Photo by: Cathy & Gordon Illg
Ecuador Galapagos Islands
Tour cost includes $650 estimated Galápagos air and national park fee and tourist card.
- 10-day land and cruise program to the Galápagos Islands, including Quito & Guayaquil, Ecuador.
- SIGN UP EARLY (very limited singles available on cruise): Maximum 14 passengers to optimize your photographic experience.
- Price includes Quito/Galápagos Islands/Guayaquil Airfare and Galápagos National Park Fees.
- 7-night/8-day cruise aboard First Class 16-passenger yacht. The small boat experience provides the most in-depth and personal way to experience the islands. Twins (no bunkbeds) available for sharing.
- Features of the yacht include safety, comfort, eight air-conditioned cabins, private bathrooms, hot water, library, dining inside and out, bar, sundeck, use of kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkel equipment.
- Enjoy a city tour of Colonial Quito and time on your own in Guayaquil to explore the Santa Ana Hill or walk along the Malecon for the last of your photography sessions.
- Services of professional tour leaders and photographers Cathy and Gordon Illg.
per person, double occupancy*
*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 12 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $500 if 10-11 participants. 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 (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $295 or 1695 with cruise if available.
What better way is there to celebrate being able to travel in 2022? Traveling to the Galápagos Islands is like taking a step back in time. 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...
What better way is there to celebrate being able to travel in 2022? Traveling to the Galápagos Islands is like taking a step back in time. 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.
Prior to the cruise enjoy two evenings in Quito, with enough time to rest after your flight and enjoy a photo walk of this colonial capital. 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 artist 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.
March 24: Home - Quito
Today 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 your boutique hotel in a lovely neighborhood of Colonial Quito. Overnight Quito. *PLEASE NOTE: Your international flight will need to be multi-city: Home-Quito (UIO)/Guayaquil (GYE)-Home
March 25: Quito
Due to flights arriving very late last night you will have time to relax and rest on your own late this afternoon and evening. In the morning (time to be announced) your local guide will meet the group at the hotel after breakfast and take you on the winding streets of Colonial Quito. This city reflects the Indian and Spanish culture, which dates back to the sixteenth century and is an important World Heritage Site of plazas, churches, and cathedrals. Some of our stops include Independence Square with its Presidential Palace, the dazzling gold-leafed La Compania Church, and the San Francisco Square. Begun in 1535, it is located on the site of the Inca palaces of Auqui Francisco Tupatauchi, son of Atahualpa, who ruled the northern half of the Inca Empire. Overnight Quito. (B, L)
March 26-Apr 1: The Islands
Rise early this morning as you will transfer to the airport for your group flight to the Galápagos and begin your exciting week of discovery on board your private yacht. The flight lands at Baltra airport, where the group will be met and escorted to the boat. Take some time to get situated on board, while the crew takes care of formalities ashore. Next, begin your adventure at your first photo location on Mosquera Island. It hosts one of the largest sea lion colonies. Enjoy the white sand beach as your first introduction to the islands.
What to Expect
Every morning you will be exploring an island, and then return to the boat for lunch. Early afternoons are for relaxing, as you sail on to the next destination for an afternoon shore excursion which could be on the same island or the island next door. There will be opportunities to snorkel, kayak, or paddle board. Every evening after dinner the licensed guide will brief you on the next day’s activities, the animals and habitats you will see, and the conditions encountered. Landing on the islands could be a wet or dry landing, therefore you will need footwear appropriate for both. Evenings will also be for photography instruction and reviews.
Every island has its own spectacular photographic opportunities which will make you relax, breath deep, and blend in with the surroundings.
Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island, was 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 Galápagos 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.
Bartolome lies off the east coast of Santiago Island, and is most likely the first island in the Galápagos to have risen from the sea. It is highly volcanic and is dotted with recent craters, appearing most barren, colorful, and primitive. Photograph Pinnacle Rock, one of the landscape highlights of the islands. The swimming beach is white sand, backed by a bit of shade. Those who choose to snorkel should find the waters here most interesting; Galápagos 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.
The northeastern most island in the Galápagos Archipelago, Isla Genovese 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 Galápagos Dove and short-eared owls. Here, you will have a walk along the Barranco path. In the afternoon there will be a wet landing, to enjoy a coral beach, short walks, photography, swimming, and snorkeling.
Visit the Interpretation Center at San Cristobal Island. This modern and sophisticated architectural space was designed for the natural interpretation of the Galápagos. You will learn about the volcanic formation of the islands, the evolution of the species, the history of human settlement, and complex systems and management models.
Española Island is home to one of the largest birds of the islands, the Albatross. This species is considered endemic to the island; you may observe these fantastic birds while taking in the beautiful landscapes. You will also see colonies of marine iguanas, zayapas crabs, masked boobies, finches, Espanola mockingbirds, and seagulls unique to the islands. Your walk will be on lava rock where you will be able to see lava tubes, and red mangroves.
Mail Bay is located on the north side of Floreana Island. Captain James Colnett installed an empty barrel to be used as a post office for the whaling fleets that stopped at the Galápagos Islands. You can leave postcards to your friends and relatives here and/or pick-up mail to deliver. Here you will also find a group of rocks that resemble a Crown due to the constant erosion caused by the sea. It is one of the better places to snorkel (shallow diving) in the interior and around the crown.
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.
South Plaza Island was 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. 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. Seven evenings on yacht (Day 1 D; Day 2-6 B, L, D; Day 7 B)
April 2: Baltra - Guayaquil
The Charles Darwin Station is located in the main port on Santa Cruz Island; the center is the main breeding site on the islands. Animals that were in danger of extinction on the various islands are maintained in captivity. Thanks to the dedicated work of several institutions, some species are being saved. Here lived Lonesome George, the famous last survivor of the giant tortoise species found on Pinta Island.
After your visit 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 its cobblestone, wandering streets to photograph the tiny church atop the hill. Overnight Guayaquil (B)
April 3: Guayaquil – Home
You will be returned to the Guayaquil airport this morning for flights home. (B)