7th to 16th of November 2020
Come and explore the spectacular Galapagos Islands. This trip is a unique Photo Expedition that will show the best Galapagos has to offer!
$AU 12,995 per person twin share
(Single supplement $AU 3,995)
- Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.
- You'll encounter giant Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, as well as land and marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and perhaps dolphins, whales and sea turtles and much more! The wildlife are tame and plentiful and it’s no wonder the Galapagos Islands are one of the world's most popular places to visit for wildlife/nature photography. There will be lot’s of group photography tuition, as well as one-on-one time with each participant, to make sure you get the best possible images of a truly incredible wildlife paradise!
This trip will be led by professional photographer and tutor, Michael Snedic, with a maximum of 8 participants for a greater tutor/participant ratio.
Arrive at San Cristobal Island - Interpretation Centre & Frigate Hill
On arrival in San Cristóbal airport this morning, meet your guide and transfer to the San Cristobal Interpretation Centre just outside the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the oldest settlement in the islands. The centre explores the natural processes that have made the Galápagos Islands such a unique place and serves as an education centre for National park and naturalist guides. The exhibits inside cover Natural History, with illustrations of natural events and information on how different species arrived at the islands; Human History, covering events related to the discovery and colonisation of the islands; and Conservation and Development, an introduction to the struggles of the ecosystems and preservation efforts under way. After viewing the exhibits, walk along the winding paths leading from the Interpretation Centre to Frigate Bird Hill, a nesting place for frigate birds around a 2 hour hike away. Along the way are plants, lava lizards, and other animals endemic to this area, this is also a great spot for some swimming and snorkelling.
This morning, venture by boat up the coast of San Cristobal island to Leon Dormido or ‘Kicker Rock’, a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea. Rising 152 metres straight up from the ocean, this giant rock has the shape of a sleeping lion and has a split with towering vertical walls on either side, forming a narrow channel through which small vessels can navigate – truly a Galapagos tour spectacular.
On the cliffs, you may spot blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Below, the clear waters offer a brilliant show of tropical fish and invertebrates and there are great snorkelling opportunities in the area.
On the way back stop at one of the beautiful beaches on the coat for some further exploration and enjoy lunch on board before heading back to Puerto Baquerizo and onto Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island by boat.
After breakfast this morning depart on a 1½ -2 hour cruise to Floreana Island, an island of history and mystery. Upon arrival at the town dock, visit La Loberia, a beautiful location to swim, snorkel, or simply relax and watch the colony of sea lions, as well as the amazing rich red- and turquoise-coloured Floreana marine iguanas on the black lava rocks.
Board an open air bus (called a “chiva” in Ecuador) that will take you up into the highlands of Floreana where you’ll learn more of the island’s history. During the 40-minute ride, your guide will point out the wildlife and also tell you about the colourful history of Floreana's first inhabitants - like Patrick Watkins, the Wittmer family, the Ritters, and the ‘Baronesa’. Of all the islands in the Galapagos, Floreana is the one with the most interesting human history and of all the early settlers, the tale that is most intriguing is that of the disappearance of the self-proclaimed Baronesa and her lover. The “Floreana Mystery” remains unsolved to this day and locals as well as visitors swear that ghosts haunt certain places in Puerto Ibarra.
At the base of Cerro Los Pajas (Straw Hill – 450m high), you will reach Asilo de la Paz (Peace Asylum) where there is a freshwater spring. This spring attracted pirates, whalers, and later settlers to Floreana as it was one of the very few year-round sources of fresh water in the Galapagos. It still provides water to the entire population of Floreana (approx. 150 people). Nearby is the Cueva de los Piratas (Pirate’s Cave), where pirates carved a shelter out of soft stone and where one of the original settlers, Margret Wittmer, gave birth to a son, Rolf - the first person ever born on Floreana.
Here there is an opportunity to see the endemic scalesia forest, Scalesia Pedunclata, the same species that surrounds Los Gemelos on Santa Cruz, as well as a good number of nests of the Galapagos Petrel (Pterodroma phaeopygia). This bird was once on the edge of extinction due to the predation of cats and rats that were introduced to the island when Ecuador took possession of the archipelago in 1832. Thanks to the success of a special conservation project, the population of Galapagos petrel hatchlings has now increased dramatically. And although Galapagos tortoises are long extinct on Floreana, the National Park authorities have constructed a reserve in this area where you can observe species from several islands which are held in captivity for educational and scientific purposes
Transfer by boat from Floreana to your lodge on Isabela Island. As you approach Isabela, cruise by Isla Tortuga which is home to magnificent Frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and other shore birds. Arrive at the port of Puerto Villamil and check into the Isabela Lodge where you will enjoy a hot, wholesome lunch.
In the afternoon, board a smaller boat for an excursion to Las Tintoreras. ‘Las Tintoreras’ is the local name for white-tipped reef sharks as well as for their resting spots. Heading out across the port, you will see blue-footed boobies and Galapagos penguins sharing the same rocky sunbathing space, before rounding a bend and docking in a small inlet lined with mangroves in completely tranquil clear water
Go ashore on an easy walk through a jagged lava field, passing abundant colonies of marine iguanas and sea lions, to see a small canal of shallow water that is full of resting white-tipped reef sharks. The trail leads to a white sandy beach which is home to a colony of sea lions. The views from here are spectacular – the black, treacherous lava field, the emerald-green sea, forest-green mangrove and the cloud-capped volcanoes of Isabela Island create an afternoon backdrop you are not likely to forget.
After the walk, you can snorkel in this warm, shallow bay for an opportunity to see white-tipped reef sharks (not aggressive, merely fascinating), sea lions, sea turtles, Galapagos penguins, and tropical fish.
This morning make an excursion to an active volcano in one of the most volcanically active places on earth. Sierra Negra, considered the oldest of the volcanoes on Isabela, is a shield volcano with an oval shaped caldera. In October 2005 an eruption that lasted one week occurred on the north-east side of the caldera, the lava flow covering much of the interior and in some places rising to more than 2 metres. Other volcanoes on Isabela include Cerro Azul, Wolf, Darwin, and Alcedo. A sixth, Ecuador, is not active.
Local 4WD vehicles will drive you up through the humid highlands of Isabela to the lower slopes of Sierra Negra, from where you will hike for about 5km along an easy trail to the caldera. At 10km across, it is the second largest caldera in the world (the largest being Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania). On reaching the edge, you can relax for a while, have a snack and enjoy the breathtaking views!
For the hardiest of the group, there is the option to continue the trek over to Chico Volcano, just north-west of the caldera and a 1-2 hour hike in each direction. The walk is challenging because it is mostly across sloping lava fields and there is no shade but it is an unforgettable experience. Fumarole activity is abundant and you can feel the heat beneath your feet where lava flows below, but once again the views are spectacular.
After returning to the lodge, you will have free time to discover more of Isabela on your own - snorkelling, swimming, or walking through the town to observe typical daily Galapagos life.
Transfer by boat to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island today. Then drive on to a 240-hectare private reserve where the Galapagos Giant Tortoises freely roam, graze, and sleep. Walking among the tortoises in the wild will be one of the most treasured memories of your trip. After visiting these prehistoric creatures in their natural habitat, take a short ride to the entrance of a 450m illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 6m high in most places, this is an incredible opportunity to see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulphur-coloured walls, and rippled floor formed from lava.
This afternoon enjoy a naturalist-guided tour to the renowned Charles Darwin Research Station where you can learn about one of the most successful reptile breeding programs in the world. Founded in 1964 the Charles Darwin Research Station is supported by over 100 scientists and researchers from around the world, with the unique purpose to study, support and instrument the conservation efforts of the islands.
Board the boat at your lodge this morning for the 2 hour navigation to Bartolome Island, surrounded by turquoise waters and beautiful beaches. The island is a now extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, green, black and shiny volcanic formations.
This is a very small volcano close to Santiago Island, surrounded by small spatter cones. It's one of the smallest Galapagos Islands but don't be fooled: it has a unique visitor site with an unforgettable view!
Wildlife include Sea lions, “Santa Fe Iguana” endemic land iguanas, thick cactuses, Palo Santo, crabs, night herons, sea iguanas, mockingbirds and doves. Sea tortoises and stingrays, Galapagos penguins and Galapagos hawks.
North Seymour Island
North Seymour Island is great for hiking. There is a circular path about 2 miles long that crosses the interior of the island which allows you to explore the rocky coastal path. On this trail, you will be able to discover some of the largest seabird colonies in the Galapagos Island.
At this beach, you can choose to rest and/or swim in the wonderful Galapagos waters.
Wildlife include Blue-footed boobies, bright and colourful frigatebirds, sea turtles, Galapagos sharks and sea lions.
South Plaza Island
First visit South Plaza this morning, around a 2 hour boat ride away. Created by lava that was uplifted from the sea bed, South Plaza has resident wildlife and diverse plant life.
Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe Island, also called Barrington Island after British Admiral Samuel Barrington, is formed by uplifted, submarine basaltic lava, created some 4 million years’ ago. A big part of this is a faulted plateau covered with a forest of giant Opuntia cactae.
The most spectacular plants are the giant prickly pear cactae, unique to Santa Fe (Opuntia echios barringtonensis). Wildlife include Galapagos dove, Galapagos hawk, Sea Lion nursery, land iguanas, marine iguanas. Birds such as blue-footed, nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and tropical birds.
Transfer by bus and ferry from the hotel to Baltra airport today where your tour ends on arrival.
- Twin share accommodation at hotels, as listed in the itinerary
- Daily breakfast and meals – as shown in the itinerary
- Transfers airport/hotel/airport– as shown in the itinerary
- Sightseeing tours with English-speaking guides – as shown in the itinerary
- All land transport – as shown in the itinerary
- International and Domestic flights
- Passport and visa costs - Australian passport-holders do not require a visa to enter Ecuador
- Ingala Card (USD20) and National Park fees (USD100) payable locally for the Galapagos Islands
- Medical and vaccination costs
- Travel Insurance
- Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Expenses of a personal nature such as telephone calls, internet access fees, laundry, tips, room service, drinks, etc
How To Book:
Please contact Michael via his Contact Form and he will send you the relevant booking information. A 20% deposit is required to secure one of the limited spots (maximum 8 participants)
- From booking date to 71 days before departure, loss of 20% deposit
- Between 70 and 46 days before departure, 50% of the cost of the Photography Tour.
- 45 days or less before departure (or failure to join the Photo Tour), 100% of the Photography Tour.
NB - COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL INSURANCE IS A NECESSITY WHEN BOOKING THIS PHOTO TOUR