Birdwatching Tour in the Galápagos Island, Cloud Forest & Andes
A 15-Day Birding Galápagos, Cloud Forest and Andes Wildlife Tour are moderately paced available on request offer a special escorted group trip to Ecuador and Galapagos that will be led by Think Galapagos co-founder and leading Galapagos specialist Santiago Bejarano. For up to a maximum of 15 guests, this Galápagos Island birdwatching tours is oriented towards people who want to observe, experience and learn as much as possible about Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
Your tour leader
Santiago has worked in the Galapagos since 1992, a wildlife photographer and conservationist he is a member of the board of directors at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos. During his time working as a Galapagos National Park guide he was the naturalist selected for the Smithsonian Institute trip to the islands, The New York Natural History Museum Galapagos trip and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to name but a few. Santiago will be joined throughout the trip by top local naturalists, offering unparalleled levels of service.
Where you will visit
Your 15-day birding in the Galapagos, Cloud Forest & Andes will start with a short visit to Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its beautiful colonial architecture before you head down to the cloud forest area of Mindo. The forests here are home to some of the best and easiest birding in the world that will thrill both the experienced and novice birder alike! The lodge we stay at sits in its own 420-hectare reserve and boasts some 9000 plant species and 322 bird species recorded in the valley close to the lodge.
After two nights here we head onto Ecuador's Andean highlands to the region of Imbabura with its spectacular scenery, volcanoes and colourful indigenous markets. Our home here in Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th-century estate that sits at 8.500 ft (2600 m).
From here we return to Quito for our flight to the Galapagos Islands for eight days on board a privately chartered yacht that will visit some of the most spectacular visitor sites in the central, southern and northern part of the archipelago. Offering a superb mix of Galapagos wildlife and excellent snorkelling including the two highlight islands at this time of year of Genovesa and Espanola.
Timing of the Birdwatching Galápagos Tour
Our Galápagos birding trip is timed to coincide with one of our favourite times of the year in Galápagos when the arrival of the cold water currents triggers the seabirds to begin their courtship displays which will be at their most intense at the time of our visit.
As it is our own privately chartered yacht in Galapagos, that we charter from one of the oldest and most respected local families in Galápagos who we have worked with for many years we go onshore earlier in the day than most other groups in order to enhance nature viewing and photographic opportunities, to really ensure this is the wildlife holiday of a lifetime.
Birding Galápagos Cloud Forest & Andes tour Highlights include:
- Experience some of the best and easiest birding in the world in the cloud forests of Mindo
- Soak up Ecuador's spectacular Andean scenery and culture
- Explore Galápagos on a private yacht charter in the company of leading experts
- Witness birding Galápagos experience with seabirds courting at their most intense including Espanola and Genovesa islands
- See up close the Galápagos Islands most iconic wildlife
Please note: this set-departure tour is also available as a private or custom tour on request. Please submit an enquiry with your preferred dates and group size.
Interested to see what other wildlife tours you could experience? Have a look at the Andes Wildlife, Amazon & Galápagos Island Tour.
Alternative Tour Name : Cloud forest, Andes and Galapagos
You will be met at the airport and taken to our hotel in Quito, Hotel Quito which is one of the first luxury hotels to be built in the city which has the best views over the city of Quito on one side and the valley of Tumbaco on the other. A welcome dinner together tonight at the hotel.
This morning we will visit the city of Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its beautiful colonial architecture. A light lunch together in the historic old town before we head west out of the city and towards the cloud forests of Mindo. The cloud forests here has one of the highest diversity of epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) of anywhere in the world, as well as a rich array of orchids, butterflies and months (which we have chance to photograph during a visit to a butterfly farm here). Our home here for the next two nights is Septimo Paradiso, which sits in its own 420 hectare reserve which ranges from 950 meters to 1650 meters in altitude and is home to some 9000 species of plant with 322 bird species recorded in the valley close to here.
We have the full day to explore the area around the lodge and Mindo. The area around the lodge has easy trails and a hummingbird feeding area which is literally buzzing with hummingbirds. Overnight Septimo Paradiso.
Today after an early breakfast some more time to enjoy the hummingbirds and wildlife around the lodge before we set off back towards Quito and then head further North stopping for lunch along the way, driving through dramatic Andean landscapes. Our home for the next two nights here will be the beautiful Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th Century estate at 8500 ft (2600 m) in the Imbaburra province of Ecuador's Northern Andes. The individually styled rooms all have log burning fireplaces, with views onto the gardens and snow capped volcanoes.
Today we have the chance to get to know some of Ecuador's best known indigenous group, the Otavalenos. Skilled textile weavers they gather at the market in the city of Otavalo to sell their products as they have since pre-Inca times. Although the main market is held on a Saturday, a smaller market is held each day that we will visit and see hundreds of beautiful weavings before we head on to visit some of the villages nearby where people still use centuries old traditions and we will visit some of the communities from this area. From here we head to the Lago San Pablo, which sits at the foot of the Imbaburra volcano which gives the province its name, and will have lunch at a restaurant by the lake to allow us to enjoy the magnificent scenery here.
A leisurely morning this morning to explore on your own the beautiful grounds of the hacienda before we head back towards Quito, taking a different route this time which will allow us to stop to visit the Quitsato equator site, which sits exactly on the equator and provies a fascinating insight into some of Ecuador's pre-Incan cultures. From here we head onto La Jimenita, a family owned country house hotel. This evening we will have a pre-Galapagos briefing before the next stage of the journey begins.
This morning we will take our flight from Quito to Baltra, a small islet which has the main airport in Galapagos. Here we will be met by our local Galapagos National Park guide and members of the crew from the Tip Top yacht who will take us on board. After a safety briefing and being shown to your cabins, the yacht will set off towards the first visitor site, Bachas on Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz Bachas Beach
This is a beautiful white sandy beach which is punctuated by lava. The sand here is wonderfully soft and a favourite site for nesting Sea Turtles. Here we will see White Mangroves (one of the four species found in Galapagos) and a small coastal lagon here offers us the chance to see Flamingos, Stilts, Pintail Ducks and Black-necked Stilts.
This island is undoubtably one of the highlights of any visit to the Galapagos Islands. The summit of a huge inactive undersea volcano, it is one of the most pristine islands in the Galapagos thanks to its remote location. Located far in the north of the Galapagos it is an outpost for many seabirds (as Espanola is in the South). No land reptiles are found here, only a few very small marine iguanas due to the direction of ocean currents which would not have carried any terrestrial animals here.
Prince Philip's Steps (El Barranco)
The visit here will start with a dingy ride along the base of the cliffs were we will see Red-billed Tropicbirds and squadrons of frigate birds flying back and forth. Once we arrive and then climb to the top of the cliff here we enter an area of nesting Great Frigatebirds and Nazca Boobies. It is also a great place to see Galapagos Doves and Vampire Finches as well as a large colony of Storm Petrels which attracts Short-eared Owls we can sometimes be sen here.
This bay is actually the caldera of the long extinct volcano which forms the island. You land on a coral beach and will be immediately impacted by the sheer quantity of wildlife here. The trail is surrounded by Great Frigate birds which nest here at their most intense, Red-footed Boobies nesting in the mangroves, Lava Gulls, Swallow Tailed Gulls, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, sea lions, marine iguanas all are seen here. A nice easy snorkel off the beach here too for any who wish too with the chance of seen colourful reef fish and further out a chance to see hammerhead sharks sometimes.
This is the best island to see Land Iguanas, alongside tropic birds, sea lions and Cactus Finches. The scenery is quite beautiful here with a 'forest' of Prickly Pear Cactus and the walk along the cliffs here has Red-billed Tropicbirds and Galapagos Shearwaters gliding by. Towards the end of the walk is bachelor sea lion colony with its battle scared collection of males either in retirement or recouperation.
The oldest of the Galapagos islands, this paradise like bay has a gentle hike to see the islands own endemic species of land iguana (Conolophus pallidus) and offers the chance to swim and snorkel in chystalline waters with sea lions, reef sharks, parrotfish and surgeonfish.
Galapaguera Cerro Colorado
An area home to a giant tortoise corral where these magnificent giants are kept in near natural conditions as part of the work to help restore the giant tortoise population of the island which was badly impacted by whalers in previous centuries. It offers a great chance to see them upclose in a natural habitat with paths covering an area of some 900 meters.
This visit also offers the chance to se the San Cristobal Mockingbird, Large and Small Tree Finchs as well as the Woodpecker Finch. It is also one of the few places that you have the chance to see the delicate Calandrinia galapagosa, a critically endangered plant endemic to San Cristobal.
Our next visit will be to the fantastic interpretation centre on the island here which gives a great overview of the human history of the islands and the conservation work currently being undertaken.
This eroded tuff cone was one of the first sites ever visited by Charles Darwin and offers a walk along a beautiful while coral sand beach which is visited by Blue-footed boobies, Swallow-tail Gulls, Brown Pelicans as well as marine iguanas and sea lions. There is also the chance to explore by dingy which allows us to explore the tunnel that goes all the way through the eroded rock formation.
Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock)
One of the best spots in Galapagos for snorkelling, this huge vertical rock formation rises over 150 meters from the ocean and is a favourite site for Tropicbirds and Magnificent Frigatebirds. The visit here is done by boat, and those who wish can snorkell here whith the chance to see sharks, tropical fish, turtles, hammerhead sharks and occasionally even manta rays.
Post Office Bay
An iconic site in Galapagos where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel for use as an unofficial mailbox. A custom that continues to this day with Galapagos visitors... so don't forget your postcards... and don't be suprised if it arrives home quicker than the conventional post here!
Arguably the best snorkel site in Galapagos, a partially submerged crater which is teeming with Parrotfish, damselfish, surgeonfish, sea lions, reef sharks, sea turtles and sometimes hammerhead sharks and rays.
Our walk here is on an olivine beach, a mineral which is known for its olive-green quality found in meteorites, the moon and mars as well as earth. Here we will visit a large lagoon where Greater Flamingoes sometimes nest and walk over to Flour Beach, a beautiful white sandy beach where we can look for signs of green sea turtle nests.
Another island that is invariably a highlight of any visit to the Galapagos. The southernmost island, along with Santa Fe it is the oldest of the Galapagos Islands thought to be between 3-4 million years old. The sheer quantity of wildlife is what really hits you, with hundreds of marine iguanas basking on the rocks which are unlike any other in Galaagos due to their bright colouring, they sit alongside numerous sealions and the islands own distinctive lava lizards.
Espanola is also home to thousands of nesting seabirds all year, including Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Frigatebirds. Between late March and December, the Waved Albatross, perhaps the most spectacular of Galapagos birds returns to Espanola by the thousands. Almost the entire population breeds on the island during this tie and spend the rest of the year at sea. During the time of our visit we will get to see their amazing mating dance.
The island is also home to its own endemic species of mocking birds and sometimes if we are lucky here we may get to see Galapagos Hawks.
Highlands of Santa Cruz
The best place to see Giant Tortoises in the wild, the highlands of Santa Cruz are also the home to fascinating geological features like lava tubes and the twin sinkhole craters of Los Gemelos. These craters are home to some 300 different species of fern as well as forests of Scalesias, an endemic giant relative of sunflowers. This is also an excellent area to look for some of Galapagos more elusive endemic bird species like the Woodpecker Finch (one of the few bird species in the world known to use tools), Vegetarian Finch, Galapagos Rail and the Small Tree Finch.
Charles Darwin Research Station
This visit offers a great chance to learn about the conservation work being done to protect the Galapagos islands and usually offers the best chance to see Giant Tortoises up close with the Tortoise Rearing Centre here. Along the walk here you will also see mockingbirds, Darwin Finches and Marine Iguanas.
Santa Curz - Black Turtle Cove
A truely beautiful mangrove lagoon on the northern shore of Santa Cruz Island, we enter here by dingy. Paddling gently through the calm waters here which is a unique habitat we have the chance to see Green Sea Turtles which use this as a resting site, and with luck we may also see different types of sharks and Golden and Eagle Rays swimming just below the surface.
This is our last visit in Galapagos and from here we head back to Baltra and the airport where we take the flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador's commercial capital located on the Pacific Coast. Our home for tonight is a 5* hotel located next to the River Guayas and close to places of interest. Our farewell meal together this evening.
After breakfast this morning we will be met at the hotel by a specialist local bilingual guide who will take us on a tour of the old town of Guayaquil. A short walk from our hotel is Las Penas District, the oldest district in the city. Each house has its own story, and many famous artists and presidents of Ecuador passed through here, even Che Guevara who served here as a paediatrician for free among the local people!
From here we return to the hotel to check out at noon. Lunch is free on your own (the hotel has several restaurants inside or there are numerous places to eat) then after lunch we will meet up for our transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
Wildlife species expected to see:
During our time in the cloud forests of Mindo and high Andes, here are some of the highlight birds we have a chance to see: White whiskered Hermit (Phaethornis yaruqui), White necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), Long tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingi), White booted racket tail (Ocreatus underwoodii), Green Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania fanyi), Andean Emerald (Amazilia franciae), Empress Brilliant (Heliodoxa imperatrix , Collard Inca (Coeligena torquata), Sword billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera),Velvet purple Coronet (Boissonneaua jardini), Toucan Barbet (Semmornis ramphastinus), Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis), Blue winged Mountain Tanager (Anosognathus somptousus), Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus), Andean Cock of the Rock (Rupicola peruvianus), Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)
We need luck on our side, but in the areas we are visiting there is also the chance to see the following mammals; Tayra (Eira barbara), Kinkajou (Potos flavus) and the iconic Spectacled bear (Termactos ornatus)
Then in Galapagos during our program we will have the chance to see: Galapagos Giant Tortoise (geochelone spp), Galapagos Land Iguana (Chonolopus subcristatus), Marine Iguana (Amblyrynchus cristatus), Galapagos Lava Lizard (Microlophus spp.), Galapagos Snake (Aslophis dorsalis), Green Sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), Waved Albratoss (Phoebatria irrorata), Galapagos Petrel (Petrodroma phaeopygia), Galapagos Shearwater (Puffinus subalaris), Red Billed Tropic Bird (Phaethon aethereus), Blue footed Booby (Sula nebouxi), Nazca Booby (Sula granti), Red Footed Booby (Sula sula), Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor), Galapagos Hawk (Buteo galapagoensis), Galapagos Rail (Laterllus spilonotus), Lava Gull (leucophaeus fuliginosus), Swallow Tailed Gull (Creagrus furcatus), Galapagos Mockingbird (Mimus parvulus), Espanola Mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi),Warbler Finch (Certhidea olivacea), Woodpecker finch (Camarhynchus pallidus), Cactus Finch (Geospiza scandens), Large ground Finch (Geospiza magnirostris), Small ground Finch (Geospiza fuliginosa), Galapagos Sea Lion ( Zalophus wollebacki), Galapagos Fur Seal (Arctocephalus galapageonsis) and if we are lucky we may see Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), Minke whale (Baleonoptera acutororostrata )
What is included?
- All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
- Single occupancy available for up to 3 guests on this trip on a first come first served basis with a small additional supplement.
- Services of Santiago Bejarano as tour leader throughout the program supported by specialist local bilingual guides
- Local transfers and all ground transport throughout the trip.
- Entrance fees to all reserves and sites visited in mainland Ecuador
- All meals from welcome dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 15
- Water throughout the trip and a soft drink with all meals
- Unlimited tea and coffee during cruise in Galapagos
- All activities as specified within the tour itinerary
- US$20 Galapagos Migration Control Card
- Domestic flight Quito - Galapagos - Guayaquil
- Snorkel gear (mask, tube and fins in Galapagos)
What is not included?
- International flights
- US$100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee which is payable in cash on entry to Galapagos
- Travel & medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- Items of personal nature (incl. binoculars and telescopes)
- Excess baggage charges
- Laundry & telephone Charges
- Tips & gratuities
- Alcoholic beverages and bottled soft drinks
- Wet suit rental, approx US$40 for 8 days
- Anything not mentioned in "What is included"
The trip is designed for people who want to experience as much as possible of the wildlife and experiences that Ecuador and Galapagos has to offer. Usually guests that book on our escorted group trips are aged between around 50 - 80 years so the trip, although being packed with activities, experiences and exceptional wildlife, the trip is paced accordingly. We have run an almost identical version of this trip for over 20 years, each year slightly fine tuning it so we include the best experiences at the best price point, including pristine tropical forests, the Andes as well as the Galapagos Islands. Often we find that guests want to add on some extra experiences, the most popular is the Amazon Rainforest. If you would like more details on what else you could add onto the trip please do get in touch or alternatively if you like this trip but the dates don't quite work for you, or you want to consider a tailor made trip, please do get in touch as we would be delighted to help you look at alternatives.
We have an unrivaled network of local contacts that have been developed over two decades of creating exceptional wildlife trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos. Our aim is simple, to offer each of our guests an extraordinary trip with memories that will last a lifetime. For most of our guests, this is the trip of a lifetime. It is a responsibility that we take personally. Personal service is at the heart of everything that we do and we like to get to know each of our guests individually before each trip to ensure you really get the most out of your experience.
The accomodation in mainland Ecuador varies from a modern comfortable hotel in Quito chosen for its wonderful views, to an award winning eco-lodge in the cloud forest, to a restoried 17th century farm house with roaring fires in each room to a family run country house hotel. It goes without saying that they are all comfortable, and clean, with ensuite bathrooms and have have all been hand picked by us as offering great service and being in a good location. Our vehicles are owned by local partners that we have worked with for many years, we always have vehicles with extra seats so you can store your photography gear and any day packs if necssary and feel comfortable and not squashed! Our yacht in Galapagos is owned and run by the Wittmer family, one of the oldest and most respected families in Galapagos. It is a beautiful yacht, with lots of deck space, air conditioning, a great crew and a very good local operation.
The group size is a maximum of 15 guests. Although this is slightly bigger than most wildlife tours, the group size is determined by the capacity of the private yacht that we charter - and the smallest size of yachts in Galapagos is generally for 16 guests.
Yes, we have space for 3 single guests on this trip that we are able to offer with a supplement for Galapagos and only a small supplement for the mainland Ecuador portion. Because we charter our own yacht in Galapagos we are able to choose a yacht with extra cabins which allows us space to give a single cabin for up to 3 guests in the group. Usually single supplement for Galapagos can be quite high, but we are able to offer the Galapagos part for no supplement. We do charge a supplement for a single room for the mainland Ecuador portion which is charged at US$462 which reflects the additional cost to us.
We include as part of the trip price your internal flight from Quito to Galapagos and then returning to Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador after Galapagos (or you could return to Quito if that works better for your international flight connections). We don't include your international flights. We have found over the years that international flights really is a specialist area and we can't compete on price or on industry contacts as we don't have the volume of business. For guests who would like our help with international flights we work with a flight specialist that we have worked with for over a decade and we can help co-ordinate the best international flight options or many guests are happy to organise their flights completely independently. We can help as much or as little as you would like for this.
Absolutely! We would be delighted to help you with this. We actively encourage our guests on our group trips to arrive a day before the action begins if you can to allow yourself the chance to recover from the flight and get settled into the new time zone before the action starts. We have negotiated a special rate at the hotel, and you will be met at the airport by one of our team of guides. If you want to add another experience before or after the trip, we would be very happy to help orgainse this too. Favourite over the years has been a trip to Ecuador's Amazon Rainforest - to Yasuni National Park - the most biodiverse place on earth, where we work with an award winning community lodge. The wildlife viewing here is truely spectacular and works really well combined with the other things you are seeing on this tour. There are lots of different options and we would be delighted to chat those through with you, so please do get in touch about that and we would be delighted to help.
No. We request that guests purchase this independently on booking the trip and send us over the details of their policy so we have a record of this. Galapagos now requires that any guests travelling have medical insurance.
To make a booking, you must complete one of our online booking forms (we will send you a link). We also require a US$1000 deposit per person on booking (or GB£800) with the balance payable 90 days prior to travel. Payment of the deposit is either to our account based in the USA or our account in the UK depending which is easiest for you. Should you need to cancel your holiday once it has been confirmed, you must immediately advise us in writing. Your notice of cancellation will only be effective when it is received in writing by us at our offices. As we incur costs from the time we confirm your booking, the following cancellation charges will be payable. If you cancel 70 days or longer the cancellation charge is your deposit, 35-69 days 50% of the tour cost and 35 days or less 100%.
Absolutely. Over the years we have had many and varied requests. The chefs at the lodges and on board the yachts we work with hare very experienced and used to dealing with special dietary requirements.
We provide a detailed pre-trip information document for each of our guests booking with us - but hopefully this gives you an idea: Clothing Ecuador is divided into 3 distinct regions, Andes, Amazon and Coast (including Galapagos) each of which has its own climate, and so requires slightly different clothing. • For all 3 regions a sunhat and sun cream of at least SPF 50 are recommended as the equatorial sun can be very strong. • A protective sun hat/ cap is also good to have for all regions, in particular in Galapagos as the equatorial sun can be very strong. Also for Galapagos it is good to have a hat with straps as guests have been known to lose them with the hats blowing off whilst on the motorised dingy rides that take you from the yacht to the island! • Towels will be provided in all the hotels, lodges and on the yacht so you don’t need to bring any. Andes Climate: Quito is at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,500 feet) and most places you visit in the Andes will be around that altitude. Daytime temperatures range between 10-22 degrees C and evening temperatures between 4 - 10 degrees C. A lightweight wind/rain jacket and fleece will come in handy year-round. Clothing: In the Andes layers work well, with a warm layer for morning and evening. Although warm in the daytime the temperature at night in Quito and Andes can get as cool as fresh spring or autumn day in the UK. In general for your time in Quito and the Andes we recommend wearing long trousers and layers on top so you can respond to changing temperatures! T-shirts, a long sleeved jumper and light fleece jacket is usually enough. Attire is very informal, though some people do like to bring a lightly smarter change of clothes for the occasions when you eat meals in restaurants, though it is still casual. Galapagos Daytime temperatures are similar to those in the Galapagos ranging between 27° and 22°C. Rain during your stay is very unlikely though there is often light wind in the evenings. Clothing T-shirts and shorts or light trousers are the best clothing for the Galapagos. For those with very fair skin, it is probably best to wear long-sleeved shirts in Galapagos as the sun can be very strong. It’s nice to have something to get changed into for an evening, but everything is very casual in Galapagos. We would also recommend a lightweight wind break jacket and a sweater as it can often be cool and breezy in the evenings. It’s also useful to bring along a couple of swim suits so you can alternate whilst one is drying. For those who will be snorkelling we DEFINITELY recommend a ‘shorty’ wetsuit. They can be hired for the week on the yacht for around $40 for the week, but if you have your own you should bring it along. As well as keeping you a bit warmer they give you protection from the sun and some buoyancy. We also recommend that people have their own personal snorkel mask and tube – though these will be provided either free on the yacht and they are fine, if you can we think it is better to have your own that you are used to and it is comfortable for you.
Sturdy, properly fitting footwear can make your trip much more pleasurable and this is the area we get asked most questions on. If you’re buying new boots for this trip, please break them in by wearing them as often as possible before the trip. A combination of the two kinds of footwear recommended below is sufficient for any of the trips we organise. Comfortable rubber-soled walking shoes with good traction or lightweight hiking boots with good ankle support are the best for the trip. These are suitable for Andes, Galapagos and Amazon (if you decide to add that on too). The best footwear for the Galapagos and for in and around the lodge in the Amazon are sports type sandals (with a trainer like base) that can be purchased in most outdoor shops, good brands are Merrell, Teva (shown above), though most shops have a good selection. These sandals are very comfortable, have a very good grip and you can get them wet without any problems. We prefer those with open toes, but some guests prefer those with a toecap to avoid stubbing their toes on lava. For Galapagos it’s good to have a comfortable pair of shoes to wear whilst in the yacht as you can’t wear any of your shoes that you use for visiting the islands inside (or barefoot is a good option too!)
Ensure you bring enough digital memory for your cameras. You invariably will take more photographs than you expect. For video, bring extra batteries just in case. It is useful to have a waterproof bag that you keep your equipment just in case. These are available in all outdoor shops. Electricity for recharging batteries available on the yacht, at the rainforest and the Andes is 110V (American style – adaptors are the same as those you need for the US). For keen photographers, our advice on lenses is that a range of a wide-angle zoom (16-70 mm) and an 80-200mm zoom lens will be enough. (Some 70-300mm are now available in the market which would completely cover any needs you have in terms of a zoom lens).
Ecuador’s own currency the Sucre was suspended in 1999 following rampant inflation. Today US dollars are the only accepted currency in the country. Whilst you will need to have US$ in cash with you on arrival, you can draw money from ATM’s at any major bank in Quito or Guayaquil (BUT please ask your guide to accompany you to do this for security). You must pay US$100 in CASH when you enter Galapagos to the Galapagos National Park authorities as you pass through the migration control process. They don’t take any card payments – and although there is the option to pre-pay this service is very erratic with people who have pre-paid not appearing on lists etc – so best is to pay in cash on arrival. How much do I need to take? This is very much down to personal preference, all your meals and a soft drink are included, as is all your transport. Costs per person not covered on your trip include: alcoholic drinks, $100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee, airport tax and tips for your crew and guides, and your lunch on your last day. Although they can in theory take cards on the yacht, this is erratic and sometimes doesn't work due to issues with the signal so we always recommend guests have enough cash for what they need during their Galapagos cruise.
You’ll enjoy your trip so much more if you are well informed about the places you’ll visit and the wildlife you’ll see. General introduction to the Natural History • Galapagos: a Natural History by John C.Kricher • Galapagos: the Islands that Changed the World by Paul D.Steward • Evolutions Workshop by Edward J. Larsson • The Galapagos: a Natural History by Henry Nicholls • Lonesome George by Henry Nicholls • Michael Jackson’s Galapagos, A Natural History Background reading • Jonathan Wiener’s The Beak of the Finch, A Story of Evolution in Our Time • Johanna Angermeyer’s My Father’s Island for background reading. Field Guides Your naturalist guide will have a selection of field guides but you may want to bring your own. We especially recommend • Collins Safari Guide to The Wildlife of the Galapagos by Julian & Daniel Fitter & David Hosking (available in Ecuador) • A Guide to the Birds of the Galapagos Islands by Isabel Castro • Reef Fish Identification Galapagos by Paul Humann. For a great historical novel giving an account of Darwin’s journey to Galapagos – This Thing of Darkness – Harry Thompson (it was long listed for the Man Booker Prize) Special Interest Books: For those with a special interest in birding, The Birds of Ecuador (Field Guide) by Robert R Ridgley and Paul Greenfield is a great book with beautiful plates, though is very heavy and relatively expensive, and you will have access to a copy whilst at most lodges (you can double check with us if it will be at the lodges you visit).
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