Treasures of Galapagos: Western & Central Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

13 Days from $9,550

START: Quito

FINISH: Quito

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Adventure Cruising, Wildlife

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Description

Embark on an immersive 13-day Adventure Cruise through the Galapagos Islands and experience the natural world in all its glory. Encounter diverse wildlife, from lumbering giant tortoises and sunbathing sea lions to scuttling crabs and blue-footed boobies. Wander through lava flow on Las Tintoreras, snorkel in the waters of protected cove Punta Carrion, and stick your toes in the olivine-crystal sands of Punta Cormorant. This itinerary allows plenty of time to absorb the spoils of this unique, wildlife-rich archipelago. Cruise into another world for the trip of a lifetime.

Start: Quito

Finish: Quito

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Adventure Cruising, Wildlife

Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (10 nights)

Destination: Quito

Highlights

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Encounter nature at its finest as you follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, spotting some of the strangest and most beautiful creatures on earth in their natural habitats.
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Watch ponderous Galapagos tortoises at all stages of life and development in breeding centres, then search for these ancient creatures in the wild highlands of Isla Santa Cruz.
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The sea lions of the Galapagos are famously inquisitive creatures. Don’t be surprised if they swim over to check you out while you’re in the water!
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This tour combines active adventure with pure relaxation, including plenty of free time to unwind on the deck with a beer in hand in between hikes and snorkelling sessions.
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Island-hopping has never been easier (or more environmentally friendly) than in our compact, custom-built ship the Grand Queen Beatriz.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Quito

Welcome to Quito! On arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure until a welcome meeting this evening. The meeting will be held at either 5 pm or 6 pm, please check with hotel reception or the reception notice board for the exact time and location. Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America, and there is plenty to occupy you should you arrive with time to spare. The Old Town, for example, has many museums and churches to explore, including the ornate La Compania de Jesus.

icon check Day 2 : Isla Baltra/Punta Carrion

Rise and shine for a very early airport transfer. The pick-up time can be as early as 4.30 am, which is necessary in order to guarantee timely arrival at the airport and make the most of your precious time in the Galapagos. Your leader will confirm the exact time of departure during the welcome meeting on Day 1, and a boxed breakfast will be provided on the 1-hour drive to the airport. Board the plane and make the approximately 3.5-hour flight to the islands, stopping en route to pick up passengers in Guayaquil. On arrival in the Galapagos you will be met in the arrivals hall and then transferred to your motor yacht, M/Y Grand Queen Beatriz, anchored a short distance away off Isla Baltra. Once on board you’ll be assigned your cabins, meet the crew members and have a welcome briefing and safety drill before getting to know your naturalist guide and fellow travellers over a delicious lunch. Your first stop in the afternoon will be Punta Carrion, located on the eastern side of the Itabaca channel that separates the islands of Baltra and Santa Cruz. This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for your first snorkel and swim in the Galapagos! From the vantage point of your boat, wildlife is plentiful, so keep your eyes peeled for occasional sights of blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons and great blue herons, while under the surface swim rays and white-tipped reef sharks. Tonight, enjoy a welcome cocktail and crew presentation on board. Estimated travel time/distance: Isla Baltra to Punta Carrion: 1.5 hours (10 nautical miles) Punta Carrion to Isla Isabela (Puerto Villamil): 9 hours (64 nautical miles)

icon check Day 3 : Isla Isabela/Las Tintoreras/Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre

Today you will wake up on the south Coast of Isla Isabela, the largest island of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, formed less than 1 million years ago. This southern coast has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. You will 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, penguins, and crabs also make their home here. Enjoy a nice long walk on a gravel path through aa (pronounced ah-ah) lava flow and see plenty of marine iguanas. In the afternoon, take another leisurely walk through a coastal lagoon, where you might be able to catch sight of flamingos. The mangrove-lined path leads to Arnaldo Tupiza Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, where you'll observe giant tortoises at all stages of development. Here you can see the five sub-species of tortoises from Isla Isabela, some of which are bred in captivity. You will then have the choice of optional swimming at the beach or heading out for some shopping in Puerto Villamil. Estimated travel time/distance: Isla Isabela (Puerto Villamil) to Post Office Bay: 6 hours (40 nautical miles)

icon check Day 4 : Isla Floreana/Post Office Bay/Devil's Crown/Punta Cormorant

The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife even by the high standards set by the archipelago. Enjoy a panga ride around the loberia to observe marine iguanas, sea lions and crabs before taking a leisurely walk to Post Office Bay, where 18th-century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. This custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos – post one of your own or see if there are any you can deliver back home! You will also have the chance to go snorkelling with sea turtles. Today is also one of your finest 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 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, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, full of sea lions and colourful fish. 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, so get your camera ready. Estimated travel time/distance: Post Office Bay to Punta Cormorant: 0.5 hours (3 nautical miles) Punta Cormorant to Puerto Ayora: 4 hours (32 nautical miles)

icon check Day 5 : Isla Santa Cruz/Charles Darwin Station/Santa Cruz Highlands

Today you will 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. You will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas. Afterward you will head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you'll travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests, with the journey taking about 45 mins. This is 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 you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat, and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher! Today there will be some passengers leaving the tour and some new passengers joining. Estimated travel time/distance: Puerto Ayora to the Highlands: 45 mins by bus Puerto Ayora to Santa Fe: 2 hours (16 nautical miles)

icon check Day 6 : Isla Santa Fe/Isla Plaza Sur

Isla Santa Fe is home to many sea lions and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, offers a dense concentration of wildlife, and is a fantastic place to see many of the stars of the Galapagos in one relatively small area. Expect to see Galapagos hawks, land iguanas, a variety of finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, sea lions, marine turtles, frigatebirds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. It’s a naturally beautiful island as well with one of the most attractive coves in the archipelago and the jade-green waters are ideal for snorkelling. A trail follows the coast into the opuntia forest, where you see Santa Fe's trees – the largest in the Galapagos. The island is also home to a unique sub-species of land iguana. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe will lead you to a forest of prickly pears. A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear-shaped fruit the plant produces. A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where you will get close to sea lions and follow trails past one of the Galapagos’s largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sesuvium. 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 beachmasters! Estimated travel time/distance: Isla Santa Fe to Isla Plaza Sur: 2 hours (16 nautical miles) Isla Plaza Sur to Isla Espanola (Punta Suarez): 7 hours (60 nautical miles)

icon check Day 7 : Isla Espanola/Bahia Gardner/Punta Suarez

After an overnight sail, you will wake up on the island of 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 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses on Earth, and home to colonies of blue-footed and Nazca boobies. Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, will lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. Pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to a large and varied wildlife population – a walk along its trails will take you to a cliff-top viewpoint, where you'll gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath you, while frigate birds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helped into the air by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatross before the female chooses her lifelong mate! You will 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, sea lions and many species of tropical fish – including surgeon and angelfish – often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also commonly spotted resting under the rocks. Estimated travel time/distance: Punta Suarez to Bahia Gardener: 1 hour (7 nautical miles) Bahia Gardener to Punta Pitt (Isla San Cristobal): 7 hours (50 nautical miles)

icon check Day 8 : Isla San Cristobal/Leon Dormido/Isla Lobos/Punta Pitt

This morning you will visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of Isla San Cristobal. Walk to the top of the volcanic hill for expansive views of the sparsely vegetated area. A variety of seabirds nest here, including blue-footed boobies and frigates. On a Zodiac ride you can observe the three varieties of boobies nesting in the Galapagos and enjoy a snorkel from the beach. Close by you will pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), the magnificent basalt remains of a crater in the middle of the sea, the shape resembles a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. You cruise through the channel with nesting seabirds on either side of the boat, tropic birds overhead, marine iguanas in the water and many sea lions present including many resting on the rocks. Snorkelling gives us the opportunity to see Galapagos sharks, and possibly a hammerhead shark among sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the rock wall. You will also visit Isla Lobos, a tiny island almost touching Isla San Cristobal. This is the perfect time to witness the always friendly sea lions as they play in the calm shallow waters here. Blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and marine iguanas are also easily seen. Estimated travel time/distance: Punta Pitt to Kicker Rock (Isla San Cristobal): 2.5 hours (27 nautical miles) Kicker Rock to Isla Lobos: 1 hour (7 nautical miles) Isla Lobos to Puerto Baquerizo (Isla San Cristobal): 1 hour (5 nautical miles)

icon check Day 9 : Isla San Cristobal

Visit San Cristobal Interpretation Center in the morning. This information hub brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos, and the reality of the problems the islands face today is also explored. Enjoy some free time for shopping before going on board for lunch and to meet the new travellers who will be joining you today. This afternoon you will travel into the interior of the island (approximately 45-minute bus ride) to visit the highlands site of Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado (Red Hill) where the national park has established a breeding program and information centre for tortoises. Here, you will be able to see giant tortoises and learn all about their origin, evolution and their threatened future. Today there will be some passengers leaving the tour and some new passengers joining you. Estimated travel time/distance: Puerto Baquerizo (Isla San Cristobal) to Bartolome: 8 hours (70 nautical miles)

icon check Day 10 : Bartolome/Bahia Sullivan

Bartolome is one of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes in the Galapagos, full of parasitic spatter cones, lava flows, Galapagos penguins and lava lizards. It is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere across the amazing lunar-like landscape. The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, close to two golden bays that back onto each other. You can hike to the top of a once-active volcano here (360 wooden steps), and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Santiago Island. If you’re in luck you might catch a glance of the Galapagos Hawk here. You also have the option to go snorkelling with plenty of tropical fish, starfish, white-tipped reef sharks, rays and, hopefully, penguins. On Santiago's eastern coast sits Bahia Sullivan, also known as James Island. Here you walk on Pahoe-Hoe lava, from an eruption that occurred in 1897, and witness the colonisation of plant species since the last eruption. Your guide will explain the geological history of the islands as you walk, and with any luck you’ll see marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and penguins. Estimated travel time/distance: Bartolome to Isla Santiago (Bahia Sullivan): 0.5 hours (1 nautical mile) Isla Santiago (Bahia Sullivan) to Espumilla Beach: 3 hours (25 nautical miles)

icon check Day 11 : Isla Santiago/Espumilla Beach/Buccaneer Cove/Puerto Egas

Today you will visit some wonderful places. Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Isla Santiago in James Bay, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands and an important nesting site for marine turtles. With large waves, it is also often a favourite amongst beach lovers. Potentially you will see Galapagos hawks up close, ghost crabs, blue-footed boobies (often plunging for fish) and brown pelicans. The area is also well known for its palo santo forest and some extraordinary lava formations. You will 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! It is also where Darwin camped for nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife. If conditions are favourable, you can enjoy some further snorkelling. Puerto Egas is a black-sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest 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 and Galapagos sea lions. You will also see amazing tidal pools formed from ancient lava flow and home to sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish. Snorkelling with the seals always offers the possibility of thrilling encounters. Estimated travel time/distance: Espumilla Beach to Buccaneer Cove: 0.5 hours (1 nautical mile) Buccaneer Cove to Puerto Egas: 0.5 hours (1 nautical mile) Puerto Egas to Puerto Ayora: 7 hours (60 nautical miles)

icon check Day 12 : Isla Santa Cruz/Puerto Ayora

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 your flight, time spent on this final excursion could be limited. Our final excursion will be a visit to the Santa Cruz Highlands. We travel through the agricultural region and into the misty forests where we can see the Unique Scalesia cloud forest, get up close to the giant tortoises in the wild, different species of Darwin finches and possibly the world-famous woodpecker and warbler finches as well as vermillion flycatchers. This is your final excursion before you return to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito. Upon arrival in Quito Airport you will be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay.

icon check Day 13 : Quito

There are no activities planned for today. If you plan on staying in Quito, why not book yourself an Urban Adventure tour that shows you a different side of Ecuador – a bustling city! A Legends and Culture tour will show you the secrets of the Old Town and stories of the city’s colonial streets, with plenty of food thrown in for good measure! Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Quito-tours.

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

12 Breakfasts, 10 Dinners
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Transport

Minibus, Boat, Plane, Zodiac
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Accommodation

Hotel (2 nights), Overnight boat (10 nights)
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Included Activities

  • Isla Santa Cruz - Highlands Visit (3 hours) - Dry Landing

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Hotel Le Parc

República de El Salvador N34-349 & Irlanda

Quito

ECUADOR

Phone: +593 22276800

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

Hotel Le Parc

República de El Salvador N34-349 & Irlanda

Quito

ECUADOR

Phone: +593 22276800

icon readmoreicon minusPhysical preparation

Galapagos Voyage

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

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

From the zodiac to the main deck there are 6 steps

From the main deck to the first level there are 10 steps

From the first level to the second there are 10 steps

From the second level to the sundeck there are 10 steps

Snorkelling

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

Altitude

Quito is located at 2850 metres above sea level. At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. If so, we recommend you avoid any strenuous activity.

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

FELLOW TRAVELLERS:

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

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

GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA ISLANDS PORT FEES:

Before checking in for the flight from Quito to the Galapagos, there is a US$20 transit fee that needs to be paid. On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$100 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park. If your voyage visits Isabela Island, there is also a US$10 fee to be paid on arrival at the island.

PASSPORT DETAILS:

When booking, please make sure that your name is spelt correctly, and that you book using the name in your passport (particularly if you are recently married). If you are issued a new passport with a different number between the time that you book and the time you travel, please take both the old and new passports with you.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS:

Should you have a special diet requirement (for example vegetarian, celiac, vegan, severe food allergies) it's essential that you inform us or your agent of the specific details at least 10 days prior to departure, in order to make sure the chef on board the boat or on the island can request the necessary food supplies.

MINIMUM AGE:

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

SEA SICKNESS- GALAPAGOS:

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

DIVING IN THE GALAPAGOS:

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

icon readmoreicon minusGroup 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 on board 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.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

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.

Petty theft & 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.

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:

Peregrine 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.

Diving in the Galapagos:

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

icon readmoreicon minusCommunications

Electricity in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands is 110 - 120V and requires US plugs so you may need to take an adapter.

Wi-Fi is not available on the boat at all whilst in the Galapagos Islands. There is limited access on the bigger islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela and there may also be internet cafes for you to use if there is time.

Like Wi-Fi, mobile phone coverage is pretty non-existent whilst travelling around the islands. Again, you may find that you have limited service when you are closer to the bigger islands.

There is a radio on board, for the use of shipboard staff, in case of emergency.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

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.

Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Canadians and British do not currently require a visa for Ecuador. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.

Visa requirements for Galapagos Islands are the same as Ecuador.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Encounter nature at its finest as you follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, spotting some of the strangest and most beautiful creatures on earth in their natural habitats.

Watch ponderous Galapagos tortoises at all stages of life and development in breeding centres, then search for these ancient creatures in the wild highlands of Isla Santa Cruz.

The sea lions of the Galapagos are famously inquisitive creatures. Don’t be surprised if they swim over to check you out while you’re in the water!

This tour combines active adventure with pure relaxation, including plenty of free time to unwind on the deck with a beer in hand in between hikes and snorkelling sessions.

Island-hopping has never been easier (or more environmentally friendly) than in our compact, custom-built ship the Grand Queen Beatriz.

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

The Galapagos Islands are a largely untouched natural paradise. In order to experience the splendour of the diverse landscapes and waters, the included activities on this trip often require a moderate level of fitness. We ask that you read the trip notes and itinerary carefully to ensure that you will be able to participate fully.

Our small ships make cruising from island to island a breeze, so you can spend more time exploring the gorgeous surrounds than stuck onboard. Compact size means that the steps between the decks are steep, and as they are designed to maximise living area space, sleeping quarters are cosy.

For getting to small islets, coves and prime snorkelling spots, it is sometimes necessary to use a Zodiac boat (panga). You will need to be comfortable climbing in and out of one during wet and dry landings.

The waters of the Galapagos are generally calm and serene. However, there is always the possibility of choppy water at sea. Steady sea legs (and a sturdy stomach) will be needed when walking around the boat during bad weather. Rain or shine, your trusty crew will always be on hand to assist you.

Things are never set in stone when you’re travelling on island time. A sense of humour and flexibility will ensure you have a fun, relaxing trip through this beautiful part of the world no matter what happens. While the crew will do their best to follow the itinerary, variations may occur due to weather or under direction from local authorities.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

All 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 Travel 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 before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000kms off the coast of Ecuador mainland and many of these islands are uninhabited by humans. The populated islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal have medical facilities however they are limited in what procedures they can perform and have limited medical supplies. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, please ensure you have travel insurance to cover this. Travel insurance should also cover the cost of repatriation or if any additional supplies are needed to be flown in from the mainland.

We know that many travellers have travelled to other parts of South America before the Galapagos and during this time have contracted a stomach bug. If you are feeling unwell at the time of the briefing or at anytime on the voyage, please let our representative or guide know. Travelling on a boat means that everyone is sharing the same common areas which means that if one passenger is feeling unwell, this can be spread to your fellow travellers. We want to maximise your time on the boat and for you to enjoy the experience and the best way to do that is to ensure that everyone is healthy.

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 https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/altitude-sickness

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.

SUNSCREEN

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

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.

CPAP Machines:

If you are travelling with a CPAP machine there should be uninterupted power throughout the night however we suggest you travel with a fully charged back up battery just in case. If you are travelling by yourself, we highly recommend that you book a single supplement to limit disruption to other passengers.

The sockets on board the Grand Queen Beatriz are the two pronged plugs used in the US, Canada and Japan.  

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

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).

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.

If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies please notify us at the time of booking so we can determine the extent to which your dietary requirements can be met. We will endeavour to accommodate all requests but please note that we have limited refrigeration and storage space on board the Galapagos boats and there is very limited (if any) access to shops or supermarkets.

Vegans, coeliacs or those with specific meal requirements might choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home, e.g. protein bars. Please note that the Galapagos does have strict quarantine laws when it comes to bringing in goods from the mainland.

The airline we use to and from the Galapagos Islands is unable to provide gluten free snacks. If you require a gluten free diet, we recommend you carry your own snacks for these flights.

icon readmoreicon minusMoney matters

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.

ATM's are available in Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal however there are no ATM's in Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela.

Credit cards are accepted in some shops and stores in Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo and Puerto Villamil.

For boat trips only:

On board the Galapagos voyage, alcoholic [beer and wine] and soft drinks are available to purchase in cash and if you wish to tip the crew this will also be paid in cash.

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some  travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than others, others prefer to visit more optional sites. Remember that alcoholic beverages are expensive compared to other foods locally. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities.

We recommend you carry at least US$100 to allow for additional meals and snacks. There is a bar on board and it is recommended you settle the bill in US$ cash. The Grand Queen Beatriz does have credit card facilities but there is a minimum of US$100 and it is not always a reliable source of payment as there can sometimes be connection issues so please ensure you carry back-up cash to settle the bill.

Please make additional allowance for bar expenses. Please note, all produce is freighted in to the Galapagos making the price of food, alcohol and other goods more expensive on the islands and on board than what you will find on the mainland.

All prices are quoted in US$.

Wine* – 35 to 70 USD

Champagne** - 35 USD

Cocktails – 8 to 10 USD

Hard spirits (Vodka, Gin, Pisco, Brandy, Tequilla, Baileys) – 8 to 10 USD

Small local beer – 5 USD

Imported beer (Corona, Heineken) – 7 USD

Soft drinks – 2 to 4 USD

*Red, white and sparkling wines are available by the bottle

**Champagne is only available by the bottle

Please note that a 10% service charge from the boat and a 12% government tax will be added to the total of your bar bill when your tab is settled at the end of your trip.

It is not permitted to bring your own alcohol on board the boat.

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

NATIONAL PARK AND TRANSIT CARD FEES

Before you check-in for your flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands you will need to purchase a US$20 transit card [which you will need to hold on to as you will need to present it on your return from the Galapagos].

On arrival in the islands you will purchase the Galapagos National Park entry fee, US$100.

If your tour visits Isabela Island, you will also be required to pay a US$10 port fee.

Please make sure you  have clean, unmarked notes to pay these fees.

TIPPING:

If you are happy with the services received, 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 Peregrine destinations.

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$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 & local shops:

At local markets, shops & basic restaurants, leave loose change.

Hotel porters/local drivers:

We suggest US$1 - US$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.

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).

Optional activities

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.

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat to take

The cabins on the Grand Queen Bea are quite spacious and come equipped with wardrobes. If you are visiting the Galapagos at the end of a longer South America holiday and have a number of larger bags with you, you can store them in our hotel in Quito, the Le Parc Hotel. The hotel offers a luggage storage service. If you choose to leave your bags at the hotel we recommend that you bring a small backpack/daypack with you so you can transfer the clothes you wish to take with you into this back. We also highly recommend that you don’t leave any valuables [money, credit cards, electronic goods such as lap tops etc]. Below is a suggest packing list. The weather in the Galapagos is quite temperate all year round. In most cases you will be in water snorkelling or swimming for a portion of the day with the other time taken up with an island visit/walk or time to relax on the boat as you travel between islands. Daypack [a smaller back pack that you can take with you on island excursions] Comfortable clothing for warmer temperatures [shorts, t-shirts, light long sleeved tops and pants] A fleece or warmer jumper for the evenings or early mornings A light rain coat or poncho Comfortable shoes [trainers or walking shoes are sufficient for most trips]* Sandals or thongs/flip flops/jandals Sunscreen [bio degradable and waterproof if available] and lip balm [to combat the effects of wind burn] Sunglasses Sunhat [that can be secured as it can get windy out on the water] Swimming costume Water bottle [filtered water is available on board the boat] Bio-degradable conditioner and cleanser [please do not bring facial or body cleanser with microbeads] - shampoo and soap are provided on board Dry bag Pegs [so you can hang your swimming costume or towel out to dry] Insect repellent [for island visits] US adaptor/electrical plug For keen birdwatchers, Binoculars Camera [underwater if you have one] Earplugs Please ensure you travel with all required medicines, pain killers and toiletries that you may need while in the Galapagos. If you are prone to motion sickness, you might want to pack some preventative medication. You are travelling to quite a remote destination and even though there are a number of settlements throughout the islands there are times we it could take a day to reach these towns and even then they may not stock your required medication. Please ensure you also bring your passport with you as it is an entry requirement for the Galapagos to present your passport on arrival in Galapagos and returning to the mainland [photocopies of your passport are not permitted]. *a number of trips include a volcano walk and some travellers may feel more comfortable in hiking shoes or boots.

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

AIRLINE BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE: The airline that we use for our Galapagos trips, has a checked in baggage allowance of 23kg per person and a cabin baggage allowance of 10kg.

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

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.

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.

By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

Strict rules apply in the Galapagos Islands aimed at protecting and preserving its unique biodiversity. Intrepid strongly agrees and supports these rules which range from times of the day that a destination can be visited to the distance kept between people and wildlife – all these rules will be explained in more detailed by your crew on the ground. Not adhering to these rules can lead to hefty fines for travellers and can result on Intrepid losing the license to operate in the Galapagos Islands – these rules must be adhered to by all, without exception.

For more information, please follow this link: http://www.galapagos.org/travel/travel/park-rules/

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL 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.

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Ecuador Operations Office can be reached on:

Peak Ecuador: +593 (0) 9 94014877

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Travelling responsibly is all about making good choices. It's about ensuring you have an incredible trip while also having a positive impact on the local environment, community and economy you're travelling in. How can you be a Responsible Traveller? See our tips below:

- Choose to travel with a responsible travel company like us! We've already offset the main carbon emissions of your trip, so your footprint is already lighter.

- Consider offsetting your flights when you book your trip/flights with us or your travel agent.

- Bring a refillable water bottle and some water purification tablets (or a Steripen) to cut down on plastic bottle waste.

- Be an animal-friendly traveller. Only go to venues that respect animals by allowing them to live normally in their natural environment. Steer clear of venues that use animals for entertainment or abnormal activities and/or keep animals in poor and unnatural conditions.

- Eat at local restaurants, buy from regional artists and support social enterprises so you can contribute directly to locals and their economy.

- Always be respectful of local customs and ask permission if you want to take a photo of someone.

- Learn a few words of the local language and engage with the people around you.

- Carry a cloth or re-usable bag so you can avoid plastic bags.

- Give back by making a donation to a local project via The Intrepid Foundation.

Share your thoughts with us by completing your feedback form after your trip. This helps us to continue to improve our commitment to responsible travel.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation notes

The stylish modern design of the Grand Queen Beatriz features large en suite cabins all with individual air conditioning and ocean views. There are 4 Standard twin cabins on the main deck and on the upper deck there are 2 Junior Suite cabins  and 2 deluxe balcony cabins. The upper deck cabins all have private balconies. All cabins are equipped with a safety deposit box, hair dryers and toiletries.

icon readmoreicon minusTravel 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.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

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

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

The Ecuadorian government has declared that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers entering Ecuador. Proof of insurance may be requested at upon entering the country by immigration officials.

icon readmoreicon minusYour 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 FELLOW TRAVELLERS:

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

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

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.

icon readmoreicon minusItinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES:

Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.

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 notice due inclement weather or changes to the Galapagos National Park's regulations. We ask you for your patience and understanding with any changes outside our control. Any changes to the itinerary will be undertaken with your safety and comfort in mind.

There may be some early starts to the day for the scheduled activities to be conducted as per the itinerary due to specific visiting hours for some sites.

All travel distances/times and durations for the activities listed in the trip notes are a guide only and are subject to change.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

Hotel (2 nights),Overnight boat (10 nights)

Kenya Safari!

Win a Classic African Adventure Tour to Kenya Overland Safari. Every NOVICA product purchased through the end of the year qualifies as an entry. Let the journey begin!
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