as the very best of the Galapagos ‘enchanted islands’ and the only accessible place in Galapagos for the endemic Sharp-beaked Finch and for Red-footed Booby, never mind the finest seabird spectacle in the entire archipelago!

Our handsome first-class motor yacht, the Tip Top IV, has the necessary permissions to achieve the perfect 10-night itinerary for keen wildlife photographers. No current 7-night charter, to the best of our knowledge, can deliver this. It costs a lot of money just to get to Galapagos (and a lot more to sail around the islands, especially if you want to do so in comfort), but we are firmly of the opinion that only a 10-night charter on a really first-class motor yacht can provide visitors with the finest Galapagos experience, including all of the accessible endemic birds. For full details and photographs of Tip Top IV, one of the best and most modern yachts available in the Galapagos (more a floating boutique hotel than a typical yacht), have a look at www.tiptopfleet.com: you are surely going to be impressed!

Tip Top IV has 10 cabins available for either twin or single occupancy (the twin beds can be modified to create a double bed for those guests who prefer) and takes a maximum of 16 passengers. The pleasant and roomy cabins are air-conditioned, have ample storage space, a private bathroom with hot shower, and 110v AC electrical outlets (with USA-type sockets). On-board instrumentation includes satellite navigation, radar, sonar, single sideband radio and cellular phone. Tip Top IV is a very stable boat (minimal chance of seasickness unless you are unusually prone, or there is atypical weather for this time of year!) and is very spacious overall, with lots of indoor and outdoor viewing/lounging areas, and an attractive interior that features a library/conference room (with VCR and a natural history video library) and a spacious dining room. The boat carries a crew of nine, including the captain, first mate, engineer, two sailors, two cooks, a waiter/cabin steward and a university-level naturalist-guide. If you want the ultimate in Galapagos wildlife photographic adventures, this is surely it!

We have operated tours to Galapagos since 1989.

Juan Carlos Calvachi will be the local guide for the Ecuador Mainland Extension.

Itinerary

Day 1  The tour begins in the evening at Quito, the capital of Ecuador, where we will stay overnight.

Day 2  This morning we will take a flight to the island of Baltra (which lies just off the northern coast of the much larger island of Santa Cruz (or Indefatigable: most islands in the Galapagos having both Spanish and English names). Here we will board Tip Top IV, our home for the next ten nights. During this period we shall cruise amongst the ‘Islas Encantadas’ or ‘Enchanted Islands’ as the Galapagos are known, for much of the time leaving the inhabited and greatly transformed larger islands behind and exploring the natural paradise that still survives on the smaller islands. Much of our travelling will be done at night to maximize time ashore, but even daylight hours at sea are not wasted as we can enjoy searching for pelagic seabirds such as the critically endangered Galapagos Petrel (now treated as a distinct species from Hawaiian) which breeds in just a few colonies in the highlands, and cetaceans such as Bryde’s Whale and Common Bottle-nosed Dolphin.

This afternoon we will make our first landing at nearby Seymour (or North Seymour), a small island that epitomizes the abundance and fearlessness of the local wildlife. Within minutes of landing we shall be stepping over and around nesting Blue-footed Boobies. Whilst we have to adhere to designated footpaths to minimize damage to the environment, the boobies know no such rules and are content to raise their comical looking chicks in the centre of the main thoroughfare. In low Cryptocarpus (saltbush), both Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds nest at eye-level and within arm’s reach. Here we should be able to enjoy the spectacle of the males waggling their grossly inflated red throat pouches and see the ungainly young on the tiny stick nests awaiting the next instalment of fish stolen by their parents from the hapless boobies. Here we should also see some large Land Iguanas.

A long stretch of boulder beach is home to dozens of Galapagos Sealions (now split from Californian), an immensely appealing animal that we will encounter many times during our cruise and have some close encounters with. Here, if sea conditions are suitable, we can watch them body-surfing through crashing, sunlit rollers. We should also find some Galapagos Fur Seals trying to shelter from the sun. With a total Galapagos population close to that of the sealions, they are much more shy and less often encountered, possibly because of the slaughter of tens of thousands in the past for the fur trade.

Rubbing shoulders with the seals will be a small number of Lava Gulls. This is possibly the rarest gull in the world, numbering just 300-400 pair, and is found only in the Galapagos archipelago. The intertidal zone is also good for the endemic Lava Heron and Yellow-crowned Night Heron, both feeding on the abundant, brilliant red Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Elliot’s Storm Petrel is a common inshore species in Galapagos, and we may well find a group pottering around our yacht, but surprisingly its nesting locations in the islands have never been found.  We are also likely to see the breeding-endemic Galapagos Shearwater (split from Audubon’s), which nests in the coastal cliffs. Other new birds today are likely to include Brown Pelican and Small Ground-Finch.

This evening we will set sail for one of the most remote islands in Galapagos, and surely their ultimate seabird colony, Genovesa (or Tower).

Days 3-11  We shall spend this period Cruising the Galapagos Islands. The order in which the islands are visited may have to change, to comply with Galapagos National Park restrictions.

Genovesa (or Tower) is magnificent and remote, and every inch seems covered with birds. During our exploration of Tower we shall be sure to visit El Barranco, which is reached via Prince Philip’s Steps, named after the Duke of Edinburgh following his visit to Genovesa. Here Nazca Boobies (split from Masked) nest in fair numbers, whilst Red-billed Tropicbirds prefer the narrower ledges along the cliffs which they share with exquisite Swallow-tailed Gulls, virtually a Galapagos breeding endemic (a few nest on Malpelo island off Colombia) and possibly the most beautiful gull in the world. Another attraction here is the vast colony, numbered in tens of thousands of pairs, of Band-rumped (or Madeiran) and Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrels. The latter species is unusual in being active at the colony by day, and the air is full of these tiny whirring seabirds weaving in and out on their way to and from their nest holes, and occasionally falling prey to the Galapagos form of the Short-eared Owl (which possibly represents a distinct species).

On landing at Darwin Bay, we step ashore on a white coral beach to find a mass of nesting Red-footed Boobies – one of the main reasons for our visit. This species, most of which are of the brown phase in the Galapagos, nests only on the outermost islands and is unusual for a booby in that it nests in low trees and shrubbery. Amongst these absurdly confiding birds nest good numbers of Great Frigatebirds. The prime landbird speciality here is Sharp-beaked Ground-Finch (this is the only island in Galapagos where visitors can see this interesting endemic), and the island also holds Large Cactus-Finch. The Darwin’s finches are a complex and unique group, perfectly illustrating adaptive radiation. On Genovesa the Sharp-beaked Ground-Finch and Large Cactus-Finch share the limited resources with Large Ground-Finch and Dusky Warbler-Finch (split from Olive). Large Cactus-Finch has evolved a bill midway between the huge, parrot-like bill of the Large Ground Finch and the slim bill of the other two species. Where we see this species again, on Española (or Hood), it has no such competition and has developed an enormous seed-cracking beak much like the Large Ground-Finch on Genovesa! There are no such identification problems with the ever-present Mangrove Warbler (a form often lumped with Yellow and Golden Warblers) and the endemic Galapagos Dove.

After we leave Genovesa we should encounter Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and Galapagos Shearwaters out at sea.

On James (or Santiago) we shall make a couple of landings, including a visit to the site of an old salt works and a failed settlement which will remind us of the difficulties of living in such a harsh environment. The coastline here is flat with a wide intertidal zone good for shorebirds and for the endemic Lava Heron and Yellow-crowned Night Heron – all feeding on the abundant, brilliant red Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Resident American Oystercatchers are often joined by migrant Semipalmated Plovers, Whimbrels, Wandering Tattlers and Ruddy Turnstones. Further along the coast is a natural grotto where Galapagos Fur Seals seek shelter from the midday sun. The ubiquitous Lava Lizards are everywhere here and we may well encounter the threatened Galapagos Hawk, one of the endemics that have declined in recent years.

Inland, we should encounter a number of Darwin’s Finches, probably including Small and Medium Ground Finches, Small Tree Finch and Common Cactus Finch, as well as Galapagos (or Large-billed) Flycatcher.

We may have the opportunity to make a zodiac cruise along some cliffs where we can admire the stunning scenery and enjoy close views of Swallow-tyailed Gulls, Brown Noddies and Blue-footed Boobies. Elliot’s Storm Petrel is a common inshore species at James, and in the evening we may observe Galapagos Petrels gathering offshore and hear them calling as they prepare to fly inland to their colonies in the highlands.

Along the spectacular west coast of Isabela (or Albemarle) a series of volcanic peaks tower up to 1707m above this largest of the Galapagos islands. At Punta Vicente Roca, at the northwestern tip of Isabela, we can take a dinghy ride below the impressive tuff (volcanic ash) cliffs where nesting Brown Noddies are abundant, their smoky brown plumage well camouflaged against the rock, and Galapagos Penguins hide in the recesses. The coastal mangroves of northwest Isabela hold almost all of the remaining population of the very localized and declining endemic Mangrove Finch (there are a few others in southern Isabela; the population on Fernandina is thought to be extinct). The park authorities have not been allowing visits to the remaining sites for this species for some time now, in an effort to prevent disturbance to this critically-endangered bird, but should this change we will make a landing in search of this rarest of all the Darwin’s finches.

We will visit one or more areas on the western coast of Isabela. At Tagus Cove we can see a natural harbour with ancient graffiti from ships’ crews dating back to 1836. A walk here to a tuff cone will turn up various finches and other landbirds. At Bahía Elizabeth we can explore the mangrove creeks by zodiac, enjoying good views of Green Turtles and rays in the shallow waters. Galapagos Penguins also nest here. There is a good chance in both these areas of seeing the uncommon Galapagos Martin.

Isabela is dominated by a chain of huge volcanos that rise up to 1660m (5446ft) above sea-level. We will drive by ‘truck-bus’ (a truck converted to carry passengers) from Puerto Villamil up to the end of the road on the slopes of Volcán Sierra Negra (or Santo Tomás) and then walk up to the rim of the immense crater for spectacular views over this dramatic island. Reaching 1490m (4889ft), Sierra Negra is the second highest of the five huge volcanic cones that dominate Isabela, and in particular is a good spot for the rather elusive Galapagos Martin and the uncommon Vegetarian Finch. Other birds we are likely to encounter include endemics such as Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Vermilion and Large-billed Flycatchers, Galapagos Mockingbird, Medium and Small Ground-Finches, Large Tree-Finch, Woodpecker Finch and Olive Warbler Finch, as well as Dark-billed Cuckoo. We will also have our first chance here for the delightful little endemic Galapagos Rail, which is sometimes quite unconcerned by its huge admirers, making a very close approach. After we return to Puerto Villamil we can check out the harbour and adjacent beaches, which provide good scavenging for Brown Pelicans, here rubbing shoulders with the Lava Gull, which is possibly the rarest gull in the world, found only in the Galapagos archipelago and numbering just 300-400 pairs. A small area of marshland attracts impossibly pink American Flamingos.

Fernandina (or Narborough) is one of the most recently active volcanic areas of the Galapagos and also one of the most magical islands. This afternoon we will land at Punta Espinosa. Areas of bare lava are just beginning to be colonized by the first intrepid plant species such as the Brachycereus cactus. Where the lava reaches the sea there are some of the most impressive gatherings of Marine Iguanas in the Galapagos. Hundreds of them lie motionless, basking in the sunshine, with just the odd snort as they sneeze away excess salt through their nostrils. Some are scattered across the flat, rocky platform while others are packed together in an intertwined mass. In this area we can also expect stunning, close-up views of nesting Flightless Cormorants. With the world population of less than 1000 individuals confined to this northwestern part of the Galapagos, it is one of the world’s rarest seabirds. The Galapagos Penguin, which occurs here in some numbers, is yet another Galapagos bird with a claim to fame, being the most northerly penguin in the world. The tidal pools often attract Green Turtles and along the shoreline we may find waders such as American Oystercatcher, Semipalmated Plover, Wandering Tattler and Ruddy Turnstone.

At Floreana (or Charles), the Charles Mockingbird is now confined to the tiny offshore islets of Gardner and Champion, where this critically endangered species can be observed quite closely from a zodiac cruise early this morning (as landings are not permitted). Afterwards we can enjoy some superb snorkelling. At Punta Cormorant we will visit a mangrove-fringed lagoon where a number of impossibly pink American Flamingos and White-cheeked Pintails should be present, along with waders such as Least and Spotted Sandpipers and Black-necked Stilt.

The island has a fascinating and intriguing human history including numerous attempts by colourful characters to settle the island, mysterious disappearances and unsolved murders! During the afternoon we will go ashore at the settlement and travel by ‘truck-bus’ into the comparatively luxuriant highlands. Here we will be looking in particular for the Medium Tree Finch, which is only found in the higher parts of this one island. We will also be able to see the cave dwellings used by the first settlers on the island.

Española (or Hood) is the most southeasterly island of the archipelago. By this time, many of us will be assessing which has been our favourite island or most memorable experience – wait until Española before making any decisions! At this low-lying island some 15 kilometres (9 miles) long and totally uninhabited, we shall be greeted at Gardner Bay this morning by the customary palaver of honking sealions, but amongst them are the distinctively heavy-billed Hood Mockingbirds, phenomenally inquisitive, running up to peck at loose shoe-laces and discarded rucksacks. During the afternoon our visit will reach its climax at fabulous Punta Suarez. Here can be found the much larger-billed version of the Large Cactus-Finch, the largest of the endemic lava lizards and some particularly fine examples of Marine Iguanas with a bright reddish hue to the sides of their bodies. The Galapagos Hawks here are remarkably tame as they have never been persecuted, unlike the situation on the inhabited islands.

The real highlight, however, will be that most special of all the Galapagos seabirds, the Waved Albatross (which breeds only here and, in much smaller numbers, on Isla de la Plata off the coast of Ecuador). At this time of year many of the adults will be incubating, but some will still be displaying as they greet each other when their partner returns from a feeding trip and they switch places. Watching them point their bills skywards while stretching out their long wings and making their strange wailing cries is an experience one never forgets. Ungainly on land, once these leviathans have waddled rapidly across the rocks and taken to the air they become transformed into huge but graceful creatures that ride the updrafts along the cliffs. This fantastic island also has some spectacular mixed colonies of Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds and Swallow-tailed Gulls. Offshore, we can often get quite close to rafting albatrosses.

From the bustling harbour of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz (or Indefatigable), we will make an outing to the highlands. Early in the day we will creep along one of the highland trails where we have an excellent chance of encountering the delightful little endemic Galapagos Rail, which is sometimes quite unconcerned by its huge admirers, making a very close approach. Later we will visit Los Gemellos, where some enormous sinkholes in the limestone rocks are surrounded by beautiful forest that holds some exciting endemics, including Large-billed (or Galapagos) Flycatcher, Galapagos Vermilion Flycatcher (sometimes lumped with Vermilion Flycatcher of the mainland), Galapagos Mockingbird, Medium Ground-Finch, Large and Small Tree-Finches, Olive Warbler-Finch and the famous Woodpecker Finch. We may also find Dark-billed Cuckoo.

During the afternoon we will have the opportunity to search for Giant Tortoises. Formerly common and widespread on many islands in the Galapagos, they are now either extinct or scarce. Tens of thousands were taken up to the 19th century by passing mariners. Stored live in ships’ holds for months with no food and water, they provided a ready source of fresh food and were also used as ballast! We shall visit a reserve area set aside for these prehistoric, painfully slow and cumbersome relics. At a marshy pool, where the tortoises often come to cool off, we will also keep a lookout for Paint-billed Crake (a recent colonist from the mainland), Common Moorhen and Purple Gallinule. Another target today will be the endemic Galapagos Barn Owl (now sometimes considered a distinct species), and we will have another good chance for Galapagos Martin. In addition, we are likely to come across Western Cattle Egret and Smooth-billed Ani.

If we have time we will pay a short visit to the Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, which offers excellent displays of material explaining Galapagos geology and ecology. The breeding programme for Giant Tortoises is open to the public, and we can mingle with some huge specimens from various islands displaying a great variety of adaptation of shell shape to environment.

San Cristóbal (or Chatham) is the most easterly of the Galapagos islands. This morning we will be off Punta Pitt at sunrise. We will go ashore and head inland to look for the endangered San Cristobal (or Chatham) Mockingbird, found only on this one island. We should also see a small colony of Red-footed Boobies, probably the first we will have encountered since our visit to Genovesa. If sea conditions permit, we will also make a zodiac cruise to Pitt Rock to enjoy the fantastic number of nesting seabirds.

We will then navigate down the west side of San Cristóbal in order to make a landing at Cerro Brujo where there is a dramatic, eroded volcanic tuff cone. This was one of the first places visited by Charles Darwin, as he explored the islands on the Beagle, and the beach and lagoon here hold Brown Pelicans and a variety of shorebirds, not to mention many Red Ghost Crabs. Finally we will visit Kicker Rock (or Leon Dormicida, ‘Sleeping Lion’), just in time to admire this extraordinary and spectacular cleft pinnacle in the late afternoon light. Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and Bryde’s Whales are regularly seen in this area.

Day 12  This morning we will make a landing at Mosquera islet, little more than a sandbar but with a huge population of sealions, Sally Lightfoot Crabs and a good selection of birdlife. Afterwards we return to Baltra where we say goodbye to our boat and crew before taking a flight to Quito for an overnight stay.

Day 13  The tour ends this morning at Quito.

After our Galapagos adventure ends there will be an optional 6 days extension to the west slope of the Ecuadorian Andes, where we will explore the bird-rich cloudforests of Yanacocha and the famous Mindo area. These cool forests with their host of colourful species, including numerous very approachable hummingbirds at the many feeders, will come as a startling contrast to the islands. Just to add to the magic, we will visit Angel Paz’s now famous ‘antpitta forest’ where several species of antpittas have been habituated to emerge from the recesses of the forest in order to eat provided earthworms! The emphasis of the extension is bird watching rather than bird photography, but for keen bird photographers there will be some very good opportunities to capture exciting images of birds and in particular over 25 species of hummingbirds (we can arrange for anyone who wants to stay for whole mornings or afternoons taking images at wonderful bird feeders, that attract not only hummingbirds but tanagers, toucanets and other wonderful birds, rather than go birding).

Accommodation & Road Transport: For our cruise in Galapagos we shall be based on our first class motor yacht with twin or double berth cabins (available for either twin or single occupancy) with private bathroom. The few roads in the islands are of variable quality, as are those in the Quito region. Hotels and lodges in Quito and Mindo area are of good standard. Road transport will be by small coach or minibus (and ‘truck-bus’ on Floreana).

Walking: The walking effort in the islands is mostly easy, but some nature trails on the islands are over rougher terrain where some agility, or a stick, are required. The walking effort during the extension is easy or moderate.

Climate: From sea-level to moderate altitudes in Galapagos it is predominantly warm or hot all year. Sunny and overcast conditions tend to alternate, but rain is only likely at these elevations between January and April, when the humidity is rather high. Conditions in the highlands are similar but cooler and there can be rain showers at any time of year (with frequent rainfall between January and April). From May to December, low cloud often shrouds the highlands, but the lowlands are usually sunny.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £6070, €7380, $8190 Quito/Quito. Ecuadorian Andes Extension: £1270, €1540, $1710.

Price includes all transportation (including the Quito/Galapagos/Quito flights), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants ashore, leader services.

Galapagos national park fees/Galapagos entry taxes of US$110 (subject to change) are payable like a ‘visa on arrival’ by the individual passenger at passport control in Galapagos and are not included in the tour price. Gratuities on board the yacht for the naturalist-guide and crew are not included in the tour price. The staff work very long hours to make such cruises a success, including a great deal of night sailing, and we are told that most passengers give gratuities of between US$165-220 for such an 11 days cruise.

Single Room/Cabin Supplement: If you would like guaranteed single occupancy of a cabin on board the boat, a few cabins are available for an additional charge of £1000, €1220, $1350. Please note that if you opt to share you will not have to pay the single occupancy supplement even if you do not end up with a cabin-mate. Single room supplement in Quito: £106, €129, $143. (Please note that if you are sharing a cabin on board ship but there is no room-mate available at Quito, then you will have to pay the supplement for a single room ashore.) Extension: £160, €195, $216.

Deposit: Main Tour: 25% of the tour price (including any single supplement). Extension: £150, €200, $200.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

For any photographer visiting the archipelago, spending time with the amazing Waved Albatross will be a priority (Mark Beaman)

For any photographer visiting the archipelago, spending time with the amazing Waved Albatross will be a priority (Mark Beaman)

The beautiful Nazca Booby provides another stunning photographic subject (Mark Beaman)

The beautiful Nazca Booby provides another stunning photographic subject (Mark Beaman)

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