Isabela Island Extension Trip Notes

Isabela Island Extension

Last Modified: 08 Oct 2013
Isabela Island Extension
Trip code: GGHH-O
Validity: 01 Oct 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
As the youngest member of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela boasts a vast range of plant life, wildlife and landscapes that differ dramatically from the surrounding isles in the archipelago. Marvel at the sight and feeding habits of the rare marine iguanas, prehistoric-looking creatures that are not found anywhere else in the world, and delight in the antics of giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, Galapagos penguins, cormorants, doves, finches, hawks and the fascinating Sally Lightfoot crabs - it’s like a meet ‘n’ greet for some of the planets most unique creatures. Volcano-scarred landscapes provide the backdrop for this adventure as you retrace the footsteps of Charles Darwin on this four-day journey through an island that boasts the best that the Galapagos has to offer.
Isabela Island extension is a great compliment to those cruising itineraries that don't reach Isabela on their itineraries. Thanks to the relatively long distance to Galapagos airports, Isla Isabela remains relatively isolated from mass tourism. During these 4 days you will have the opportunity to discover this fascinating island from the comfort of terra-firme: a hotel and a bed that doesn't rock at night!
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersWhat to take
ItineraryTransportTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderResponsible Travel
Culture shock rating Joining point A couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
Spending moneyFinish point Carbon offset
TippingEmergency contactFeedback
Important notesEmergency fundsFurther Information
Group sizeIssues on your trip
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Isabela Island Extension
Day 1 Santa Cruz/Isabela Island
This trip starts in Santa Cruz Island, making it a great option for those travellers already in the Galapagos Island and wishing to extend their stay for a few days.
By 1pm please make your way to the Safeguard dock (Muelle Salvavidas) where you can find the "Transmar Isabela" office. Here you are given your speed boat ticket to Isabela Island. Your ticket indicates the name of the ship that transports you to Isabela Island - make sure this name t is clearly printed in the ticket as you need it to locate your ship at the dock.
By 1.45pm you must make your way to the main dock (also called "Muelle Municipal) and get your luggage inspected by "SIGAL" which office is located right in the middle of the dock. SIGAL staff search for fruits and vegetables as it is forbidden for passengers to transport them to other islands.
By 2pm, boats approach to the dock. Be aware of your boat's name which is printed in your ticket.
If you experience any difficulties throughout this process, please call Intrepid Ecuador emergency number on 09 94014877
At this stage you may join other Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers for your transfer to Isabella Island. The ride to Isabela Island takes between 2.5- 3hr. Between the months of June and September the ocean can be rough making this boat trip bumpy (or very bumpy). If you plan to take seasickness medications, this will be a good time to start with it.
Upon arrival to Isabela Island you need to pay the USD5 dock fee collected by the Galapagos National Park. As per all the random and mandatory fees charged by the Galapagos National Park, these fees can change at no notice.
After settling at your hotel you head to the Flamingo Lagoon, the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos and one of the main reproductive sites for flamingos. If you are up for a little walk, ask you guide to point you to the path that will take you from the Flamingo Lagoon to your hotel by foot.
Dinner, as well as all breakfasts and lunches included on this trip will be served at your hotel. Occasionally you may be requested to make your way to a nearby property to access these meals. Meals may also be served to other groups and independent travellers - this is great opportunity to meet other travellers.
After dinner you may want to go out for a drink. There are a few pubs in Isabela Island where small bands may play from time to time. Ask your local guide for advise on what's going on where.
An ethereal, untouched sanctuary of alien landscapes and extraordinary wildlife, the Galapagos remains a natural paradise of unmatched significance. Fascinatingly remote, this famous archipelago continues to exist as though suspended in time, making each trip to Galapagos feel like the discovery of a lost world.
Included Activities
  • Isla Isabela - Flamingo lagoon visit
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Isabela Island
After breakfast and sorting out your (included) lunch box, you travel by minivan for 45mins to the base of Sierra Negra Volcano where you start hiking. With more than 9km in diameter and 91m deep this is the second largest volcano crater in the world. The hike itself can take up to 5-6 hours return including stops. The walk is relatively easy, however the first section (approx. 1hr) can get muddy during the rainy months (June to September). Check with your local guide for a report of this section the day before. If the forecast is wet and slippery, you may want to rent gum boots from your hotel.
After a brief rest, we have the chance to go snorkelling or swimming at Concha Perla where colourful fish, sea urchins, starfish, sea lions, or even sea turtles can be observed.
The morning of day 3 you visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center and the "Muro de las Lagrimas" (Wall of Tears). From 1946 to 1959, the Ecuadorian government designated Isabela Island as a penal colony. Prisoners were obligated to build a wall with enormous blocks of lava. Due to the arduous labour and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as “Muro de las Lagrimas”.
After lunch you travel by speedboat to Tintoreras Island - a deep crevice with clear and calm waters frequented by Tintoreras (white-tip sharks) as well as penguins, sea lions and marine iguanas. Enjoy swimming or snorkelling before returning to your hotel.
Activities (or the order in which you do them) may change depending on weather conditions.
Included Activities
  • snorkelling gear (mask, snorkel and fins)
  • Sierra Negra Volcano
  • Isla Isabela - Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre
  • Isla Tintoreras
Optional Activities
  • Bike Rental - USD10
  • Isla Isabela - wetsuite rental - USD15
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 4 Isabela Island/Santa Cruz
Early in the morning we travel by public speedboat to Puerto Ayora. Your trip finishes upon arrival to Puerto Ayora port. Please contact your booking agent if you need assistance with extra accommodation or departure transfer.
After the trip: Your feedback is important to us. We have made many trip changes over the years based on past traveller feedback. So if you want to tell us anything, from how great the service was at a particular hotel or how delicious an included meal was or if you have any improvement suggestions then please go to We'll even give you 5% off your next Intrepid trip if you fill in feedback within 4 weeks. Thanks!
  • Galapagos Adventure - Itinerary B (GLSD)
  • Galapagos Isabela Island (GGHI-O)
  • Galapagos Family Adventure (GLFB)
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:
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.
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.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you 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. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
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.
At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides.
Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. 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.
Galapagos - Land based itineraries
Though part of Ecuador, the economy in the Galapagos Islands is different to that of the mainland, which is generally reflected in higher costs of living. As such, a tipping guideline in the Galapagos Islands is of USD 1-3 per person per day for the crew and USD 5-8 per person per day for your Galapagos leader.
Important notes
There is a USD5 Isabella port fee required upon arrival at Isabela island. This amount is in addition to your trip payment.
Group size
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
This trip is operated in "Join-In" basis and you may travel alongside other Intrepid or non-Intrepid travellers during included activities.
Hotel (3 nts)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in your selected accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for your arrival, especially if you're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible, which means you won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, you can store your luggage and explore the new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
USD 50.00
Van, Boat
Group leader
This Short Break Adventure is a 'join in' group departure, which means you are not accompanied by an Intrepid group leader - our local representative fills this role - and the configuration of any fellow travellers in the group might change during the trip.
The aim of our local representative is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. On this style of trip you might have one person stay with you for the entire journey, or you might get to enjoy the variety of having someone different for each day and/or activity. They will all be to provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and, where possible, introduce you to our local friends. While some may not be guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
Joining point
Isla Santa Cruz
Isla Santa Cruz
Joining point instructions
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
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
Isla Santa Cruz
Isla Santa Cruz
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 all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
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.
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.
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.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that our local representative has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.
If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we'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.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 109.00 kgs per pax.
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.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.
Further Information
A book is a great way to get inspired about a destination… and make long waits at airports more bearable! These books should get you in the mood for a trip to Ecuador: