7 days

Galapagos Escapade - Southern Islands

Galapagos Escapade - Southern Islands

The tortoises of Charles Darwin Research Station

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito

Puerto Ayora

Frigatebird spotting

Waved albatrosses and boobies on Espanola Island

Post Office Bay on Floreana

Trip rating
  • The Galapagos are not only a world-famous haven for wildlife, but an incredible archipelago of diverse islands that each offer different experiences. From close-up wildlife experiences with the weird and wonderful local inhabitants to walks along secluded beaches and up to the summit of volcanic outcrops to enjoy stunning views, there is plenty for nature lovers to savour. This journey is the perfect overview and showcases the eclectic mix that combines together to make up the panoramic Galapagos mosaic.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Quito

    Your trip starts in Quito today and there will be a welcome meeting in the evening.

     

    On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you are met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. There is a pre-departure meeting in the evening at 6pm when you meet others travelling on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, 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). We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to our local representative who will be conducting the meeting.

     

    Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level and at this altitude you may possibly experience some effects from the high altitude, so we suggest that you avoid any strenuous activity on this day. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, this charming colonial centre offers a wealth of things to see and you could lose yourself for hours meandering through the narrow, winding cobblestone streets and exploring the lively Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco. The city is filled with Baroque art and architecture, as exemplified by magnificent churches, monasteries and public buildings. If your feel like exploring further afield, you might like to head for one of the many viewpoints over the city. El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf) offers sensational views of the city’s white houses and surrounding volcanoes. The 30-metre high statue of La Virgen de Quito sits atop this small hill and can be seen from all over the city. Incredible vistas can also be enjoyed from La Cima de la Libertad, the site of Ecuadorian independence from Spain.

    Day 2 - Fly Baltra, visit North Seymour

    This morning we transfer to Quito Airport for our early morning flight to the Galapagos Islands. Be prepared for an early start as this could mean leaving the hotel as early as 4.30am. A US$10 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport (** Please note that effective from 01 March 2015, the transit card fee will be US$20 **) and a US$100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival on the islands. Please have cash on hand for these transactions as using credit cards can be time consuming.


    On arrival in the Galapagos we are met in the arrivals hall and then transferred to our boat, the Nemo III, anchored a short distance away. Once on board we'll be assigned our cabins, meet the crew members and get to know our naturalist guide and fellow travellers over a delicious lunch.


    We take an active excursion to North Seymour, probably one of the Galapagos’ most visited islands. On North Seymour Island the highlight will be seeing the blue footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, both species of frigate birds (Great and Magnificent), land iguanas, marine iguanas, California sea lions, endemic incense trees. The magnificent frigate bird, a large black bird with a long wingspan, and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigate birds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males thrown back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball), and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. They share the same nesting area on North Seymour, with blue-footed boobies nesting on the ground, while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes. A solid walk is followed by snorkelling where we will find a great variety of fish, and possibly white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 3 - Isla San Cristobal - Isla Lobos, Cerro Brujo and Kicker Rock

    Early walk on one of the islands with the largest colonies of sea lions. We are going to be surrounded by the bark of the friendly and playful sea lions. The light the walk will take us along the salt tolerant vegetation, on which colonies of frigate birds rest and nest, get up close to the Blue Footed Boobies, Sally Light foot crabs, Lava lizards, Lava Herons, marine Iguanas,Common Sandpipers. It is also home to the colorful land bird the Yellow Warbler.
    After this we will be heading to one of the best snorkelling spots in the Galapagos. 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. We cruise through the channel, with nesting seabirds on either side of the boat, tropic birds overhead, marine iguanas in the water and resting on the rocks and many sea lions also present. Snorkelling gives us the opportunity to see Galapagos sharks, and possibly a hammer head shark among sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the wall.


    We then take a Panga ride to Cerro Brujo where the volcanic formations are breathtaking. Wet landing on a fine powder beach on San Cristobal’s north coast followed by some swimming and snorkelling! It is a place for watching lake and coastal birds and the beach is also home to Sally Lightfoot crabs, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies and offers wonderful views of Kicker Rock

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Isla Española

    Today we cruise to the island of Española - the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. 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 us right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen.

     

    We head to Gardner Beach which is considered by many as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands and full of California sea lions and Hood Mocking birds. Enjoy the beach and do some snorkelling which could be great for playing with sea lion pups and lots of fish. We also visit the beautiful white sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner which are great places for swimming and relaxing. Considered by many as the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands the beaches are full of California sea lions and Hood Mocking birds. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.

     

    We land at Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population - a walk along its trails takes us to a cliff top viewpoint, where we gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath us, while frigate birds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island. If we’re lucky we’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay

    The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. We go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green colour. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions. Today is also one of our finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. The walk continues to a white flour sandy beach to an Easter Pacific Green Sea Turtle nesting site. Young Diamond Sting Rays are commonly found in the shore line and enjoy the view of the turquoise crystalline ocean.


    Discover the quirky maritime history of Post Office Bay which is the oldest postal system in the Americas. Steeped in history, in 1793 a post office barrel was erected for mariners to post their mail and assist in delivery of mail to the United States and Europe. This custom continues today with Galapagos visitors leaving letters and postcards to be collected by the next passing boat – send one of your own and check if there are any you can deliver back home. Snorkeling and a panga ride will be also included in this outing.

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Puerto Ayora, the Charles Darwin Research Station - Quito

    As flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid morning, it is an early start for our last morning on the islands. Depending on the time of our flight, our time spent on this final excursion could be limited.

     

    Today we visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos.

     

    The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic hub of the archipelago and is also home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museum offer a great insight for anyone interested in the archipelago's natural and human history, and keen to learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos. It also offers our best chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises, and we can see many newborn and young giant turtles - part of the breeding program to reintroduce them to their natural habitat.

     

    Sadly all good things must come to an end and this is our final excursion. We say farewell to The Galapagos Islands and head to the airport for our flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour. Upon arrival in Quito Airport we are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay.

    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Quito

    Our adventure ends today after breakfast.

     

    There are no activities planned for the final day so we are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito so please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest.

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    Safety Information

    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 Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid 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:
    Peregrine 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.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSNE
Start City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
End City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Style: Small Group

What to know

Before checking in for the flight from Quito to the Galapagos, there is a US$10 transit fee that needs to be paid. On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$100 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park.

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