Galápagos ...

The Trip of a Lifetime




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with Tui De Roy

We are delighted to exclusively offer several Photography and Natural History Tours in the Galapagos Islands with Tui De Roy each year.

Tui De Roy is a world-renowned, award-winning wildlife photographer and writer, as well as an acclaimed conservationist and founding fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. Her work has been published in over 40 countries, with seven large-format books on Galápagos, plus others on the Andes, Antarctica, New Zealand, the world’s albatrosses, and penguins.

A self-taught naturalist, Tui has spent most of her life in the Galápagos Islands (her family having moved there when she was two), leading a pioneering lifestyle. By her formative teenage years Tui was spending much time in the company of scientists in various fields of Galápagos research, both learning from them and sharing her own intimate knowledge of the islands. Later she became the first Galápagos National Park licensed naturalist to serve the budding tourist industry (in the mid-70’s). She is an active member of the Charles Darwin Foundation general assembly, and served on its board of directors.

Although now living in New Zealand and traveling widely in pursuit of images of rare species and faraway places, Tui returns to Galápagos often, working tirelessly to promote their preservation and continuing her photo documentation in close association with the Galápagos National Park. Only very rarely does she lead a tour workshop – this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the islands through her eyes!


Day 1: The trip begins in Quito, Ecuador. On arrival you will be transferred directly to the HOTEL MERCURE ALAMEDA where we will spend the night.

We think very highly of the HOTEL MERCURE ALAMEDA. It is said that, of the finer hotels, they have the most personal service. Our experiences strongly support this impression.

Day 2: Today is a free day in the High Andes city of Quito, with a spectacular old town district that is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Nearby sightseeing possibilities include Indian markets, the Equatorial Monument, tropical cloud forests, the Amazon Basin, and active volcanoes. Our local sister company operates a wide range of half-day, full-day and multi-day expeditions – see our brochure, HIGHLIGHTS OF ECUADOR, for options. Lunch and dinner on your own. Overnight Quito; HOTEL MERCURE ALAMEDA. [B]

Day 3: After breakfast, we board a morning flight to Baltra Island in the Galápagos on AVIANCA AIRLINES. After park entrance formalities are completed we will be transferred to our yacht, the M/Y TIP TOP III or M/Y TIP TOP IV, waiting for us in the nearby harbor. [B, L, D]

TIP TOP IV - The 125 ft, steel-hulled TIP TOP IV was built in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 2006. The design includes all modern navigation instrumentation and safety features. She has a crew of 8 and carries 16 passengers in 10 air-conditioned double cabins (all with two lower twin berths, which can be arranged together to create a larger berth), each with a private bathroom and hot shower. The interior is very attractive, and features a library/ conference room and a spacious dining room. There are extensive outside viewing (sun/ shade) areas, all with very comfortable, cushioned lounge chairs. Twin diesels give her a cruising speed of 12 knots. Shore landings are made via twin 17-foot inflatable zodiacs. There is also a water desalination system and an icemaker on-board. There are 6 double kayaks available for guest use.

Days 3-13 (Days 3-17 on the longer itinerary): We sail the waters of the Galápagos archipelago, typically exploring 2 Visitor Sites per day. We will visit all the significant outer islands as well as the normally toured central islands. See the Cruise Schedule for our anticipated visits. Working with our hand-picked Naturalist Guide shore landings are timed to take advantage of both the peak wildlife behavior, as well as the best lighting, all at a pace suited for photography. Savor the magic light as you do the many magic moments! In her own words, Tui is "not a technogeek, and therefore certainly not into the inner working of digital cameras." She can however share a unique way of seeing and appreciating the islands, and therefore of capturing their essence visually. Evening programs on this workshop will include presentations on Tui's work, as well as lively talks on conservation and Galápagos issues. Tui is also happy to critique any workshop participants' work if they desire. [B, L, D, Everyday]

Day 13 (Day 17 on the longer itinerary): After a morning tour to a Visitor Site, we will sail to Baltra Island for our mid-day flight to Quito. On arrival we will be transferred directly to the HOTEL MERCURE ALAMEDA where we will spend the night. We will have a "farewell dinner" at one of the leading restaurants in Quito. [B, L, D,]

Day 14 (Day 18 on the longer itinerary): Transfer to the Quito airport for your return flight home. [B]



Over the course of 11 or 15 days aboard the yacht we will be able to explore not just the center of the archipelago, but also the seldom visited yet extraordinary outer islands. While all routings are subject to approval by the Galápagos National Park, the following is a sampling of the sites you will likely call on...

Day 3: On arrival in Galapagos we will immediately transfer to the yacht waiting at the nearby harbor. This afternoon we will begin our program of shore excursions with a visit to the island of NORTH SEYMOUR. In addition to being a major nesting area for the blue-footed booby, North Seymour is home to the largest colony of magnificent frigatebirds in the Galápagos. Both marine and land iguanas are found in good numbers here, and sea lions often surf the rocky shore break.

Day 4: TOWER • Located in the northeast portion of the Galápagos, Tower is an outpost for many sea birds (as Espańola is to the south - perhaps this is why they are our two favorite islands). Depending on conditions we often will have a chance to snorkel and kayak within the bay. • Darwin Bay is an anchorage within a caldera, with surrounding cliffs forming the inner portion of the rim. Along the small beach there is a thicket of salt bush where adjacent colonies of great frigatebirds and red-footed boobies are seen nesting. Frequently the endemic lava gull is also nesting here. • A visit to Prince Philip's Steps begins with a panga (zodiac) ride along the cliffs, watching for red-billed tropicbirds and the occasional fur seal, while squadrons of frigatebirds fly overhead in their endless piratical pursuits. On shore a forest of dwarf palo santo trees is home to a colony of red-footed boobies, while Nazca Boobies nest below on the ground. Along the lava fields storm petrels fly overhead in great numbers, while short-eared owls hunt for them among the lava cracks.

Day 5: SANTIAGO - James Bay/Puerto Egas is home to Fur Seal Grotto - not only a beautiful site, but this is your only chance to get close to the endemic fur seals. Some of the best tide-pooling is also here, drawing a wonderful variety of shorebirds and seabirds, with yellow-crowned night herons and American Oystercatchers being the most commonly seen. Inland you might have a chance to see painted locusts, grasshoppers, and possibly even the Galápagos snake. Galápagos flycatchers and Galápagos hawks are also common on the inland trail. The snorkeling here is in shallower water, getting you closer to the smaller sea life. SANTIAGO - Playa Espumilla is a golden sandy beach where sea turtles nest, and ghost crabs and wading birds abound. Beyond the mangroves that frame the beach lie saline lagoons; further in you can find some of the 10 finches that inhabit Santiago, along with the vermillion and broad-billed flycatchers. Following our hike we will explore Buccaneer Cove from the yacht. This is one of the places where Charles Darwin went ashore - a site historically used by sailers to cleans ships, hunt meat, and collect firewood and water. Impressive tuff cliffs frame the southern cove, while eroded cinder to the north has been carved by time into fanciful shapes.

Day 6: ISABELA – The cold waters approaching Punta Vicente Roca offer some of the best opportunities for whales and dolphins, and maybe the chance to snorkel with a mola mola. FERNANDINA - This is the youngest of the Galápagos Islands. Punta Espinosa is a wonderful visitor site, with the largest colony of marine iguanas in the islands, in addition to flightless cormorants, Galápagos Penguins, herons and Galápagos Hawks. This is often the best place to see marine iguanas in the water as they feed on the barely submerged rocks along the shore. Night will likely find us at one of the most tranquil anchorages in the islands; Tagus Cove.

Day 7: ISABELA – Tagus Cove is a natural harbor featuring steep cliffs replete with graffiti from ship’s crews dating as far back as 1836 carved into the face. The cliffs are populated by marine iguanas, penguins, crabs, sea lions, and in the crevices outside the bay, brown noddy terns and the occasional Galápagos Martin. Ground and tree finches, hawks, yellow warblers, large-billed flycatchers and perhaps the woodpecker finch can be viewed along the way. • Elizabeth Bay is a mangrove inlet explored by zodiac, with an amazing concentration of green sea turtles and rays. The neighboring Marielas Islets are home to the largest colony of Galápagos Penguins, with penguins often seen in the water at Elizabeth Bay.

Day 8: ISABELA - Urvina Bay was the site of a dramatic volcanic uplift in 1954, where 4 miles of coastline suddenly rose nearly 15 feet, with the coastline driven three quarters of a mile farther out to sea. The marine remnants and giant coral heads are a stark reminder. Inland land iguanas, and an occasional tortoise, are often found here. Along the shore flightless cormorants and brown pelicans typically nest. We might have a chance to snorkel along the rocky bay. • Situated against a backdrop of 3 volcanos, Punta Moreno features views of Isabela’s Sierra Negra & Cerro Azul, and Fernandina’s Le Cumbre. The trail traverses sharp Pahoehoe lava to verdant interior and coastal brackish lagoons. You’ll find all 3 types of cactus colonizing this relatively recent lava flow. The shoreline features Blue-footed Boobies and nesting flightless cormorants while the lagoons are home to white-cheeked pintail ducks and flamingos feeding on abundant brine shrimp.

Day 9: FLOREANA – Punta Cormorant is one of the most interesting landings (on an olivine beach), with an emphasis on plant life and shore birds. A brackish lagoon is home to flamingos, pintail ducks, and commons stilts. Snorkeling at the offshore islet of CHAMPION (where you might also get a glimpse of the endemic Charles Mockingbird on shore) is often a good opportunity to be in the water with playful young sea lions. • Post Office Bay, while possibly not the most scenic visitor site, is one the most historically famous - be sure to bring a postcard or two ashore with you to "mail". • Black Beach & the Highlands are not official park visitor sites, but are both very rewarding. Much of the early human history of the Galápagos, and especially the Wittmer family (owners of the Tip Top Fleet), played out in the highlands of Floreana. A visit to the highlands is also your only opportunity in the archipelago to search for the endemic medium tree finch. The seaside Wittmer hotel features an exhibit of early photographs of sailing expeditions and explorers to call on the island.

Day 10: SANTA CRUZ - A trip to the Highlands (by mini-bus) traverses all 7 vegetation zones of the Galápagos. In addition to two enormous pit craters, other volcanic formations include some of the largest known lava tunnels in the Galápagos. Not surprisingly, the lush highland vegetation is home to a variety of land birds, including vermillion flycatchers, Galápagos Flycatchers, woodpecker finches, dark-billed cuckoos, and Barn Owls. Tortoises are often seen in the wild here. • Puerto Ayora is the scientific heart of Galápagos, including the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and Galápagos National Park tortiose center, as well as the primary population center. This will be the only opportunity to see the rare Galapagos saddleback tortoises.

Day 11: ESPANOLA - Punta Suarez is a paradise for birders, with waved albatross, Nazca Boobies, blue-footed boobies, Galápagos Hawks, Galápagos Doves, and also marine iguanas (the most colorful in the islands) all vying for center stage. • Gardner Bay is a tranquil white sandy beach known for sea lions (often numbering in the hundreds), lava lizards, finches, yellow warblers, & Hood Mockingbirds, to name just a few. • Gardner or Tortuga Rocks offer great snorkeling, as well as the occasional chance to kayak.

Day 12: SAN CRISTOBAL • This is the easternmost island in the archipelago, (and also the provincial capital). • Punta Pitt is a coastal tuff formation that serves as a nesting site for many sea birds, including blue-footed, Nazca & red-footed boobies (the only site where all 3 species might be seen together), firgatebirds, swallow-tailed gulls, and storm petrels. • Cerro Brujo is a very striking, eroded tuff cone. One of the first places visited by Charles Darwin, the beautiful white coraline sand beach and lagoon are home to brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, plus a variety of shore birds. This is also the best site to search for the endemic Chatham Mockingbird. Stroll the beach and you will soon realize that you are being watched by hundreds of shy ghost crabs. This is also the opportunity for a rare beach snorkel, out to the sheltering rocks. • Kicker Rock is a similarly eroded tuff cone, this time rising almost 500 feet straight up from the ocean. The yacht will cruise around Kicker Rock as the sunlight plays off the contours of the cliffs and formation (complete with blue-footed boobies, Nazca Boobies, and frigatebirds).

Day 13: MOSQUERA - This is a tiny islet, really more of a long, narrow sand spit, with a huge population of sea lions. Additional occupants include Sally Lightfoot Crabs and lava lizards, plus a wonderful variety of birdlife flying over. If joining our 11-day sailing this visit is the perfect quite farewell to Galapagos. BALTRA - Transfer to the airport for your late-morning return flight to Quito.

If on our longer 15-day sailing we will follow the morning landing with a snorkel in the area - most likely off the coast of NORTH SEYMOUR. • SANTA CRUZ - Black Turtle Cove is a tranquil mangrove-surrounded series of coves and inlets. Exploring by panga (zodiac) we often see mating green sea turtles, plus rays and white-tipped reef sharks. The mangroves are nesting area for herons and pelicans, while blue-footed boobies often feed in the area.

Day 14: SOMBRERO CHINO • Perhaps more than any visitor site conveys the volcanic origins of the Galápagos. The shoreline is a wonderful snorkeling area with numerous coves and grottos filled with life. RABIDA • This is one of the best snorkeling sites in the islands. The red sand beach makes a striking backdrop for the ever-present sea lions. Just inland a salt-water lagoon often has a few flamingos, while yellow warblers are in the salt bush, and brown pelicans nest in the mangroves. The higher elevations of the island host palo santo trees and cactus.

Day 15: SANTIAGO - Sullivan Bay offers a rare look at a recently-formed lava field, with fantastical Pahoehoe formations in every imaginable shape. If we’re lucky snorkeling along the shore we might be accompanied by penguins. • BARTOLOME - One of the most popular visitor sites for the panoramic views (gained by climbing 360-plus wooden stairs). The view is educational as well as inspiring; the volcanic features include lava formations such as spatter cones, cinder cones, and tuff cones. There are also wonderful examples of pioneering plants and some beautiful stands of endemic lava cactus. The shoreline around Pinnacle Rock might be your best chance to snorkel with penguins.

Day 16: SANTA FE - This island is home to a unique species of land iguana; some of these iguanas can be 5 feet long! The stands of giant prickly pear cactus here are specially adapted to a larger size as a form of protection against the iguanas. Santa Fe is also likely your best chance at seeing the endemic rice rat. Snorkeling and kayaking round out the possibilities. • SOUTH PLAZA is a geologically uplifted island vegetated with the distinctive red mats of sesuvium, along with prickly pear cactus - both being the food base for the land iguanas. Marine iguanas are also common here, with the very occasional hybrid being found. A walk along the breezy sea cliffs is wonderful, with swallow-tailed gulls, shearwaters, and red-billed tropicbirds in flight. A colony of bachelor sea lions makes one cove their retirement home.

Day 17: SANTA CRUZ - Las Bachas are two white sand beaches on the north shore, backed by a small brackish lagoon where flamingos and coastal birds are occasionally seen. A sunrise visit here might reveal the tracks of sea turtles returning to the sea as this is a favorite nesting area. • BALTRA - Transfer to the airport for your late-morning return flight to Quito.

These expeditions are lead by an expert Naturalist Guide, trained at the Charles Darwin Research Station and licensed by the Galápagos National Park, offering trail interpretation and in-depth information on the flora, fauna and geology of the islands - both on land and snorkeling.




2016 dates and prices:
18 days total, including 15 days aboard the yacht in Galápagos, plus 3 nights in Quito: $7,400 (Tip Top IV)
July 13-30: 18 days total, including 15 days aboard the yacht in Galápagos, plus 3 nights in Quito: $7,400 (Tip Top IV)

2017 dates and prices:
April 5-22:
18 days total, including 15 days aboard the yacht in Galápagos, plus 3 nights in Quito: $7,800 (Tip Top IV)
May 3-20: 18 days total, including 15 days aboard the yacht in Galápagos, plus 3 nights in Quito: $7,800 (Tip Top IV)

Galápagos Land Cost Includes:

  • All accommodations, including 3 nights in a First Class hotel in Quito, Ecuador and 10 or 14 nights aboard the yacht in the Galápagos. *
  • All meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the yacht, and most meals (as indicated in the itinerary) in Quito.
  • International Airport transfers in Quito and group airport transfers to Galápagos.
  • The services of an expert-level Tour Leader accompanying the group and a University-level Naturalist Guide conducting the land tours.
  • Use of basic snorkeling equipment aboard the yacht (mask, snorkel & fins).
  • Assistance as needed from our sister company while in Quito.
  • Governmental yacht Fuel Tax of $360 or $460 per person for 11 or 15 days aboard the yacht (subject to change).**

    * All accommodations are shared by 2 people, except by special arrangement. If you are traveling alone and willing to share with another adventurer of the same sex, we will attempt to book a roommate for you. If we do not find a roommate you will have the accommodations to yourself at the shared cost.

    If you would prefer a guaranteed single room at the hotel in Quito the fee is $300 total for the 3 nights; see the Reservation Information section of the Trip Application Form.

    A limited number of guaranteed single yacht cabins are available at a supplemental fee of $1,500.

Galápagos Land Cost Does Not Include:

  • Any airfare (airfare between Quito and Galápagos; currently $550-$560 per person)
  • Galápagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 per person)
  • Galápagos Tourist/Migration Card ($20 per person)
  • Gratuities to guide and crew (suggested at $21-$22 per day, but discretionary)
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance Coverage is strongly suggested, both to protect your investment in the tour, and also to safeguard yourself in the case of an accident while abroad - you will be traveling to a remote and wonderful corner of the globe that however has minimal ready care in the case of a medical emergency.
  • Optional local tours in mainland Ecuador.
  • Some meals in Quito (as specified).

    ** The government of Ecuador implemented a diesel fuel tax, effective mid-2008, on all vessels purchasing in excess of 4,000 gallons of fuel per month. We now include this fuel tax in the total Land Cost of our workshops. Total Land Cost may however be adjusted at any time based on governmental changes in the fuel tax, which are beyond our control.

Galápagos Deposits & Payments:
A $400 deposit per person is adequate to reserve your space on a tour. Final tour payment will be due 75 days prior to departure, with Quito/Galápagos flights due 45 days prior to departure. Payments may be made by personal check, money order, certified or cashier's check, wire transfer, or by Visa or MasterCard (checks and money orders in US funds only, drawn on a North American bank).

Galápagos Cancellations
Any cancellations shall be in writing. A comprehensive International Travel Protection Insurance package (including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Delay, Baggage Insurance and Medical coverage) is available through GALAPAGOS TRAVEL to all U.S. residents. You will receive a policy application along with your deposit receipt.

For cancellations received:
Up to 90 days prior to departure, there is a cancellation charge of $200 per person.
75-89 days prior to departure, there is a cancellation charge of $400 per person.
45-74 days prior to departure, there is a cancellation charge of 25% of the land cost per person.
1-44 days prior to departure, on the departure date, or "no show," there is a cancellation charge of 100% of the land cost per person.
If a cancellation occurs 75 days or less prior to departure, and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty still applies and unpaid monies are due immediately. Refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the tour for any reason whatsoever.

Air Arrangements
Our office will be happy to assist with international air arrangements from the US or Canada. Additionally, we will arrange and book all flights between Quito and the Galápagos for the group (the current round trip fare is $550-$560 per person, including taxes).

All airfares and governmental taxes and fees are subject to change without notice.


Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve photography extension

Experience multiple distinct habitats and regions along the Pacific Slope of the Andes, from above 10,000 feet to below 4,000 feet. The Ecuadorian Cloud Forest and these reserves are the perfect complement to your Galapagos workshop. The contrast is astounding; after the dry coastal landscapes of Galapagos experience the humid luxuriance of the cloud forest with its colorful toucans, tanager, and hummingbirds! While always wonderful, a mid-June expedition is timed for peak fruiting of a tree in the Moraceae family, and the incredible diversity of birds attracted to the event. Anticipate spectacular sightings and great photo opportunities.

Accommodations will be at the charming although somewhat rustic Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve and Lodge, located high above the Tandayapa Valley in a slice of heaven. The surrounding forest, in addition to being home to a multitude of birds, hosts the largest diversity of epiphytes... the trees are festooned with a veritable profusion of bromeliads, orchids, mosses and more. Accommodations are in double rooms with private baths.


day 1: Travel to Bellavista on the old Nono-Mindo Road, via the Yanacocha Reserve
We drive out of Quito on a road that quickly climbs higher into the mountains, approaching the Yanacocha Reserve as the first rays of the morning sun begin to warm the Andes. Yanacocha is a high altitude reserve (about 10,000 feet), protecting high elevation forest, right on the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano. Photo opportunities include excellent options for high altitude hummingbirds and flowerpiercers, which might include the Sword-billed Hummingbird, whose bill is so long that it has to hold its head up in order not to tip over! Other birds include Tawny Antpitta, also often good for photography, and various high altitude tanagers.

Landscapes along the road are spectacular as we drop in elevation past rushing streams, patchwork farms and the old village of Nono, to the Tandayapa Valley, before climbing back up to 7,000 feet at Bellavista. Settle into your rooms on arrival, if you can tear yourself away from the activity around the hummingbird feeders... [B, Box Breakfast, L, D]

day 2: Angel Paz, Rio Blanco & Milpe Reserves
A very early morning start today, visiting the Angel Paz Reserve; "Paz de los Antpittas." This private reseve has become very famous for the owner's success in attracting elusive Antpittas to feed on worms, almost from his hand. Many other birds can be seen and photographed at close quarters, including as of recently the difficult and spectacular Ocellated Tapaculo. A Cock-of-the-Rock lek is visited at dawn; a particularly spectacular bird, although in all honestly it can prove a challenge to photograph. After a full morning at Angel Paz we continue to Mirador del Rio Blanco for lunch and more tanagers. This afternoon visit the Milpe Reserve, which is the proud home of two species of Mannakin; the Club-winged Mannakin and Goden-winged Mannakin - both species have leks within this reserve! [B, L, D]

day 3: Bellavista & Alambi Reserves / return to Quito
Your wakeup call this morning will likely be the sounds of the surrounding cloud forest greeting a new day. Bellavista itself offers great bird and nature sightings, for both observation and great photo opportunities! Hummingbird feeders attract a dozen species, plus many other birds circulate around the lodge (try Violet-tailed Sylph, Gorgeted Sunangel, Masked Trogan...) With a mid-June fruiting of the Moraceae tree a whole painter's palette of colorful and special birds arrive: Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan and Toucan Barbet are among those we hope to see and photograph. This afternoon we drop down to the Alambi Reserve. Enjoying a pleasant year-round climate, the gardens of the reserve are planted with fruit trees such as lemons, mandarins, banana, papaya, avocado and guayaba. These trees attract colorful mixed flocks of tanagers as well as other birds from the forest, in addition to being home to 10 or more different species of hummingbirds. Return to Quito via the "fast road" late afternoon. [B, L]

Extension Cost: prices are set based on the number of participants - please contact us for current pricing.

Extension Length: 3 days / 2 nights

Extension includes: All accommodations, all meals from breakfast on day 1 through lunch on day 3, private transportation, reserve entrance fees, and expert local birding guides.

Extension does not include: Sodas and bar charges, items of a personal nature, gratuities to the lodge staff and local guides, or accommodations in Quito.


About Our: Tours | 11-Day Trip | 15-Day Trip | Yachts | Departure Dates and Prices | Guidebook
About: Natural History of the Galápagos | Conservation in the Galápagos | Visiting Mainland Ecuador
Special Stuff: Photo Gallery | Frequently Asked Questions
Special Trip: Other Destinations | Madagascar | Antarctica | Arctic | Easter Island

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