Galapagos Islands ~ Exclusive Charter for Photographers

Tour Intro

There is availability for a male willing to share cabin.

The Galápagos archipelago is a distinctive world heritage site. Since Charles Darwin’s famous voyage, it has provided a wealth of information and inspiration for people throughout the world. The “Enchanted Islands” still continue to play an important role in our understanding of life on earth. Situated on the equator some 600 miles off the coast of South America, this remote volcanic archipelago remains much as it was millions of years ago. Over the course of centuries, animal and plant life from the Americas reached the islands and gradually evolved into new forms. Many of its species are unique to the rest of the world.

The Galápagos offer a way to magically step back in time, to visit an isolated, relatively untouched place where you can be at one with nature as nowhere else. Animals have no fear of humans — birds light on your arm, curious sea lions come to get acquainted, fur seals and penguins join you for a swim in the clear waters. You will visit nurseries where young Galápagos sea lions cavort among the rocks under the watchful eyes of their mothers and the huge male beachmaster. You will see elegant red-billed tropicbirds with their long plumed tails, marine and land iguanas basking on black lava rocks, parrot and pufferfish, morays and Moorish idols, and brilliant Sally Lightfoot crabs. Blue-footed boobies show off their unique footwork and perform their graceful courting ritual. Throughout the islands are Darwin’s finches, whose unique adaptations helped to lead Charles Darwin to his revolutionary theory of evolution.

Outside the Capital City of Quito you will have time to visit and photograph several bird sanctuaries and reserves including Yanacocha, Angel Paz and Milpe. Accomodations will be at the wonderful Tandayapa Lodge, nestled in the cloud forest, where you will have two days to enjoy photographing several species of hummingbirds, butterflies, and birds. The lodges blinds and feeders may just be the best in the world, not only do they bring in 12-20 different hummingbird species per day, they also attract birders from all over the world. The fruit feeders are regularly stocked, bringing in a steady stream of birds, including tanagers, Red-headed and Toucan Barbets, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and a sneaky Red-tailed Squirrel.

After the cruise enjoy a relaxing evening in the City of Guayaquil, you can walk or take a taxi to the Rio Guayas malecon (the city’s riverfront playground). The picturesque barrio of Las Penas, with its colonial architecture, is perched above the river. You can hike up the winding streets and photograph the Santa Ana hill chapel and lighthouse at sunset, and enjoy the brightly colored historical artists shops.

Cathy and Gordon Illg are freelance photographers specializing in nature and outdoor recreation. For more than twenty years they have been searching outstanding locations for both scenic and wildlife photography. Their work has appeared in nearly all the major nature publications and prominent travel magazines, as well as earning numerous awards in Nature’s Best International Photographic Competitions. In 2003, they earned second place in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, and one of their participants also won an award in that contest with a photo taken on one of their tours.
They are more than just skilled photographers and instructors; they are also Certified International Tour Managers, which ensures that traveling companions will have a great time, regardless of where they are traveling and what they are doing. The job is particularly fulfilling when it involves bringing guests face to face with the great outdoors and the creatures that call it home.

If you are already an accomplished photographer, they will get you to the good locations, at the right times, and set you free. However, if you want help, they will provide as much instruction as you want. On most tours instructional presentations are provided, and participants are always encouraged to bring a sample of their work for a helpful, friendly critique or just to share with the group.

 

 

Tour Highlights

  • 12-day land and cruise program to the Galápagos Islands, including Tandayapa Lodge & Guayaquil, Ecuador.
  • SIGN UP EARLY: 4 cabins with double bed on Main Deck, 2 cabins on Lower Deck with double bed, and 2 cabins on Lower Deck with bunk beds.
  • Price includes Quito/Galapagos Islands/Guayaquil Airfare and Galapagos National Park Fee.
  • 7-night cruise aboard the 16-passenger catamaran yacht The Lonesome George. The small boat experience provides the most in-depth and personal way to experience the islands.
  • Features of the yacht include: safety, comfort, eight air-conditioned cabins, private bathrooms, hot water, library, dining inside and out, bar, and sundeck
  • Two evenings at Tandayapa Lodge nestled with in the cloudforest, renowned for bird and butterfly photography.
  • Services of professional tour leaders and photographers Cathy and Gordon Illg.
  • Departure limited to 14 participants to optimize your photographic experience.

 

Tour Itinerary

March 13: Home - Quito

Today we fly to Quito*, Ecuador. At 9,000 feet in elevation, Quito is one of the world’s highest capitals. The majority of flights land late evening, all participants will be transferred to hotel in city center. Overnight Anahi Boutique Hotel. *Your international flight will need to be multi-city: Home-UIO/GYE-Home

March 14-15: Tandayapa Andean Cloud Forest

Start out after breakfast to explore the western slope of the Andes and get our first taste of hummingbird, and tropical bird photography. There will be a birding and photography tour at Yanacocha Reserve and lunch at a lovely country house on the way to our lodge. Tandayapa Lodge was designed by birders, for birders, with the goal of saving and preserving the forest and diverse ecosystem. There will be two days filled with photographing hummingbirds such as the Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Booted racket-tail, and White-necked Jacobin. We will also photograph hummingbirds at the many feeders around the grounds. At Tandayapa lodge many birds come to feed on the insects that are attracted to the lights on the walls during the night: Streak-capped Treehunter, Tricolored and White-winged Brush-Finches, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Slat-throated Whitestart, White-winged Becard, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Three-striped Warbler are among the regular visitors. Mixed flocks of tanagers often pass through, stopping to feed on fruiting bushes at the right time of year, and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers, White-winged Brush-Finches, and Red-headed Barbets come to eat the fruit put out for them outside the lounge windows, sometimes bringing Crimson-rumped Toucanets with them.

The next day will be a very early departure to Angel Paz birding reserve, we’ll take a box lunch to maximize our time there. The reserve is known for the Andean Cock-of-the-rock and Giant Antpitta. You will have time to explore the varied trails, allowing time to photograph as a group, or wander on your own. You can also photograph forest dwelling birds such as Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Moustached, Scaled, and Ochre-breasted Antpittas, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, and White-throated Quail-Dove. Tandayapa Lodge (B, L, D each day)

March 16: Milpe Reserve - Quito
Sea Lion Yacht, Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Today you return to Quito in the evening. As you drive back there will be another box lunch day so the group can maximize your time at Milpe Reserve for birding and photography. This reserve is protected by the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation.Overnight Anahi Hotel (B, L)

March 17: Quito - Baltra
Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Ecuador

Rise, early this morning as you will be returned to the Quito airport for your group flight to the Galápagos and begin your exciting week of discovery on board the private yacht Lonesome George. The flight lands at Baltra, where we will be met and escorted to the boat. We will take some time to get situated on board, while the crew takes care of formalities ashore. Next, we are on our way to visit nearby, Punta Carrion, on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island. We will have our first introduction to the Galápagos marine iguana.

Each day we will spend the mornings exploring an island, and then return to the boat for lunch. Early afternoons are for relaxing, as we sail on to the next destination for an afternoon shore excursion, and the possibility of snorkeling. Every evening after dinner the guides will brief us on the next day’s activities, the animals and habitats we will see, and the conditions we will encounter. (b, l, d)

March 18: North Seymour
Galapagos Islandsq

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

North Seymour Island is a natural haven for some of the most sought after residents in the Galapagos Islands, the Blue-Footed Boobie. A nature trail meanders leisurely through large colonies of nesting Frigate birds and Blue-Footed Boobies. Just off shore you can often witness the original Galapagos surf club members, Sea Lions riding the crashing waves all the way into shore. (b, l, d)

March 19: Bartolome Island & Santiago Island
Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Your first stop today visit Bartolome, which lies off the east coast of Santiago Island, and is most likely the first island in the Galapagos to have risen from the sea. It is highly volcanic and is dotted with recent craters, appearing most barren, colorful, and primeval. The swimming beach is white sand, backed by a bit of shade. Those who choose to snorkel should find the waters here most interesting; Galapagos penguins have become regulars here, and if present, may take the opportunity to swim with you as you snorkel. From time to time, green sea turtles nest at night on these beaches as well.

This afternoon, will be at Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island, historically a favorite stop for pirates and whalers. Exciting wildlife-viewing opportunities here include a fur seal grotto, a lagoon that is home to pink flamingos, and the chance to see Galapagos Hawks and Vermillion Flycatchers. Puerto Egas, with its black sand beaches, was the site of a small salt mining industry in the 1960’s; a hike inland to the salt crater is an excellent opportunity to spot land birds such as finches, doves, and hawks.  (b, l, d)

March 20: Genovesa or Rabida
Blue Footed Booby, Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Named after an 18th century British admiral, John Jervis, the Earl of St. Vincent, Isla Rabida is also commonly known by its English name of Jervis Island. Known for its unique reddish-maroon terrain, Isla Rabida is also home to large populations of sea lions, pelicans and flamingoes. An alternative (with National Park approval) for today may be the island of Genovesa. The northeastern most island in the Galapagos Archipelago, Isla Genovesa or Tower Island is a small island with no real tourist visitor sites, this place is actually one of the best islands to go bird watching for various seabirds. You can see not only large colonies of red-footed boobies, but nests of frigatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, storm petrels and masked boobies as well. Some other birds that have been spotted here as well include the endemic Galapagos Dove and short-eared owls. (b, l, d)

March 21: Santa Cruz - Santa Fe
Crab, Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

This morning we’ll visit Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island. Tortuga Bay is a favorite place for sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, flamingos and lava gulls which are endemic to the Islands and are commonly found along the shore of most beaches. It takes around an hour walk to get to the beach. You'll be able to see beautiful birds including the famous Galapagos finches as you walk. There are two beaches separated by Red Mangrove.

Santa Fé Island is one of the most picturesque anchorages within the archipelago. Its beauty is best appreciated from the trail, which climbs the fault cliff that overlooks the southern half of the bay. This plateau is also the best place to find the large land iguanas that are endemic to this island. Often they can be seen beneath the imposing Opuntia cacti that are also particular to Santa Fé. There is another shorter trail along the shoreline where these giant cactus trees can be appreciated; near dusk this is a good area to glimpse the small endemic rice rats scurrying among the rocks and fallen pads. The two beaches are sleeping grounds for sea lions, and snorkeling near the small island by the entrance of the bay can be very rewarding. (b, l, d)

March 22: South Plaza Island
Underwater, Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Plaza Islands (North and South) were created by the uplifting of tectonic action. The vegetation belongs to the arid zone and is represented by annual plants such as Sesuvium and by Opuntia cactus. South Plaza is a good place for observing yellow-brown land iguanas, and a large colony of sea lions which inhabits the island. We will observe swallowtail gulls, tropicbirds, frigates, and blue-footed and masked boobies. From the steep cliff we may see turtles, rays, or sharks in the waters below. A tour here puts you face to face with Sea Lion pups, Land Iguanas, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, and various nesting sea birds. In fact, South Plaza has one of the largest Sea Lion colonies in the entire Galapagos Archipelago. On land, you can see Red and Yellow Land Iguanas, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Audubon’s Shearwaters, Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, Frigates and more. (b, l, d)

March 23: Isla Lobos - Cerro Brujo, San Cristobal
Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordo & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

On Ilsa Lobos there is a small population of blue-footed boobies and common frigate birds nesting on this site. You can observe the two species of sea lions present in the archipelago. During the tour you go through a dry vegetation zone, substrate of volcanic rocks and a sandy area. During the panga tour brown pelicans and several species of shorebirds can be observed; as well as juvenile sea lions, manta rays and sea turtles.

In the afternoon visit San Cristobal Island. Cerro Brujo is a huge white beach found on the west side of the island. The sand here feels like powdered sugar. A colony of sea lions and blue-footed boobies call Cerro Brujo home, and behind the beach is a lagoon where you’ll find great egrets and great blue herons. (b, l, d)

March 24: Santa Cruz - Guayaquil
Sea Lions, Galapagos Islands

Photo By: Gordon & Cathy Illg

Photo Location: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

We will make our way back to Santa Cruz Island today, your last visit will be to twin craters or Los Gemelos. These two large pit craters along the road from Puerto Ayora to Baltra were caused by the collapse of empty magma chambers. Visitors can stop along the side of the road and visit both craters, walking around their rims. A circular trail to the larger crater passes through the beautiful Scalesia forest, which is an excellent place to observe terrestrial birds, including Vermilion Flycatchers, Short-eared Owls, the Galapagos Dove, and several finch species.

You will be taken to the airport for your flight to Guayaquil, where you will then be transferred to your hotel. The afternoon is free to either rest & re-pack for your flight home tomorrow, or you will find the hotel is conveniently located with in walking distance or a quick taxi ride to the malecon, Rio Guayas. It is vibrant day or night with several restaurants, shops, and photography along the river. There is also the picturesque barrio of Las Penas,  which you can walk up the Santa Ana hill, with it’s cobblestone, wandering streets to photograph the tiny church atop the hill. Overnight Guayaquil (b)

March 25: Guayaquil - Home

You will be returned to the Guayaquil airport this morning for flights home. (b)

Photo Leader

Cathy & Gordon Illg
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Cathy & Gordon Illg

Cathy and Gordon Illg are freelance photographers specializing in nature and wildlife photography. For more than twenty years they have been guiding tours to outstanding locations for both scenic and wildlife photography. Their work has appeared in nearly all the major nature publications and prominent travel magazines, as well as earning numerous awards in Nature’s Best International Photographic Competitions. In 2003, they earned second place in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

They are more than just skilled photographers and instructors; they are also Certified International Tour Managers, which ensures that traveling companions will have a great time, regardless of where they are traveling and what they are doing. The job is particularly fulfilling when it involves bringing guests face to face with the great outdoors and the creatures that call it home.

If you are already an accomplished photographer, they will get you to the good locations, at the right times, and set you free. However, if you want help, they will provide as much instruction as you want. On most tours instructional presentations are provided, and participants are always encouraged to bring a sample of their work for a helpful, friendly critique or just to share with the group.

It was an amazing trip and the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands certainly added to that. Everyone did a great job!!

S. Hon

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 11 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $500 if 8-10 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

It was an amazing trip and the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands certainly added to that. Everyone did a great job!!

S. Hon

I want to tell you what a wonderful experience last week was for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and I feel I really learned a lot. I can see a progression in my pictures of getting better as the days went by...Thanks for all your help and the time you spent with us.

KP

Cathy & Gordon are great tour leaders because they are uniquely qualified in nature and in photography. I highly recommend taking one of their tours IF you want to learn a lot and get some fine images for your collection. They really spent time with those of us on the tour to be sure we got the images we wanted. In my opinion, you can't lose by taking one of the Adventure tours.

L. Poe

Additional Notes

Single Charge on Cruise: Single room supplement: $395 (Land portion ONLY, single rooms may be available on cruise, at an additional surcharge of $1595 or $1990 entire tour).

What to Expect

  • Our trip to the Galápagos will give us wonderful opportunities for photographing birds, reptiles, seascapes and volcanic landscapes. Wildlife is easy to approach, and has virtually no fear of humans at all. You can get within feet of a nesting bird or inches away from a resting marine iguana. Long telephoto lenses are not often required.
  • There are some restrictions for Galápagos visitors. We must abide by the national park rules and heed the advice of our guide. Although approaching birds is easy, discretion must be used to avoid having a bird abandon a nest. The rule is that you should not get closer than two meters from a bird (although a mockingbird might fly right up and perch on your lens).
  • We are restricted to staying on the trails, a regulation that is quite important. This restriction, however, does not cause much of a sacrifice to our photography. If you see an interesting animal in the distance, chances are you will see the same animal around the next corner next to the trail. Tripods can be used, but again they must be used on the trails. Flash is not allowed.
  • We must wait until first light to venture onto the islands; and we must be off well before dark. But we should have plenty of time for lingering and photographing what we like. Our boat holds sixteen passengers. We only need twelve to have exclusive use of it, which we hope to get. In this case, we will have as much time as we like in each location. If we don’t have twelve, there may be others with us. This should not hamper our photography, but our guide will need to take their interests into account as well.
  • Each day, there will be ample time for photographic instruction on board the boat, as we rest during island visits after lunch. Our naturalist guide will also give us briefings in the evening about the next day's activities and the natural history of the island we'll visit. Our guide will also give on-shore talks about biology, geology, and conservation.
  • Pack as much as you can into your carry-on luggage, of course. There is usually plenty of space in the overhead compartments. Pack tripods and other less fragile equipment in the check-in luggage. If you have any questions about weight limitations, let us know.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

Single rooms may not be available while on the Galapagos cruise portion of the tour. The single room supplement charge is for Quito & Guayaquil only. Please contact our office regarding possible availability on cruise, surcharge is approximately 35% of tour cost.

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