Current as of: July 24, 2024 - 00:34

Galapagos Encounter – Archipel I (Itinerary A)

Galapagos Encounter - Archipel I (Itinerary A) Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Small Ship Cruises
  • Destination: Ecuador
  • Programmes: Small Ship Cruises, Wildlife
  • Activity Level:

    1 out of 7 - Easy

  • 10 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 12+
  • Trip Code: WGAA
  • Carbon Footprint: 127kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Sail around the Galapagos Islands on the Archipel I catamaran

This eight-day southwestern tour aboard the catamaran Archipel I gives an extensive overview of the Galapagos by combining the circumnavigation of Isabela Island with excursions in the southernmost points of the archipelago. It also gives the chance to snorkel with sea lions in the Loberia and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz.

At a Glance

  • Travel by internal flight, catamaran and minibus
  • Seven nights on Archipel I in air-conditioned cabins, two nights in a comfortable hotel
  • Small group – a maximum of 16 clients on board

Highlights

  • Seven nights aboard Archipel I exploring the Galapagos Islands
  • Experience incredible wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities with near-tame animals
  • High chance of spotting booby colonies, great and American frigatebirds, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, green sea turtles, Galapagos giant tortoises, whitetip reef sharks and marine iguanas
  • Fantastic on-board service with experienced naturalist guide

Is This Trip for You?

This trip has been graded Activity Level 1 (Easy) with a Wildlife Rating of Five. Visit our Wildlife Holidays page for more on our Wildlife ratings. For more information on our trip gradings please visit the Activity Level Guidelines page. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to contact us.

This trip is great for wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and those with an interest in history or geology. Though you do not need to be particularly fit, there will be some walking on rough ground and sharp volcanic rocks due to the volcanic nature of the Galapagos Islands. The ability to withstand high temperatures and to swim will maximise your enjoyment of the trip. Due to local regulations, we have specific time slots for making our landings and site visits. There is usually very little disruption to the schedule, but this can mean little room for deviation in the event of poor weather or other circumstances.

Landings: Each day in the Galapagos will feature a mixture of walking, snorkelling and exploring the islands by boat. To get closer to the designated landing sites on each of the islands, we disembark into small pangas (motorised dinghies). Landings are divided into two types – wet and dry. For dry landings, the panga will take you right up to a landing stage or rocky outcrop where you can disembark without getting wet. However, where there is no landing stage, the panga will stop close to a beach and you will be expected to walk through shallow water (generally no more than ankle-deep) to the shore. The leader will always advise on conditions prior to leaving and it is possible to skip any excursion if you would rather relax on the boat.

Snorkelling: There are plenty of snorkelling opportunities in the Galapagos and this is one of the best ways to experience the marine life. A mask and snorkel will reveal an exciting underwater world with sea lions, rays, turtles, marine iguanas, and a colourful array of fish. On most days, there will be one or two snorkelling sessions. Snorkelling in the Galapagos does not require any special skills; however, at times, you will be snorkelling in open water where there are fairly strong currents. Before going into the water, the guide will evaluate the strength of the currents and the general sea condition to ensure they are right for a safe and enjoyable activity. The dinghy will remain very close at all times; if you get tired or feel like coming out of the water, you only have to raise your arm and they will pick you up so you can rest for a while before going back in or stay in the dinghy until it is time to return to the boat. Snorkelling equipment (snorkel, fins and masks) is provided; however, it is advisable to wear a wetsuit, which not only protects you from the cold but also makes floating much easier without as much effort.

Travellers: We offer this Galapagos cruise in conjunction with our Ecuadorian partners, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than Exodus’ minimum age for this trip.

Deposit terms

At the time of booking, we will ask you for the standard Exodus deposit plus an extra 10% of the trip cost to secure your space on the boat. If for any reason we are unable to secure the space and we have to cancel the trip, you will receive a full refund.

Cancellation terms

Due to the nature of this trip, it has slightly different cancellation charges to those listed in the standard Exodus Booking Conditions. After booking, if cancelling your travel arrangements, you will have to pay cancellation charges as follows:

  • From 90 days to 65 days before departure: loss of deposit (20%)
  • 64 days or less (or failure to join the trip): 100% of the trip cost

Islands visited on this itinerary:

Santa Fe: The dense vegetation of Santa Fe comprises some of the largest species of cactus, including a forest of prickly pear. Large numbers of the endemic Santa Fe land iguana reside here – one of the largest land iguanas on the islands.

South Plaza: A tiny island formed of lava and carpeted with cacti and plants that give it a luxurious red surface. There is abundant bird life here (including tropic birds and swallow-tailed gulls), plus a large number of land and marine iguanas that feed on the cacti.

San Cristóbal: The easternmost island of the archipelago and the first landing point for Charles Darwin in 1835. The provincial capital of the Galapagos Islands, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, is on San Cristóbal, and the town is home to the excellent Galapagos Interpretation Centre. Popular sites for visitors include El Junco Lake (one of the few freshwater lagoons in the archipelago), Frigatebird Hill (unsurprisingly named for the large colonies of magnificent and great frigatebirds), and Kicker Rock, a towering split rock that rises more than 330ft (100m) from the ocean. The highland cloud forests provide a natural habitat for giant tortoises. Huge numbers of sea lions are also present on San Cristóbal and nearby Isla Lobos, reachable by boat, is a big nesting site for blue-footed boobies.

Santa Cruz: The second-largest island in the archipelago, Santa Cruz is home to Puerto Ayora – where most Galapagos ships are docked for embarkation – and the Charles Darwin Research Station, which conducts tortoise research programmes and is heavily involved in the management and conservation of the islands along with the national park authorities. The Santa Cruz highlands are much greener than the dry lowlands of the other islands and are home to freely roaming tortoises. In common with the rest of the group, Santa Cruz has many interesting volcanic features, such as pit craters and lava tunnels, and there is also a flamingo lagoon at Cerro Dragón.

Fernandina: The third-largest island, Fernandina is an active shield volcano noted for its fine examples of aa and pahoehoe lava flows. The Fernandina ecosystem is remarkably untouched, and the island has never been invaded by foreign species and predators. As a result, the cormorants here had no real need to fly and gradually evolved into flightless birds with small wings and feet that are extremely well-adapted to swimming. Land iguanas have also flourished due to the lack of predators – the island is home to the largest colony in the Galapagos.

Isabela: One of the youngest and most volcanically active islands with stark lava fields blackening the landscape, Isabela is larger than all the other islands combined. The lunar-like interior is perfect for an unusual trekking experience, and the cloud forest is home to five subspecies of the giant Galapagos tortoise. Marine life here is rich and varied, and it’s possible to see stingrays, white-tipped reef sharks and turtles in the mangroves and submerged lava tunnels, plus playful dolphins and the odd glimpse of breaching humpback whales.

Santiago: Home of the Galapagos fur seal, which likes the rocky shoreline and shady spots of the island. Around 30,000 to 40,000 live in the Galapagos, and the majority are found close to Puerto Egas, either on the rocks or on its black beaches. The island is a good place to see Galapagos hawks and Darwin finches, and there’s a popular snorkelling site called Chinese Hat where penguins, rays, turtles and playful sea lion pups reside.

Group

An English-speaking naturalist guide registered by the Galapagos National Park accompanies every departure. In Quito, there will be an English-speaking local guide.

Adult min age: 12

Min group size: 2

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

WGA Maps

Land Only

  • Start City: Quito
  • End City: Guayaquil

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Quito

The adventure begins in Quito, aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients. A local guide will welcome you to Quito and explain the schedule for the next few days.

Accommodation: Hotel Casona de la Ronda (or similar)

Day 2
Discover Quito at your leisure

Today is free to relax, recover from the flight and explore the fascinating city of Quito, the second-highest capital in the world, standing at 9,350ft (2,850m) on the western cordillera of the Andes. It is one of the smaller and more attractive of the colonial capitals in South America. Because of the altitude, visitors to Quito are advised to take it easy at first.

Accommodation: Hotel Casona de la Ronda (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Fly to San Cristóbal Airport and visit Interpretation Centre

Morning: Fly to Galapagos
Transfer to Quito Airport and fly to San Cristóbal Airport in the Galapagos Islands. Upon arrival, you will pass through the airport inspection point to make sure no foreign plants or animals are introduced to the island, and to pay the national park entrance fee. Your guide will meet you, help you collect your luggage and escort you on a short bus ride to the harbour where a dinghy will take you to the yacht.

Afternoon: Interpretation Centre
The Interpretation Centre provides a perfect explanation of this unique archipelago – the exhibition reveals what makes it so unique. Information panels, pictures, documents, maquettes and dioramas delve into the background and conservation stories of the islands.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Sante Fe and South Plaza

Morning: Sante Fe
Sante Fe is a jewel of the Galapagos, where the pale Barrington land iguana and practically every other creature is unique to the archipelago or this island alone.

Afternoon: South Plaza
Popular South Plaza is not to be missed! This Jurassic islet is the best place to see the emblematic Galapagos dragons, which crawl across it.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
North Seymour and Chinese Hat

Morning: North Seymour
North Seymour is another cruise highlight. It’s home to the most extensive seabird breeding colony in the archipelago and you can walk just a short distance from frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies.

Afternoon: Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat is a 170ft (52m) high volcanic cone, forming another islet right off the rocky coast of Santiago, where a small colony of Galapagos penguins have settled. Approaching Chinese Hat from the north, you will understand the meaning of the name. This is an excellent place to learn more about volcanoes, lava bombs and lava tunnels.

You arrive just in time to see how this barren islet is being colonised by pioneer plant species! Beautiful beaches of white coral sand and holes in the eroding lava fields are filled with lava sand, which enables rooting. Galapagos sea lions and countless marine iguanas contribute to fertilisation and thus create many favourable options for newcomers, such as saltbush and the sesuvium carpet.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Santa Cruz Island

Morning: El Chato Reserve – Twin Craters

The native scalesia forest of El Chato Tortoise Reserve is the best place to search for Galapagos giant tortoises in their most authentic setting! Despite the interesting breeding centres – where you are guaranteed to find tortoises in their corrals – there is nothing better than to observe them in their wild environment. Though it can be quite moist and muddy, your visit may turn into an adventurous quest when they have left their favourite pond silently.

The Twin Craters are found on either side of the road leading to Puerto Ayora. These impressive formations are not really volcanic craters but were formed by magma domes, which hardened on the outside while the lava flowed inside, leaving huge, empty magma chambers that eventually collapsed and left two large holes. The craters lie within a lush scalesia cloud forest, a high-altitude plant species that are endemic to the Galapagos. This area is also home to the carpenter finch, which uses tools to search for food. There may also be opportunities to see the vermillion flycatcher, a small red-breasted bird.

Afternoon: Fausto Llerena Breeding Center
On a tour of the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, you can see the tortoises of Española Island, ending in the tortoise exhibit corral. Tortoises of this corral are accustomed to humans – an excellent chance to photograph them.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Isabela Island

Morning: Moreno Point

Moreno Point is on the north coast of Isabela Island, between the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The trail runs along a solidified pahoehoe lava flow into a complex of coastal lagoons. The main attractions here are several bird species, which are found around the lakes and mangroves.

Afternoon: Urbina Bay

Urbina Bay runs along the west coast of Isabela, between Elizabeth Bay and Tagus Cove and close to Alcedo Volcano. It’s home to large, colourful land iguanas, giant tortoises, and lots of Darwin finches. Additionally, the coastline here underwent a major uplift in 1954, which caused the shore to expand 0.75mi (1.2km) out. As a result, you can now find corals, shells, and many other calcareous organisms exposed above the water.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Fernandina and Isabela islands

Morning: Espinoza Point (Fernandina)
Fernandina is the third-largest island in the archipelago and has a single visitor site: Punta Espinoza, at the northeastern tip. Here, marine iguanas gather in larger groups than on any other island. They bask in the sand, swim near the shore and sometimes block the way at the landing dock. Fernandina is also home to the flightless cormorant, which can longer fly but has wings, tails and feet perfectly adapted for finding food in the ocean.

Afternoon: Vicente Roca Point (Isabela)
While having lunch, we cross the Bolivar Channel for the last time to Vicente Roca Point, just at the mouth of Isabela’s seahorse-shape. While entering a dark cave below a spectacular arch, the roar of waves accompanies you and, just around the corner, the collapsed amphitheatre of Volcan Ecuador offers an impressive view. The calmer cove waters are well-protected against the ocean swell and are fairly cold, but a great place for snorkelling among various species of shark, penguin, puffer fish and even seahorses.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9
Santiago and Rabida islands

Morning: Puerto Egas (Santiago)
Puerto Egas is historic and the favourite site on Santiago for wildlife lovers; it’s even the best place in the archipelago to observe Galapagos fur seals.

Afternoon: Rabida
Upon landing at this remarkable red beach, you will usually be greeted by a large bachelor colony of Galapagos sea lions.

Accommodation: Archipel I

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10
Disembark Santa Cruz; fly Baltra to Guayaquil and end

Morning: Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz) and transfer to Baltra Airport

Our last adventure is brief but enchanting and takes place en route to the airport. Explore by dinghy the green landscape of Black Turtle Cove, which is mostly comprised of mangrove trees that host innumerable aerial and aquatic species. The quiet emerald lagoon and surrounding shallow bays enable the easy observation of sea turtles and groups of sharks.

Then, assisted by the naturalist guide and some crew members, the dinghy will bring you and your luggage to Baltra, where we take the airport shuttle. From here, we fly to Guayaquil where it’s possible to connect with international flights from 6pm onwards.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

Archipel I catamaran

Galapagos Encounter – Archipel I (Itinerary A)

Cruise around the Galapagos on Archipel I, a comfortable catamaran overseen by nine crew members. On top is a spacious sundeck (come here for stretching views over the Pacific Ocean and islands), plus loungers and a dining area.

Inside, there’s a lounge with a stocked bar and another dining space. Additionally, the vessel has eight cabins: two with double beds and six with two single beds; all have air conditioning and private bathrooms.

The experience is undoubtedly enhanced by the on-board naturalist, an expert on the wildlife of the Galapagos. The vessel also has four double sea kayaks and snorkeling equipment, which we can use on guided adventures.

Boat specifications:

  • Catamaran
  • 16-passenger capacity with two double cabins and six twin cabins
  • Crew: Nine plus one naturalist guide
  • Length: 88ft (27m)
  • Beam: 36ft (11m)

Take a virtual tour of the Archipel I: www.catamaranarchipel.com/VR/ARCHIPELL.html

Worth knowing

  • Single rooms can be arranged for a supplement for the hotel nights in Quito, subject to availability – please enquire at the time of booking. We cannot offer single cabins on the catamaran; therefore, solo guests will be paired with another guest of the same sex for the seven nights on board.
  • Travelling between islands is often done overnight, so expect some cabin noise and movement.

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, seven lunches and seven dinners are included.

On board meals are plentiful with a wide choice of international and local cuisine. Breakfasts usually consist of cheese, meats, eggs, cereal, toasts, yoghurts, and fruits. Snacks are provided mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and for lunches and dinner soup usually precedes the main course.

Alcoholic drinks are available on board (approximately US$4 per beer, US$35 for a bottle of wine, around US$8 for selected cocktails) and the crew request you do not bring your own alcohol with you. Drinking water, tea, coffee, and juice is freely available at no additional charge.

Vegetarians and vegans can be well catered for on this trip – please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests so our local team can be well prepared.

Transport

In Quito, transport is in a private air-conditioned minibus. In the Galapagos, we use a catamaran for our main navigation and small semi-inflatable pangas (motorised boats or Zodiacs) for landings.

Weather & Seasonality

It is possible to visit the Galapagos at any time of year, but seasonal variations do affect what you see and there are climatic changes to note. The weather is controlled by the two main ocean currents of the region: the Humboldt, bringing cold water from the Antarctic, and El Nino, which brings tropical water from the Gulf of Panama. How close to the Galapagos they converge (which varies from year to year) is the key to the weather.

Dry season

Generally speaking, late May to early December is the cooler dry season. In this period, it is not necessarily dry, as there is a persistent light mist (garua) and often light drizzle, and the higher mountain slopes are covered in cloud and fog or rain. The winds are in the southeast and are higher than at other times, so seas can sometimes be choppy and anyone worried about seasickness might want to avoid it. Daytime maximum temperatures are 27C-31C (81F-88F), the cooler months being July to November. In July and August, the fairly strong winds introduce a chill factor, and it can feel quite cold at nights, though throughout the year the official night temperatures are 19C-24C (66F-75F).

Wet season

Depending on how close the convergence of the two currents comes to the Galapagos, there may or may not be a wet season from January to April or May. Approximately every seven years the El Nino current actually hits the islands and there will be heavy rains in these months. In other years, rain usually falls sporadically from otherwise clear skies. The ocean temperatures are higher with generally calm seas and strong sunshine: pleasant, but potentially very hot. Apart from an El Nino year, the weather is usually better from December to January and April to May than at other times even if there is some rain. Most people would regard these months as the best time to go.

There are plenty of wildlife highlights throughout the year:

January: Nesting land birds; green sea turtles arrive to lay eggs on the beaches; land iguanas start breeding on Isabela
February: Nesting marine iguanas on Santa Cruz; greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana
March: The bright red throat pouches of frigatebirds are inflated during mating season on Genovesa and San Cristóbal
April: Huge numbers of waved albatross on Española display courtship rituals; green sea turtle eggs begin to hatch; land iguana eggs hatch on Isabela
May: Courtship of blue-footed boobies begins on North Seymour; waved albatrosses on Española start laying eggs
June: Giant tortoises migrate to the lowlands and start nesting; migrating birds stop in the Galapagos to rest; migrating humpback whales can often be seen around the western islands
July: Dolphins and whales are more likely to be seen around the western islands; blue-footed boobies on Española start breeding
August: Nazca boobies nest on Genovesa Island; sea lions start giving birth to pups
September: Penguins seen in the water when snorkelling around Bartolomé
October: Galapagos fur seals start mating; blue-footed boobies start raising chicks
November: Curious sea lion pups found in the water among snorkelers
December: Mating green sea turtles; waved albatross chicks fledge

In Quito, it should be warm by day and generally dry. Maximum daytime temperatures are almost constant throughout the year at 20C (68F) and nights at 8C (46F). Expect some rain in February-May and October-November. Storms, though heavy, are generally short.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Start hotel: La Casona de la Ronda Hotel, Juan de Dios Morales Oe1-160 y, Quito 170405, Ecuador
Phone: +593 2-228-7538
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today
Airport: Mariscal Sucre Quito International Airport (UIO)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 45 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers. If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

The trip ends at Guayaquil Airport (GYE), where it’s possible to connect with international flights from 6pm onwards. Please speak to your sales representative if you need more information.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Quito
Location end: Guayaquil

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Sunscreen
  • Strong-soled shoes for walking on the islands
  • Torch (flashlight)

Due to the limited storage facilities on the boat, hard suitcases are difficult to store. We therefore recommend you take a soft holdall or rucksack. Your bag can be unpacked into the cabin storage and your holdall stowed away in the small space under the bed.

Internal flights in the destination country are subject to a weight limit of 44lb (20kg).

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Canvas shoes or waterproof sandals for wading ashore
  • Swimwear
  • Waterproofs
  • Camera with telephoto lens, spare memory cards and batteries
  • Binoculars

Practical Information

Visa

Ecuador

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Ecuador. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Program, you are required to register in advance for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). There is a US$21 charge, which is only payable online. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information.

Please note, not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to or transit via the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver program. Regulations stipulate that any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify. In addition, if you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021 you will not be eligible for the visa waiver program and should instead apply for a visa.

If you are in doubt of your eligibility, please check the visa requirements with your local US embassy.

Vaccinations and Health

Ecuador

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis, typhoid and yellow fever. Please check all vaccination recommendations with your doctor or travel clinic.
You will also require a yellow fever vaccination certificate if arriving from Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda or if you have transited through those same three countries for more than 12 hours.

If you plan to visit the Amazon Rainforest, we recommend a yellow fever vaccination. Malaria is also a risk in some areas of the country (including the Amazon Rainforest) so we suggest you consult a doctor for more advice. Additionally, dengue, chikungunya and zika, all viral diseases spread by mosquitoes, are known risks in places visited. There are currently no vaccines or prophylaxes available, so take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Please note: All visitors to Ecuador will be required to show valid medical insurance on arrival and cannot enter the country without it.

Local Time

Ecuador's time zone: America/Lima (UTC -05:00)

Electricity

Ecuador's electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins) and B (three pins: two flat, one round) – 120V, 60Hz

Galapagos Encounter – Archipel I (Itinerary A)

Money

Ecuador's currency: US dollar (USD)

ATM Availability

ATMs accepting major credit and debit cards are readily available in Quito, but access in the Galapagos is limited. Please contact your bank before travel to ensure compatibility and take more than one card with you as we have had reports of some debit cards not being accepted.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You should carry your money in US dollars cash. Other currencies can be difficult to exchange and may incur a poor exchange rate. Obtaining change for larger denomination banknotes (US$100 and US$50) can be difficult. Try to carry a number of small notes (US$1 or US$5) as many small businesses and taxis do not carry large amounts of change.

On this trip there is a compulsory Galapagos Tax of US$100 (increasing to US$200 as of August 1st, 2024) which can only be paid locally in cash (US dollars) and will be collected by the National Park Service on arrival at San Cristóbal. In addition, all visitors to the Galapagos are required to obtain an immigration control card (Ingala card) in mainland Ecuador – these cost US$20 per person and will be supplied and paid for locally in cash (US dollars). Galapagos taxes are subject to increase without notice, and any such increase will be collected in Quito or San Cristóbal.

All food is provided in the Galapagos. For the days in Quito, we provide breakfast only and you should budget roughly US$10-US$15 for lunch and US$15-US$20 for main evening meals (22% tax included). It is possible to eat more cheaply or more expensively than this, and the cost estimates don’t include alcohol. Tipping is customary in restaurants and cafes throughout Ecuador, and we recommend leaving a tip between 10% and 15% of the total bill. Drinks and incidentals are quite expensive in the Galapagos as everything is imported from the mainland.

Free-to-use snorkelling equipment (mask, snorkel and fins) is available on board but wetsuits are charged at US$8 per day. Additional fees apply if the equipment is damaged. Alternatively, bring your own equipment to ensure a good fit.

On board the boat, all transactions are in cash only. Only US dollars are accepted on board.

Optional excursions

The following optional excursions are available from Quito. Arrangements and payment can be organised on arrival subject to availability.

  • Otavalo day tour (Saturday only) on a sharing basis, approximately US$90 per person
  • Cotopaxi National Park day tour (Thursday only) on a sharing basis, approximately US$90 per person
  • Mindo Cloud Forest day tour on a private basis, approximately US$236 per person (minimum of two people required)
  • Quito city tour on a sharing basis (three hours approximately) US$33 per person
  • Equatorial monument tour (three hours approximately) US$22 per person
  • Bellavista Cloud Forest day tour approximately US$155 (one client), US$147 per person (two clients), US$131 per person (three clients).

Tipping

Tipping is an optional but customary practice in Ecuador and forms part of the service culture. Due to the dominance of US visitors in the destination, tips are reasonably high and this is likely to add up during your stay. Please remember, you are never under any obligation to tip and you should only do so when you are happy with the service you have received.

To show appreciation to local guides on the mainland, a tip of around US$7-US$9 per day from each group member is sufficient. Drivers and other local staff may be given closer to US$5-US$8 in tips per day.

It is also usual for groups to tip the boat crew in addition to the guide. It would be reasonable for each group member to contribute about US$15-US$18 a day for the crew and staff in the Galapagos. You may also wish to tip the naturalist guides directly and this is at your discretion, but US$8-US$10 per person per day would be a good gratuity.

People, Places & Planet

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.