Absolute Galapagos Trip Notes

Absolute Galapagos

Last Modified: 15 Nov 2012
Absolute Galapagos
Trip code: GPMF
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Uncover the best of the Galapagos as you travel through Ecuador’s idyllic islands by boat. Leaving the capital behind, you will discover a fascinating world, complete with beautiful and bizarre creatures unique to the region. Accompanied by a local guide trace Charles Darwin's evolutionary theories, spend time swimming and snorkelling in a breathtaking underwater world, watch the colourful rituals of the local birdlife, and enjoy an experience like no other.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesVisas
ThemesGroup sizeIssues on your trip
MapYour fellow travellersWhat to take
ItinerarySingle travellersHealth
We also recommendAccommodationSafety
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionTravel insurance
Culture shock rating MealsResponsible Travel
Physical ratingTransportA couple of rules
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency contact
Departure taxEmergency funds
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Short Breaks, Marine, Wildlife
Absolute Galapagos
Day 1 Quito/Isla Baltra
Please note this is a sample itinerary only. With the aim to minimise the negative impact on the Galapagos fragile environment, the Galapagos National Park determines a set itinerary to each of the more than 50 operating boats on the Islands. While generally all boats visit the same islands, they do it on different days of the week and at different times of the day.
Intrepid offers a range up to 19 different First Class boats and up to 10 different Deluxe Class boats in Galapagos. As per above, each of them will follow a different itinerary. Your boat's itinerary will be informed to you at the time of booking.
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 m under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings - there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you arrive a few days early to experience all the city has to offer.
Early in the morning of day 1 your local representative will meet you at your hotel, collect your insurance details, hand over original vouchers for your boat, the Migratory Transit Control Card (This Transit card is included on the price of the trip and has been pre purchased to avoid you unnecessary queuing at the airport) and transfer you to Quito airport.
At the airport you will be met by a boat representative, who will assist you with the airline check in for the flight to Galapagos. This flight is not included in the price of the trip and it must be purchased (through Intrepid) separately.
Your flight will stop once in Guayaquil to pick up more passengers before continuing to Baltra Island (approx 2.5 hours). Upon arrival in Baltra you will need to go through immigration and pay the Galapagos National Park entrance fee of US$100 in cash (small bills required).
You will finally arrive to the Galapagos Islands by noon (subject to flight delays). Your naturalist will be waiting for you and your fellow travellers outside the luggage collection area, to escort you to the boat.
Right after lunch we set off to Bachas Beach, for your first opportunity to go snorkelling.
All yachts anchor off shore at two sites per day. Sailors will transfer you from the yacht to the landing sites in pangas (dinghies). These landings can be wet or dry. At the dry landings you step directly onto rock. At the wet landings you will step form the panga into water and wade to shore. The naturalist and sailor are there to assist you at all landings.
Once on shore, you will follow marked trails set up by the Galapagos National Park. Your naturalist will lead these excursions, interpreting and explaining the natural history as you walk along. The shore visits are done at a leisurely pace, allowing plenty of time to enjoy and photograph the amazing wildlife and scenery. You will spend 2 to 3 hours at each site.
At each landing, make sure to carry with you a hat or cap, sunglasses with strap, plenty of film, spare batteries, bottled water and comfortable walking gear (tennis shoes for dry landings and sea sandals for wet landings). Before each landing, ask the guide if you will swim or make snorkelling in order to take a towel with you.
On board of the yachts there are snorkel equipment and wetsuits available. Please make sure to inform us in advance if you want to rent the snorkel equipment and wetsuits (highly recommended during June to October).
The Galapagos Islands emerged about 5 million years ago as a result of violent volcanic action. In geological terms, this should be considered a recent event. As the young islands were cooling (2 million years later), some species gradually arrived. They were live organisms riding on 'rafts of vegetation' from the shores of Central and South America. Unusual climatic events such as flooding can eventually lead vegetation rafts to the ocean. Therefore it is pure chance that a raft would reach the Galapagos. These early immigrants had to adapt to a peculiar new environment and slowly evolved in a different direction from their continental ancestors.
The Galapagos Islands are located on the Equator, about 1,000km (620 miles) off the Pacific Coast. There are six main islands - San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, Santiago and Fernandina (the last two uninhabited); 12 smaller islands, and over 40 islets.
Long before Charles Darwin, the islands had already developed a reputation among mariners as lands of strange and wonderful wildlife. When Darwin came through on the HMS Beagle, the unique animal life inspired his Theory of Evolution. Today is our first chance to watch the Galapagos wildlife in action on Bachas Beach.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse
health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 2 Isla Santa Fe
Early on day 2 and after breakfast, you will leave the boat by a zodiac boat to visit Plazas Island for a chance to spot land iguanas, sea lions and swallow-tailed gulls.
After lunch you have a chance to go snorkelling in Santa Fe Bay, before taking a walking visit to Santa Fe Island.
A 8.00pm you start navigating to Espanola Island, arriving at approx. 3.00am.
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 3 Isla Espanola
After breakfast, you spend the morning between Gardner Bay and Gardner Islet, both excellent locations for relaxing, swimming, snorkelling and observing sea lions.
In the afternoon you travel to Punta Suarez. This rocky point of land sustains one of the most impressive and varied colonies of sea birds on the Galapagos. Along its southern shore, high cliffs rise up from the sea offering the visitors a spectacular view of soaring birds and of the blow hole where water spouts up to 50-75 feet in the air, depending on the intensity of the surf.
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 4 Isla Floreana/Isla Santa Cruz
Before breakfast you visit Punta Cormorant. Its landing point is a beautiful green beach, an excellent place to observe the colourful crabs and sea lions.
After breakfast you visit Post Office Bay. For hundreds of years mariners have used a barrel placed on the coast of Floreana as a post office. Passing ships would stop to leave mail and at the same time collect any mail destined for ports on their itineraries. The barrel has now been replaced by a box and travellers can still drop off and pick up unstamped letters in the same way.
After lunch there are a couple of hours free to relax or go snorkelling at the Devil's Crown, before you travel to Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz Island (approx 4.5 hours).
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 5 Quito
You will disembark after breakfast and be transferred to the airport for an unescorted flight to Quito (1pm approximate arrival).
This trip finishes upon arrival to Quito Airport. Please contact us before departure if you need any assistance arranging transfers and extra accommodation in Quito.
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG - Guayaquil - Galapagos - Guayaquil Flight - Low Season ()
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG - Guayaquil - Galapagos - Quito Flight - High Season ()
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG - Guayaquil - Galapagos - Quito Flight - Low Season ()
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG - Quito - Galapagos - Guayaquil Flight - High Season ()
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG - Quito - Galapagos - Quito Flight - High Season (.)
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG - Quito - Galapagos - Quito Flight - Low Season ()
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG- Guayaquil - Galapagos - Guayaquil Flight - High Season (.)
  • GPME/GPMF/GPMG- Quito - Galapagos - Guayaquil Flight - Low Season ()
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    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. Our brochure is usually released in November each year. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
    Physical rating

    Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar (USD).
    Please note that in Ecuador automatic money machines often limit the amount you can withdraw. This can be $100 or $200 per day depending on your card.
    With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
    Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
    It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
    US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
    We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader/guide.
    Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
    Local guides: We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
    Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
    Luggage loaders (Argentinian bus stations): It's common in Argentina to tip AR$1 for someone to load your bag on to a bus.
    Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    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$15 per day for the crew and US$7-10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey.
    Departure tax
    Please allow US$44.30 for international airport departure tax in Quito.
    Important notes
    The Galapagos park fee (US$100) and transit card fee (US$10) are payable upon arrival to the islands (cash only). This amount is in addition to your trip payment.
    When booking, please ensure that your details are correct, and double check them on your documents prior to departure. If your passport does not match your booking details, you may be refused entrance to Galapagos National Park. Please make sure that your name is spelt correctly, and that you book using the name in your passport (particularly if you are recently married). If you are issued a new passport with a different number between the time that you book and the time you travel, please take both the old and new passports with you.
    Prices are based on First Class Galapagos boats. There are currently more than 19 First Class boats operating on the Galapagos Islands, each of them are priced differently.
    At the time of booking you will be offered 1 or 2 options to suit your travel time needs and budget. The itinerary of the Galapagos Island portion of the trip will vary depending on what boat you choose to travel on.
    The flight from Quito (or Guayaquil) to Galapagos and vice-versa is not included in the price of the trip and it must be purchased (through Intrepid) separately.
    With the aim to minimise the negative impact on the Galapagos Islands' fragile environment, the Galapagos National Park determines a set itinerary for each boat. While generally all boats visit the same islands, they do it on different days of the week and at different times of the day.
    Galapagos boats are categorised as Tourist Class, Tourist Superior Class, First Class and Deluxe Class. While this categorization is not supported by any Ecuadorian official entity, it serves as a rough guide to differentiate the comfort level and service offered on each of the boats.
    This trip is operated by a fully licensed Ecuadorian shipping operator. The Captain of the vessel will do all that is possible to adhere to the outlined itinerary however it may be changed without previous notice due to such reasons as weather conditions or changes to the Galapagos National Park´s regulations. We ask you for your patience and understanding with any changes outside our control.
    This Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners.
    Age restrictions apply to this trip - minimum age 5.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
    However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure.
    Visit www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup for more information.
    Single travellers
    On some trips accommodation is available only on a shared basis with other travellers, who might not necessarily be Intrepid travellers. Arrangements vary depending on the trip from twin to multishare, so refer to the daily itinerary for more details on your accommodation. In some situations you may have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure you have your own room.
    Motorised yacht (4 nts)
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in your selected accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for your arrival, especially if you're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible, which means you won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, you can store your luggage and explore the new destination.
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll have the opportunity to experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility.
    4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
    USD 100.00
    DIETARY REQUIREMENTS: Should you have a special diet requirement (for example vegetarian, celiac, vegan, severe food allergies) it's essential that you inform Intrepid 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.
    Group leader
    This Short Break Adventure is a 'join in' group departure, which means you are not accompanied by an Intrepid group leader - our local representative fills this role - and the configuration of any fellow travellers in the group might change during the trip.
    The aim of our local representative is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. On this style of trip you might have one person stay with you for the entire journey, or you might get to enjoy the variety of having someone different for each day and/or activity. They will all be to provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and, where possible, introduce you to our local friends. While some may not be guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
    For our Galapagos trips we have a highly experienced shipboard staff and crew. Our guides are registered and trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service.
    Joining point
    Your Hotel in Quito
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the Joining Instructions section above for who to contact.
    If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, again following the Joining Instructions in these trip notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
    No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
    Finish point
    Quito Airport
    Emergency contact
    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Melbourne Office can be reached on Tel: +61 3 9473 2650. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    Australia: Not required
    Belgium: Not required
    Canada: Not required
    Germany: Not required
    Ireland: Not required
    Netherlands: Not required
    New Zealand: Not required
    South Africa: Not required
    Switzerland: Not required
    United Kingdom: Not required
    United States: Not required
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    There is not a lot of extra space on the boat in the Galapagos, so our general advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Life aboard the yacht is pretty informal, so casual comfortable clothing is best.
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
    Before your trip.
    Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
    We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
    During your trip.
    While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
    Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
    The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
    A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
    It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that our local representative has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    If you are taking a taxi from the airport by yourself, agree on the price beforehand and tell the driver to bring you straight to your hotel and that you ALREADY have a reservation. Both the tourist information booths at the airport as well as the independent taxi drivers receive commissions to persuade you to go elsewhere by using any type of argument.
    There have been some cases of theft to taxis coming from the airport. The thieves' usual trick is to watch and wait at the airport parking lot to see which passengers keep their bags with them inside the taxi and follow that car. When it stops at a red light, they break the window and snatch the passenger's bag from their lap. The best way to avoid this is to put ALL your valuables inside the trunk at the airport.
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
    While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
    Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.
    If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we have been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. To make things easier we established The Intrepid Foundation. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar, up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year. And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation in the region or go to our website:
    Responsible Travel projects
    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Ecuador include:
    * The Charles Darwin Foundation protects species in the Galapagos that are on the borderline of extinction. Focusing on the island of Floreana, they hope to re-introduce several locally extinct and critically endangered keystone species that are integral to the ongoing balance and sustainability of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 679.00 kgs per pax.
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.