PHOTO TOUR TO THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
March 20 - 29, 2016
Visit the photo gallery
The Galapagos Islands is a land time forgot. Animals and birds evolved here over millions of years with little or no influence from mainland South America, and the diversity of unusual species is remarkable. What is also remarkable is that these reptiles, mammals, and birds evolved with no fear of man. Many times you'll have to back up a few feet to get the shot you want, and sometimes you'll see blue footed boobies and other creatures nesting on a walking trail or curiously trying to look into your lens! Or your subjects will be completely nonchalant as you approach within a few feet of them to fill the frame with a medium telephoto lens or even a wide angle. The Galapagos is one of the premier wildlife destinations in the world. Charles Darwin visited the prehistoric creatures that inhabit this volcanic world in 1835, and his observations helped him formulate his theory of evolution which led to the publication of the Origin of Species. We stay aboard a 16 passenger vessel, the Estrella del Mar, and this is our hotel and transportation in the islands. There are snorkeling opportunities to swim with sea lions, penguins, and other intriguing creatures, making this a relaxing photography tour full of adventure, wonderful experiences, and great photography.
Day 1, March 20. Quito
Fly to Quito, Ecuador and arrive any time. Meet your driver after immigration and customs; he or she will hold a placard with your name on it. You will be transferred to the hotel. Overnight.
Day 2. March 21. San Cristobal Island (B, L, D)
This morning we fly to San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands where we meet our guide and transfer to the ship. In the afternoon, we visit Isla Lobos and have extremely close encounters with sea lions on the beach in beautiful low angled sunlight.
Day 3, March 22. South Plaza Island and North Seymour Island (B, L, D)
We visit two islands today. Our first landing is at South Plaza Island, a very small island surrounded by turquoise waters that contrast brilliantly with the black lava. We will most likely be met at the dock by sea lions ready to play, show off, or do whatever they can to amuse themselves. We walk through a prickly pear cactus forest and will most likely lava lizards and land iguanas hanging around the plants. In the afternoon, we go ashore on North Seymour Island where we will find blue footed boobies, frigate bird colonies as well as sea lions surfing the waves.
Day 4, March 23. Chinese Hat Island and Las Bachas Beach (B, L, D)
We visit the island of Chinese Hat Island to for snorkeling opportunities and to photograph birds, sea lions, sally lightfoot crabs, and this is the season when Galapagos sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. A beach on this island is one of the main nesting sites of these huge reptiles. You will also have encounters with Galapagos hawks, large-billed flycatchers, yellow warblers, and Darwin's finches. It is also a good place to spot short-eared owls.
Day 5, March 24. Santa Cruz Island (B, L, D)
Today we visit the Charles Darwin Foundation to see the giant tortoises, and we take an excursion to the Santa Cruz highlands where we have a chance of seeing the giant tortoise in its natural habitat as well as a large number of bird species, a unique lava tube formed by an ancient eruption, and two gigantic almost identical volcanic craters. Later in the day we take a dinghy into Black Turtle Cove which is an inlet surrounded by mangroves. The shallow cove is a safe haven for young marine life including black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and a variety of rays that make a stunning shot as they swim on the surface in large groups.
Day 6, March 25. Floreana Island (B, L, D)
This morning we land at Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island. We'll have a guided walk to photograph birds and other wildlife, including sea lions, flamingos in a lagoon. Commonly seen birds are white-cheeked pintails and common stilts. A trail leads beyond the lagoon to a beach with sand so fine that guides call it 'flour beach'. Green sea turtles lay their eggs here at night from December to May, and we should see their tracks in the sand. In the afternoon we visit Post Office Bay, the place where sailors on whaling ships left letters bound for loved ones back home in Europe or the United States. Passing ships headed to these locations would pick up the mail and deliver it. This system was in place when Charles Darwin visited Floreana, and many of his letters to his family were left in these wooden barrels.
Day 7, March 26. Espanola Island (B, L, D)
We visit Punta Suarez and Gardiner Bay this morning. Lazy sea lions are here and may be laying on the walking path. You'll have to walk around them to get by! The same is true for nesting blue-footed and Nazca boobies. In fact, wide angle portraits of these birds and animals is quite possible here. Red-billed tropic birds and swallow-tailed gulls abound. There is a huge breeding colony of waved albatross that numbers around 25,000 birds. They use an ocean front cliff as a launching pad, and you can get some great flight shots. Red and green marine iguanas can be found lining the coastal areas near the landing site, and if you want time to snorkel, this is another great place to do that.
Day 8, March 27. Cerro Brujo and Kicker Rock (B, L, D)
In the morning we land at Cerro Brujo on San Cristobal Island to photograph sea lions, marine iguanas, and seabirds along the beach. We then cruise to the dramatic Kicker Rock. This striking rock formation is located a couple hours off the western shore of San Cristobal. Jutting out of the water, the rocks stand vertically at hundreds of feet above the ocean divided by a small channel. Although there are no landing areas, kayaking and scuba diving allow visitors to spot a variety of marine life.
Day 9, March 28. San Cristobal and Quito (B)
In the morning we visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Center. The San Cristóbal Interpretation Center explains the significant natural, human and geological events of San Cristóbal Island and the surrounding archipelago. After you've learned about the Galápagos Islands' nuanced history, follow the nearby trail to Frigate Bird Hill — a celebrated spot for birders — where you're likely to hear the swishing sound of frigates swooping overhead. The Junco lagoon, located about 700m above sea level, is one of the few permanent freshwater bodies in Galapagos. Frigate birds are seen here washing the salt from their feathers as well as white-cheeked pintails and common gallinules. Later in the day we take the return flight back to Quito. Overnight.
Day 10, March 29. Departure
You can schedule the return flight home at any time.
TOUR COST: $6700. All lodging based on double occupancy, all meals as indicated in the above itinerary, 7 nights in the Galapagos Islands aboard the Estrella del Mar, internal airfare from Quite to San Cristobal Island and return, two photography instructors, one local Ecuadorian naturalist guide, all landings, excursions, and transportation, snorkeling equipment, visit to wildlife interpretation center, 2 nights lodging in Quito, critique on demand.
NOT INCLUDED: International airfare, beverages (alcohol and soft drinks), gratuities for on-board staff, entrance fees not listed, tourist visa fees, incidentals, insurance, airport taxes, meals not mentioned above. You must pay USD $10 transit control card fee at the Quito airport and USD $100 cash for the Galapagos park entry fee immediately upon arrival in the islands (subject to increase).
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: TBA