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Classic Galapagos: Southern Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

Ecuador

Classic Galapagos: Southern Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

Hiking
·
Start: Quito
·
End: Quito

Experience the serenity of the Galapagos Islands as you drift across the Pacific Ocean

Activity
Hiking
LocationEcuador
Duration10 days
Start / EndQuito / Quito
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

Ecuador

Classic Galapagos: Southern Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

Hiking·
10 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Quito
·
End: Quito

Description

Experience the serenity of the Galapagos Islands as you drift across the Pacific Ocean on this relaxing 10-day sailing trip. The natural beauty and wildlife of these magnificent Ecuadorian isles are something to behold and, aboard your plush sailing vessel, soaking up the scenery is unavoidable. Retrace the 180-year-old voyage of Charles Darwin by sea, get shell-shocked by giant tortoises and g...

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Itinerary

Day 1Quito
On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure. A welcome meeting will be held in the evening at either 5pm or 6 pm when you meet others travelling with you on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Please check with hotel reception or check the reception notice boards for the time and place of the meeting for your trip. As today is an arrival day, you can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quito is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful and ornate churches in the Americas. The city's oldest street, Calle La Ronda, is well worth exploring. As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer. You may even wish to explore further beyond the city and visit Otavalo, Cotopaxi, the Cloud Forest or the Equatorial Monument.
Day 2Morning flight to Baltra, transfer to the MY Grand Queen Beatriz. Visit Punta Carrión.
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4:30 am (a boxed breakfast will be provided), as the airport is a one-hour drive away and you must allow for delays and check-in times. (Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the Welcome Meeting on Day 1). A US$20 per person transit card is payable on departure at Quito Airport and a US$100 per person national park entry fee is payable on arrival on the islands. Please have cash on hand for these transactions as credit cards are not accepted. The flight to the Galapagos will make one stop in Guayaquil to pick up other passengers. (Total flight time is about 3.5 hours). On arrival in the Galapagos you will be met in the arrivals hall and then transferred to your catamaran, MY. Grand Queen Beatriz, anchored a short distance away in Baltra Island. 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 Carrión, 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 a boat ride, wildlife is plentiful - keep your eyes peeled for occasional sights of blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons, great blue herons and underwater swim among rays and white-tipped reef sharks. Tonight, enjoy a welcome cocktail and crew presentation on board. Estimated travel time/distance: Baltra to Punta Carrion: 1.5 hours (10 nautical miles) Punta Carrion to Isabela Island (Puerto Villamil): 9 hours (64 nautical miles)
Day 3Isla Isabela - Las Tintoreras - Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre
Today you will wake up on the south Coast of Isla Isabela (Isabela Island), the largest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago. Please note that there's a US$5 fee to be paid upon landing on Isabela Island. This southern coast of turquoise blue waters 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 and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here. Enjoy a nice long walk on a gravel path through ‘Ahh-ahh’ lava flow and see plenty of marine iguanas. The natives of the islands call white sharks 'tintoreras', hence the name of this spectacular site. In the afternoon we visit the Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise breeding center. We have a leisurely walk through a coastal lagoon, where you might see Flamingos. This mangrove-lined path leads to Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center (Arnoldo Tupiza) where you'll observe giant tortoises in all stages of development. Here you can see the five sub species of tortoises from Isabela Island, some of which are bred in captivity. You will then have the choice for optional swimming at the beach or out for some shopping in Puerto Villamil. Estimated travel time/distance: Isabela Island (Puerto Villamil) to Post Office Bay: 6 hours (40 nautical miles)
Day 4Isla 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. 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 could 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 old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices. The centre of the cone is an outstanding snorkelling spot, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, full of sea lions and colourful fish. You will 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. 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)
Day 5Isla 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)
Day 6Isla Santa Fe - Isla Plaza Sur
Santa Fe Island 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 iguanas. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe will lead you to a forest of prickly pear cactus. A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear-shaped fruit the plant produces. Santa Fe is home to endemic land iguanas. Once back at the beach you will have free time to snorkel back in the lagoon. Playful sea lions pups and florescent fish make for fascinating company. A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where you will get close to sea lions and on to trails past one of the Galapagos’ 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: Santa Fe to South Plaza: 2 hours (16 nautical miles) South Plaza to Espanola Island (Punta Suarez): 7 hours (60 nautical miles)
Day 7Isla Espanola - Bahia Gardner - Punta Suarez
After an overnight night sail you will wake up on the island of Española - the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies. Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, will lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. 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 and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks. You will also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to 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’, helping become airborne 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 albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate! Stop at Bahia Gardner (Gardner Bay), which is considered by many as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands and full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. Enjoy the beach and do some snorkelling which could be great for playing with sea lion pups and lots of fish. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks. Estimated travel time/distance: Punta Suarez to Bahia Gardener: 1 hour (7 nautical miles) Bahia Gardener to Punta Pitt (San Cristobal Island): 7 hours (50 nautical miles)
Day 8Isla San Cristobal - Leon Dormido - Isla Lobos - Punta Pitt
This morning you will visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of San Cristobál Island. 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 'panga' 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 San Cristobál Island. 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 (San Cristobal): 2.5 hours (27 nautical miles) Kicker Rock to Isla Lobos: 1 hour (7 nautical miles) Isla Lobos to Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristobal): 1 hour (5 nautical miles)
Day 9Fly from San Cristobál to Quito.
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 our flight, our time spent on this final excursion could be limited. Visit San Cristobal Interpretation Center in the morning. This centre 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. This is a great way to complete your time in the Galapagos. This will be your final excursion before you head to the airport in San Cristobál for your flight back to Quito. As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on this last day of your journey. Upon arrival in Quito Airport you are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 10Quito
Your Galapagos adventure will come to an end today after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, so please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport.

More info

Last modified (date)

27 Nov 2018

Trip title

Classic Galapagos: Southern Islands (Grand Queen Beatriz)

Trip code

GMQA

Validity

Validity: 30 Jun 2018 to 25 Feb 2019

Introduction

Experience the serenity of the Galapagos Islands as you drift across the Pacific Ocean on this relaxing 10-day sailing trip. The natural beauty and wildlife of these magnificent Ecuadorian isles are something to behold and, aboard your plush sailing vessel, soaking up the scenery is unavoidable. Retrace the 180-year-old voyage of Charles Darwin by sea, get shell-shocked by giant tortoises and go b... Read more

Style

Comfort

Themes

Adventure Cruising,Wildlife

Transport

Boat,Plane,Bus,Zodiac

Physical Rating

3

Physical 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 transo... Read more

Joining point

Hotel Le Parc

Finish point

Hotel Le Parc

Group 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 Dar... Read more

Safety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wal... Read more

Communications

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... Read more

Visas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay. We keep the following informa... Read more

Why we love it

As you board your vessel, M.Y. Grand Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.

Is this trip right for you

Although we don't ask travellers to complete a Physical Participation Form for this trip, we do ask that you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is right for you. You’ll need to feel comfortable with the included activities and with moving about the boat. The cabins and communal areas of the boat are spread over four decks, and the steps between the decks are steep. You... Read more

Health

All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themsel... Read more

Food 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 s... Read more

Money 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... Read more

What to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a bac... Read more

Climate 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 Qui... Read more

A couple of rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who... Read more

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

Emergency contact

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

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsible... Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation set up to enable our travellers to help make a difference by supporting local communities, projects and non-government organisations in the places we travel. The smallest contribution can make an enormous difference and all donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched dollar for dollar (yes, we’ll double your donation!). We support a range... Read more

Accommodation notes

We don't ask travellers to complete a physical participation form for this trip however we do ask you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is the right trip for you. This applies to the included activities and moving around the boat. You will also need to enter and exit a zodiac during wet and dry landings and and while on snorkelling - crew members will be on hand to ass... Read more

Transport notes

The Grand Queen Beatriz is a modern motor yacht. She has a comfortable lounge and dining area, a jacuzzi as well as a sun deck where you can view the wildlife or just kick back and relax. She has eight well-appointed, air-conditioned cabins and yet, at 41 metres, she is small enough for us to offer an individual level of service. She's just perfect for a more personal look at this great marine res... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Essential Trip Information a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes th... Read more

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nights),Overnight boat (7 nights)
10days
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