Galapagos Islands and Ecuador Photo Tour
Call us if you would like to plan your own small group tour to Ecuador and Galapagos Islands
- 10-day land and cruise program to the Galápagos Islands, including Quito, Ecuador.
- Price includes Quito/Galapagos Islands Airfare, Galapagos National Park Fee, and tourist card.
- 7-night cruise aboard the 16-passenger motor yacht The Daphne. The small boat experience provides the most in-depth and personal way to experience the islands, and with 12 participants it will be an exclusive charter for our group.
- Features of the Daphne include: safety, comfort, eight air-conditioned cabins, private bathrooms, library, TV with VHS video, restaurant, bar, and sundeck.
- Pre-trip extension to the Antisana Ecological Reserve.
- Departure limited to 14 participants to optimize your photographic experience.
per person, double occupancy*
This tour is not currently scheduled. Contact us if you want details when tour dates are announced, or if you are interested in running a private trip for your group.
*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 8 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 $255.
Land/Cruise cost includes National Park Fee and Galapagos Airfare. 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. This remote volcanic archipelago remains much as it was millions of years ago, some 600 miles off the coast of South America. Over...
Land/Cruise cost includes National Park Fee and Galapagos Airfare. 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. This remote volcanic archipelago remains much as it was millions of years ago, some 600 miles off the coast of South America. 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 puffer fish, 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. At the world-famous Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz, you will be within arm’s reach of the galápagos themselves, the huge land tortoises for which the islands were named. The Galápagos offer a good example in which tourism has been instrumental in preserving a fragile island ecosystem. While island groups throughout the world have had their wildlife and habitat devastated, the Galápagos have yet to lose a single native species. Nature tourism and the Galápagos Islands are now interdependent, relying on each other for survival.
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 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.
Single rooms may not be available while on the Galapagos cruise portion of the tour. The single room supplement charge is for Quito only. Please contact our office regarding possible availability on cruise, surcharge is approximately 35% of tour cost.
Photo Leader TBD
TBD: Home - Quito
Today fly to Quito, Ecuador. At 9,000 feet in elevation, Quito is one of the world’s highest capitals, and one of South America’s most historic and charming cities. Arrive this evening, and be taken to your hotel for the evening. Overnight Quito. (meals on plane)
TBD: Mindo Loma
After breakfast, explore the western slope of the Andes and get your first taste of hummingbird, and tropical bird photography. Mindo Loma was created with the goal of saving and preserving the forest, wildlife, and diverse ecosystem. The day will be 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. Take time to explore the varied trails, allowing time to photograph as a group, or wander on our own. Our birding guide will walk with those interested in photographing forest dwelling birds such as Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Moustached, Scaled, and Ochre-breasted Antpittas, Dark-backed Wood-Quail, and White-throated Quail-Dove. Overnight Quito (B, L)
TBD: Quito – Baltra, Galápagos / Bachas Beach
This morning we will fly from Quito to the Galápagos and begin our exciting week of discovery on board the private yacht Daphne. The flight lands on 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, Bachas Beach, on the west shore of Santa Cruz Island. Las Bachas are two small beaches, one of which contains the remains of a floating pier, a remnant of World War II activity in the islands. The shoreline and saltwater ponds behind the beach are a good habitat for blue herons as well as the occasional flamingo. The beach is a favorite nesting place for the green sea turtle, and 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 each day of cruise.)
TBD: Santa Cruz Island
Dragon Hill is one of the best places to see land iguanas. In order to reach the hill, walk inland on rocky terrain through a dry vegetation zone, where you can encounter land birds and pass by a small lagoon that is often frequented by shorebirds and flamingos. After this you will reach the top of the hill, which rewards you with a great view of the bay. Sombrero Chino Islet is a small islet located near the southeast coast of Santiago. It’s shaped like a Chinese hat when seen from afar. This visit provides an excellent opportunity for the interpretation of geological features such as lava tubes and lava flows. The trail is short and after the hike you will have the opportunity to snorkel near the shore of Santiago Island and find a variety of marine species. Possible to see: Sea lions, marine iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs, lava lizards, penguins and hawks.
TBD: Genovesa Island
Darwin Bay Beach is a coral beach where a 750 meter trail takes you through seabird colonies. There is also the possibility to take a panga (Zodiac) that is often accompanied by sea lions. You are able to see the cliffs from the seaward side, which are home to a large red-footed booby colony. The red-footed booby is the smallest kind of booby and the only one to actually build a nest up in trees or on the cliffs to protect it from predators.rn rnBarranco or Prince Philip’s Steps is an extraordinary, steep path that leads through a seabird colony full of life, up to cliffs that are twenty-five meters high. At the top, the trail continues inland, passing more seabird colonies in a thin Palo Santo forest. Leaving the forest you can overview a rocky plain. You get a view of masked and red-footed boobies, great frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, and hundreds of storm petrels at the edge of the cliff. The storm petrels here are different from any others in the world because they fly around during daytime. To avoid predators they only return to their nest holes at night.
TBD: Santiago Island
Your morning stop will be at Puerto Egas, 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. During lunch, the yacht motors to the other side of the Island which provides for scenic landscapes. Sea turtles often lay their eggs on the coffee-colored sand at Espumilla Beach. A short walk inland will take you through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt. Sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. Buccaneer Cove is a testament to the fact that Santiago Island was once a refuge for British buccaneers. These pirates would anchor in the protected bay to make repairs and stock up on tortoise meat among other things. The steep cliffs, where hundreds of seabirds perch in front of the dark red sand beach, are a magnificent site.
TBD: Tagus Cove, Isabela / Espinoza Point, Fernandina
This morning, we have a dry landing at Tagus Cove, located on the western Island of Isabela. Six volcanoes flowed together and formed the largest Island in Galapagos. During the walk, we discover a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. Graffiti dating back to the 1800’s is written on the rocky cliffs. Explore the coves to find Galapagos penguins, boobies, pelicans and other seabirds. rnrnThis afternoon, we have a semi-wet landing at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina, and the youngest and most pristine Island in Galapagos. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nest on the point and Galapagos Hawks fly overhead. After the briefing and dinner, a sky full of stars beckons to go out on deck and observe the galaxy.
TBD: Elizabeth Bay and Moreno Point, Isabela Island
Elizabeth Bay is a marine visitor site. As you enter the bay Galápagos hawks can soar overhead and schools of pompano and dorado can be seen swimming underneath you. Las Marielas, the small islets just outside the bay, is home to the largest concentration of Galápagos penguins living in the Islands. You can also see a red mangrove cove, passing through the red root and green leaf breeding ground for fish.rnrnAt Marino Point you can see beautiful rocky shores where penguins and shore birds, including great blue herons, are usually spotted. You can also enter a mangrove, where oysters can be seen at the base of the trees. A trek traverses the sharpest lava rocks in the Islands where dry lava is interspersed with lagoons and small ponds containing abundant wildlife.
TBD: The Wall of Tears
This morning we visit a hidden gem on Isabela Island called Los Humedales which translates to “wetlands”. This area has trails from which you find all four species of mangroves, secluded sandy beaches with rocky shores, lava tunnels and natural pools. View migratory birds including Whimbrels, Short-billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Pharlarope, Common Tern, Osprey, and Semi-palmated Plovers as well as mating Flamingos. The national park has released young tortoises from the breeding center in this area so you may encounter tortoises in the wild. The Wall of Tears was constructed 1946-1959, when Isabela was a penal colony. In the afternoon, visit Sierra Negra Volcano, located in the Southwest portion of Isabela, and considered the oldest and largest volcano on Isabela. Along the way, you will usually spot the Vermillion Flycatcher, Galápagos Martins, Whimbrels, Great Egrets, Galápagos Hawks, and possibly the Dark-billed Cuckoo.
TBD: Darwin Research Station, Santa Cruz Island – Baltra - Quito
Santa Cruz is the second most populated island, home of Academy Bay and the town of Puerto Ayora. Here we will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the huge land tortoises, or galápagos, which once flourished on the islands. The populations were decimated in the early 1800’s by the whaling ships, which stopped here to fill their holds with fresh meat.rnrnMaking your way back to Baltra Island, you will then catch the flight back to Quito. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and you will have a brief tour 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 your stops may 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. rnrnThis evening enjoy dinner on your own at a restaurant close to the hotel. Overnight Quito. (B)
TBD: Quito – Home
You will be taken to the airport this morning for flights home. (B)
* Based upon minimum of 5 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $50 if 3-4 participants. Single room surcharge is $85.