Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz) Trip Notes

Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz)

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2015 to 31 December 2017. Other seasons in this trip: 01 January 2015 - 31 December 2017, 01 January 2015 - 31 December 2017.


Last Modified: 23 Dec 2015
Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz)
Trip code: GLKI
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2017
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesVisas
ThemesGroup sizeIssues on your trip
MapYour fellow travellersWhat to take
ItinerarySingle travellersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationSafety
Culture shock rating Meals introductionTravel insurance
Physical ratingMealsResponsible Travel
Physical preparationTransportA couple of rules
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
What's not includedJoining point Responsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point Further Information
TippingEmergency contact
Departure taxEmergency funds
Style
Comfort
  • ‘Comfort travel’ means encountering all that the real world has to offer, but with an added degree of, well… comfort. We use more private transport, the travel pace more relaxed, the accommodation a touch nicer. And by paying a little more up front, you’ll be treated to more included meals, more leader-led activities and get a greater immersion in all things local.
Themes
Sailing, Wildlife
Map
Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz)
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.
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.
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.
Included Activities
  • Charles Darwin Research Station
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 Mosquera Beach
  • Isla North Seymour Walk and Snorkel
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
  • Black Turtle Cove Visit
  • Cerro Dragon
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
  • Isla Rabida Snorkelling
  • Sombrero Chino
Day 6 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.
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.
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
  • Bachas Beach Visit
Day 7 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.
      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
      Culture shock rating

      At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
      Physical rating

      Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
      Physical preparation
      We don't ask travellers to complete a physical participation form for this trip however we do ask you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is the right trip for you. This applies to the included activities and moving around the boat. You will also need to enter and exit a zodiac during wet and dry landings and when returning from snorkelling - please note crew members will be on hand to assist you.
      The cabins and 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
      The physical activities on this trip, such as snorkelling and hiking, do require some consideration regarding your physical abilities to complete the activity. You are more than welcome to opt out of activities or talk to your Guide about tailoring a less physical option for you.
      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.
      Snorkelling equipment and wetsuits are available on board the boat at no additional charge
      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.
      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 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.
      On board the Galapagos voyage, alcohol [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 $US cash.
      Credit cards are accepted in some shops and stores in Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo and Puerto Villamil.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      For most of your trip the only additional expense will be the purchase of alcoholc beverages on board the Queen Beatriz. Souvenir shops and internet cafes can be found in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela.
      Below is a list of approximate costs for onboard beverages. At the start of the voyage staff will create a tab for each traveller and payment is finalised on the last evening.
      All prices are quoted in US$.
      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 a 12% sales 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.
      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.
      On arrival in Isabela there is a transit fee of US$5.
      Please make sure you have clean, unmarked notes to pay these fees.
      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.
      Departure tax
      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
      Important notes
      GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA ISLAND PORT FEES:
      A Galapagos Transit Card fee of US$20 is payable on departure from Quito Airport (or whichever airport in Ecuador you are flying to the Galapagos from). The Galapagos park fee (US$100) and Isabela Port fee (US$5) are payable upon arrival to the islands (cash only). These amounts are 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.
      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.
      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.
      OUR LOCAL PARTNER:
      This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
      CHANGES TO ITINERARY:
      This 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 outside our control.
      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.
      ALTITUDE SICKNESS
      Please note a very small number of travellers do feel the affects of altitude sickness when they arrive in Quito. Please refer to http://www.intrepidtravel.com/sites/default/files/pdf/trips/Altitude_Sickness_Information.pdf for more information
      DIVING IN THE GALAPAGOS:
      We do not offer diving as a part of our Galapagos program and due to Intrepid's 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
      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 group will be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from our sister company Peregrine Adventures.
      Single travellers
      The Queen Beatriz has 4 cabin types, 3xStandard Twin, 2xDeluxe Twin, 2xDeluxe Double and 1xDouble Suite.
      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.
      Single passengers cannot be booked or confirmed in a double cabin on Galapagos trips unless a single supplement is paid for.
      Accommodation
      The Queen Beatriz features large en suite cabins all with 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.
      The deck plans below show the layout of the cabins. Cabin numbers are as follows:
      1 - Suite
      2-4 Standard Twin
      5-6 Deluxe Double
      7-8 Deluxe Twin



      We don't ask travellers to complete a physical participation form for this trip however we do ask you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is the right trip for you. This applies to the included activities and moving around the boat. You will also need to enter and exit a zodiac during wet and dry landings and and while on snorkelling - crew members will be on hand to assist you.
      The cabins and 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
      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.
      Meals
      6 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
      Whilst you are on board the Queen Beatriz all your meals are included and breakfast is included at the Hotel Le Parc [as you have an early departure to the Galapagos on day 2 the hotel prepares a packed breakfast].
      A budget of US$50 should be sufficient to cover you for the meals not included [dinner on the first night and possibly lunch prior to your departure from Quito].
      If you have additional days in Quito pre or post tour our suggestion would be to budget US$15 for each meal.
      USD 50.00
      All meals are included whilst on the Queen Beatriz. There is a chef on board who cooks up local and international cuisine daily, including a buffet breakfast.
      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.
      Transport
      Motorised catamaran
      M.C Queen Beatriz
      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
      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.
      Joining point
      Hotel Le Parc
      República de El Salvador N34-349 e Irlanda
      Quito
      ECUADOR
      Phone: +593 22276800
      Arrival complications
      All Comfort style Galapagos trips include an arrival transfer from the airport to the hotel. Please advise your flight details at least 30 days prior to departure so that this transfer can be organised. On arrival at the airport please look out for our local customer service representative. If you find you cannot locate our representative please contact our local office 09 94014877.
      If for some reason you are not taking advantage of the complimentary transfer you can book a taxi from the taxi kiosk [near the information desk as you exit customs and immigration]. The cost of a taxi is approx US$25-35.
      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
      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:
      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.
      Visas
      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.
      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..
      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, 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.
      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.
      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.
      We recommend, regardless of the time of year that you travel, that you pack light and pack clothes that you can layer. At all times of year it is suggested you bring a raincoat or rain poncho. You will also need to bring a good pair of shoes, they can be hiking boots, trainers or sturdy walking shoes.
      A small backpack or drysack is highly recommended to carry your camera, water bottle, sunscreen etc on excursions.
      If you are prone to seasickness you may wish to bring some preventative medication with you.
      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.
      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 3 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
      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:
      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.
      LIFE JACKETS:
      Intrepid will provide life jackets for private boats, but cannot guarantee that all public ferries will have enough life jackets or life rings for all clients.
      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.
      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.
      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:
      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.
      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:
      Responsible Travel projects
      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.