The Finch & the Tortoise - Northern Islands Trip Notes

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

  • Trip code :GSGVA
  • Trip length : 7
  • Trip starts in : Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
  • Trip ends in : Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
  • Maximum group size : 16
  • Ages : 18 - 39
  • Meals : 6 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • Accommodation : 2 Nights Hotel, 4 Nights Motorised Yacht
  • Transport : Boat, Bus, Plane

highlights1

  • Frigatebird spotting
  • UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito
  • Meet Sally Lightfoot whilst crusing the Galapagos

White-tipped reef sharks patrol Punta Carrion’s depths. Iguanas scamper across the petrified lava flows of Las Tintoreras. Sea lions congregate on Floreana, albatross scour Espanola’s skies and tortoises lumber the Santa Cruz highlands. Where are you? The Galapagos: watch your step - iguanas, sea lions and boobies ahead. 

daily-itinerary1

Day
1

Quito

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; 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). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. 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 your leader.

Day
2

San Cristobal - Interpretation Centre

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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 boxed breakfast will be provided). A US$10 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport 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 Daphne, 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 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 reality of the problems the islands face today is also explored. This is a great way to complete your time in the Galapagos.

Day
3

Santa Fe - Plaza Sur

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Santa Fe is home to many 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 the Galapagos hawk, land Iguanas, a variety of finches and the Galapagos mockingbird, sea lions, marine turtles, frigatebirds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. It’s a naturally beautiful island as well, with one of the most attractive coves in the archipelago, the waters jade green and wonderful for snorkelling. . Our trail follows the coast into the Opuntia Forest Santa Fe's trees are the largest in the Galapagos. Hiking into the island you can see a forest of giant cacti and palo santo trees. Once back at the beach we have free time to snorkel in the jade green water. Playful sea lion pups and fluorescent fish make for fascinating company.

A small island, Plaza Sur or South Plaza is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where we get close to sea lions and onto trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sea-purslanes. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the gentlemen’s club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be ‘beach masters’!

Day
4

Genovesa

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

It takes us an overnight sail to reach Genovesa the archipelagos north east outpost, but it is undeniably worth the voyage. Dolphins are often spotted in the waters around Genovesa while the island itself is one of abundant beauty, with varying landscapes and wonderful wildlife. It is also a twitcher's paradise, with all three kinds of boobies, including the rare red-footed booby, and numerous other species such as tropic birds and frigate birds. Walking the steep path known as Prince Philip's Steps get us into the heart of the seabird rookeries, with birds overhead and nesting among the cliffs. On the island's rocky plains we look out for storm petrels - Genovesa is the only place in the world where they can be seen flying during the day. Afterwards cool off with a snorkel!

Darwin Beach is another superb site with large breeding colonies of seabirds and frigates and other birds such as lava herons, swallowed tail gulls, mocking birds and hopefully the vampire finch. During the walk we will pass by tide pools with playful Sea Lions and Diamond Sting Rays and the island's magnificent marine life makes for spectacular snorkelling and the chance of encountering manta rays, sharks, turtles and moray eels along with many fish.

Day
5

Isla Santiago - Isla Rabida

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

On Santiago's eastern coast sits Bahia Sullivan also known as James Island. We will walk on Pahoe-Hoe lava from an eruption that occurred in 1897, and witness the colonization of plant species since the last eruption. Hopefully see some Marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Sea Lions, Finches, Turtles, Sharks and sometimes Penguins. As we walk, our guide will inform us of the geological history of the islands.

Rabida Island is known for it's gorgeous red sandy beach (due to the rusting of iron) and is one of the most striking islands of the archipelago. From the shore, the trail leads 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 all present. Here we will find great Opuntia cactus forest which suggests previous existence of land iguanas as predators, possibly Galapagos hawks, mocking birds, doves, and finches; lava lizards. There is also an opportunity for snorkelling where sea stars, damsels, gobbies and surgeon fish are numerous.

Day
6

Isla Santa Cruz - Caleta Tortuga Negra - Quito

Meals included: 1 breakfast

We take a Panga ride to explore Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. We paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters, for our first taste of the underwater riches of these waters – it’s a breeding area for green turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating. There is also abundant birdlife, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. It is also a nursery for golden cow-nose rays, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks.

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.

Day
7

Quito

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Our tour ends today after breakfast

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.

included1

  • Gecko's expert English-speaking naturalist guide on board the Daphne.
  • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.
  • All meals and accommodation onboard the Daphne. Accommodation in one of just eight well-appointed, air-conditioned, cabins with private facilities.
  • Excursions during the voyage.- Transfer to and from Quito airport on Day 2 and Day 6.
  • Snorkelling equipment

not-included1

International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, entrance fees, US$10 Galapagos transit card, US$100 Galapagos National Park fee, wetsuit hire, other meals, drinks, optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.

tripgrade1

RAW

Our Raw tours are best suited for those with a sense of adventure, are willing to step outside their comfort zone and don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. For independent travellers who want to travel with others. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart who has an open mind, an eye on the budget and a nose for adventure. Authentic experiences that expand the mind rather than hold the hand.

Style Facts

  • The freedom to explore without breaking the bank
  • Time to do your own thing – or join in optional group activities
  • YOU choose where YOU want to eat
  • Basic accommodation
  • A variety of public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.

Active

Explore the world on two feet - or two wheels! Our active trips range from classic treks & trips where walking forms an integral part of the itinerary to cycling tours offering a totally new perspective on a destination.

Some of our active adventure tours include the classic treks such as the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp as well as shorter one day or overnight hikes. Our cycling tours allow you to access hidden corners of a destination, discover remote villages and meet the locals – either en route or even by cycling alongside them. All our active trips are fully supported – with either porters and mules or by a support vehicle.

Basic

Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

Style Facts

  • Plenty of free time to explore independently
  • Optional activities to suit your budget
  • Freedom to choose your own meals
  • Simple famliy run hotels
  • Mostly public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.

This tour is operated by our partners Geckos Adventures

visa1

A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.

The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.

Please click here for more information.

medical-preparation1

We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.

Money1

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later.

travel-insurance

You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information

responsible-travel1

Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.For further information about responsible travel please click here.

other-important-information

Itinerary Variation

While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

Single room supplement

Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.

Other Information

On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$110 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park (This includes the US$10 transit fee).

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