The Finch & the Tortoise - Southern 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 : maximum 14

highlights

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

The Galapagos: watch your step - iguanas, sea lions and boobies ahead. 

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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

Baltra- Santa Cruz

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 4am. 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. 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 I, 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. The shallow and protected cove of Punta Carrion is ideal for snorkelling and swimming in the Galapagos. From the zodiac (panga) ride wildlife is plentiful so keep your eyes peeled for Frigate birds, Brown Pelicans, Galapagos herons, great Blue Herons, and Blue-Footed Boobies. Underwater, swim among tropical fish, rays and white-tipped reef sharks and California Sea Lions.

Day
3

Isabela

Isabela Island is the largest of the Galapagos archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago. This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. Passengers will be required to pay a USD$20pp fee to enter Isabela Island Las Tintoreras is a little peninsula at the entrance of Isabela Island’s Port. We visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them! Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles. We enjoy a nice long walk on a gravel path through ‘Ahh-ahh’ lava flow and see plenty of Marine Iguanas. The natives of the islands call white sharks “tintoreras”, hence the name of this spectacular site.We might also have the opportunity to snorkel off the panga, to observe sharks, sea lions and Galapagos penguins.We visit the Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise breeding center. Here you can see the five sub species of tortoises from Isabela Island, some of which are bred in captivity.

Day
4

Isla Floreana

A highlight of any Galapagos cruise, Isla Floreana is rich in natural wonders and wildlife, including seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Discover the quirky maritime history of Post Office Bay. 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. 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 snorkelling spot and many people find this one of the best snorkelling experiences of their trip and we might see Rays, Sharks, Sea Lions and Turtles. 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.

Day
5

Isla Espanola

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 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. 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. 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.

Day
6

Charles Darwin Research Centre - Baltra - Quito

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 are essential stops 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. Observe the Giant Opuntia and Jasminocereus cactus trees. Leisure time to explore Puerto Ayora, check email or have a drink at a local bar and see the local’s way of life.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

Our tour 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.

itin-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.

trip-grade

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.

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

included

  • Expert English-speaking naturalist guide on board the Nemo I.
  • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.
  • All meals and accommodation onboard the Nemo I. Accommodation in one of just seven well-appointed, air-conditioned, cabins with private facilities.
  • Excursions during the voyage.
  • Visit to the tortoise research and breeding program at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
  • Transfer to and from Quito airport on Day 2 and Day 6.
  • Wetsuit and snorkelling equipment

not-included

International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, entrance fees, US$10 Galapagos transit card, US$100 Galapagos National Park fee, Isabela Island port fee US$20, 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. .

meals

6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

single-room-sup

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-important-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). Once you arrive at Isabela Island there is also a fee to be paid of US$20

Affordable Adventures

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