PDI
The Finch & the Tortoise - Central Islands

This document contains essential information that you need to prepare for, as well as information you will need during your holiday with us.

We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.


your-trip

Nuts and Bolts

  • 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 9.
  • Wetsuit and snorkelling equipment

Summary of accommodation, transport & meals

Transport

  • Boat
  • Bus
  • Plane

Accommodation

  • 2 nights Hotel
  • 4 nights Motorised Yacht

Meals

  • 6 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 4 dinners

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.


preparing-to-travel

Visas and Permits

Ecuador

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.

government-travel-advice

Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Medical---prep

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

Vaccinations

Yellow Fever: This vaccine should be administered at least 10 days prior to travel and must be recorded in an official certificate book. You may be asked to produce this certificate by immigration and health officials both whilst travelling overseas and upon your return to your home country so you must carry this booklet with you at all times.

Other vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up to date information.

Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return.

For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.

copies-of-key-docs

We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.

fitness

Galapagos Voyage

No particular level of physical fitness is required for our Galapagos voyages, although you should be reasonably agile and enjoying good health. Please keep in mind that there are a number of shore excursions on your cruise. This involves boarding a small dingy or zodiac from the rear transom of the cruise boat. Disembarkation at some locations will be at steps or a small pier, whilst at other locations you may be required to disembark on the beach. This can invovle having to wade ashore a short distance through shallow water. A degree of agility will be required for this. Once you are on shore you will undertake several walks, some across volcanic rock. For this a reasonable level of fitness is beneficial, as is a pair of good walking shoes or boots.

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.

what-to-take

General Packing List

Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A soft-sided duffel or sausage bag is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option, but preferably one without a frame.

Please refer to the specific country section for climate details. When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Keep in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.

Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.

- Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Peregrine travel itinerary and this document
- Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets
- Spare passport photos
- Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card
- Money belt and small padlocks
- Small first-aid kit
- Daypack
- Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
- Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com)
- Toiletries/roll of toilet paper/travel wipes/ tissues
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
- Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
- Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)
- 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain) and dry bags
- Refillable water bottle
- Phrase book
- Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates
- Wind and waterproof rain jacket
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks
- Camera and spare film (or recharge for digital cameras)
- Binoculars

Special Items required for this trip

- Underwater disposable camera

- There are many opportunities for snorkelling during the voyage. Diving masks, snorkels, fins and some wetsuits are provided onboard the vessel and are for use by all passengers. Some passengers choose to bring their own, however this is a personal choice. Beach towels are also provided.

- During our time in the Galapagos we are usually sailing and anchoring in sheltered waters. However, it is possible we may encounter some movement in open waters - if you are prone to motion sickness, and you might wish to bring some preventative medication.

Medical Kit

It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:

Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.

It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.

Diarrhoea Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.

Sunstroke It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.

Water In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.


money

Currency

Ecuador

Ecuador uses the US dollar (US$). US$1 = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of US$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of US$1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents.

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

In the year 2000 the Ecuadorian government adopted the US dollar as the national currency. The US dollar is therefore the only valid currency on the islands.

Exchange rates

Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.

Accessing Money

Ecuador

The US Dollar replaced the Sucre as the official currency of Ecuador in September 2000. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and at exchange houses (casas de cambio), the latter being generally the best option. It may be difficult to exchange money in the Oriente. The rate of commission varies between 1 per cent and 4 per cent, so it is worth shopping around. ATMs are available in large urban areas.

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

US dollars cash are the easiest option for purchases on the islands. In Galapagos there is only one bank and you can only get cash with MasterCard. There are no official money exchange businesses in the Galapagos. MasterCard is widely accepted in Galapagos and Ecuador, however there is a 10% service charge on all credit card payments within Ecuador.

Personal Expenses

South America & Central America

You will need to take money with you to cover any additional meals/drinks not included in your tour cost. You will also need to budget for bottled drinking water plus such things as tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional sightseeing, optional activities and excursions, and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies that can happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and reimbursement is made later by the insurance company. This is a situation where a credit card can be useful.

ENTRANCE

You must pay US$110 entrance fee to Galapagos Islands National Park upon arrival at Baltra  Airport in the Galapagos (this includes the $10 transit card fee). In the interest of speed and efficiency, this is best paid in cash. If your trip visits Isabela Island, there is also a US$20 park fee to be paid upon arrival.

Spending Money

We recommend you carry at least US$100 to allow for additional meals and snacks. In addition there is a bar on board where the settlement of bills is by cash. Please make additional allowance for bar expenses, however you will find the drinks to be moderately priced.

Airport Taxes

Ecuador

There are no international departure taxes to be paid at Quito airport.

Tipping

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$10-12 per day for the crew and US$5-8 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey.


while-you-are-travelling

On arrival

If you have not pre-booked an arrival transfer you will find taxis available on arrival. You should use an official taxi, identified by a sticker on the windshield and number painted on the side. Agree to your price before you set off, and ensure the taxi meter has been turned on. Expect to pay between US$10-15.

If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer, please ensure that we have been advised of your correct flight details into Quito airport by either yourself or your travel agent. A transfer guide (or our local representative PEAK Adventure Travel) will be there to meet you after you clear customs and transfer you to your hotel. Please look for your transfer guide at the airport immediately after exiting the customs area - they will be holding a sign with your surname on it and/or our company logo. If you are unable to find them, please call our local operator for assistance: 

Office Hours: 02 2560419 or after hours: 09 94014877

In the evening you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please check the noticeboard at reception to confirm the time and place of your meeting which is normally held at 6 pm.

Hotel Check In / Check Out

Generally, your room will be available from around midday. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until your room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's pre-tour accommodation that will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Rooms must generally be vacated by 12 noon unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge.

Photo etiquette

Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).

Flexibility and patience

Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.

A word on drugs

In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.

Local Prices

Ecuador

Costs in Ecuador are quite low by Western standards – among the lowest in South America. Tourists do pay more for certain services as there is a two-tier pricing system, a cost for the locals and a cost for the foreigners. This is not applied in all places, mainly just higher range services. 1 litre of water US$1 30cl bottle of soft drink US$0.70 30cl bottle of beer US$1.20 50cl bottle of beer US$1.70 Budget meal US$1-US$3 Mid-range meal US$3-US$10


other-important-information

Gecko's Community Trust & The Galapagos Conservancy

If, after having visited this unique and precious region of the world, you would like to make a donation towards the protection of the Galapagos, the recently launched Gecko's Community Trust is the easiest and most convenient way to do so.

The Trust supports the Galapagos Conservancy, an organisation dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Galapagos conservation. It is a membership-based organisation and the largest source of private support for conservation efforts. The 11,000 Friends of Galapagos are individuals and institutions who care deeply about the Galapagos Islands, and understand the scientific importance of preserving this one-of-a-kind ecosystem.

Funds raised by the Galapagos Conservancy support the core operations of the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS), both located on the island of Santa Cruz.

Please see below for details on how to make a contribution to the Gecko's Community Trust or refer to the Pledge Card provided at your pre-cruise briefing which contains details for making a donation.

Meals & Dietary requirements

All meals are included whilst on the Nemo I. There is a chef on board who cooks up local and international cuisine daily, including a buffet breakfast.

Should you have a special diet requirement (for example vegetarian, celiac, vegan, severe food allergies) it's essential that you inform Peregrine of the specific details at least 10 days prior to departure, in order to make sure the chef on board the boat or on the island can request the necessary food supplies.

Partner organisations on the ground

We work with partner organisations in each country we visit. This ensures we provide employment opportunities within local communities, including our experienced local leaders. We minimise the negative impacts of travel and maximise the benefits to the regions we travel, through working with our ethical services providers.

In case of emergency

For any assistance prior to travel, please contact your travel agent. For assistance whilst you are travelling, please contact the local numbers listed below, as your call will be received in the same time zone by an English speaking representative. PEAK Adventure Travel Ecuador: When calling from outside Ecuador: +593 94014877 When calling from inside Ecuador: 094014877 Alternatively, if you have already joined your tour, please direct your enquiries to your local tour leader.

 

 

daily-itin

The Finch & the Tortoise - Central Islands

Trip Length

Trip Code

7 days

GSGVB

 

Countries Visited

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

 

Start City

End City

Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador

Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador

gsgvb

 

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 - ISLA MOSQUERA

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 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.

We sail to Isla Mosquera, an Islet situated between Baltra and North Seymour. This stretch of water is rich in sea life and is a popular spot for both sea lions and marine birds. Watch out for the boobies making their spectacularly quick headlong dives into the water. Isla Mosquera is a relaxing and picturesque spot with its uplifted coral reef with long stretches of white sand and rock pools. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, Sally Lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava. The island also has a very large colony of sea lions as well as a sizeable resident brown pelican population. We also have the chance to go snorkelling.

DAY 3: ISLA ISABELA

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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

The Wetlands are the first exploration of the day, where we can observe migratory birds like sandpiper, common stilt, plovers, flamingos, American oystercatcher and many other interesting species.   Then take a bus  to the highest part of Isabela Island where Sierra Negra Volcano is located. Be prepared for a hike on a rocky trail that will take us to a spectacular view of the crater (weather permitting). On the hike we should see many finches of different species in the area.

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: EDEN ISLET - CERRO DRAGON - ISLA SANTA CRUZ

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

This morning we will go for a walk on the beach at the beautiful Ballena Bay. The main attraction is the observation of Darwin's finches.  If we are in luck, we might be able to find small ground finches, large tree finches and woodpecker finches.  We then take a great Panga Ride to Eden Islet which is an excellent place for snorkelling.  Here we can see turtles, marine iguanas, rays, a variety tropical fish and hopefully reef shark. We will also observe blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies (masked), tropical birds and frigates.

We then set sail for Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), on Santa Cruz's north coast. From our dry landing we walk to a brackish lagoon frequented by lagoon birds including 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, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation makes for a rewarding location for birdwatching, with Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher and yellow warblers all regulars here.  The path can be challenging but we'll be well rewarded with a spectacular view of the bay!

DAY 5: ISLA RABIDA - ISLA NORTH SEYMOUR

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

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.

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.

DAY 6: CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION - BALTRA - QUITO

Meals included: 1 breakfast

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

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 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.

about-this-re-departure-inf

The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!

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Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller.Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Last Updated

3rd March 2014

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