Grand Galapagos Trip Notes

Travel to Ecuador and fly to the Galapagos Islands – a paradise for nature lovers. Learn about Charles Darwin, see giant tortoises and go birdwatching on the islands of Santa Fe, Santa Cruz and Santiago

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    • GLKF
    • Extras tool tip
      USD $110 Galapagos National Park Fee (Paid locally)
      USD $10 Galapagos Transit Card Fee
    • Contact us Discontinued trips tool tip
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    • Sailing, Wildlife
    • Comfort
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Last Modified: 05 Nov 2012
Grand Galapagos
Trip code: GLKF
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
The operator for this Intrepid Comfort trip is our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
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
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
Money ExchangeGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingEmergency contactFeedback
Departure taxEmergency funds
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Themes
Sailing, Wildlife
Map
Grand Galapagos
Itinerary
Day 1 Quito
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. Note: 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.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Las Bachas
This morning we are transferred to the airport for our flight to the Galapagos Islands. Lunch is normally served on the flight. On arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos you must pay the US$100 arrival tax for entry to Galapagos National Park. This is best done using cash, as using credit cards can be a time consuming process. We are met in the arrival hall of the airport by our National Park Guide, and transferred to the 'San Jose'.
Once settled on board, our cruise departs for Las Bachas, which was so named after the barges abandoned by the American Navy here in the 1940s. 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 Sally Lightfoot crabs, which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon near to the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel, and look out too for great blue herons.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 3 Isabela Island south coast
Today we wake up on the south coast of Isabela Island, the largest in the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago. This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. 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. Here we also visit the giant tortoise breeding centre and the Wall of Tears, constructed from lava by prisoners of the penal colony here between 1946 and 1959 as punishment.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 4 Isabela Island west coast
Sailing along Isabela’s west coast is an exploration of Galapagos history, both natural and man-made. The shoreline has long provided a safe harbour for ships and was also the site of an astonishing geological uplift in the 1950s, when Volcan Alcedo erupted, the coastline rising as much as 1km out of the sea.
This morning we visit Punta Moreno and Elizabeth Bay. On the south-western side of Isabela, Punta Moreno has an impressive landscape of black lava flows and brackish lagoons, which are a magnet for wildlife. Here amongst the unusual vegetation we are likely to spot Darwin’s finches, Galapagos doves, blue-footed boobies, mockingbirds and flightless cormorants. From here we have spectacular views of the Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul Volcanoes. The jagged, rocky islets of Elizabeth Bay make for classic Galapagos exploration, with an abundance of life on land and underwater. In the sheltered passages and coves fringed with mangrove forests, rays and many turtles are often seen, as well as sea lions resting on fallen trees. Elsewhere, trails through the sharp lava terrain get you among penguins and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Elizabeth Bay is also the finest place in the Galapagos for seeing shearwaters. Further north, Tagus Cove is a beautiful spot – a sheltered anchorage protected by two volcanoes. The name of this small cave originated from a British warship that sailed through the islands in 1814 looking for the Galapagos tortoise for use as food; the walls of the cave display maritime inscriptions left by the sailors of this era. The waters are alive with marine life here – look out for dolphins and penguins, and perhaps even sunfish. A hike uphill takes us past a saltwater lagoon and through Palo Santo Forest to Punta Tortuga, where the views back down to the cove and lagoon are breathtaking. The trail is also a great opportunity to see Galapagos hawks.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 5 Fernandina & Isabela Islands
This morning we visit nearby Fernandina Island, the youngest of the Galapagos Islands. The north-east tip, Punta Espinosa, is a narrow ledge of lava and sand extending from the base of La Cumbre volcano. Here we walk on pahoehoe lava and can see lava cactus. It is also a great place for encounters with marine iguanas and flightless cormorants, sunning themselves among the stark volcanic landscape.
In the afternoon we visit Isabela’s stunning north-west tip, Punta Vicente Roca. Here, exploration in panga boats gets us close to volcanic sea cliffs where penguins and flightless cormorants can be spotted, while a snorkel in the waters reveals one of the archipelago’s greatest places for swimming among green sea turtles, as well a huge number of fish. We might just get to swim with marine iguanas and penguins as well!
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 6 Santiago Island
Today we visit some wonderful places. Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands and is an important nesting site for marine turtles. Espumilla Beach is also well-known for the Palo Santo Forest and some extraordinary lava formations.
This morning we also visit Caleta Bucanero (Buccaneer Cove), a natural monument of rocks caused by sea erosion. This cove was used by pirates to careen their ships. It is a place of local legends and stories! Port Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and north-west of Santiago Island. South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff. This site is named Puerto Egas, after Hector Egas who last attempted to mine salt here. The walk along the beach offers hundreds of marine iguanas, California sea lions and Galapagos fur seals.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 7 Rabida Island/Sombrero Chino
Rabida, also known as ‘Jervis’, is a tiny island approximately 5 kilometres south of Santiago and is one of the most striking of the archipelago. Introduced species were eradicated in 1971, meaning that the indigenous wildlife has now returned to a state of splendid isolation. Additionally, volcanic activity here has produced vivid, fantastical colours, not least the beaches of red sand and cliffs of scarlet. 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, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions.
Sombrero Chino is a small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. It's shaped like a Chinese hat (Sombrero Chino) when seen from afar and is geologically fascinating, with many lava tubes leading from the cone to the coast.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 8 Santa Cruz Island
Today we visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. We also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
Afterward we head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast we travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests, a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and we are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermilion flycatcher!
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 9 Black Turtle Cove/Mosquera
Today we take an early morning excursion to Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. We paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters for a taste of the underwater riches – it’s a wonderful place to see green turtles and is a nursery for rays and Galapagos sharks. There is also abundant birdlife, including yellow warblers and lava herons. This is also a breeding area for turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating.
After lunch we visit the small sandy island of Mosquera, a relaxing, picturesque stop. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, red rock 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 undersides are stunning against the black lava.
Ever aware of movement around them, red rock crabs are quick to escape from any approaching movement, a natural defence that helps protect them from their natural predators: herons, moray eels and hawkfish. This seems in stark contrast to the unabashed way the crabs climb over the sedentary marine iguanas.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 10 Genovesa Island/Darwin Bay
It takes an overnight sail to reach Genovesa, the archipelago’s north-east outpost, but it’s undeniably worth the voyage. Dolphins are often spotted in the waters around Genovesa, while the island itself is one of abundant beauty, with varying landscapes and wonderful wildlife. It’s also a twitcher’s paradise, with all three kinds of boobies – including the rare red-footed booby – and numerous other species, such as tropic birds and frigatebirds. Walking the steep path known as Prince Philip’s Steps gets us into the heart of the seabird rookeries, with birds overhead and nesting among the cliffs. On the island’s rocky plains, we look out for storm petrels – Genovesa is the only place in the world where they can be seen on the wing during daytime. Elsewhere, Darwin Bay is another superb site, with large breeding colonies of seabirds, while the island’s magnificent marine life makes for spectacular snorkelling. The chance of encountering manta rays, sharks, turtles and moray eels, along with many fish, make Genovesa one of the archipelago’s most exciting spots to take the plunge.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 11 Plaza Sur/Santa Fe Islands
A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where we get close to sea lions and onto trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sea-purslanes. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as ‘the gentlemen’s club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be ‘beach masters’!
Santa Fe is home to more sea lions, and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, and the landscape on the inland trails is also beautiful, with cacti forests home to a unique sub-species of land iguanas. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe leads us to a forest of prickly pear cactus. A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear-shaped fruit the plant produces. Once back at the beach we have free time to snorkel. Playful sea lions pups and fluorescent fish make for fascinating company.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 12 San Cristobal Island
This morning we pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), a magnificent lion-shaped rock in the middle of the sea. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. We also visit Cerro Brujo, where there is a chance to go hiking, swimming and snorkelling. The sandy beach is home to Sally Lightfoot crabs, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies.
After lunch we visit the Interpretation Center. Here we will be able learn all about the giant Galapagos tortoises, their origin, evolution and their threatened future.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 13 Española Island
Today we cruise to the island of Española Espanola, the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies. Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, lead us right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. We also visit the beautiful white sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner, which are great places for swimming and relaxing. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeonfish and angelfish. Small, white-tipped reef sharks are often spotted resting under the rocks.
We also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife populations. A walk along its trails takes us to a cliff-top viewpoint, where we gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath us, while frigatebirds may be seen overhead; nearby, enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatrosses using the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping them to become airborne by the south-east winds that blow across this part of the island. If we’re lucky we’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate!
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 14 Floreana Island
The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. 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 best opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Just offshore, the 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, full of sea lions and colourful fish. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. The custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos – post one of your own, or see if there are any you could deliver back home!
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 15 Bartolome Island
Bartolome is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere in the amazing lunar-like landscape. Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sights in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth from a golden beach. Here we can hike to the top of a once-active volcano and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Santiago Island.
Accommodation
Motorised yacht (1 nt)
Day 16 North Seymour Island/Quito
Today we take an early morning excursion to North Seymour trailing inland through the island and then exploring the rocky coast. Along the way the trail passes colonies of blue footed boobies and frigatebirds.
The magnificent frigatebird, a large black bird with a long wingspan and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigatebirds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males throw back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball) and shake to capture the attention of female frigates.
Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour, blue-footed boobies nest on the ground making their nests from the twigs of the palo santos trees, while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes.
This is our final excursion before we return to the airport in Baltra for our flight back to Quito. As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on this last day of your journey. Upon arrival in Quito Airport you are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 17 Quito
Your voyage comes to an end today after breakfast.
      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
      Culture shock rating

      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.
      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.
      Money Exchange
      The official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar (USD).
      Please note that in Ecuador automatic money machines often limit the amount you can withdraw. This can be $100 or $200 per day depending on your card.
      With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
      Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
      It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
      VERY IMPORTANT:
      US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      Tipping
      If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
      BOAT CREW:
      If you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$7-10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey.
      Departure tax
      Please allow US$44.30 for international airport departure tax in Quito.
      Important notes
      GALAPAGOS PARK AND TRANSIT CARD FEES:
      The Galapagos park fee (US$100) and transit card fee (US$10) are payable upon arrival to the islands (cash only)..This amount is in additiona 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.
      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 6. 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.
      DEPOSIT:
      An increased non-refundable deposit is required at time of booking (or full payment within 60 days of departure). Increased deposits are:
      AU$400
      NZ$400
      US$400
      CA$400
      EUR250
      GBP150
      ZAR2400
      CHF400
      Group size
      Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
      Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
      www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). 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
      Motorised yacht (14 nts), Hotel (2 nts)
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      Meals
      16 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 200.00
      All meals while on Galapagos Islands
      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
      Minibus, Boat, Plane
      M.Y. SAN JOSE: The San Jose is a modern vessel with 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, twin cabins and yet, at 34 metres, she is small enough to offer an individual level of service. Other features include radar, HF, VHF radio, satellite navigation, and 2 motor boats.
      Group leader
      All Intrepid Galapagos trips are accompanied by either one of our group leaders, an Intrepid representative, an expedition team or a local guide. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting- we think it's the best of both worlds. For our Galapagos trips we have a highly experienced shipboard staff and crew. Our guides are registered and trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Emergency contact
      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency only, our partner for this trip, Peregrine Adventures, can be reached on Tel: +61 417 808 800. The local Ecuador operations office can be reached on +593 9 4014877 (from outside Ecuador) or 09 4014877 (from within Ecuador). For further contact details please use the following page:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      Visas
      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
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      There is not a lot of extra space on the boat in the Galapagos, so our general advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Life aboard the yacht is pretty informal, so casual comfortable clothing is best.
      LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS:
      Please note domestic airlines allow a maximum of 20kg check in luggage and 5kg hand luggage. Any excess luggage expense will be your own responsibility.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
      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.
      WHO REPORTS:
      The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
      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.
      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. 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 group 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 group 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:
      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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
      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.
      TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
      SEAT BELTS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      LIFE JACKETS:
      While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
      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.
      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.
      There have been some cases of theft to taxis coming from the airport. The thieves' usual trick is to watch and wait at the airport parking lot to see which passengers keep their bags with them inside the taxi and follow that car. When it stops at a red light, they break the window and snatch the passenger's bag from their lap. The best way to avoid this is to put ALL your valuables inside the trunk at the airport.
      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 group 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:
      Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we'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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Responsible Travel projects
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Ecuador include:
      * The Charles Darwin Foundation protects species in the Galapagos that are on the borderline of extinction. Focusing on the island of Floreana, they hope to re-introduce several locally extinct and critically endangered keystone species that are integral to the ongoing balance and sustainability of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.