Galapagos on the Cheap
As the basis of Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Galapagos has a bit of a reputation. And boy does it live up to it. Y’know, if you’re into massive tortoises, swimming lizards, more birds than you can shake your binoculars at, and volcanoes. Let’s be honest – who isn’t into all of that?
Day 1 - Quito
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Ecuador.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel 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.
Sitting at an altitude of 2,850 m under the gaze of Volcan Pichincha, Quito is one of the most attractive cities in South America. Long and incredibly thin, the city stretches along a central valley formed by the east and west ranges of the Andes. Although compact, Quito's Old Town is full of historic buildings - there are more than 30 churches to explore, not to mention the fascinating museums.
La Compania de Jesus is considered by many the most beautiful in the Americas; it's certainly one of the most ornate. It's claimed that seven tonnes of gold leaf cover the interior whilst the exterior is decorated with statues, busts, sculpted heads and a jungle of carved leaves.
Take a walk down the famous Calle La Ronda, Quito's oldest street. La Ronda is a peek into the colonial past of the city. This quaint street offers the city's best in one place.
Quito is located 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 acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
On arrival in Quito: while our local representatives and hotel staff 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.geckosadventures.com/sites/default/files/geckos_altitude-sickness.pdf
If you arrive early, you may have some time to explore Quito. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, this charming colonial centre offers a wealth of things to see and you could lose yourself for hours meandering through the narrow, winding cobblestone streets and exploring the lively Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco. The city is filled with Baroque art and architecture, as exemplified by magnificent churches, monasteries and public buildings. If your feel like exploring further afield, you might like to head for one of the many viewpoints over the city. El Panecillo (The Little Bread Loaf) offers sensational views of the city’s white houses and surrounding volcanoes. The 30 metre high statue of La Virgen de Quito sits atop this small hill and can be seen from all over the city. Incredible vistas can also be enjoyed from La Cima de la Libertad, the site of Ecuadorian independence from Spain. The Monastery of San Diego is home to the only version of 'The Last Supper' painting where Christ and company are feasting on cuy (roast guinea pig). Visit ‘La Mitad del Mundo’ (The Middle of the World), which was built on what was claimed in 1736 to be the line of the equator.Also visit the the smaller monument nearby called Museo Solar Inti Nan - supposedly where the equator actually runs through since re-measurements were made.Enjoy a free evening and perhaps grab some dinner from a local restaurant.San Francisco Hotel or similar
Day 2-4 - Isla Isabela
Today begins with an early morning transfer to the airport and a flight (approx 2.5-3 hours) to Baltra Island, Galapagos. Departure time will be between 8.20am and 10.30am depending on flight schedule time.
The Galapagos National Institute has introduced a Transit Control Card. This card has a cost of US$10 and it must be purchased by every person travelling to the Galapagos Islands. You will need to purchase this card upon arrival to the domestic airport on day 2, prior to checking in to your Galapagos flight.
Please note the Transit Card fee has recently increased from US$10 to US$20 and will come into place from March 1st 2015.
Your flight will stop once in Guayaquil to pick up more passengers (2.5-3 hrs total). Upon arrival we will need to go through immigration and pay the Galapagos National Park entrance fee of US$100 in cash (small bills please)
Once in Baltra we transfer to Puerto Ayora and board a speed boat ride to Isabela Island (approx 2.5-3hrs)
Upon arrival to Isabela Island you are required to pay the Isabela Island port fee of USD5.
While in Isabela Island the Tour leader will take you on a walking tour of the island. The following day you will start with a visit to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center for a chance to get a close encounter with these placid giants.
The Sierra Negra Wetlands are where we can observe migratory birds like sandpiper, common stilt, plovers, flamingos, American oystercatcher and many other interesting species. This usually takes up to an hour at the most. Then take a bus and to the highest part of Isabela Island where Sierra Negra Volcano is located.
Be prepared for a hike that will take you to a spectacular view of the crater, on the hope to see the rare vermillion flycatcher. You will be hiking for approximately 5-6 hours (dependent on weather) along a rocky trail, approximently 13km long. Please ensure you waer a comformatble pair of walking shoes that offer good support.
Another worthwhile (optional) activity is a visit to the Tintoreras Island where you can see the rare Galapagos penguin before heading to the "shark alley" where white tipped sharks rest during the day. This is also a popular nesting site for the endemic marine iguanas.Hotel Delfin Azul or similar
Day 5 - Isla Santa Cruz
Today is an early morning departure back to Isla Santa Cruz.
Later on we hike for 45 minutes until we reach Tortuga Bay, a stunning beach with fine white sand to see marine iguanas.
In the afternoon we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic hub of the archipelago and is also home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. This place was home to Lonesome George, the Galapagos' most famous giant tortoise. Unfortunately he's dead now, but you'll visit the Charles Darwin Research Station anyway. The station's visitor centre and museum are essential stops for anyone interested in the archipelago's natural and human history, and keen to learn more about conservation efforts to preserve the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos. It also offers our best chance for close-up encounters with giant tortoises, and we can see many newborn and young giant turtles - part of the breeding program to reintroduce them to their natural habitat. Observe the giant opuntia and jasminocereus cactus trees. Leisure time to explore Puerto Ayora, check email or have a drink at a local bar and see the local’s way of life.Hotel Lobo de Mar or similar
Day 6-7 - San Cristobal
In the morning you will have some free time in Puerto Ayora. You may choose to take part in some of the optional activities on offer.
Later on we travel to Isla San Cristobal to meet the local families that will host of for our two nights here. In the afternoon your leader will take you on a walking tour of San Cristobal and visit the Intrepretation Center, which gives you an excellent overview of the Galapagos story from historical events to modern-day issues, as well as covering wildlife and ecology.
The remaining of our time in San Cristobal is free for you to explore the island at your own leisure. Opt to hike Mann Beach for a swim where we can observe playful sea lions and frigates or tackle the hills and reach the top of Frigate Bird Hill for panoramic view out over the Pacific towards Santa Cruz, Floreana and Santa Fe Islands.
One of our leaders favorite optional activity is the boat ride to Kicker Rock or Isla Lobos observing along the way the abundant marine life that Galapagos is renowned for. On the way you can stop at Isla de Lobos for a swim with playful sea lions before continuing onto Kicker Rock, the remains of an underwater volcano rising vertically 150m out of the sea. A truly impressive sight! Here you have the option to go snorkelling. Make sure you keep an eye out for sea turtles, eagle rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few.Local HomestayBreakfast
Day 8-9 - Quito
Sadly all good things must come to an end and this is our final excursion. We bid farewell to the Galapagos Islands and all its inhabitants and head to the airport for our flight back to Quito for the last night of our tour. Upon arrival in Quito Airport we are transferred back to our hotel for an overnight stay. Hit the tiles in Quito to talk about all those giant tortoise you saw whilst knocking back a couple of pisco sours. Heavenly.
Our tour ends today after breakfast.There are no activities planned for the final day so we are able to depart our accommodation at any time. If you have not spent time here before, we recommend you stay on a few days as there are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito. 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.San Francisco Hotel or similar
What to Know
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price 23 Jul 2015 - 31 Jul 2015 Available US $2,025 Book Now 06 Aug 2015 - 14 Aug 2015 4 places left US $2,100 Book Now 20 Aug 2015 - 28 Aug 2015 Available US $1,970 Book Now 03 Sep 2015 - 11 Sep 2015 Available US $1,830 Book Now 17 Sep 2015 - 25 Sep 2015 3 places left US $1,955 Book Now 15 Oct 2015 - 23 Oct 2015 Available US $1,850 Book Now 12 Nov 2015 - 20 Nov 2015 Available US $1,885 Book Now 10 Dec 2015 - 18 Dec 2015 Available US $1,830 Book Now 07 Jan 2016 - 15 Jan 2016 Available US $2,000 Book Now 04 Feb 2016 - 12 Feb 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 18 Feb 2016 - 26 Feb 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 10 Mar 2016 - 18 Mar 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 24 Mar 2016 - 01 Apr 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 14 Apr 2016 - 22 Apr 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 21 Apr 2016 - 29 Apr 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 05 May 2016 - 13 May 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 19 May 2016 - 27 May 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 23 Jun 2016 - 01 Jul 2016 Available US $1,925 Book Now 28 Jul 2016 - 05 Aug 2016 Available US $1,875 Book Now 04 Aug 2016 - 12 Aug 2016 Available US $1,970 Book Now 18 Aug 2016 - 26 Aug 2016 Available US $1,875 Book Now 01 Sep 2016 - 09 Sep 2016 Available US $1,830 Book Now 15 Sep 2016 - 23 Sep 2016 Available US $1,830 Book Now 06 Oct 2016 - 14 Oct 2016 Available US $1,830 Book Now 27 Oct 2016 - 04 Nov 2016 Available US $1,830 Book Now 17 Nov 2016 - 25 Nov 2016 Available US $1,830 Book Now 08 Dec 2016 - 16 Dec 2016 Available US $1,830 Book Now
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
What to know
On arrival in the islands you must pay the US$110 national park fee to enter Galapagos National Park (This includes the US$10 transit fee). Once you arrive at Isabela Island there is also a fee to be paid of US$5
Please note the Transit Card fee has recently increased from US$10 to US$20 and will come into place from March 1st 2015.