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Galapagos Islands Wildlife Tour
Tour Dates: Year-round

The Galapagos Islands Wildlife Tour is one of our most popular tours for wildlife viewing ! You will be living aboard a comfortable yacht and cruising through the Galapagos archipelago from island to island. Daily walking and snorkeling journeys will bring you up close to an array of unique, indigenous animals – giant tortoises, blue footed boobies, curious marine iguanas and playful sea lions. Nature comes alive in the Galapagos Islands and you will be there to see it all. Put a Galapagos Islands Wildlife Tour on your bucket list and you will be glad you did!

We work with a number of different live-aboard yachts and with our many years of experience, we can help you choose the one that best suits your needs. All of the yachts have in-cabin bathrooms, a professional crew, all-inclusive meals and highly trained naturalist guides.

We also have a Hotel Based Galapagos Islands Wildlife Tour for those who do not like sleeping aboard a yacht. Contact us and we will create the perfect tour for you and your traveling companions.

Price:$2500/pp – $4500/pp

If you are single and willing to share a cabin on the yacht with another single traveler of the same sex you will not be charged a single supplement fee. If you would prefer a room to yourself, the single supplement fee is $65 for the hotel and $500-$800 for the yacht. Three and four night tours are also available on some of the boats.

Price Includes:
  • 4 – 7 nights aboard yacht in a cabin with private bath
  • All meals aboard the yacht
  • English speaking naturalist
Price does not include:

Airfare to Quito & airport transfers, airport departure taxes (currently $40.80 per person), round trip flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands (approx. $500 US), hotel in Quito before and after the trip (we can make these arrangements), National Park fee ($110 U.S. cash to be paid upon arrival in the Galapagos), gratuities for the staff on the yacht, restaurant meals in Quito, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks on the yacht.

Generally, a non-refundable deposit of 20% / person is required to book a Galapagos Islands Wildlife Tour, but the deposit amount may vary depending on the boat and the time of year you choose.

Tour Overview

Our Galapagos Tour has it all - hiking, superb wildlife viewing, expert naturalist, live aboard yacht, great food!

Enchanting and mysterious, there is nowhere in the world quite like the Galapagos. Located in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago is made up of 19 islands, and it has the distinction of being Ecuador’s first National Park. To honor its unique and diverse qualities, it was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. The Galapagos Islands have a vast array of easily observed wildlife, and each island has well maintained nature trails that allow you to peacefully walk among and photograph the animals. This is an animal lover’s dream come true!

Your exploration of the “Land of Darwin” will be aboard a comfortable custom yacht with an experienced captain and crew. During the night your yacht cruises to a different island, sets anchor and you will awaken to a new adventure. Each island is unique. Some have moon-like volcanic landscapes while others are lined with perfect beaches. Once on land, your shipboard naturalist will lead a hike on the island’s nature trail and introduce you to the amazing animals, plants and geological features. During the week you will see blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, marine and land iguanas, giant tortoises, penguins, flamingos and albatross. With mask and snorkel, the underwater world comes alive with sea turtles and colorful fish. The wildlife viewing is fabulous, and this will be a week of National Geographic images!

Aboard the yacht, your comfort and well being are the first concerns of the captain and crew. The tidy staterooms are made-up each day and each has a private bathroom with shower. There are lounging areas onboard to relax. Meals are plentiful and are prepared on the yacht from fresh ingredients. Most dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice.

Our Galapagos cruises accommodate a wide variety of tastes and budgets. We offer a variety of boats to choose from ranging from luxury yachts to economy class boats. Besides the services of a trained naturalist, some yachts have options for sea kayaking and SCUBA diving. This is truly a once in a lifetime natural history adventure done in relaxed elegance and style!

Tour Map

Tour Video

Day 1

Depart from your home city and fly to Quito, Ecuador. Transfer from airport to hotel in Quito.

Day 2

Transfer from hotel to Quito airport for flight to the Galapagos Island of Baltra. Arrival time will be at 11:00am Galapagos time. You will be met at the airport and taken by bus for a 10-minute ride to the harbor to board our yacht. After lunch you will visit North Seymour Island where the largest colony of Magnificent Frigate Birds is found. Also inhabiting this island are the famous Blue Footed Boobies and Swallow Tailed Gulls.

Day 3

On this day you will venture onto Plazas and Santa Fe islands. Formed by uplifted lava and covered with Opuntia cacti, it is here we will find Land Iguanas, Sea Lions, Swallow Tailed Gulls, Red Billed Tropic Birds and Audubon’s Shearwaters.

Day 4

You will explore one of the most famous islands in the Galapagos, the island of Hood, also known as Espanola. The visitor is offered quite a display of wildlife including Marine Iguanas with copper red patches, Swallow Tailed Gulls, the endemic Long Billed Mocking Bird, Masked and Blue Footed Boobies, Finches, Oyster Catchers, Sea Lions, Lava Lizards and the fascinating Waved Albatross with a 7 1/2 foot wingspan.

Day 5

Snorkeling is on the agenda when you set foot on the island of Floreana. You’ll swim and snorkel at Devil’s Crown, a submerged volcanic cone. Later you will also snorkel at Post Office Bay where you may leave a letter like the whalers did in the 18th century in the old wooden barrel mailbox. Flamingos and other species of shore birds call Floreana Island home.

Day 6

The Charles Darwin Research Station and the Visitor Center of the Galapagos Islands National Park are our destinations in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. At the research station you can walk among several species of Galapagos Tortoises. You’ll also take time to visit the highlands of Santa Cruz where Miconia bushes, Scalesia and inactive volcanic cones are found. There are more endemic plants on Santa Cruz than on any other island in the Galapagos.

Day 7

On the island of Rabida, you will explore volcanic rocks covered by Opuntia cacti and Palo Santo trees. Sea Lions abound here on the red sand beaches. Several species of Darwin’s Finches may be seen here as well as Flamingos. At Puerto Egas on Santiago Island you will see Galapagos Fur Seals in tide pools cut into lava cliffs. There are opportunities to spot the Galapagos Hawk, the Galapagos Dove and the Vermilion Flycatcher. Behind what is known as Espumilla Beach are salt-water lagoons where Flamingos and White Cheeked Pintail Ducks are found.

Day 8

Today you will venture onto Bartolome Island and Sullivan Bay. It is here that the geological history of the archipelago is best portrayed. The most impressive volcanic, moon-like scenery may be viewed from the top of Bartolome.

Day 9

In the early morning you will explore Turtle Cove before departing from the island of Baltra. Flights leave Baltra at 11:30 a.m. to Quito, Ecuador. The afternoon is on your own to further explore Quito.

Day 10

Depart Ecuador for flight home, OR EXTEND YOUR STAY WITH AN ADDITIONAL ADVENTURE IN SOUTH AMERICA!

South America Extensions

Ecuador

Ecuador has a wonderful region only 90 minutes north of Quito called Otavalo. This area is famous for its spectacular Indian market, and comfortable overnight or multi-day stays can be arranged in beautiful haciendas.

Peru

Peru is a great addition to any South American itinerary for hiking, cycling and site seeing in destinations like Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Amazon, the Inca Trail and the colorful markets in the Sacred Valley. You will experience history and culture together in the heart of the stunning Andes Mountains.

Who comes on a Nichols Expeditions tour?

You can expect a spirited mix of singles and couples in their 20′s to 80′s from all corners of the US and a few international locations as well. Many have accompanied us on numerous tours in the past. Most folks are recreational riders and all seem to share the common bond of an active lifestyle, an appreciation for the outdoors and a love for fun. We will gladly supply references and the make-up of any trip that you are interested in joining.

Are charter trips available?

Yes, you bring the people and we’ll take care of all the details! Charters may be arranged for groups up to 22 people. Call us to schedule your next trip 800-648-8488. We can customize the trip suit your requests.

Airline Reservations

American Airlines, Continental, Delta, and US Air all have international flights from the United States to Quito, Ecuador. We recommend checking at Orbitz.com.

Weather

We are often asked, “When is the best time to go to the Galapagos?” The Galapagos Islands have a sub-tropical climate with two seasons, the Warm Season and the Cool Season. The average yearly rainfall is only 10 inches and March, the wettest month, averages only two inches. The Warm Season, November to June, has sunny skies, a few showers, highs of 80-88º F and lows of 68-74º F. Water temperature is a comfortable 75º F. March and April are two of the best months with warm temperatures, light winds and calm seas. The Cool Season is July through November. The skies can be cloudy, but it seldom rains, and the wind can make the water choppy. Expect highs of 74-78º F and lows of 62-66º F. with water temperatures 66-72º F. August and September are the least popular months with their lack of sun, cool temperatures and rough seas. November can be one of the best months because visitation is low and the weather is quite nice.

What are the yachts like?

The yachts in the Galapagos vary in size and the amenities they offer, but all have a good safety record and experienced crews. Most of our yachts accommodate 16 passengers in 8 double cabins, and each cabin has a private bathroom with shower. Each yacht has a well stocked library of nature books and there are indoor and outdoor areas to relax. Travel to the next island destination is usually done at night to maximize your daytime opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing and snorkeling. You do not need any previous boating experience to join the tour.

The crew

Our Galapagos crew consists of a yacht, a multilingual naturalist guide, a cook, a barman/waiter, a mechanic and two sailors.

How is the food?

The food is great and there is bottled water available on the yacht. Meals are a combination of the best of American and Ecuadorian traditional cuisine prepared with fresh local ingredients. There is plenty of fresh fish, chicken, beef, fresh fruits, vegetables and salads. Vegetarian and other dietary restrictions can easily be accommodated.

Language

It is not necessary to be able to speak Spanish to get along in Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands, but it can be lots of fun, and our Ecuadorian crew can always help you with the finer points of the language. A small dictionary and some creative sign language should get you to the start of the trip without too much trouble. Most people at the airport, hotels and restaurants do speak English.

Camera Gear

Whether you shoot a digital or film camera, bring more media storage cards or film than you think you need! A portable hard drive may be the answer for digital storage. Other useful items are plenty of extra batteries, lens cleaner, lens tissue, lens brush, a mini tabletop tripod and a clean toothbrush to remove grit from your camera. A waterproof camera case is a good idea, too. Photo Credit: Sandi Cok. (Sandi received an honorable mention in the Central Washington Photo Contest for her “Sally Lightfoot Crab” photo.)

Passport

U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a current undamaged Passport to enter Ecuador. Make sure your PASSPORT DOES NOT EXPIRE WITHIN 6 MONTHS OF THE COMPLETION OF YOUR TOUR. These requirements do vary from country to country, but just to be safe, we recommend going by the 6 month standard, because it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to international travel! You do not need to have a VISA.

Make copies of your passport. We recommend making 2 photocopies of your passport’s photo page and any other valuable documents you might carry with you on the tour. Travel with one copy stored separately from your passport. Leave the other copy at home with a relative or friend (ideally the same person you gave as your emergency contact). In the event that any of your documents are lost or stolen, this will greatly assist the process of replacement.

Money

The currency in Ecuador is the U.S. Dollar. Please be sure to bring new, untorn bills. Traveler’s checks are a safe way of carrying money and may be exchanged at the airport in Ecuador. Credit cards are accepted only at limited locations in Quito and are not accepted on the yachts. You will need $100 U.S. cash for the National Park entrance fee upon landing on Baltra Island in the Galapagos.

What about tipping?

We suggest 10% for good service in restaurants and a small amount for baggage and taxi workers. For the Galapagos staff (usually 8 people) we suggest 5% of the trip cost, which will be divided among the staff.

What expenses are not covered?

You will need money for airport transfers, restaurant meals in Quito and any shopping you do in Quito or in the Galapagos Islands. On the yacht you will need to pay for alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and gratuities for the crew. U.S. dollars or U.S. traveler’s checks may be used on the yacht, but credit cards are not accepted.

Immunizations

For all travelers, we suggest keeping your tetanus immunization up to date (every 10 years), and we suggest a Hepatitis A immunization, too. You can check your state health department, the CDC Center for Disease Control or the online traveler’s data base http://www.mdtravelhealth.com for the most current information.

Staying Healthy

Check with your doctor so see if any of your current medications lower your immunity. Airplane flights, different cities or your neighbor’s kids could all be a source of germs, and no one wants to be sick on vacation! To keep yourself healthy WASH YOUR HANDS. We also recommend carrying a small hand sanitizer in your pack and using it.

The secret to stress free travel

Simply put, arrive at the starting point of your trip a day or two early. Many have told us this was one of the most important things they did to get ready for their trip. They felt rested and more acquainted with the customs and pace of life of their new surroundings.

Additional Hotel Lodging

Contact our office and we will make additional hotel reservations for you in Quito. If you would like to extend your stay in Ecuador, we will also be able to arrange tours to the highlands and jungle.

Travel Delays

Nichols Expeditions is not responsible for any costs you may incur due to travel delays or other contingencies we are unable to control. For international flights, arrive at least 2-3 hours prior to departure (check with your air carrier for their requirements) and allow ample time between connecting flights. If you miss your flight and you need a special shuttle to meet up with the group, you will be responsible for the cost.

Baggage

To avoid problems, limit yourself to 1 carry-on bag for your clothing and medications that can not be replaced in the event of baggage delays .

Travel Insurance

To protect yourself against life’s uncertainties, we highly recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy!

Learn more about the Travel Insurance.

Suggested Reading for the Galapagos Islands

  • Beak of the Finch, Jonathan Weiner, Random House
  • Floreana, Margaret Wittmer, Moyer Bell
  • Field Guide to the Birds of Columbia, Hilty & Brown, Princeton University Press
  • Galapagos, Michael Jackson, University of Calgary Press
  • Tropical Nature, Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata, Scribner’s & Sons, New York
  • Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin, Penguin Books

About the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands and their surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.

The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

The first recorded visit to the islands happened by chance in 1535, when the Bishop of Panamá Fray Tomás de Berlanga went to Peru to arbitrate in a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro. ~ Wikipedia

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