The Finch & the Tortoise - Central 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 : GSGVB
Trip length : 7
Trip starts in : Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Trip ends in : Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Maximum group size : maximum 14

highlights

  • Frigatebird spotting
  • The tortoises of Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Nemo I
  • Post Office Bay on Floreana
  • UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito
  • Waved albatrosses and boobies on Espanola Island
  • Puerto Ayora
  • Meet Sally Lightfoot whilst crusing the Galapagos

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

itin

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

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

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

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

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

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 9.
  • 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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