Absolute Galapagos (Daphne)

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Geckos Adventures

Discover the rich marine life, abundant bird colonies and stunning landscapes of the Galapagos Islands on this 10-day tour. Feel the rush of a panga ride to Cerro Brujo, snorkel off the coast of Isla Espanola, discover the archipelago’s history on Isla San Cristobal, be mesmerised by the flourishing Scalesia forest on Isla Santa Cruz and visit a green turtle breeding zone on Isla Floreana. This is an adventure abounding in natural wonder, impressive vistas and rich history.

Highlights
  • Quito is so much more than a gateway to the Galapagos. Misty mountain scenery, a heart-melting Old Town and world-class cuisine make this one of South America’s most dazzling destinations
  • Snorkelling in the Devil’s Crown is like nothing else. This underwater volcano – full of sea lions, turtles and rays – boasts some of the best snorkelling on the archipelago
  • This trip is one for the bird-lovers. Witness the albatross colonies of Isla Espanola and seek out the rare red-footed booby on Isla Genovesa
  • Gaze in awe at the largest trees in the Galapagos on a hike through Santa Fe’s Opuntia forest
  • Plant your feet on 100-year-old pahoehoe lava as you walk across Bahia Sullivan, perhaps spotting a marine iguana or two
  • An included visit to the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre fills you in on the archipelago’s geography, history, conservation projects and more
Notes


Style
Geckos

Themes
Wildlife

Physical preparation
Galapagos Voyage We don't ask travellers to complete a physical participation form for this trip however we do ask you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is the right trip for you. This applies to the included activities and moving around the boat. You will also need to enter and exit a zodiac during wet and dry landings and when returning from snorkelling - please note crew members will be on hand to assist you. The cabins and communal areas of the Daphne are spread over 3 decks. The steps between the decks are steep however, there are hand railings to hold on to. Snorkelling There are many opportunities to go snorkelling on our voyages. Confident swimming skills are required to take part in this activity. Depending on the weather conditions and park regulations, you could be snorkelling twice a day. If you take part in the snorkelling, you will not miss out on any land activities. For those not wanting to snorkel, there will be time to relax on the boat. Altitude Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If so, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activity.

Joining point
Hotel La Cartuja
Leonidas Plaza 170 y 18 de Septiembre
Quito
ECUADOR
Phone: 593 22523721

Finish point
Hotel La Cartuja
Leonidas Plaza 170 y 18 de Septiembre
Quito
ECUADOR
Phone: 593 22523721

Group leader
Our local representative will meet you in the evening of day 1 of the trip and conduct the group briefing. They will then also transfer with you to the airport on day 2 for your flight to the Galapagos. On arrival in the Galapagos you will be met your Guide. Our Guides are registered and trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service. The Guide will be on board with you for the duration of the trip and will accompany you on all excursions. Our boats are also staffed by highly experienced shipboard staff and crew.

Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Geckos itinerary, and Geckos makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that our local representative has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Petty theft & Personal Safety : While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. Water Safety: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water. Life Jackets: Geckos will provide life jackets for private boats, but cannot guarantee that all public ferries will have enough life jackets or life rings for all clients. Diving in the Galapagos: We do not offer diving as a part of our Galapagos program and due to our internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.

Communications
Electricity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is 110 - 120V and requires US plugs so you may need to take an adapter. Wi-Fi is not available on the boat at all whilst in the Galapagos Islands. There is limited access on the bigger islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela and there may also be internet cafes for you to use if there is time. Like Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage is pretty non-existent whilst travelling around the islands. Again, you may find that you have limited service when you are closer to the bigger islands. There is a satellite phone on board, for the use of shipboard staff, in case of emergency.

Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay. We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent. Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Canadians and British do not currently require a visa for Ecuador. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. Visa requirements for Galapagos Islands are the same as Ecuador.

Is this trip right for you
Although we don't ask travellers to complete a Physical Participation Form for this trip, we do ask that you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is right for you. You’ll need to feel comfortable with the included activities and with moving about the boat. The cabins and communal areas of the boat are spread over four decks, and the steps between the decks are steep. You will be entering and exiting a Zodiac boat (panga) during wet and dry landings and when returning from snorkelling. Although the waters we sail are usually calm, there are times when the sea can get rough and choppy. Steady sea legs (and a sturdy stomach) are needed when walking around the boat during bad weather. Rain or shine, your trusty crew will always be on hand to assist you. A typical yacht/boat for sixteen travellers is equipped with eight cabins each with ensuites. They are designed to maximise living area space, so sleeping quarters can be a bit cramped. That being said, the adventure and exhilaration of an authentic Galapagos trip more than makes up for any discomfort. While at sea and when exploring the islands, you may be exposed to the sun for large parts of the day. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please note that while there is an itinerary in place, some changes may occur due to the weather or because of direction from the local authorities. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for potential modifications to the route or activities. A sense of humour and flexibility will ensure you have a fun, relaxing trip through this beautiful part of the world no matter what happens. All of our Galapagos tours begin and end in Quito which is located approximately 2850 metres above sea level so you may experience some altitude sickness.

Health
All Geckos Adventures travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Geckos Adventures reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000kms off the coast of Ecuador mainland and many of these islands are uninhabited by humans. The populated islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal have medical facilities however they are limited in what procedures they can perform and have limited medical supplies. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, please ensure you have travel insurance to cover this. Travel insurance should also cover the cost of repatriation or if any additional supplies are needed to be flown in from the mainland. We know that many travellers have travelled to other parts of South America before the Galapagos and during this time have contracted a stomach bug. If you are feeling unwell at the time of the briefing or at anytime on the voyage, please let our representative or guide know. Travelling on a boat means that everyone is sharing the same common areas which means that if one passenger is feeling unwell, this can be spread to your fellow travellers. We want to maximise your time on the boat and for you to enjoy the experience and the best way to do that is to ensure that everyone is healthy. ALTITUDE SICKNESS Please note a very small number of travellers do feel the affects of altitude sickness when they arrive in Quito. Please refer to https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/altitude-sickness SEA SICKNESS- GALAPAGOS Please note that from June to August the water is rougher than usual. Consequently travel times will be longer than usual. If you suffer from seasickness you may want to reconsider travelling during this period. YELLOW FEVER: A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home. It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting. SUNSCREEN It's important to always apply sunscreen in Ecuador and particularly when visiting the Galapagos. Beware, the sun is stronger than usual! January 2016: ZIKA VIRUS. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika is a mosquito-borne disease. The disease symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. Recently in South America local health authorities have observed an increase in Zika virus infections in the general public as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull) in northeast Brazil. As of January 15, 2016 6 cases of the disease have been confirmed in Ecuador; 4 cases imported and 2 cases locally acquired. The health authorities in Ecuador and neighbouring countries are intensifying surveillance, implementing vector control measures and public education about the associated risks. Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to high risk areas, especially pregnant women. These include use of repellents, wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering. In line with the above, Intrepid (Geckos/Peregrine) recommends all woman pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America. WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction to Ecuador based on the current information. More information on the Zika virus can be found on WHO’s website: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/ And the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention’s website: http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00385.asp

Food and dietary requirements
All meals are included onboard the Daphne, this includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Tea, coffee and cold water is available at any time during the day [or night]. Most meals are served buffet style. Here is an example of the typical meals served Breakfast Toast, spreads, muesli, eggs with fresh fruit and fruit juices Lunch A mix of hot and cold dishes plus salads or vegetables and fruit salad and juice Dinner Fresh seafood, chicken or pork, pasta, rice, vegetables, salads and dessert. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies please notify us at the time of booking so we can determine the extent to which your dietary requirements can be met. We will endeavour to accommodate all requests but please note that we have limited refrigeration and storage space on board the Galapagos boats and there is very limited (if any) access to shops or supermarkets. Vegans, coeliacs or those with specific meal requirements might choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home, e.g. protein bars. Please note that the Galapagos does have strict quarantine laws when it comes to bringing in goods from the mainland.

Money matters
The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar (USD). Please note that in Ecuador automatic money machines often limit the amount you can withdraw. This can be $100 or $200 per day depending on your card. ATM's are available in Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal however there are no ATM's in Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela. Credit cards are accepted in some shops and stores in Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo and Puerto Villamil. For boat trips only: On board the Galapagos voyage, alcoholic [beer and wine] and soft drinks are available to purchase in cash and if you wish to tip the crew this will also be paid in cash. Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some  travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than others, others prefer to visit more optional sites. Remember that alcoholic beverages are expensive compared to other foods locally. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities. We recommend you carry at least US$100 to allow for additional meals and snacks. There is a bar on board where the settlement of the bill is by US$ cash only. The Daphne doesn't have credit card facilitites. Please make additional allowance for bar expenses, however you will find the drinks to be moderately priced. All prices are quoted in US$. Cocktails: $6 - $8 Wine*: $30 - $40 Spirits: $6 - $10 Beers: $3 - $5 Softdrink: $1.50 - $3 *Red, white and sparkling wines are available by the bottle only. Please refer to the tipping section for additional information with regards to recommended amounts for tipping. During stops in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela Islands, you will have the opportunity to visit souvenir shops and internet cafes. NATIONAL PARK AND TRANSIT CARD FEES: Before you check-in for your flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands you will need to purchase a US$20 transit card [which you will need to hold on to as you will need to present it on your return from the Galapagos]. On arrival in the islands you will purchase the Galapagos National Park entry fee, US$100. Please make sure you  have clean, unmarked notes to pay these fees. WETSUIT HIRE: Wetsuit hire is not included on the Daphne and can be organised on the boat at an additional cost. Depending on the length of your trip the cost will be as per below: 10 day trip: US$40 7 day trip: US$25 6 day trip: US$20 TIPPING If you are happy with the services received, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate.  While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Geckos destinations. Boat Crew: If you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$12-14 per day for the crew (there are 7 crew members) and US$8-10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey. Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there's an addition of 10% service charge, there's no requirement for tipping.  Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropiate. Markets & local shops: At local markets, shops & basic restaurants, leave loose change. Hotel porters/local drivers: We suggest US$1 - US$2 Please use the amounts listed above as a guide. Tipping is entirely a personal preference; of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED: Any airfare unless otherwise specified in the itinerary. Passport and visa expenses. Government arrival and departure taxes. Galapagos National Park fee and Galapagos transit card. Isabela island port fee (if applicable). Baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance. Excess baggage charges. Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified. Telecommunications charges. The voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew. Wetsuit Hire. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: The optional activities noted are subject to availability. The prices are a guide only and subject to change. CONTINGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
Although each cabin on the Daphne has cupboard and space to store your bags, space is at a premium so we suggest that you take a back pack or soft sided duffle or sports bag with you. These bags should be easily stored in your cabins. Larger, fixed, sided suitcases are usually too large to store in the cupboard space. If you are travelling with a larger bag you do have the option of borrowing one of our kit bags [which take approx 12kg] and leave your bag behind at the start hotel. This service is provided by the hotel and although we haven’t had issues with theft in the past we highly recommend that you don’t leave any valuables behind. Below is a suggested packing list. The weather in the Galapagos is quite temperate all year round. In most cases you will be in water snorkelling or swimming for a portion of the day with the other time taken up with an island visit/walk or time to relax on the boat as you travel between islands. Daypack [a smaller back pack that you can take with you on island excursions] Comfortable clothing for warmer temperatures [shorts, t-shirts, light long sleeved tops and pants] A fleece or warmer jumper for the evenings or early mornings A light rain coat or poncho Comfortable shoes [trainers or walking shoes are sufficient for most trips]* Sandals or thongs/flip flops/jandals Sunscreen [bio degradable and waterproof if available] and lip balm [to combat the effects of wind burn] Sunglasses Sunhat [that can be secured as it can get windy out on the water] Swimming costume Water bottle [filtered water is available on board the boat] Bio-degradable shampoo, conditioner and soap Dry bag Pegs [so you can hang your swimming costume or towel out to dry] Insect repellent [for island visits] US adaptor/electrical plug For keen birdwatchers, Binoculars Camera [underwater if you have one] Earplugs Please ensure you travel with all required medicines, pain killers and toiletries that you may need while in the Galapagos. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to pack some preventative medication. You are travelling to quite a remote destination and even though there are a number of settlements throughout the islands there are times we it could take a day to reach these towns and even then they may not stock your required medication. Please ensure you also bring your passport with you as it is an entry requirement for the Galapagos to present your passport on arrival in Galapagos and returning to the mainland [photocopies of your passport are not permitted]. *a number of trips include a volcano walk and some travellers may feel more comfortable in hiking shoes or boots.
SNORKELLING ON THE DAPHNE There are many opportunities for snorkelling during your Galapagos voyage. Diving masks, snorkels and fins are provided onboard the vessel and are for use by all passengers. Wetsuits are available for hire at an additional cost. Some passengers choose to bring their own equipment, however this is a personal choice. Beach towels are also provided. An underwater disposable camera is also recommended.
AIRLINE BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE: The airline that we use for our Galapagos trips, has a checked in baggage allowance of 23kg per person and a cabin baggage allowance of 10kg.

Climate and seasonal
Being located on the equator, Ecuador is a year round destination. In Quito temperatures do not fluctuate that much throughout the year with average temperatures around 19°C to 24°C during the day with lows of 9-10°C in the evening. There are two 'seasons', the wet and dry. The dry season runs from June to September and the wet season is from October through to May. The surprisingly thing with Quito is its altitude and proximity to the equator means that the sun has a little more kick to it so it can feel like it's warmer than it actually is. Even on cooler days, if the sun comes out make sure you use sunscreen. The Galapagos weather is pretty reasonable all year round, so it is never freezing cold but it can get very hot [February-May being the hottest months]. The seasons are not exactly fixed and weather conditions are changeable around the ends of the seasons. Note that the "wet" season is still drier than many places in the world. Daily temperatures range from 22°C to 25°C with overnight temperatures dropping to around 10°C. Up in the highlands [which you will cross on your way from Baltra to Puerto Ayora] it is cooler and the garúa mist hangs about as a kind of permanent dampness, and sometimes descends to the coast as well. The waters surrounding the Galapagos are influenced by the Humboldt Current. Water temperatures sit around 20°C to 24°C from January through to May and drop to 18°C to 20°C from June through to October. Although you may be required to wear a wetsuit at this time of year the same currents that bring the cooler water temperatures also bring nutrients which means wildlife are very active at this time of year.

A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Geckos travellers. Geckos’ philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes. Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment at Geckos, either between passengers or involving our leaders, local operators or locals. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes. Strict rules apply in the Galapagos Islands aimed at protecting and preserving its unique biodiversity. Geckos strongly agrees and supports these rules which range from times of the day that a destination can be visited to the distance kept between people and wildlife – all these rules will be explained in more detailed by your crew on the ground. Not adhering to these rules can lead to hefty fines for travellers and can result on Geckos losing the license to operate in the Galapagos Islands – these rules must be adhered to by all, without exception. For more information, please follow this link: http://www.galapagos.org/travel/travel/park-rules/

Emergency contact
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. In case of a missed transfers, a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. PEAK Ecuador: +593 9 94014877

Responsible travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.geckosadventures.com/responsible-travel Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.

The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation set up to enable our travellers to help make a difference by supporting local communities, projects and non-government organisations in the places we travel. The smallest contribution can make an enormous difference and all donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched dollar for dollar (yes, we’ll double your donation!). We support a range of initiatives – from wildlife protection and environmental conservation to supporting vocational training for underprivileged individuals – all with the aim of helping to improve lives and empower communities across the world to make meaningful change. All administration costs are covered by us so you can be assured 100 per cent of your donation will reach your chosen project. To learn more about the projects we support, ask your trip leader for more information about projects in the region you are travelling in or visit www.theintrepidfoundation.org

Accommodation notes
The Daphne features en suite cabins all with air conditioning. The upper deck cabins have large windows and the lower deck cabins have portholes. There are 4 lower deck twin bunk cabins, 2 upper deck twin bunk cabins, 1 upper deck double cabin (couples only) and 1 upper deck twin cabin. The length of the berths are: Lower deck bunk 198cm Upper deck bunk 200cm Upper deck twin/double 200cm Please note that single passengers cannot be booked/confirmed in the double cabin unless a single supplement is paid.

Transport notes
The Daphne is a motor yacht. She has a comfortable lounge and dining area, as well as a sun deck where you can view the wildlife or just kick back and relax. She has eight well-appointed, air-conditioned cabins each with en-suites. Cabins: 4x lower deck twin bunk cabins 1x upper deck queen cabin 2x upper deck twin bunk cabins 1x upper deck twin cabin Specifications: Built: 1997 Re-furbished: March 2017 Length: 21 m Beam: 6 m Engines: 2 Speed: 10 knots Passengers: 16 Crew: 6 + 1 English speaking naturalist guide Zodiacs (locally known as pangas) are modest-sized, open, outboard-powered boats which are very common throughout Galapagos. The boats are used to get you to and from the Daphne when you do activities. Depending on the type of activity, this could either be a wet or dry landing. The boat crew are there to assist you getting into and out of the zodiac.

Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers.

Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS: This trip is a package tour and is therefore made up of a combination of shorter trips. This may mean you will travel with a different guide and passengers on each section. This trip is run by our sister company, Intrepid Travel. Your group will be a mixture of Geckos booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from Intrepid. Please note as this trip is an 'open age' departure you may be travelling with people outside of the normal Geckos demographic. Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and if you are willing to share a twin cabin there will be no compulsory single supplement [this also applies to the first and last night in the hotel in Quito]. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in either Lower Deck Twin Bunk cabins or Upper Deck Twin cabins. The Double cabin is set aside for couples or friends/family who are willing to share a bed. If you are a single traveller and wish to have a room to yourself a single supplement is available for this trip. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Essential Trip Information a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. The maritime component of this trip is operated by a fully licensed Ecuadorian shipping operator. The Captain of the vessel will do all that is possible to adhere to the outlined itinerary however it may be changed without notice due inclement weather or changes to the Galapagos National Park's regulations. We ask you for your patience and understanding with any changes outside our control. Any changes to the itinerary will be undertaken with your safety and comfort in mind. There may be some early starts to the day for the scheduled activities to be conducted as per the itinerary due to specific visiting hours for some sites. All travel distances/times and durations for the activities listed in the trip notes are a guide only and are subject to change. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Included Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Floreana - Punta Cormorant walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardener - Snorkel (1 hour)
  • Isla Espanola - Punta Suarez - Walk (3 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla San Cristobal - Interpretation Center Visit (1 hour) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Plaza Sur - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Fe - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Genovesa - Bahia Darwin - Walk (2 hours) Wet Landing
  • Isla Genovesa - La Barranco - Walk - Dry Landing
  • Isla Rabida - Snorkelling (1 hour)
  • Isla Santiago - Sullivan Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla North Seymour - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla North Seymour - Snorkelling (1 hours)
  • Isla Bartolome - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Bartolome - Snorkelling (1.5 hours)
  • Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Walk (1.45 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Santiago - Puerto Egas - Snorkelling (1 hour)
  • Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
  • Isla Sanitago - Espumilla Beach - Snorkelling (45 mins)
  • Isla Sanitago - Buccaneer's Cove - Sail (15 mins)
  • Isla Isabela - Tagus Cove - Walk (1.45 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Isabela - Tagus Cove - Snorkel (1 hour)
  • Isla Fernandina - Punta Espinosa - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Fernandina - Punta Espinosa - Snorkel (1 hour)
  • Isla Isabela - Elizabeth Bay - Panga Ride (2 hours)
  • Isla Isabela - Punta Moreno - Walk and Panga ride (2 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Isabela - Punta Moreno - Snorkel
  • Isla Isabela - Las Tintoreras visit (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Isabela - Sierra Negra Volcano Crater Walk (3.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Cerro Dragon - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Punta Carrion - Snorkelling (1 hour)
Transport
  • Boat , Plane , Bus , Zodiac (Panga)
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (14 nights)
Destinations
  • South America
  • Baltra
  • Santiago
  • San Cristobal
  • Quito
  • Darwin
  • Isabela Island
  • Isla Santa Fe
  • Isla Santa Cruz
  • Puerto Ayora
  • Isla Santiago
  • Isla Isabela
  • Ecuador
Tour Types
  • Adventure
  • Snorkelling
Day 1 Quito
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador. A welcome meeting will be held in the evening at either 5pm or 6 pm when you meet others travelling with you on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Please check with hotel reception or check the reception notice boards for the time and place of the meeting for your trip. As today is an arrival day, you can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quito is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful and ornate churches in the Americas. The city's oldest street, Calle La Ronda, is well worth exploring. As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer. You may even wish to explore further beyond the city and visit Otavalo, Cotopaxi, the Cloud Forest or the Equatorial Monument.

Day 2 Baltra - Santa Cruz Highlands
Today is mostly a long travel day, and your Galapagos activities will begin after lunch. Rise early and transfer to the airport (approximately 1 hour) for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Pick-up may be as early as 4:30 am (your leader will confirm this at the welcome meeting) and a boxed breakfast will be provided. You will be met in the arrivals hall of the airport by a transfer guide (look out for ‘Daphne’ signs). Your transfer guide will take you on an airport public bus for a short distance (approximately 5 minutes), then you’ll board the public ferry and head across the Itabaca Channel (approximately 7 minutes). All public transport fees are included. Once you reach Santa Cruz Island, it’s time for your first Galapagos destination – take a private bus to the Highlands. After a short journey (approximately 10 minutes), arrive at Los Gemelos, which are twin sinkholes (not volcanic craters) created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. It is surrounded by the unique Scalesia cloud forest, so be on the look-out for the abundant bird life including different species of Darwin finches, woodpeckers, warbler finches and vermillion flycatchers. Continue into the highlands (approximately 30 minutes) and explore a rancho farm, where you will take a walk and enjoy your first lunch on the islands. The walk around (approximately 2 kilometres) reveals giant tortoises in their natural habitat. After lunch, travel to Puerto Ayora (approximately 45 minutes) where your yacht Daphne and her crew will be waiting for you. Once on board, you’ll be assigned a cabin and meet your crew and naturalist guide. Settle in for your first night on the islands.

Day 3 Isla Floreana
Discover the quirky maritime history of Post Office Bay, home of the oldest postal system in the Americas. Take the opportunity to post a letter in the historic post office barrel from 1793 which is still used today. Galapagos visitors can leave letters and postcards to be collected by the next passing boat. Snorkelling and a lovely panga ride are also included in this outing. Afterwards, head ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystal (a glassy volcanic mineral that gives the beach an olive-green colour). This is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions. Keep an eye out for pink flamingos and other waterbirds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. The moderate 2-kilometre walk continues to a white-flour sandy beach, which is an Eastern Pacific green turtle nesting site. Young diamond stingrays are commonly found in the shore line. Enjoy the view of the turquoise crystalline ocean. Just offshore, the famous Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. The centre of the cone is an outstanding spot and many people find this one of the best snorkelling experiences of their trip. You might see rays, sharks, sea lions and turtles. Estimated travel time/distance: Puerto Ayora to Isla Floreana: 4 hours (32 nautical miles) Punta Comorant to Punta Suarez: 6.5 hours (52 nautical miles)

Day 4 Isla Espanola
Sail overnight and wake up on the island of Española, the spectacular southernmost island of the Galapagos. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies. Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. Land at Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos, home to a large and varied wildlife population. A walk along its rocky trails (approximately 3 km) takes you to a clifftop viewpoint that affords magical panoramas. Boobies line the rocky shoreline below, while frigate birds can be seen overhead. Enormous male sea lions lounge nearby, and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, getting airborne on the southeast winds. If you’re lucky you might spot the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate. Next, head to Gardner Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Galapagos Islands. It’s full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. Enjoy a walk (approximately 1 km) along the beach, and do some snorkelling which could be great for playing with sea lion pups and many fish. The rocks off the coast provide particularly great snorkelling, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish (such as surgeon and angelfish). Small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks. Estimated travel time/distance: Punta Suarez to Bahia Gardener: 45 minutes (5 nautical miles) Bahia Gardener to Kicker Rock: 5 hours (8 nautical miles)

Day 5 Isla San Cristobal
Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) is the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea, the shape resembling a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. Cruise through the channel as nesting seabirds flank the boat, tropicbirds soar overhead, marine iguanas swim about and sea lions lounge on the water. Snorkelling from the panga gives you the chance to see Galapagos sharks, sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the wall. You might even spot a hammerhead shark. Some passengers will be leaving/joining today, so you may have some free time to explore the town of San Cristobal. Today you will visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre. The centre brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos and the issue of problems the islands face today is also explored. This is a great place to get a complete overview of the Galapagos. If there’s time, your guide may be able to organise an optional visit to the Highlands of San Cristobal which will be the last chance for you to see the giant tortoises in the wild. The price of this activity depends on the number of passengers attending. Relaxing at the beach is of course a great option too. Estimated travel time/distance: Kicker Rock to Isla San Cristobal: 1 hour (8 nautical miles)

Day 6 Isla Santa Fe - Isla Plaza Sur
Isla Santa Fe is home to more sea lions, and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, offers a dense concentration of wildlife, and is a fantastic place to see many of the stars of the Galapagos in one relatively small area. Expect to see Galapagos hawks, land iguanas, a variety of finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, sea lions, marine turtles, frigatebirds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. This stunning island boasts one of the most attractive coves in the whole archipelago. The jade-green waters are ideal for snorkelling. Take a hike along the coast into the Opuntia forest (approximately 1.5 hours). From here you can see Santa Fe's trees – the largest in the Galapagos – along with a forest of giant cacti and palo santo trees. The trail can be a little rocky, so mind your step. Once back at the beach, you’ll have time for a snorkel. Playful sea lion pups and fluorescent fish make for nice company. Afterwards, continue to Plaza Sur (South Plaza), a small, picturesque island. Take a walk (approximately 1.5 hours), getting close to sea lions and passing one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations which rest among cacti, volcanic landscapes dotted with brightly coloured sea-purslanes. The southern cliffs are great for spotting tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the Gentlemen’s Club’ – a gathering of male sea lions. Today there may be an extra stop along the way to Plaza Sur to restock the provisions for the boat. Later tonight, set sail for Isla Genovesa. Estimated travel time/distance: Isla San Cristobal to Isla Santa Fe: 3.5 hours (26 nautical miles) Isla Santa Fe to Plazas Sur: 2 hours (16 nautical miles) Plazas Sur to Bahia Darwin (Isla Genovesa): 7.5 hours (59 nautical miles)

Day 7 Isla Genovesa
After an overnight sail, reach Isla Genovesa, the archipelago's north-eastern outpost. It’s undeniably worth the voyage. Dolphins are often spotted in the waters around beautiful Genovesa. These varied landscapes are a twitcher's paradise, with all three kinds of boobies, including the rare red-footed booby, and numerous other species such as tropicbirds and frigate birds. Next, Bahia Darwin (Darwin Beach) is another superb site with large breeding colonies of seabirds and frigates and other birds such as lava herons, swallow-tailed gulls, mockingbirds and, hopefully, vampire finches. Enjoy a moderate walk (approximately 2.5 hours) that passes tide pools, sea lions and diamond stingrays. This walk involves sand and some rocky sections. The steep Prince Philip's Steps lead you to the heart of the seabird rookeries, with birds overhead and nesting among the cliffs. Look out for storm petrels on the island’s rocky plains; Genovesa is the only place in the world where these birds can be seen flying during the day. Afterwards, perhaps cool off with a snorkel. The island's magnificent marine life makes for spectacular snorkelling – you might encounter manta rays, sharks, turtles and moray eels, plus many species of fish. Later tonight, depart Isla Genovesa for Isla Santiago. Estimated travel time/distance: Prince Philip's Steps to Sullivan Bay (Isla Santiago): 8 hours (48 miles)

Day 8 Isla Santiago - Isla Rabida
On Santiago Island's eastern coast sits Bahia Sullivan, also known as James Island. Here you’ll take a walk along pahoehoe lava (approximately 1 hour), which was created by an eruption that occurred in 1897, and witness the plants that have grown on the site since that last eruption. With some luck you might see some marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and penguins. During your walk, your guide will recount the geological history of the islands. Then it’s on to Isla Rabida, known for its gorgeous red sandy beach (coloured that way due to rusting iron). This is one of the most striking islands of the archipelago. Starting at the shore, follow a walking trail (approximately 45 minutes) through to what is one of the finest lagoons in the Galapagos for viewing flamingos. Rabida is also a wonderful place to spot nesting pelicans. Elsewhere, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions are present. Here you will find Opuntia cactus forest, which suggests previous existence of land iguanas and possibly Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, doves, finches and lava lizards. You’ll have the chance to snorkel among sea stars, damsels, gobbies and surgeon fish, and take a panga ride in search of wildlife. Estimated travel time/distance: Sullivan Bay to Isla Rabida: 2 hours (16 nautical miles) Isla Rabida to Black Turtle Cove (Isla Santa Cruz) 2 hours (16 nautical miles)

Day 9 Isla Santa Cruz - Baltra - Quito
Explore Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) on a panga. This red mangrove wetland is located on the north shore of Isla Santa Cruz. You will paddle along this peaceful cove to experience its many underwater riches. It’s a breeding area for green turtles, so you might catch sight of them mating. There is also abundant bird life, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. It is also a nursery for golden cow-nose rays, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks. Some passengers will be leaving/joining today. Sail from Baltra to Las Bachas (approximately 30 minutes; 4 nautical miles). The lush sands of Las Bachas, on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, are a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle. Marine iguanas are also commonly spotted. The sand here, made of decomposed coral, is particularly white and soft. The rocks make for excellent snorkelling and are populated by Sally Lightfoot crabs which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon just near the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel – you might also see a great blue heron. Remnants of a floating pier, a testimony to the US presence in the Galapagos during World War II, can also be seen.

Day 10 Isla North Seymour - Isla Bartolome
Sail from Baltra to Isla North Seymour (approximately 45 minutes; 5 nautical miles). This is one of the most visited islands of the Galapagos. First up is a solid walk, the highlight of which may well be blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship, sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour. Blue-footed boobies nest on the ground while the frigate birds nest just above them in the saltbushes. As you walk, look out for land iguanas, marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions and the endemic incense tree. After the walk, go snorkelling and encounter a great variety of fish – perhaps white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions. Next it’s off to Isla Bartolomé (approximately 2.5 hours; 18 miles), one of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes in the Galapagos, full of parasitic spatter cones, lava flows, Galapagos penguins and lava lizards. Bartolomé is a relatively new island in the archipelago. Put on your walking shoes and climb over 360 wooden steps to the summit, where an amazing view of Pinnacle Rock awaits. This is one of the photographed sights in the Galapagos: an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, near two back-to-back golden bays. Hike to the top of a once-active volcano and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay on nearby Santiago Island. If you’re in luck, you might catch a glimpse of the Galapagos hawk. There’s also the opportunity to go snorkelling among the colourful tropical marine life.

Day 11 Isla Santiago
Head to Puerto Egas (approximately 4.5 hours, 35 nautical miles), a black-sand beach on the west side of James Bay, northwest of Santiago Island. It’s home to some amazing volcanic tuff formations. Take a stroll along the beach where marine iguanas, pelicans, finches, mockingbirds, oystercatchers, Galapagos sea lions and Galapagos fur seals are known to frolic. You can see the amazing tidal pools, formed from ancient lava flow, providing a home for sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish. Snorkelling in the midst of seals always offers the possibility of thrilling encounters. After Puerto Egas, sail to Espumilla Beach (approximately 45 minutes; 5 miles), located on the northern coast of Santiago Island. Experience the texture of its unique soft sand on your feet. The waters are tranquil, yet can also form large waves, making it a favourite among beach lovers. The vegetation is a vivid green. Not only is this island a nesting site for marine turtles, it’s also a place to see ghost crabs, blue-footed boobies (often plunging for fish) and brown pelicans. There’s also the chance to see Galapagos hawks up close. It is also well known for its palo santo forest and some extraordinary lava formations. Next you will visit Buccaneer Cove (approximately 15 minutes; 2 nautical miles) and witness its spectacular geology of volcanic ash (tuff). Here you might find the remains of objects used by pirates in centuries past. This is where Darwin camped for nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife. If conditions are favourable, you can enjoy some more snorkelling.

Day 12 Isla Isabela - Isla Fernandina
Visit Tagus Cove, where pirates and whalers used to collect turtles for their travels. Enjoy a short visit here (approximately 2 hours), perhaps snorkelling or checking out the ancient graffiti on the walls (the oldest of which is from 1836). Witness flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies and a variety of waterfowl and penguins (the most northerly penguins in the world). You will walk to a lookout point for a stunning panorama of the north of Isabela Island and the Wolf volcano. This morning you will also visit nearby Fernandina Island, the youngest of the Galapagos Islands. It’s also volcanically active and the most westerly island, making it one of the least visited. The third largest in size, it erupted most recently in 2009. The absence of introduced mammals gives it a unique landscape, and it boasts the highest concentration of marine iguanas on the archipelago. The northeast tip, Punta Espinosa, is a narrow ledge of lava and sand extending from the base of La Cumbre volcano. You will take a walk around the beautiful peninsula, which boasts such wildlife and plant life as lava cacti, marine iguanas, barking sea lions, tiny penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Keep a lookout for that marvellous Galapagos predator hunting from the treetops – the Galapagos hawk. Top-notch snorkelling opportunities await in the clear waters, and turtles and sea lions can be seen swimming around and feeding on the shore. This is a great spot to see flightless cormorants drying their atrophied wings amid the volcanic landscape. Estimated travel time/distance: Buccaneer's Cove to Espinoza: 45 mins (6 nautical miles) Espinoza to Elizabeth Bay: 4.5 hours (37 nautical miles)

Day 13 Isla Isabela
Today you will land at the archipelago's largest island – Isabela. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having formed less than a million years ago. Here you will take a Panga ride along Elizabeth Bay, which is located on the west coast of Isabela Island and does not permit landings. Keep your binoculars and camera at the ready to photograph the second-smallest penguins in the world. You might also spot blue-footed boobies perched on the islets or diving for their next meal. Then you’ll head for the mangrove forest, which is quite unique in the Galapagos, to see sea turtles, sea lions, penguins, lava herons, rays and plenty of colourful fish – pompanos, dorados and mullets. Your destination is Punta Moreno (approximately 2.5 hours; 18 nautical miles) on the south west coast. You’ll spend the afternoon here. This coastline has some of the most beautiful blue lagoons and rocky terrain in the Galapagos, with a backdrop of three active volcanoes, myriad flamingos and incredible lava formations. Landing is impossible here too, due to the delicate ecosystem. Go for an amazing walk on top of the black lava field with the majestic view of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul in the background. Depending on the season, you can see brown pelicans nesting on top of the mangroves, lava and candelabra cactus, plus lava lizards. You’ll pass brackish water lagoons, covered with several different plants, where pink flamingos, ducks and black neck stills rest. Then jump aboard once again and head out for a snorkel and look out for the elusive sea horse. An overnight sail takes us to Puerto Villamil (8 hours, 64 nautical miles).

Day 14 Isla Isabela
This morning, visit Las Tintoreras, a little peninsula at the entrance of Isabela Island’s Port. Here there’s a viewing walkway from where you can look down into the narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping – and the occasional sea lion among them. Blue-footed boobies, penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here. Enjoy a nice long walk on a gravel path, heading through lava flows and spotting plenty of marine iguanas. The natives of the islands call white sharks ‘tintoreras’, hence the name of this spectacular site. This is where everything comes together for one big marine and wildlife party. Without trying you will see sea lions, penguins and frigate birds. After breakfast you will take a bus up to Sierra Negra Volcano where you will see the crater and explore the area. This volcano last erupted in 2005. In the afternoon you will visit the Interpretation Center and Humedales, the wetlands of Isabela. You’ll reach them via a complex trail which winds around for some six kilometres. Upon arrival you’ll find an intriguing spread of flora and fauna (including flamingos) and some spectacular scenery. Tonight, sail to Cerro Dragon (5 hours 45 minutes, 45 nautical miles).

Day 15 Isla Santa Cruz
Wake up this morning on Santa Cruz's north coast and visit Cerro Dragon aka Dragon Hill. From the dry landing, walk to a brackish lagoon that’s frequented by birds such as stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings and occasionally flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a nesting site for land iguanas and is constantly monitored by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation makes for some fine birdwatching. Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, Galapagos flycatchers and yellow warblers are all regulars here. The path can be challenging, but the reward is a spectacular view of the bay. In the afternoon you will visit Punta Carrion in north-eastern Santa Cruz. First sail to the Baltra dock (approximately 2.5 hours; 18 nautical miles), then to Punta Carrion (approximately 1 hour; 6 nautical miles). This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for snorkelling and swimming. Wildlife is plentiful here – keep your eyes peeled for blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons and great blue herons. Go swimming among the rays and white-tipped reef sharks. Afterwards, sail from Punta Carrion to Puerto Ayora (approximately 4 hours; 30 nautical miles).

Day 16 Baltra - Quito
Flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, so it’s an early start for your last morning on the islands. You will visit the Santa Cruz Highlands for a second time. Travel through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where you can see the unique Scalesia cloud forest and experience seeing the dome-shaped giant tortoises in the wild once again.  Take in the serene atmosphere of the highlands and it's wildlife and then it’s time to bid farewell to the archipelago and head to the airport for your mid-morning flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour. This flight takes approximately 2.5 hours with a transit in Guayaquil. Upon arrival at Quito Airport, at about 4pm, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay. A local Intrepid representative might stop by the hotel this evening to get your feedback on the trip. Estimated travel times/distances: Bus from Santa Cruz Highlands to the Itabaca Channel: 45 minutes Public ferry across the channel: 5 minutes Public airport bus from the dock to Baltra airport: 15 minutes

Day 17 Quito
There are no activities planned for the final day so we are able to depart our accommodation at any time. If you have not spent time here before, we recommend you stay on a few days as there are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, such as the Cotopaxi volcano, the Cloud Forest, hot springs, the Equatorial Monument or perhaps city tour of the fascinating Old Town. Please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport.

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability

Why Geckos Adventures?

Geckos Adventures is for travellers aged 18 to 29 who want to tour with others their own age but don’t want to spend their whole trip crammed into a coach with 40 hung-over backpackers. It’s for adventurers who want to meet locals, embrace new cultures and actually learn stuff (who were the Aztecs? Why is that baboon looking at me funny?), while also making friends and finding those backstreet bars, tasty street stalls and cool secret spots along the way.

Geckos’ groups for each tour are small, usually an average of ten people; a ready-made crew of besties to connect with and making travelling solo really easy. After visiting the must-sees, with the backup of the local group leader with fountains of knowledge of the area and people, you’ll really get under the skin of the area, into people’s homes and culture, seeing and experiencing things you wouldn’t when holidaying with people your mum and dad’s age. Because Geckos tours in small groups, they are able to include amazing local colour such as homestays, community visits and bars and restaurants only the locals know about.

Geckos understands you’ve saved hard for your adventure with them and their itineraries have been cleverly designed to allow for heaps of free time to explore and expand on what you’ve already seen. There are tons of optional activities and your guide will always have ideas on how to take your trip to the next level. They are there to get you from A to B and put you up in accommodation with character – could be a treehouse or houseboat or a homestay. They may not be fancy but they are clean and well-located; you won’t be far from the action although you will lose the tourist crowds.

Geckos Adventures is fully committed to minimising their touring effects on the environment and has an impressive strategy in aiming to be carbon neutral. By operating in small groups it allows them to get right in to the community, directly benefitting the locals and reducing their footprint. They are also partnering this year with Friends International to support their vocational training programs for marginalised youth in the regions they visit. For every trip booked they make a contribution at no extra cost to you. Their carbon footprint is further offset by their investment into innovative renewable energy projects in many of the countries they visit. Geckos is also part of the United Nations Global Compact which means they have adopted environmentally sustainable and socially responsible policies and report on their progress every year.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Geckos Adventures

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Enquire Exciting adventures for 18-29 year olds
Group Size:1 - 16
Suitable For: 15-80 years
Accommodation:Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (14 nights)
Difficulty:physical=2, cultureShock=1
Meals:16 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 14 dinners
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