Ecuador Highlights

17 Days from $4,585

START: Quito

FINISH: Quito

AGES: 12 - 99

THEME: Explorer

Overviewicon readmoreicon minus

Description

Amazing wildlife, both on land and underwater, is the drawcard of the remote Galapagos Islands. Tour the Galapagos' outstanding natural beauty and interesting history by foot, boat and bike on this active adventure. Trace Darwin's theory of evolution, spot colourful, bizarre and beautiful creatures and have an experience that is completely out of this world as you discover the incredible Galapagos Islands.

Start: Quito

Finish: Quito

Ages: 12 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Hotel (16 nights)

Destination: Quito

Highlights

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Get acquainted with the beautiful churches and graceful boulevards of Quito, Ecuador's capital
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The Galapagos Islands played a profound role in forming Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Explore the islands on this in-depth adventure, coming face-to-face with some of the most extraordinary wildlife on earth
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Get your blood pumping as you scale a volcano on Isabela Island, and kayak in beautiful Isabela Bay
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Get up close and personal with giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island. These nearly extinct creatures are one of the greatest drawcards to the Galapagos
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This is a land based Galapagos trip, we use locally owned hotels on the islands. On this trip you will have more opportunities to interact with the locals as opposed to staying on a boat.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Quito

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Quito, Ecuador. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. 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). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America, sitting at an altitude of 2,850 metres with a view of Volcan Pichincha on the horizon. On day 1 there is a city tour to show the beautiful Colonial style buildings and help you explore the nooks and crannies of cosy Old Town. We’ll be back in Quito at the end of the trip, giving you a chance to further experience the city. Notes: Due to the high altitude of many of places we visit, the air is thinner and some people can suffer altitude sickness, regardless of age, gender or fitness. Please see the 'Is This Trip Right For You?' and 'Health' sections in the trip notes for more information. Optional Activities in Quito: Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do. This trip doesn’t include much time in Quito, so a few extra days to explore it is recommended. Great activities are available through our local office – just email quitodaytours@peakdmc.com before departing or, once you’re in Quito, give our office a call +593 9 94014877 and they will happily assist you. Urban Adventures: If you are interested in any of the Urban Adventures listed you will need to contact Urban Adventures directly. For more information on the activities mentioned below and contact information for Quito please visit: http://www.urbanadventures.com/contact-us Otavalo Market, a full day tour of the biggest Indian market in South America in the northern town of Otavalo, full of local handicrafts to take home for your friends, and the Cotacachi leather market. Cotopaxi Volcano, for something more active, head out to the 5,897 metre high Cotopaxi Volcano – drop by the National Park museum, then hike for around 2 hours and visit the picturesque Limpiopungo Lagoon. Quilotoa Lagoon, if you’re into lagoons, maybe take a full day trip to the stunning Quilotoa Lagoon. Early in the morning, drive 3 hours south through the local communities and Andes views of the Avenue of Volcanoes. Then hike (2 hours return) to the beautiful Quilotoa volcano crater lagoon, before returning to Quito. Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs – take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4,150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano. Cloud Forest, maybe get in touch with the region’s incredible nature with a shared services trip to the Cloud Forest – take a guided hike through a reserve on the edge of the Choco Bio-region, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world, and get acquainted with the exuberant vegetation, bird life, and the fascinating adaptations to life in this special environment. Papallacta-Something more chill is a full day at the Papallacta Hot Springs – take a scenic drive, reaching heights of 4,150 metres, and then relax in springs with views to the towering Antisana Volcano. Please note, the prices listed below include entrance fees, however these are paid separately by you during the tour. Some tours require a minimum of 2 passengers to operate. (Please note prices listed are subject to change)

icon check Day 2 : Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos

Welcome to San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands. As you start this trip on the Galapagos Islands and join other travellers arriving from Quito, you have two options for joining the group. SUNDAY DEPARTURES: You can meet the others at San Cristobal Airport at 11.30 am: The guide will be waiting in the arrivals hall with an Intrepid sign for the arriving passengers from Quito. FRIDAY & WEDNESDAY DEPARTURES: You can meet the others at San Cristobal Airport at 12.30pm: The guide will be waiting in the arrivals hall with an Intrepid sign for the arriving passengers from Quito. Alternatively you can meet them at the hotel (Casa de Nelly) when they arrive at approximately one hour after the airport meeting time. Check in time for the hotel is 12 pm. If you're making your own way to the hotel, we recommend taking a short cab ride which will cost approximately US$2.  Please advise us where you plan to join this trip no later than 15 days prior to departure. If you are going to be late for either of these meeting times, please contact the local emergency number located in the 'Essential Trip Information' After joining up with the group, travel to La Loberia where you'll put on snorkelling gear for the first time and go for a swim with sea lions, and maybe even some sea turtles. Continue back to town. Tonight you may wish to head out with the group and enjoy some of the fresh seafood available.

icon check Day 3 : Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos

Today begins with a short boat ride to Leon Dormido (approx 45 mins) or Isla Lobos, observing along the way the abundant marine life that Galapagos is renowned for. On the way we might be able to spot nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies and/or might swim/snorkel with playful young sea lions. Here we can snorkel keeping an eye out below for sea turtles, manta rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark, to name a few. This snorkeling is in open sea, on occasion the currents can be quite strong so it's particularly important you are a confident swimmer for this activity. If you have any concerns, please ensure you speak with your leader. Included lunch today is a packed box lunch on board the boat! Unfortunately it is against National Park rules to eat on the beach. Later head we will head to the interpretation Center. Learn about the history of the 'Enchanted Islands' and the conservation projects which seek to preserve the unique Galapagos wildlife. Next, make our way to Frigatebird Hill (Cerro Tijeretas), which is located two kilometres from the Interpretation Center, southwest of Isla San Cristobal. It's quite a climb to the top, but well worth the amazing views of the bay. From here you can also see Kicker Rock, an eroded volcanic formation protruding from the sea which has become an emblem of the island. We'll return to town in the late afternoon/early evening.

icon check Day 4 : Isla Floreana/Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Take an early morning boat ride today towards Floreana Island, which should take about 2.5 hours. Along the way keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as dolphins and whales. On arrival to the island, snorkel in the clear blue waters and then break for lunch. Afterwards venture to a black sand beach which belongs to the Witmers, decedents of some of the first settlers on the Galapagos. The town here, Puerto Velasco Ibarra, has about 150 residents and an intriguing history involving deaths, disappearances and murders. Later in the afternoon, wave goodbye to Floreana and continue to Isabela Island (approximately 2 hours) From Isabela Port it's a short transfer to the hotel where we will spend the night (approximately 15 minutes)

icon check Day 5 : Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Start your second day on Isla Isabela with a short bus ride (approximately 15 minutes) to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where you'll observe giant tortoises in all stages of development. The centre has almost a thousand giant tortoises training for life on their own. Afterwards we make our way to a brackish lagoon where we will be able to observe flamingos. In the afternoon after an informative visit, board a small pangas for Tintoreras or Shark Alley. On our way we will go along the coast line in the hope to spot blue-footed boobies and the famous Galapagos penguin who is home on the western part of the arquipelago. On arrival, hop off for a short walk on this isolated islet and popular iguana nesting site that’s home to hundreds of marine iguanas. Snorkel in a calm inlet with colourful fish and winding underground lava tubes. This area is frequented by green sea turtles that like to rest on the calm, sandy bottom. Late afternoon, return to town in search of your own sandy resting spot and enjoy your first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.

icon check Day 6 : Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Start your last day on Isla Isabela by heading towards the Sierra Negra Volcano (approximately 45 minutes by bus), one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos and the second largest crater in the world. Weather permitting, take a challenging hike of around 17 kilometres up the rocky mountain, which takes between five and six hours. After the hike, make your way back to town in the late afternoon for some free time to curl up with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim before dinner. Unfortunately, recycling isn't available on Isabela, so please take your plastic rubbish with you.

icon check Day 7 : Isla Isabela / Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Today you will start the day with a kayak around Isabela before transferring by private speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz. Once you arrive on Santa Cruz you will head to a restaurant that offers a typical Eduadorian lunch package, simply referred to as ‘Menu’. Usually this consists of a fresh juice, basic entrée (usually a soup) as well as a main meal. These lunch deals are very popular throughout Ecuador so it’s a great way to eat like a local. In the afternoon have free time to further explore the town or go on an optional excursion to the Charles Darwin Research Centre.

icon check Day 8 : Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos

In the afternoon visit the higher part of the islands to observe the giant tortoise roaming in its natural habitat. Afterwards visit a locally owned Sugar cane farm. Here the farmers will show us the process in which sugar cane is processed and turned into alcohol. Along the way, keep an eye out for eagle rays, sea turtles and blue-footed boobies. Later head back to Puerto Ayora. Tonight, enjoy an included group dinner.

icon check Day 9 : Guayaquil

Welcome to Guayaquil, officially Santiago de Guayaquil, the coastal gateway to your Ecuador adventure, upon arrival at the airport you will be transported to your centrally located Hotel. There will be a welcome meeting at 3 pm to meet any new passengers who are joining you for this leg of the tour. After the meeting, we will embark on a walking tour to the Malecon 2000. Afterwards, feel free to use the rest of your afternoon and evening to explore Guayaquil. Maybe take a stroll along the boardwalk overlooking the Guayas river, which is particularly lively in the evening. Here you’ll find monuments, interesting sculptures and food stalls where the humble plantain is made into everything from dumplings to chips.

icon check Day 10 : Cuenca

After breakfast we’ll take a 3.5-hour bus ride to what many consider Ecuador’s most attractive city, Cuenca. We arrive at approximately 12pm. See for yourself why this medieval fortress town earned a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during a walking tour of the city. Cuenca is a study in how architecture can complement environment, where ornate buildings are built into craggy cliff faces. After the tour, the rest of the day is yours. Why not wander this imminently strollable city while munching on a skewer of cuy? This rich, roasted meet is popular all over the Americas, but is particularly renowned in Cuenca, though you might know the animal by its Western name: guinea pig!

icon check Day 11 : Cuenca

Today is a free day to explore Cuenca. There are loads of impressive 500-year-old churches (among them, La Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción which took 100 years to finish, and its blue and white domes are a real standout) and colonial buildings, made out of marble and decorated with stunning woodwork and ironwork. It’s the country’s third largest city but still has a small town and Old World air, and it’s great for just wandering around and exploring. Think you can pull off a Panama hat? Well Cuenca is the home of the famous headwear, and if there’s time you could visit a factory and pick up one that fits perfectly. You can also learn about the Cañari and Inca cultures at the Ingapirca Archeaological site, or, if nature is more your scene, be sure to check out Cajas National park (3050m-4450m). and revel in the amazing variety of ecosystems which includes 270 glacier lakes and lagoons. There are also many plant species are endemic to Cajas' coud forest and it is home to a number of important wildlife species, in particular the violet-throated metaltail, endemic to Cajas and surrounding valleys which is the largest hummingbird in the world. If you're lucky you may spot some of the fourty-four species of mammal identified in the park such as deer, alpaca, llama,fox or the ever reclusive puma. For those looking for authentic souvenirs a day at the handicraft villages of Chordeleg and Gualaceo provide ample opportunity to grab some one of a kind jewelery, textiles and pottery. Cuenca is also a university town, so all the students give it a buzzing nightlife, and there are some good bars and restaurants to choose from in the evening. 

icon check Day 12 : Vilcabamba

Set off for Vilcabamba, making a couple of stops along the way. Visit Saraguro, a town named after the Kichwa Nation indigenous folk who have called the area home for over 500 years, for a tour of the town and its beautiful church. Continue to the neighbouring farming village of Namarin for lunch. Although the contents of lunch will depend on the day, be prepared for rustic, hearty dishes made from potatoes – a staple of Southern Ecuadorian cuisine.Today we will explore this verdant valley town via a walking tour, wandering roads shared by tame livestock such as donkeys. This relaxed town was once named the “Valley of Longevity,” and while claims of residents extra-long lifespans have since been disproven, there’s no doubt the mineral-rich produce, clear mountain water and fantastic weather make for a happy and chilled out community. Later, we will travel to Podocarpus National Park where you can breathe deep the heady scent of orchids and spot endemic plant species. Spend up to 3 to 4 hours wandering this biodiverse park, including natural wonders like the mist-filled elfin forests you’ll find at 3000 metres elevation.

icon check Day 13 : Vilcabamba

Your day is as clear as an Ecuadorian summer sky. You could opt to see more of nature’s bounty at the Tapichalaca Reserve, or follow the white crosses that line the road on an invigorating 2 hour hike from the centre of town up Caraarango to the shrine of Tuku Tuku. If you’re seeking something more relaxed, why not sip a blood-red horchata (a drink infused with local roots and herbs) and then perhaps walk to the lush banks of the Vilcabamba River. This body of water was the subject of the first court battle to successfully cite Ecuador’s constitutionally protected right for nature to flourish free from man-made interference, and you can experience up all the ambiance that was protected by the ruling.

icon check Day 14 : Vilcabamba / Otavalo

A 4.30 am pick up time from the hotel is necessary to try and make the famous craft markets of Otavalo. A boxed breakfast will ease you into the day before the short journey to the airport, where the hour-long flight to Ecuador’s capital leaves at 7.20 am. Upon landing, a private van will take you on the almost 2 hour drive to Otavalo, where you can shop for dramatically patterned textiles, handwoven bags and knick-knacks.

icon check Day 15 : Otavalo / Quito

Today we explore the epic green valleys of Otavalo, a spot so enchanting it’s no surprise local Shamans observe summer solstice here. We will visit a local Shaman before embarking on an hour-long hike of the area, visiting the Peguche Waterfalls. We then return to Quito.

icon check Day 16 : Quito

Today is a free day in Quito. Quito is an incredible city with loads to see and do. Optional activities and Urban Adventures (best booked ahead of time) include market tours, food tours, a guided Cloud Forest hike, or a day of relaxing at Papallacta Hot Springs. The choice is yours!

icon check Day 17 : Quito

Today marks the end of your adventure with Intrepid. There are no activities planned for today, though there is so much more to explore in Ecuador and beyond if you have the time. We'd be happy to book you additional accomodation (subject to availability).

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

13 Breakfasts, 1 Dinner
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Transport

Plane, Speed Boat, Private Vehicle, Taxi, Public bus
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Accommodation

Hotel (16 nights)
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Included Activities

  • Guayaquil walking tour

Availabilityicon readmoreicon minus

Starts
Ends
Price
Availability
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 30, 2019
$5,040
Fully Booked
Jan 04, 2020
Jan 20, 2020
$4,990
Fully Booked
Mar 07, 2020
Mar 23, 2020
$4,760
Available
Apr 04, 2020
Apr 20, 2020
$4,715
Available
Jun 06, 2020
Jun 22, 2020
$4,715
Available
Aug 08, 2020
Aug 24, 2020
$4,715
Available
Sep 05, 2020
Sep 21, 2020
$4,715
Available
Oct 03, 2020
Oct 19, 2020
$4,715
Available
Nov 07, 2020
Nov 23, 2020
$4,715
Available
Dec 19, 2020
Jan 04, 2021
$4,715
Available

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Hotel La Cartuja

Leonidas Plaza 170 y 18 de Septiembre

Quito

ECUADOR

Phone: 593 22523721

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

La Cartuja Hotel

Leonidas Plaza 170 y 18 de Septiembre

Quito

ECUADOR

Phone: +593 2 2523721

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

NEW TRIP

Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

GALAPAGOS PARK, TRANSIT CARD & ISABELA PORT FEES:

A Galapagos Transit Card fee of US$20 is payable on departure from Quito Airport (or whichever airport in Ecuador you are flying to the Galapagos from). The Galapagos park fee (US$100) and Isabela Port fee (US$10) are payable upon arrival to the islands (cash only). These amounts are in addition to your trip payment.

When booking, please ensure that your details are correct and they match your passport.

Your passport must match the booking details provided to us; otherwise it could cause issues with your transit card and internal flights resulting in purchasing a new card and flights at your own expense.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS:

A single supplement is available on this trip.

INTERNET IN THE GALAPAGOS:

Some of the hotels in the Galapagos do have internet connections however it's often very slow and may not always be functional.

DIVING IN THE GALAPAGOS:

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

PASSPORT DETAILS REQUIRED

Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to certain sites. Additionally on certain trips it's needed to book bus, train or flight tickets. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup leader

You will be met at the Quito hotel by one of our experienced local representatives. They will conduct the group briefing on the evening of day 1 of the trip and also transfer with you to the airport on day 2 for your flight to the Galapagos.

On arrival in the Galapagos you will be met your Guide. Our Guides are registered and trained in conservation and natural sciences by the Charles Darwin Foundation and licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service.

On your last day in the Galapagos your guide will take you to the airport where you will take an unescorted flight. Our experienced customer representative will be waiting for you upon arrival at Quito airport and will accompany you back to the hotel where you will spend your final night of the tour.

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-field

PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

MONEY WITHDRAWAL: In order to avoid fraud and theft, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.

SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

LIFE JACKETS During this trip we have various boat, ferries and speedboat rides, life jackets are compulsory by law and we require you to wear them.

WATER SAFETY: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

The sun in the Galapagos islands is incredibly strong due to its close proximity to the equator, ensure you are well prepared with suncreen, sun hat, sunglasses and a rash guard if desired.

SNORKELLING IN THE GALAPAGOS: Like any physical outdoor activity, snorkelling does have some safety risks. While we provide adequate training to our guides and suitable safety briefing information to our travellers, ultimately you must also be responsible for your own safety. There is no official snorkelling guide certification in Galapagos, so your activity leader will not be a professional snorkelling guide. If you have no or poor swimming ability you should not take part and can do alternative activities instead. Please discuss this directly with your guide and only take part in snorkelling if you feel confident that all safety information is clear and that you are competent to partake the activity.

icon readmoreicon minusCommunications

WhatsApp is a popular way to communicate in Latin America. We recommended downloading WhatsApp prior to departure to communicate with by text with your leader and group members during the tour. Once downloaded, please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive, unless you have international roaming enabled. Connections for making phone calls through WhatsApp are not reliable, so please do not use this app to make calls to our emergency phone line.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

If you receive an immigration card upon entry, please ensure you keep this safe as it may be requested at point of exit. For further information regarding country entry and exit fees, please refer to the 'Money Matters' section of this document. 

ECUADOR:

Americans, Australian, Belgians, British, Canadians, Dutch, Germans, New Zealanders and South Africans do not currently require a visa for Ecuador. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa or entry requirements with the Ecuador consulate in your home country.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

Get acquainted with the beautiful churches and graceful boulevards of Quito, Ecuador's capital

The Galapagos Islands played a profound role in forming Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Explore the islands on this in-depth adventure, coming face-to-face with some of the most extraordinary wildlife on earth

Get your blood pumping as you scale a volcano on Isabela Island, and kayak in beautiful Isabela Bay

Get up close and personal with giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island. These nearly extinct creatures are one of the greatest drawcards to the Galapagos

This is a land based Galapagos trip, we use locally owned hotels on the islands. On this trip you will have more opportunities to interact with the locals as opposed to staying on a boat.

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

This trip involves a lot of travel by speed boat between the various Galapagos Islands, the rides can be quite bumpy at times. The good news is that seasickness can often be managed with medication. Consult a health professional before your trip.

Wildlife is a big focus on this trip, with activities like bird watching and swimming.

This trip includes a 17 km hike (approximately 6-7 hours) on rocky terrain. We recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes that offer good support.

While you're free to go diving if you choose, our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity. This is part of Intrepid's internal safety policy.

The sun in the Galapagos islands is incredibly strong due to its close proximity to the equator, ensure you are well prepared with suncreen, sun hat, sunglasses and a rash guard if desired.

This trip does include snorkeling on multiple days throughout the itinerary. Confident swimming skills are required to take part in this tour.

This trip visits Quito which is at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.

Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS:

Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip:

Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip.

While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.

Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:

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

MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES:

Some regions of Central & South America can experience outbreaks of dengue fever.There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. If you have a fever or feel unwell, please let your leader know right away. Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria by taking measures to avoid insect bites.

ZIKA VIRUS:

There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.

YELLOW FEVER

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home. It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

icon readmoreicon minusFood and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.

Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stalls, markets, etc.

More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, coeliac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.

For those on strict Kosher or Halal diets we understand your dietary requirements are important, however,  sometimes due to cultural and language differences these are not always easy to convey when you are travelling. Your guide will do their best to assist you in translating your needs when eating out, but please be aware that these diets are almost unheard of in much of the continent and the best they may be able to accommodate is no pork and shellfish. If this will be a concern for you you may need to consider opting for vegetarian or vegan meals for the included meals in your itinerary. We recommend researching kosher or halal options in your destination country prior to travel to see if you are able to buy snacks once there, otherwise consider bringing some from home. 

PRICES IN THE GALAPAGOS

Please note that prices for food and beverages in the Galapagos are generally more expensive than Ecuador mainland and other parts of South America.

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When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document). 

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

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

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

MEALS NOT INCLUDED:

For this trip we recommend between USD 25 to 50 per day. How do we work this out?

Breakfast - If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.

Lunch - If you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD10 to USD15.

Dinner - At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.

These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, are happy to eat just local food and are not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.

CREDIT CARDS & ATMs:

ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities across Latin America. Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.

Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to and what their fees and charges are. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. If bringing over cash, please note USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.

DEPARTURE TAX:

In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. Nowadays, these departure taxes are added into the cost of your airline tickets and paid for at the time of purchase.

Unless mentioned below, no airport departure tax has to be paid during this trip.

Ecuador & Hotel based Galapagos Tipping:

Gratuities aren’t compulsory on your trip, but they can make a big difference to locals employed in the tourism industry. We suggest carrying small notes of local currency around as you go. It’ll make tipping easier.

Usually around USD5 – USD10 a day to cover tips is fine.

On our Ecuador mainland trips your leader might raise the idea of a group tip kitty. Each traveller contributes an equal amount to the pool, and your leader can pay the tips as you go.

TIPPING GUIDE

To give you a bit of guidance, we’ve put together the following tipping notes. These are just suggestions, based on feedback from past travellers and our staff on the ground.

Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest USD4-5 per passenger per day for Ecuador Land and USD8-USD10 per passenger per day for Galapagos.

Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD4-5 per passenger per day for Ecuador Land and USD8-USD10 per passenger per day for Galapagos.Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

In total, we recommend you budget approx USD5-USD10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat to take

Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. In terms of weight, airlines generally allow a maximum of 20kg for check in luggage. Other than the items and clothing you always need on a trip, below we have listed packing suggestions specific for this trip:

ESSENTIAL: - Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses

RECOMMENDED: - Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary - Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments - Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com) - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and bandaids. - Insect repellent - Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both OPTIONAL: - Ear plugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate - Phrase book VALUABLES: Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. LAUNDRY Laundry is available at many hotels and towns during this trip, although you might need to wait for a two-night stop in order to make sure you get it back in time. While laundry at hotels is usually charged by the item, laundromats usually charge by the kilo, which is generally inexpensive (about USD 2 per kilo)

INTREPID GALAPAGOS DUFFLE BAG In order to make luggage handling easier when embarking and disembarking speed boats on this trip, on day 1 of your trip you will be offered a duffle bag for you to consider using instead of your main luggage. The rest of your gear can be stored at your starting point hotel. The duffle bags have a capacity of 50 litres (measure 73x30.26 cm) and can carry between 12 and 15 kilos.

GALAPAGOS SPECIFIC In addition to our packing list above, you may want to consider bringing the below items when traveling to the Galapagos: Sandals (something with a hard sole that you can get wet) Rash Guard to prevent sun exposure Beach Towels: It's not necessary to bring a beach towel as all of our hotels provide them for the duration of your stay.

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

SEA SICKNESS- GALAPAGOS

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

Being located on the equator, Ecuador is a year round destination. In Quito temperatures do not fluctuate that much throughout the year with average temperatures around 19°C to 24°C during the day with lows of 9-10°C in the evening. There are two 'seasons', the wet and dry. The dry season runs from June to September and the wet season is from October through to May. The surprisingly thing with Quito is its altitude and proximity to the equator means that the sun has a little more kick to it so it can feel like it's warmer than it actually is. Even on cooler days, if the sun comes out make sure you use sunscreen.

The Galapagos weather is pretty reasonable all year round, so it is never freezing cold but it can get very hot [February-May being the hottest months]. The seasons are not exactly fixed and weather conditions are changeable around the ends of the seasons. Note that the "wet" season is still drier than many places in the world.

Daily temperatures range from 22°C to 25°C with overnight temperatures dropping to around 10°C. Up in the highlands [which you will cross on your way from Baltra to Puerto Ayora] it is cooler and the garúa mist hangs about as a kind of permanent dampness, and sometimes descends to the coast as well.

The waters surrounding the Galapagos are influenced by the Humboldt Current. Water temperatures sit around 20°C to 24°C from January through to May and drop to 18°C to 20°C from June through to October. Although you may be required to wear a wetsuit at this time of year the same currents that bring the cooler water temperatures also bring nutrients which means wildlife are very active at this time of year.

icon readmoreicon minusA couple of rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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/

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GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below:

The operations office located in Ecuador: +593 9 94014877

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible travel

Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.

Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

icon readmoreicon minusTravel insurance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SINGLE TRAVELLERS:

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

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OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:

A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.

Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

ITINERARY CHANGES:

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

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

Hotel (16 nights)

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