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Enchanted Galapagos Islands - 2020

Ultimate Wildlife Encounters Aboard The Yacht Samba
Duration: 11 days / 10 nights
Group Size: 14 max
Begins, Ends In: Quito, Ecuador
Tour Type: All inclusive

Explore and Photograph in the enchanted Galapagos Islands aboard the yacht Samba with photographer Hugh Rose and outstanding Galapagos Guide Juan Manuel Salcedo. Fly into Quito and spend two nights in the historical “Old City”, and visit a hummingbird preserve in the cloud forest of the Andes Mountains. A short flight (included) takes us to the Galapagos Islands where we board the Samba for a 7 night/8 day cruise around the tropical island archipelago paradise of the Galapagos. Daily visits to land, allow you to observe and photograph the abundant terrestrial wildlife that has no fear of humans, while daily snorkel outings take you into the marine ecosystem to be surrounded by tropical fish, and marine wildlife such as, sea turtles, dolphins, and friendly sea lions.

At the end of our voyage we return to Quito for a farewell dinner and overnight before either heading home or on to other destinations in South America.

$7,295/per person
April 5 - 15, 2020

Guided by: Hugh Rose
Availability: 7 spaces

April 19 - May 2, 2020

Guided by: Hugh Rose
Availability: SOLD OUT

Questions? Contact Us

Tour Highlights

  • Visit the same Islands and walk the same beaches where Charles Darwin spent time in 1835, observing the unique creatures of the Galapagos, which eventually led him to formulate his theory of evolution and write the historical scientific work “The Origin of the Species”.
  • Watch as blue-footed boobies perform their courtship dance and display their blue feet to each other.
  • Sit quietly as a wild giant tortoise that is so old it was probably roaming the Islands when Darwin visited in 1835, old lumbers past you on a forest trail.
  • Snorkel with friendly Galapagos sea lions and hundreds of pacific green sea turtles!
  • Watch from underwater as the world’s only tropical penguin (the Galapagos penguin) plucks small fish from the water inches from your mask.
  • Watch the world’s only marine lizard, (the Galapagos marine iguana) both on land (basking in the sun) and in the water while snorkeling grazing on algae.
  • Watch for the elusive “Green Flash” at sunset as you enjoy an end of the day cocktail on the deck of the Samba.
  • Encounter a blue whale, the largest vertebrate to ever roam the planet.
  • Spend two nights in the historic old City of Quito with its rich history, architecture and culture.
  • Visit the Andean cloud forest and see dozens of hummingbirds up close.
Oceanic Forces & Enchanted Land
Explore The Galapagos Islands

We have run tours in the Galapagos for over 15 years and worked with many boats and guides. Based on this experience we have found the absolute best Galapagos guide, combined with the perfect boat for cruising the Islands. My long-term relationship with the Juan allows us more freedom during landings to give you the maximum time with the wildlife in the best possible light. We are up and onshore at sunrise, when the light is the best, the wildlife most active and the temperatures most pleasant, and returning to the Samba for breakfast and a morning snorkel, when other groups are just starting to land. We maximize snorkeling time during the mid-day hours when the sun is directly overhead and return to land late in the afternoon as temperatures cool, wildlife activity picks up and the magic of sunset light begins.

We include EVERYTHING in the price of our tour, all domestic flights, park entrance fees, rental of snorkeling gear and wetsuits and the tips to the boat crew and local guide (the only thing not included is alcohol and bottled drinks). And lastly we understand the wildlife and its behavior! This allows us to have you in the right place, with the best light as the action begins!

Itinerary Summary

Description Lodge Meals
Day 1 Arrive in Quito Ecuador, transfer Airport to Old City Hotel Relicario del Carmen
Day 2 Included Day trip to cloud forest hummingbird preserve “Bella Vista” Welcome Dinner at restaurant in Old Quito City Hotel Relicario del Carmen B, L, D
Day 3 Fly, Quito to Baltra, Galapagos Islands. Board the Samba. Pto Ayora, PM: Charles Darwin Research Center. Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 4 Floreana, AM: Punta Cormorant, Champion Islet/Devils Crown. PM: Post Office Bay/Loberia. Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 5 Espanola, AM: Gardner Bay. PM: Punta Suarez. Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 6 San Cristobal, AM: Islas Lobos/Kicker Rock. PM: Punta Pitt Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 7 Santa Fe, AM: Barrington Bay. Plazas, PM: South Plaza Island. Santa Cruz, PM: Punta Carrion. Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 8 Santiago, AM: Bahia Sullivan. PM: Bartolome. Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 9 Santiago, AM: Rabida. PM: James Bay. Aboard the Samba B, L, D
Day 10 North Seymour, AM: North Seymour Island. PTO Ayora, PM: Transfer to Baltra and return flight to Quito. Farewell dinner. Wyndham Hotel B, L, D
Day 11 Flights home or to other Ecuador or South America travel destinations. B
Galapagos Yacht Samba

M/Y Samba

A Graceful 78-Foot Motor Yacht of European Vintage Tourist Superior
  • To experience the mystical isolation that shaped the life of the Galapagos, this sturdy, stately and very comfortable motor-vessel is your best choice. The SAMBA is a true European Dutch classic and best in her class.
  • A great ocean-going vessel with her specially designed high bow, she provides safe crossings and boasts a special stabilizing sail.
  • Her main salon and aft dining facilities make her socially versatile while top-side settees and a flush and ample forward deck provide great getaways or extra space for group activities such as stargazing, whale watching or simply sunbathing.
  • The SAMBA accommodates 14 guests, a perfect number to enjoy the magic of the Islands with privacy and flexibility. Its professional, experienced and friendly crew and naturalist guide are devoted to go the extra mile to make your journey a trip of a lifetime.
  • She is a graceful, top-quality craft and very environmentally friendly as well as socially responsible. She is locally owned and all the crewmembers are from the Galapagos.
  • We are committed to redefine your idea of quality of experience and excellence of service.

Accommodations

Six air-conditioned double cabins and 1 exterior double bed cabin, all with private bathrooms and hot water.

Equipment

Very efficient Twin DAV diesel engines 280 HP-CUMMINS that only use a remarkable 6 gallons of diesel per hour! Two generators each of 21 & 12.5 kW for 110 V & 220V A/C and 12V & 24V D/C, Furuno Navnet Radar, Plotter and Sonar, GPS, VHF & SSB radios, two tenders with outboard motors, 32” High Definition LCD TV, DVD video equipment.

Specifications

Length: L.O.A.* 78 feet / 23 meters
Beam: 18 feet / 5.4 meters
Tonnage: 134 tons
Speed: 8.5 knots
Range: 2.500 miles
Sail: Steadying sails
Water capacity: 1.500 gallons and water maker
Electric Power Supply: 110V & 220V (A/C)
*L.O.A.: length overall

Safety Equipment

One self-contained 20-passenger life raft, EPIRB (Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon), two bi-directional VHF emergency-radios, one VHF (Motorola) wide-range radio, VHF and HF radios and one cell-phone communication system, life jackets, fire extinguishers, safety smoke and fire detectors and overhead sprinkler systems, A.B.C fire-control system and CO2 bank for the engine room.

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Ecuador

All Day: Arrive in Quito and transfer to Hotel Relicario del Carmen, overnight Hotel Relicario del Carmen.

Day 2: Day Tour to Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve

After breakfast at Relicario del Carmen we will depart at 8:00 AM on a two hour drive northwest from Quito. The highway will take us over the equator and eventually lead to the misty western side of the Andes Mountains. As we descend the Pacific side of the Andes we will be entering the “cloud forest”. The west facing intermediate elevation slopes of the Andes receive substantial annual rainfall and as a result are extremely lush and home to a great diversity of flora and fauna. Our destination for the day is Bella Vista Cloud Forest Preserve. Beall Vista has roughly 35 species of hummingbirds that frequent their lodge and many other species of tropical birds are regularly seen around the lodge. After eating a lunch of local foods at the lodge, for anyone keen to observe and photograph hummingbirds at close range you will have ample time in the afternoon to wander the lodge grounds. For those who would like to stretch their legs and walk in the cloud forest, a walk on trails through forest will be led by a naturalist from the lodge. Mid-afternoon we will start our drive back to Quito making a stop at the “Mitad del Mundo (Equator) museum, for history of the equator and its discovery and the indigenous people that inhabit Equatorial Ecuador. After time to clean up from our days outing we will meet for a welcome dinner of traditional Ecuadorian food at a nearby restaurant in the Old City of Quito.

Overnight at Hotel Relicario del Carmen.

Day 3: Santa Cruz

AM: BALTRA AIRPORT
PM: Charles Darwin Research Station

On arrival at Baltra Airport all visitors will get their hand luggage checked through the quarantine system run by the Galapagos National Park Service. We will then be met by Juan Manuel Salcedo, who will assist us with our luggage collection and accompany us on the short bus ride to the harbor where we board the Samba.

A short “panga” ride (small inflatable boat with outboard motor) brings us to the Samba, where you will have time to settle into your cabins and enjoy lunch before setting off on our first foray in the Islands. We will land for the afternoon at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here you will learn how this NGO has been promoting conservation and research in the Galapagos Island for the last 50 years. The Charles Darwin Research Station is responsible for much of the conservation work and habitat restoration in the Galapagos, along with another important partner in the duty of preservation of this archipelago, the National Park Service. Located at the Darwin Station is a tortoise breeding center run by the Park Service, where you will see tortoises being reared in captivity to be released into the wild in order to boost wild tortoise populations. This is the facility where the Galapagos’s most famous conservation icon, “Lonesome George”, the final remaining tortoise of his species from Pinta Island spent his last days until his death in 2012.

Galapagos Dove

Day 4: Floreana (Charles)

AM: PUNTA CORMORANT & CHAMPION
PM: POST OFFICE BAY & THE BARRONESS LOOKOUT

Following a four hour navigation from Puerto Ayora we will do an early morning wet landing on a beach composed of olivine crystals of volcanic origin. Punta Cormorant lies on the northern shore of the Island of Floreana and is an excellent place to view and photograph greater flamingos and sea turtles. Near the landing beach there is a brackish lagoon where flamingos nest and feed. Whimbrels, herons and stilts are other common birds found in this productive wetland. A short walk across the island through Galapagos endemic vegetation takes us to a white sand beach where sea turtles use every inch of the upper beach dune area for laying their eggs. We typically see many stingrays and reef sharks in the shallow surf zone and if we are lucky turtles basking. Turtle hatchlings are an excellent food source for some of the predatory sea birds such as magnificent frigatebirds. Frigatebirds are often seen cruising this beach looking for the telltale signs of sand moving as newly hatched turtles start climbing from their sand nest holes. If the baby turtles move during the daylight hours causing sand to shift, the frigatebirds see this movement and descend on the nest to dine on turtle hatchlings.

After returning to the Samba, we will sail for 25 minutes to a different location to do a panga ride and snorkel at Champion Islet. This small islet is one of two places were the Floreana mocking bird has survived after its extinction on the main Island of Floreana. While trying to find the rare bird from our pangas, we will enjoy a beautiful landscape full of fairy tale cactus and terracotta rock formations. Soon sea lions will invite us to jump into the water. The snorkeling around the island is extraordinary, with many types of tropical fish, rays, sharks and of course the playful Galapagos sea lions!

Adventure, survival, mystery and murder are the main ingredients for our next stop. Post Office Bay has left a legacy of pirates, whalers, scientific expeditions and intense stories of murder and intrigue. After a wet landing we walk a very short distance to be part of the most important Galapagos tradition, the Post Office Barrel. This is the location of barrel that has served as a makeshift post office since the Nantucket whalers visited the Islands in the early 1800’s. Later we will kayak or take a panga ride to the west of Post Office Bay. This boat ride will take us through a set of islets with a sea lion colony, boobies and mangroves. Our destination will be a beach at the base of a small hill where the Baroness’s Lookout is located. A short hike to the top of this eroded spatter cone takes you to a viewing platform where you can enjoy the sunset and photograph the eerie volcanic landscape of this island.

Day 5: Española (Hood)

AM: PUNTA SUAREZ
PM: GARDNER BAY & GARDNER ISLAND

Hood is the oldest Galapagos Island, and has traveled over 100 miles away from the volcanic hotspot over which it was formed. When landing on its western tip at Punta Suarez, it is difficult to digest the beauty and overwhelming amount of life found on this Island. As you become adjusted to your surroundings you will realize that the breakwater which protects the landing, is covered by brightly colored marine iguanas and sally lightfoot crabs. As we pick our way through the iguanas to the beach we will be greeted by sea lions, and blue-footed boobies will fill the air over our heads. The roughly one mile walk across weathered lava plains and through ancient palo santo forest, will lead us to a magnificent seabird colony perched on a cliff high above the crashing surf. These south facing cliffs were shaped by eons of wave action battering the ancient lava flows of Espanola and are home to the only tropical nesting albatross in the world. The waved albatross is a mythic and elegant glider that shares this precipice with many other sea birds, such as tropicbirds, swallow-tailed gulls and nazca boobies. We will be visiting these cliffs during the courtship season of the waved albatross, and should be able to observe the elegant display of these huge birds as they search for mates and solidify pair bonds. Watching these birds as they go through their courtship displays is one of the most memorable wildlife displays found in the Galapagos!

Depending on weather conditions, either at the end of the morning walk or early in the afternoon we will snorkel or kayak around Gardner Island. Its calm waters and attractive landscape give you a great experience above and below the water! After lunch we will land on the famous sandy beach of Gardner Bay. This is a beautiful white sand beach, photos of which are used in every advertisement for the Galapagos. Located on the north coast of Espanola Island, Gardner Bay has a half mile long white sand beach perfect for walking, swimming and lounging with the many playful resident Galapagos sea lions and friendly Hood Mockingbirds.

Galapagos Islands Tours
Snorkeling with Yellow-tailed surgeon fish
Land Iguana Eating Portulaca
Land Iguana eating portulaca flowers

Day 6: San Cristobal (Chatham)

AM: ISLA LOBOS & KICKER ROCK
PM: PUNTA PITT

You will wake up to the barking of Galapagos sea lions, animals after which the Island is named! After a dry landing on Islas Lobos, we will walk over rocky terrain to a frigate bird colony. At the end of our short walk we will be greeted by red balloons decorating the saltbushes (the inflated gular sacks of Magnificent and Great frigatebirds). Isla Lobos is a nesting colony for both species of frigate birds and this visitor location will give you the opportunity to photograph and observe these pirates of the sky at close-range! The island is also the nesting grounds for blue-footed boobies, which may be dancing and showing their blue feet to potential mates during our visit! A snorkel around the island will give us the chance to play with sea lions, where they are most at home, in the water!

Before lunch we navigate to a dramatic tuff cone formation named Kicker Rock. The eroded structure has vertical walls of over 450 feet and is festooned with nesting and loafing sea birds! We will circumnavigate the rock to enjoy the views and photograph the abundant bird life, after which we will plunge into the clear waters at its base and enjoy the underwater world of Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays invertebrates and schools of colorful tropical fish!

In the afternoon we will navigate to Punta Pitt and do a wet landing, where we climb a small tuff cone and enjoy the sunset surrounded by all three species of boobies that are found in the archipelago! Punta Pitt is the closest point to mainland South America that we will visit in the archipelago. As such it is a great place to sit and ponder what it was like for pioneer species as they arrived from the mainland over the millennia. In addition to nazca, red-footed and blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigatebirds and storm petrels all nest in this area as well, making it an ideal place to photograph these species.

Day 7: Santa Fe & Plazas

AM: BARRINGTON BAY
PM: SOUTH PLAZA & PUNTA CARRION

Barrington Bay is one of the most picturesque inlets of all visitor sites in the Galapagos. White sand on the seabed reflects sunlight to turn the calm waters a deep turquoise color with a backdrop of gigantic prickly pear cactus growing on the peninsula that shelters the bay. Santa Fe is yet another ancient extinct volcano and has been isolated from other islands long enough to evolve its own endemic land iguana. Paler in color than its relatives on other islands, the Barrington terrestrial iguanas are found lounging outside their burrows. Galapagos Hawks, mocking birds, finches and endemic rice rats are company to this yellowish land monster! Snorkeling in the clear waters around Barrington Bay provide great opportunities to view and photograph the different species of rays against the sandy bottom.

A two hour navigation north will take us to South Plaza Island. After lunch, a dry landing will take us to the colorful and scenic landscape of South Plaza Island. We will be greeted by Galapagos Sea Lions and more giant Land iguanas on the landing platform. A short walk from the landing takes us to a forest of stunted, but large opuntia (prickly pear) cactus with massive land iguanas wandering amongst the cactus on a bright red carpet of portulaca, eating flowers if the rains have arrived and allowed the plants to flower. A one mile walk over gently sloping terrain takes us to a seabird nesting cliff, where Swallow tailed gulls nest and red-billed tropicbirds perform an aerobatic show at eye level. Audubon shearwaters zoom along the cliff face, over nazca and blue-footed boobies, while great blue and striated herons wait patiently for prey to come close enough to snatch up for lunch!

If we have enough time and good weather we will swim or snorkel in Punta Carrion. A great way to end an active day!

Day 8: Santiago & Bartolome

AM: SULLIVAN BAY
PM: BARTOLOME

The volcanic origin of the Galapagos Islands is easy to see at Sullivan Bay. The coiled shiny structures of the pahoe-hoe lava appear as if they were erupted just yesterday, but in reality the slow to weather basalt rock is over one hundred years old! Located on the east shores of James Island (Santiago) this 140 year old lava flow has intact driblet cones and many other volcanic structures and was extruded onto a landscape of much older cinder cones and flows. We will walk through this fantastic landscape of volcanic features formed from the quiet eruption of Basaltic magmas. Opportunities to photograph the weird shapes and colors as well as the pioneer plants trying to make a living on the hot and sterile lava plains, will abound. After our shore excursion we will snorkel along the face of the lava flow where it spilled into the ocean. This is an excellent place to view the underwater antics of the Galapagos penguin as well as many tropical fish, Galapagos sea lions and sharks!

Bartolome Island, located a short distance from Sullivan Bay gives us the opportunity to walk in a landscape formed from the more explosive volcanic eruption of a tuff cone. We will climb 270 feet up a winding staircase to admire dramatic spatter cones and view scenic Pinnacle Rock. Views across the fantastic volcanic landscape of Santiago are excellent and photo opportunities abound from the top of Bartolome. Later, we will walk on magical golden beaches where sea turtle nest, and snorkel with penguins in the shallow clear water at the base of Pinnacle Rock.

Day 9: Rabida & James

AM: RABIDA
PM: JAMES BAY

The Galapagos offers a diversity of geological formations and landscapes without boundaries. The island of Rábida shows more of this diversity with lavas rich in iron that after millions of years of exposure to air, have weathered to a brilliant red. The rusted volcanic rocks have eroded to form a beautiful crimson sand beach, which is on fire during sunrise light! The protected shore of Rabida provides excellent conditions for a Galapagos sea lion nursery, while brown pelicans use the nearby saltbushes as a resting and nesting area. Hawks and mocking birds are common visitors to the lowlands. Snorkeling from the beach is excellent with the chance to swim with sharks, rays, many colorful fish and the ubiquitous Galapagos sea lion.

A two-hour sail to the northwest will bring us to our next landing site at Puerto Egas also known as James Bay, located on Santiago Island (the same Island we visited at Sullivan Bay the day before). The magical shorelines on the west side of Santiago Island are a combination of tuff cone, lava flows and organic light colored sand. This rocky coast with a gently sloped rock shelf of tidal pools is used by a great number of shore birds and reptiles. Oystercatchers, whimbrels, sanderlings, turnstones, tattlers and other waders, mix with marine iguanas and bright colored sally lightfoot crabs to feed in the rich littoral zone, providing many great photographic moments! We will walk for a mile from the landing beach, over flat terrain along this rocky shore to a network of large partially collapsed lava tunnels. These grottos provide shade from the merciless sun of the Galapagos and are home to Galapagos fur sea lions. Sitting on the edge of the “fur seal grotto” and watching the antics of young pups in the protected lava tubes is always a highlight. We will end the day with a snorkel from the beach that can be one of the best in the archipelago. Sea turtles feeding, parrot fishes, damsel fishes, white tipped reef sharks and many more…

Galapagos Islands Photography Tours
A Galapagos Giant Tortoise walks past group

Day 10: North Seymour & Baltra Airport

AM: NORTH SEYMOUR
AM: BALTRA AIRPORT

A visit to North Seymour is a fantastic way of saying goodbye to the Galapagos. Following a dry landing at sunrise we will walk amongst the largest blue-footed booby colony of the Islands. If enough food is available and the boobies are breeding, you will be treated to their dancing, singing and waving their blue feet to find a mate. Close to the boobies we find both great and magnificent frigate birds nesting and possibly displaying. The males will inflate their “gular sacks” to attract the ladies that fly above them. Swallow tailed gulls and tropicbirds are scattered across the large basaltic walls of the island. This is the perfect final landing spot for our 8 day adventure in the Enchanted Islands! After getting back on board the Samba and eating breakfast, we will make the navigation to Baltra while preparing to disembark the Samba for our flight back to mainland Ecuador.

It is always a good idea to do most of your packing the previous night so you can have a pleasant last early morning visit and a relaxed breakfast. We will board our flight back to Quito and bid the Galapagos farewell!

Day 11: Flights Home or Continue on Ecuador Extension

After breakfast at the hotel, a transfer shuttle will take you to the airport for flights home or on travel extensions in Mainland Ecuador or South America.

Included in the price:

  • Airport transfers on April 5th (to Relicario del Carmen, April 7th , April 14th (for flights to and from the Galapagos) and April 15th departures
  • All accommodations in Quito at the Hotel Relicario del Carmen for the nights of April 5th and 6th , and April 14th at Quito Airport Wyndham Hotel (double occupancy)
  • Breakfast and Dinner in Quito on April 6th and breakfast on April 7th and 8th at Hotel Relicario del Carmen and April 15th at the Wyndham Hotel
  • Farewell dinner in Quito on April 14th
  • Day tour to Bella Vista cloud forest preserve on Monday April 6th with lunch
  • Roundtrip Airfare from Quito to the Galapagos
  • $100 USD entrance fee into the Galapagos National Park
  • $25 USD Galapagos Immigration Transit fee
  • All on-board accommodations on the Yacht Samba, all meals (B,L,D), island excursions including all Galapagos bus-fares and any additional guides qualified by the Galapagos National Park.
  • Tips to 6 crew members of the Samba.
  • Tip to naturalist on board the Samba (Juan Manuel Salcedo).
  • Rental of all snorkeling gear on board the Samba including wet suits, mask, snorkel and fins.

Not included in the price:

  • Flights to and from your home and Quito, Ecuador
  • Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks on mainland Ecuador and on board the Samba
  • Money for purchases of souvenir items

Payment, Reservation & Cancellations:

  • After space confirmation, a non-refundable $1,000 deposit per person is required to secure the booking.
  • Following two payments must be paid by check made in US dollars:
  1. Second payment of $3,147.50 is due by October 1st 2019
  2. Final payment of $3,147.50 is due by Jan 1st 2020
  • If cancellations are made after November 1st I will make every effort to get the remainder of your deposit and payment money back to you. This is dependent on filling the vacated spaces on the trip. I do maintain a waitlist for the trip, but as the departure date nears it becomes more difficult to fill vacated spaces. For this reason I would recommend trip insurance if you believe that there is any chance you may have to make a last minute cancellation.
  • You will be sent a trip confirmation packet a few months before the trip departure date.
Juan Manuel Salcedo

Juan Manuel Salcedo

Juan Manuel Salcedo was born in the Galápagos Islands. He grew up in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island, living and learning in the outdoor evolutionary lab of the Galápagos.…

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Hugh Rose

Hugh Rose

Hugh Rose has photographed and lived in northern climates most of his life with the latter part of it in Alaska. Compelled by Alaska’s natural beauty, he left a 10-year…

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Gear, Equipment & Clothing

We will supply a comprehensive PDF that details our recommendations for camera gear and clothing after booking.

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