Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands (Queen Beatriz) Trip Notes

Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands (Queen Beatriz)

Last Modified: 27 Apr 2016
Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands (Queen Beatriz)
Trip code: GLKM
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2017
There is nowhere quite like the Galapagos, and this adventure to the islands’ central southern realms will bring you up close to all the wonders it contains. Be charmed by the quirky birdlife, delighted by the marine life and awed by the landscapes that have no equal. Hike across lava flows, sail through mangroves, snorkel in underwater worlds and enjoy relaxing in an environment that changed the face of humankind forever.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationVisas
ThemesAccommodation NotesWhat to take
Why we love itMeals introductionClimate and seasonal information
MapMealsCommunications
ItineraryTransportHealth
Itinerary disclaimerMoney mattersTravel insurance
Physical ratingGroup leaderA couple of rules
Included activitiesSafetyResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersEmergency contact
Style
Comfort
Themes
Sailing, Wildlife
Why we love it
- As you board your vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.
- Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.
- You'll encounter giant Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, as well as land and marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and perhaps dolphins, whales and sea turtles.
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Quito
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you are met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. There is a pre-departure meeting in the evening at 6pm when you meet others travelling on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
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 spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer.
Accommodation
Hotel Le Parc, Quito (1 nt)
Day 2 Isla Santa Cruz
This morning we transfer to Quito Airport for our early morning flight to the Galapagos Islands. Be prepared for an early start as this could mean leaving the hotel as early as 4.30am. A US$20 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport and a US$100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival. Please have cash on hand for these transactions as using credit cards can be time consuming.
On arrival in the Galapagos we are met in the arrivals hall and then transferred to our catamaran, M.C. Queen Beatriz, anchored a short distance away. Once on board we'll be assigned our cabins, meet the crew members and get to know our naturalist guide and fellow travellers over a delicious lunch.
We head to the Highlands of Santa Cruz for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast we travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where we can see the Unique Scalesia cloud forest, dome shaped giant tortoises in the wild, different species of Darwin finches and possibly the world famous woodpecker and warbler finches as well as vermillion flycatchers.
Included Activities
  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
    Accommodation
    MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
    Meals
    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
    Day 3 North Seymour & Isla Mosquera
    We take an active excursion to Isla North Seymour (North Seymour Island), probably one of the Galapagos’ most visited islands. On North Seymour the highlight will be seeing the blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, both species of frigate birds (great frigate birds and magnificent frigate birds), land iguanas, marine iguanas, Galapagos sea lions and endemic incense trees. The magnificent frigate bird, a large black bird with a long wingspan and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigate birds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males thrown back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball) and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. They share the same nesting area on North Seymour with blue-footed boobies nesting on the ground while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes. A solid walk is followed by snorkelling, where we will find a great variety of fish, and possibly white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions.
    We sail to Isla Mosquera, an Islet situated between Baltra and North Seymour. This stretch of water is rich in sea life and is a popular spot for both sea lions and marine birds. Watch out for the boobies making their spectacularly quick headlong dives into the water. Isla Mosquera is a relaxing and picturesque spot with its uplifted coral reef with long stretches of white sand and rock pools. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, Sally Lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava. The island also has a very large colony of sea lions as well as a sizeable resident brown pelican population. We also have the chance to go snorkelling.
    Included Activities
    • Isla North Seymour - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
    • Isla Mosquera - Beach Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
      Accommodation
      MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
      Day 4 Isla Santa Cruz
      We take a Panga ride to explore Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Isla Santa Cruz. We paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters, for our first taste of the underwater riches of these waters – it’s a breeding area for green turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating. There is also abundant birdlife, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. It is also a nursery for golden cow-nose rays, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks.
      We then set sail for Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill), on Santa Cruz's north coast. From our dry landing we walk to a brackish lagoon frequented by lagoon birds including stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings and occasionally flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a nesting site for land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation makes for a rewarding location for birdwatching, with Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher and yellow warblers all regulars here. The path can be challenging but we'll be well rewarded with a spectacular view of the bay!
      Included Activities
      • Isla Santa Cruz - Black Turtle Cove - Panga ride (1.5 hours)
      • Isla Santa Cruz - Cerro Dragon - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
        Accommodation
        MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
        Day 5 Isla Rabida
        We approach Sombrero Chino via a beautiful crescent-shaped, sandy beach that is home to sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The island is a miniature volcano, shaped like a Chinese hat (hence its name) and, along its trails, we explore the island’s volcanic origin with its fascinating lava tubes. Opposite Sombrero Chino, on the rocky shoreline of nearby Santiago, Galapagos penguins are often seen. We follow a trail that circles the cove and passes through a sea lion colony and innumerable marine iguanas. The cove also offers some great snorkelling opportunities, hopefully with penguins and sharks.
        Isla Rabida is known for its gorgeous red sandy beach (due to the rusting of iron) and is one of the most striking islands of the archipelago. From the shore, the trail leads through to what is one of the finest lagoons in the Galapagos for viewing flamingos. Rabida is also a wonderful place to spot nesting pelicans. Elsewhere, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions are all present. Here we will find great opuntia cactus forest which suggests previous existence of land iguanas as well as possibly Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, doves, finches and lava lizards. There is also an opportunity for snorkelling in a place where sea stars, damsels, gobbies and surgeon fish are numerous.
        Included Activities
        • Sombrero Chino - Walk and Panga ride (2 hours) - Wet Landing
        • Isla Rabida - Snorkelling (1 hour)
          Accommodation
          MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
          Day 6 Isla Santa Cruz
          In the afternoon, you will visit Punta Carrion, located on the on the eastern side of the Itabaca channel that separates Balta and Santa Cruz. This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for snorkelling and swimming. Wildlife is plentiful; keep your eyes peeled for blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons, great blue herons and underwater swim among rays and white-tipped reef sharks.
          The sandy, white beaches of Las Bachas on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island are a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, and marine iguanas are also commonly seen. The sand here is particularly white and soft as it is made of decomposed coral. The rocks provide great snorkelling and are the perfect habitat for the Sally Lightfoot crabs, which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon near to the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel, and also look out for great blue herons. Remnants of a floating pier can still be sighted, and it is a testimony to the US presence in the Galapagos during World War II.
          Included Activities
          • Isla Santa Cruz - Bachas Beach Walk (1 hour) - Wet Landing
          • Isla Santa Cruz - Punta Carrion - Snorkelling (1 hour)
            Accommodation
            MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
            Day 7 Isla Isabela
            Las Tintoreras is a little peninsula at the entrance of Isabela Island’s Port. We visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them! Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles. We enjoy a nice long walk on a gravel path through ‘Ahh-ahh’ lava flow and see plenty of Marine Iguanas. The natives of the islands call white sharks “tintoreras”, hence the name of this spectacular site.
            We might also have the opportunity to snorkel off the panga, to observe sharks, sea lions and Galapagos penguins.

            Please note that there is a US$5 per person, port fee to be paid on arrival at Isabela Island.
            We visit the Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise breeding center. Here you can see the five sub species of tortoises from Isabela Island, some of which are bred in captivity.
            Included Activities
            • Isla Isabela - Las Tintoreras visit (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
            • Isla Isabela - Arnolda Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center including Flamingo Lagoon (2 hours) - Dry Landing
              Accommodation
              MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
              Day 8 Isla Floreana
              Discover the quirky maritime history of Post Office Bay which is the oldest postal system in the Americas. Steeped in history, in 1793 a post office barrel was erected for mariners to post their mail and assist in delivery of mail to the United States and Europe. This custom continues today with Galapagos visitors leaving letters and postcards to be collected by the next passing boat – send one of your own and check if there are any you can deliver back home. Snorkeling and a panga ride will be also included in this outing.
              We go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green colour. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions. Today is also one of our finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. The walk continues to a white flour sandy beach to an Eastern Pacific green turtle nesting site. Young diamond stingrays are commonly found in the shore line and enjoy the view of the turquoise crystalline ocean. Just offshore, the famous Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. The centre of the cone is an outstanding snorkelling spot and many people find this one of the best snorkelling experiences of their trip. We might see rays, sharks, sea lions and turtles.
              Included Activities
              • Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
              • Isla Floreana - Punta Cormorant walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
                Accommodation
                MC Queen Beatriz (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                Day 9 Isla Santa Cruz
                As flights to the mainland from Galapagos depart mid-morning, it is an early start for our last morning on the islands. Depending on the time of our flight, our time spent on this final excursion could be limited.
                Today we visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos.

                The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic hub of the archipelago and is also home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station's visitor centre and museum are essential stops for anyone interested in the archipelago's natural and human history, and keen to learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos. It also offers our best chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises, and we can see many newborn and young giant turtles - part of the breeding program to reintroduce them to their natural habitat. Observe the giant opuntia and jasminocereus cactus trees. Leisure time to explore Puerto Ayora, check email or have a drink at a local bar and see the local’s way of life.
                Sadly all good things must come to an end and this is our final excursion. We say farewell to the Galapagos Islands and head to the airport for our flight back to Quito for the last night of the tour. Upon arrival in Quito Airport we are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay. Our local representative may stop by at your hotel this evening to get your feedback trip on your Galapagos experience.
                Included Activities
                • Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel Le Parc, Quito (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 10 Quito
                  There are no activities planned for the final day so we are able to depart our accommodation at any time. If you have not spent time here before, we recommend you stay on a few days as there are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, such as the Cotopaxi volcano, the Cloud Forest, hot springs, the Equatorial Monument or perhaps city tour of the fascinating Old Town. Please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for check-out times and luggage storage possibilities.
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Itinerary disclaimer
                  Due to the specialist nature of our holidays, day-to-day itineraries should be taken as a guide only and as statements of intent, not contractual obligations. We regularly update our trip dossiers to take into account changes to trekking routes, accommodation, local transport etc. Such changes are a factor of this type of holiday and when made are out of necessity. Other factors such as adverse weather, unforeseen circumstances and other matters entirely out of our control etc can also lead to enforced changes during the course of the holiday. It is not possible to guarantee that any of our holidays will operate exactly as per the anticipated itinerary

                  The maritime component of 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
                  Physical rating

                  Galapagos Voyage

                  No particular level of physical fitness is required for our Galapagos voyages, although you should be reasonably agile and enjoying good health. We do ask that you read through the trip notes to ensure that this trip is right for you. Please keep in mind that there are a number of shore excursions on your cruise. This involves boarding a small dingy or zodiac from the rear transom of the cruise boat. Disembarkation at some locations will be at steps or a small pier, whilst at other locations you may be required to disembark on the beach. This can involve having to wade ashore a short distance through shallow water. A degree of agility will be required for this. Once you are on shore you will undertake several walks, some across volcanic rock. For this a reasonable level of fitness is beneficial, as is a pair of good walking shoes or boots.  You are more than welcome to opt out of activities or talk to your guide about tailoring a less physical option for you.

                  The cabins and the communal areas of the Queen Beatriz are spread over 4 decks:

                  From the zodiac to the main deck there are 4 steps
                  From the main deck to the first level there are 10 steps
                  From the first level to the second there are 10 steps
                  From the second level to the sundeck there are 10 steps

                  Snorkelling

                  There are many opportunities to go snorkelling on our voyages. Confident swimming skills are required to take part in this activity.  Depending on the weather conditions and park regulations, you could be snorkelling twice a day.  If you take part in the snorkelling, you will not miss out on any land activities. For those not wanting to snorkel, there will be time to relax on the boat.

                  Altitude

                  Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If so, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activity.
                  Included activities
                  Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Isla North Seymour - Walk (2 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Isla Mosquera - Beach Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
                  Isla Santa Cruz - Black Turtle Cove - Panga ride (1.5 hours)
                  Isla Santa Cruz - Cerro Dragon - Walk (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Sombrero Chino - Walk and Panga ride (2 hours) - Wet Landing
                  Isla Rabida - Snorkelling (1 hour)
                  Isla Santa Cruz - Bachas Beach Walk (1 hour) - Wet Landing
                  Isla Santa Cruz - Punta Carrion - Snorkelling (1 hour)
                  Isla Isabela - Las Tintoreras visit (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Isla Isabela - Arnolda Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center including Flamingo Lagoon (2 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay - Walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
                  Isla Floreana - Punta Cormorant walk (1.5 hours) - Wet Landing
                  Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Research Station (1.5 hours) - Dry Landing
                  Important notes
                  GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA ISLANDS PORT FEES:
                  Before checking in for the flight from Quito to the Galapagos, there is a US$20 transit fee that needs to be paid. On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$100 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park. If your voyage visits Isabela Island, there is also a US$5 fee to be paid on arrival at the island.

                  PASSPORT DETAILS:
                  When booking, 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.

                  DIETARY REQUIREMENTS:
                  Should you have a special diet requirement (for example vegetarian, celiac, vegan, severe food allergies) it's essential that you inform Peregrine 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.

                  MINIMUM AGE:
                  The minimum age on this trip is 15. Please note that triple cabins are not available. If travelling with a child, the child will need to share with one of the adults, and the other adult will share with another adult passenger, or pay a single supplement.

                  SEA SICKNESS- GALAPAGOS:
                  Please note that from June to August the water is rougher than usual. Consequently travel times will be longer than usual. If you suffer from seasickness you may want to reconsider travelling during this period.

                  ELECTRICITY, WI-FI & PHONE COVERAGE IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS:
                  Electricity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is 110 - 120V and requires US plugs so you may need to take an adapter.
                  Wi-Fi is not available on the boat at all whilst in the Galapagos Islands. There is limited access on the bigger islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela and there may also be internet cafes for you to use if there is time.
                  Like Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage is pretty non-existent whilst travelling around the islands. Again, you may find that you have limited service when you are closer to the bigger islands.
                  There is a satellite phone on board, for the use of shipboard staff, in case of emergency.

                  DIVING IN THE GALAPAGOS:
                  We do not offer diving as a part of our Galapagos program and due to our internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.

                  Group size
                  Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
                  Your fellow travellers
                  GROUP TRAVEL
                  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.

                  YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS:
                  This trip is a package tour and is therefore made up of a combination of shorter trips. This may mean you will travel with a different guide and passengers on each section.

                  Your group will be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from our sister company Peregrine Adventures.


                  Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and if you are willing to share a twin cabin there will be no compulsory single supplement [this also applies to the first and last night in the hotel in Quito]. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in either a Standard Twin or Deluxe Twin cabins. Double cabins are set aside for couples or friends/family who are willing to share a bed.
                  If you are a single traveller and wish to have a room to yourself a single supplement is available for this trip.
                  Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (7 nights)
                  The Queen Beatriz features large en suite cabins all with individual air conditioning and ocean views, There are 3 standard twin cabins, 2 deluxe twin cabins, 2 deluxe double cabins (couples only!) and 1 suite (double bed). The deluxe cabins have private balconies and the suite is more spacious and has a small lounge area. All cabins are equipped with a safety deposit box, hair dryers and toiletries.
                  Meals introduction
                  All meals are included onboard the Queen Beatriz, this includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Tea, coffee and cold water is available at any time during the day [or night].

                  Most meals are served buffet style. Here is an example of the typical meals served

                  Breakfast
                  Toast, spreads, muesli, eggs with fresh fruit and fruit juices

                  Lunch
                  A mix of hot and cold dishes plus salads or vegetables and fruit salad and juice

                  Dinner
                  Fresh seafood, chicken or pork, pasta, rice, vegetables, salads and dessert.

                  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.
                  Meals
                  9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
                  Transport
                  Minibus, Boat, Plane, Zodiac

                  The Queen Beatriz is a modern Catamaran. She has a comfortable lounge and dining area, as well as a sun deck where you can view the wildlife or just kick back and relax. She has eight well-appointed, air-conditioned cabins and yet, at 30 metres, she is small enough for us to offer an individual level of service. She's just perfect for a more personal look at this great marine reserve.
                  Cabins:
                  3xStandard twin cabins
                  4xDeluxe cabins with balconies – 2 x Twin and 2 x Double
                  1xSuite
                  All cabins are fully air-conditioned with private facilities
                  Specifications:
                  Built: 2008
                  Re-furbished: Aug 2014
                  Length: 30.2 m
                  Beam 11.2 m
                  Engines: 2
                  Speed 12 knots
                  Passengers: 16
                  Crew: 8 + 1 English speaking naturalist guide

                  Zodiacs (locally known as pangas) are modest-sized, open, outboard-powered boats which are very common throughout Galapagos. The boats are used to get you to and from the Queen Bea when you do activities. Depending on the type of activity, this could either be a wet or dry landing. The boat crew are there to assist you getting into and out of the zodiac.
                  Money matters
                  Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some  travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than others, others prefer to visit more optional sites. Remember that alcoholic beverages are expensive compared to other foods locally. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities.

                  We recommend you carry at least US$100 to allow for additional meals and snacks. There is a bar on board where the settlement of the bill is by US$ cash only. The Queen Beatriz does not have credit card facilities.

                  Please make additional allowance for bar expenses, however you will find the drinks to be moderately priced.

                  All prices are quoted in US$.

                  Cocktails: $6 - $8
                  Wine*: $35 - $60
                  Spirits: $8 - $ 16
                  Beers: $3 - $5
                  Softdrink: $1 - $3

                  *Red, white and sparkling wines are available by the bottle.
                  Please note that a 10% service charge and 12% tax will be added to the total of your bar bill.

                  Please refer to the tipping section for additional information with regards to recommended amounts for tipping.

                  During stops in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela Islands, you will have the opportunity to visit souvenir shops and internet cafes.

                  NATIONAL PARK AND TRANSIT CARD FEES
                  Before you check-in for your flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands you will need to purchase a US$20 transit card [which you will need to hold on to as you will need to present it on your return from the Galapagos].
                  On arrival in the islands you will purchase the Galapagos National Park entry fee, US$100.

                  If your tour visits Isabela Island, you will also be required to pay a US$5 port fee.
                  Please make sure you  have clean, unmarked notes to pay these fees.

                  SPENDING MONEY
                  When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                  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 USD100 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.

                  VERY IMPORTANT:
                  USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.

                  ACCESSING MONEY WHILE YOU ARE IN THE GALAPAGOS:
                  ATM's are available in Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal however there are no ATM's in Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela.
                  Credit cards are accepted in some shops and stores in Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo and Puerto Villamil.
                  For boat trips only:
                  On board the Galapagos voyage, alcoholic [beer and wine] and soft drinks are available to purchase in cash and if you wish to tip the crew this will also be paid in cash.

                  TIPPING:
                  If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is 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.

                  The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                  BOAT CREW QUEEN BEATRIZ:
                  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 captain and crew [this amount is pooled and shared amongst the crew] and US$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.

                  RESTAURANTS
                  Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.

                  MARKETS AND LOCAL SHOPS
                  At local markets, shops and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.

                  HOTEL PORTERS/LOCAL DRIVERS
                  We suggest US$1-$2

                  Please use the amounts listed above as a guide. Tipping is entirely a personal preference; 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.

                  All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                  EMERGENCY FUNDS
                  Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

                  WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED:
                  Any airfare unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
                  Passport and visa expenses.
                  Government arrival and departure taxes.
                  Galapagos National Park fee and Galapagos transit card.
                  Isabela island port fee (if applicable).
                  Baggage, cancellation and medical travel insurance.
                  Excess baggage charges.
                  Laundry, bar, beverage and other personal charges unless specified.
                  Telecommunications charges.
                  The voluntary gratuity at the end of the voyage for shipboard staff and crew.
                  Group leader
                  On our Galapagos trips you will be meet on arrival by our experienced local representatives. They will conduct the group briefing on the evening of day 1 of the trip and also transfer with you to the airport on day 2 for your flight to the Galapagos. On arrival in the Galapagos you will be met your Guide. Our Guides are registered and trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service. The Guide will be onboard with you for the duration of the trip and will accompany you on all excursions.
                  Our boats are also staffed by highly experienced shipboard staff and crew.
                  Safety
                  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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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.

                  Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the 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 your Leader 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:

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety

                  AIRPORT TAXIS:
                  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.

                  PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                  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 or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                  WATER SAFETY:
                  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.

                  MONEY WITHDRAWAL:
                  In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
                  Joining point
                  Hotel Le Parc
                  República de El Salvador N34-349 e Irlanda
                  Quito
                  ECUADOR
                  Phone: +593 22276800
                  Finish point
                  Hotel Le Parc
                  República de El Salvador N34-349 e Irlanda
                  Quito
                  ECUADOR
                  Phone: +593 22276800
                  Emergency contact
                  In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Ecuador Operations Office can be reached on:

                  Outside Ecuador: +593 9 94014877
                  From within Ecuador: 09 94014877

                  For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page:

                  For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                  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.

                  PEAK Ecuador: +593 9 94014877
                  Visas
                  Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                  ECUADOR TOURIST VISA
                  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

                  Citizens of the Republic of China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia, require an appropriate visa to enter Ecuador..
                  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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                  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.

                  Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                  The cabins on the Queen Bea are quite spacious and come equipped with wardrobes. If you are visiting the Galapagos at the end of a longer South America holiday and have a number of larger bags with you, you can store them in our hotel in Quito, the Le Parc Hotel. The hotel offers a luggage storage service. If you choose to leave your bags at the hotel we recommend that you bring a small backpack/daypack with you so you can transfer the clothes you wish to take with you into this back. We also highly recommend that you don’t leave any valuables [money, credit cards, electronic goods such as lap tops etc].

                  Below is a suggest packing list. The weather in the Galapagos is quite temperate all year round. In most cases you will be in water snorkelling or swimming for a portion of the day with the other time taken up with an island visit/walk or time to relax on the boat as you travel between islands.

                  Daypack [a smaller back pack that you can take with you on island excursions]
                  Comfortable clothing for warmer temperatures [shorts, t-shirts, light long sleeved tops and pants]
                  A fleece or warmer jumper for the evenings or early mornings
                  A light rain coat or poncho
                  Comfortable shoes [trainers or walking shoes are sufficient for most trips]*
                  Sandals or thongs/flip flops/jandals
                  Sunscreen [bio degradable and waterproof if available] and lip balm [to combat the effects of wind burn]
                  Sunglasses
                  Sunhat [that can be secured as it can get windy out on the water]
                  Swimming costume
                  Water bottle [filtered water is available on board the boat]
                  Bio-degradable shampoo, conditioner and soap
                  Dry bag
                  Pegs [so you can hang your swimming costume or towel out to dry]
                  Insect repellent [for island visits]
                  US adaptor/electrical plug
                  For keen birdwatchers, Binoculars
                  Camera [underwater if you have one]
                  Earplugs

                  Please ensure you travel with all required medicines, pain killers and toiletries that you may need while in the Galapagos. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to pack some preventative medication. You are travelling to quite a remote destination and even though there are a number of settlements throughout the islands there are times we it could take a day to reach these towns and even then they may not stock your required medication.

                  Please ensure you also bring your passport with you as it is an entry requirement for the Galapagos to present your passport on arrival in Galapagos and returning to the mainland [photocopies of your passport are not permitted].

                  *a number of trips include a volcano walk and some travellers may feel more comfortable in hiking shoes or boots.

                  SNORKELLING
                  There are many opportunities for snorkelling during your Galapagos voyage. Diving masks, snorkels, fins and some wetsuits are provided onboard the vessel and are for use by all passengers. Some passengers choose to bring their own, however this is a personal choice. Beach towels are also provided.
                  An underwater disposable camera is also recommended.

                  WATER BOTTLE:
                  Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. 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 end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

                  VALUABLES:
                  Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.

                  We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
                  Climate and seasonal information
                  Being located on the equator, Ecuador is a year round destination. In Quito temperatures do not fluctuate that much throughout the year with average temperatures around 19°C to 24°C during the day with lows of 9-10°C in the evening. There are two 'seasons', the wet and dry. The dry season runs from June to September and the wet season is from October through to May. The surprisingly thing with Quito is its altitude and proximity to the equator means that the sun has a little more kick to it so it can feel like it's warmer than it actually is. Even on cooler days, if the sun comes out make sure you use sunscreen.
                  The Galapagos weather is pretty reasonable all year round, so it is never freezing cold but it can get very hot [February-May being the hottest months]. The seasons are not exactly fixed and weather conditions are changeable around the ends of the seasons. Note that the "wet" season is still drier than many places in the world.
                  Daily temperatures range from 22°C to 25°C with overnight temperatures dropping to around 10°C. Up in the highlands [which you will cross on your way from Baltra to Puerto Ayora] it is cooler and the garúa mist hangs about as a kind of permanent dampness, and sometimes descends to the coast as well.
                  The waters surrounding the Galapagos are influenced by the Humboldt Current. Water temperatures sit around 20°C to 24°C from January through to May and drop to 18°C to 20°C from June through to October. Although you may be required to wear a wetsuit at this time of year the same currents that bring the cooler water temperatures also bring nutrients which means wildlife are very active at this time of year.
                  Communications
                  Electricity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is 110 - 120V and requires US plugs so you may need to take an adapter.
                  Wi-Fi is not available on the boat at all whilst in the Galapagos Islands. There is limited access on the bigger islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela and there may also be internet cafes for you to use if there is time.
                  Like Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage is pretty non-existent whilst travelling around the islands. Again, you may find that you have limited service when you are closer to the bigger islands.
                  There is a satellite phone on board, for the use of shipboard staff, in case of emergency.
                  Health
                  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.

                  YELLOW FEVER:
                  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.

                  ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
                  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:

                  http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf

                  SUNSCREEN
                  It's important to always apply sunscreen in Ecuador and particularly when visiting the Galapagos. Beware, the sun is stronger than usual!

                  DRINKING WATER:
                  As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.

                  January 2016: ZIKA VIRUS.

                  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika is a mosquito-borne disease. The disease symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

                  Recently in South America local health authorities have observed an increase in Zika virus infections in the general public as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull) in northeast Brazil.

                  As of January 15, 2016 6 cases of the disease have been confirmed in Ecuador; 4 cases imported and 2 cases locally acquired. The health authorities in Ecuador and neighbouring countries are intensifying surveillance, implementing vector control measures and public education about the associated risks.

                  Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to high risk areas, especially pregnant women. These include use of repellents, wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

                  In line with the above, Intrepid (Geckos/Peregrine) recommends all woman pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America.

                  WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction to Ecuador based on the current information.

                  More information on the Zika virus can be found on WHO’s website: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
                  And the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention’s website: http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00385.asp
                  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 group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                  If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                  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 group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                  Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                  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.

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                  The Intrepid Foundation
                  Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've 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. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                  The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                  http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                  Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Ecuador include:

                  * FUNDAR Galapagos, based on Santa Cruz Island, is an organization that works with the Galapagos community, to develop alternative and responsible approaches to local environmental issues. A key initiative is an organic farming program on FUNDAR’s Pajaro Brujo Reserve. Most produce in the Galapagos is imported from the mainland, and this program is creating opportunities for locals to grow organic food, encouraging healthier and more sustainable lifestyles within the community.

                  Through the Intrepid Foundation we are raising funds in support of FUNDAR’s organic farming program as well as its weekly educational workshops for students on farming, reforestation and leadership skills.

                  Feedback
                  After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback

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