Galapagos Islands - Cachalote Explorer (Itinerary B)

10 days
from
incl. taxes
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Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
WAG
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Wildlife Holidays
Group size:
2–16
Min age:
16

Sail around the Galapagos Islands by First Class boat

The extraordinary archipelago of the Galapagos left a lasting impression on Darwin and is likely to do the same for you. An enchanted world: characterised by stark lava fields, cactus forests, volcanic craters, mangrove lagoons and turquoise waters. Step over snoozing Sea lions, watch the courting rituals of Blue-footed boobies or snorkel with turtles, sharks and rays.

Highlights

  • Seven nights aboard a First Class boat exploring the Galapagos Islands
  • Incredible wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities with near-tame animals
  • Snorkel with iridescent fish, playful Sea lions and turtles 
  • Fantastic on-board service with experienced naturalist guide 
  • Small group - a maximum of 16 clients on board 

Key information

  • Travel by internal flight, motor yacht and minibus
  • 7 nights on board a First Class boat in en suite, air-conditioned cabins, 2 nights comfortable hotel
  • Napo Wildlife Centre extension avaialble after Galapagos Cruise
  • Countries visited: Ecuador

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Snorkel equipment (mask, snorkel and fins) available free of charge on board
  • We can include flights from the UK.  Please contact us for a quote.

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Compulsory Galapagos taxes USD120, paid locally
Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Quito
to
Guayaquil
  • Day 1

    Start Quito.

    The group flight usually arrives into Quito this evening. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon/evening. Free transfers are available for all clients. A local guide will welcome you to Quito and explain the schedule for the next few days.

    Accommodation: Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar)

  • Day 2

    Discover Quito at your leisure.

    Today is free to relax, recover from the flight and explore the fascinating city of Quito. Quito is the second highest capital in the world, standing at 2,850m on the western cordillera of the Andes. It is one of the smaller and more attractive of the colonial capitals of South America. Because of the altitude visitors to Quito are advised to take it easy at first.

    Accommodation: Hotel Vieja Cuba (or similar)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Fly to Galapagos. Visit Santa Cruz highlands and Charles Darwin Centre. Embarkation.

    Transfer to Quito Airport and fly to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. We take a short ferry crossing to Santa Cruz Island where we drive to the highlands to look for Galapagos giant tortoises. This afternoon visit the Charles Darwin Centre to learn about the ecology of the islands and visit the centre's tortoise hatchery. After this we board our boat at Puerto Ayora, the island's main town. As we may not be able to easily access our luggage from arrival at Baltra until this evening, please make sure that you bring your camera, sun cream and appropriate clothing: comfortable footwear for some short walks (possibly amongst grass), light clothes, a hat/cap and a light waterproof in case of a shower or mist.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Chinese Hat & Isla Rabida

    A short walk on the small island of Chinese Hat before snorkelling with Sea lions (and penguins if lucky!); on to the dark red beach of Isla Rabida to walk amongst spatter cones, pelicans, Blue-footed and Nazca boobies.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Isabela island

    We start three days exploring the largest island of Isabela and walk to the huge 5-mile wide caldera on Sierra Negra volcano. In the afternoon it's possible to visit the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding centre on Isabela island.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Isabela Island

    Cruising around Isabela's west side, we hope to see whales and dolphins. We land at Punta Moreno's swirling fresh lava flows and also explore the islets of Elizabeth Bay with the largest colony of penguins in the Galapagos.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Urbina Bay, Tagus Cove & Darwin Lake

    In 1954 Urbina Bay was uplifted 4 metres. Walk here amongst exposed coral heads, wandering Galapagos giant tortoises and huge land iguanas. In the afternoon we visit Tagus Cove and Darwin Lake, directly opposite recently active Fernandina Volcano.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Punta Espinosa on Fernandina & Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela

    Land at Punta Espinosa on Fernandina in the midst of a huge colony of Marine iguanas; the sea life is very rich here and supports a large Sea lion and Fur seal colony. Cross the straights and explore the cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Santiago Island & Bartolome Island

    Excellent birding on Santiago Island at Puerto Egas followed by an afternoon snorkel and a walk amongst incredible volcanic scenery up little Bartolome Island - cones, lava tubes and Pinnacle Rock.

    Accommodation: Cachalote Explorer

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Fly to Guayaquil; end Guayaquil.

    An early morning walk on North Seymour amidst Palo Santo trees and Blue-footed booby colonies.

    After a late breakfast we disembark for the journey back to Baltra to transfer to the airport and fly back to the mainland. We fly to Guayaquil airport where it's possible to connect with international flights this evening from 6pm onwards. Alternatively, you can extend your stay for a few extra nights or join the Napo Wildlife Centre Extension (which starts in Quito). Land only clients may prefer to organise post-tour accommodation for the night in Guayaquil and organise their international flights for the following day.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Napo Wildlife Centre Extension (XAG)

Code: XAG

Spend three nights in a luxurious eco-lodge overlooking Anangucocha Lake, and experience one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet - the Amazon Rainforest. The Napo Wildlife Centre is one of the best eco-lodges in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. Located deep within Yasuni National Park, Napo Wildlife Centre is perched on a hillside in the heart of the forest. Its small number of rooms and large private reserve means that visitors have excellent chances of spotting some of the many mammals living in the forest. In this region over 500 species of bird have been recorded, as well as numerous monkey species, tamarins, tapirs, sloths, jaguars (rarely seen), caimans and lizards. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales consultant for more details. 

Price from: £1699 (compulsory supplement of £700 for single travellers)

Essential Info

Visas

Ecuador

British passport holders do not need a visa for Ecuador. Very few other nationalities need a visa for Ecuador, but if you are in any doubt you should contact the nearest Ecuadorian Embassy. 

Vaccinations

Ecuador

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements, however, if you have travelled to a country at risk of Yellow Fever prior to arriving in Ecuador you will be required to have a valid Yellow Fever Certificate with you. Recommended vaccinations are: Typhoid and Hepatitis A.

If you will spend any time in the Amazon Rainforest we recommend a Yellow Fever vaccination. Please note that your certificate of vaccination may be inspected on arrival to this region.

Malaria is also a risk in some areas of the country (including the Amazon Rainforest) so we suggest you consult a doctor for more advice. 

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

PLEASE NOTE: All visitors to Ecuador will be required to show valid medical insurance on arrival and cannot enter the country without it.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners included.

On board meals are plentiful with a wide choice of international and local cuisine. Breakfasts will usually consist of cheese, meats, eggs, cereal, toasts, yoghurts and fruits. Snacks are provided mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and for lunches and dinner soup usually precedes the main course.

Alcoholic drinks are available on board (approx. USD4 per beer, USD32.50 for a bottle of wine, around US10 for selected cocktails) and the crew request that you do not bring your own alcohol with you. Drinking water, tea, coffee and juice is freely available at no additional charge.

The chef can prepare meals for vegetarians and those with other dietary requirements provided advance notice is given - please inform us at the time of booking.

Weather

In Quito and the highlands it should be warm by day and generally dry. Maximum daytime temperatures are almost constant throughout the year at 20ºC, nights 8ºC. Some rain can be expected in February to May and October to November but storms, though heavy, are generally short, and Quito is considered to have quite a pleasant climate.

It is possible to visit the Galapagos at any time of year, but seasonal variations do affect what you see and there are climatic changes to be aware of. The weather is controlled by the two main ocean currents of the region, the Humboldt, bringing cold water from the Antarctic, and El Nino, which brings tropical water from the Gulf of Panama. How close to Galapagos they converge (which varies from year to year) is the key to the weather.

'Dry season'

Generally speaking, late May to early December is the cooler 'dry' season. In this period it is not necessarily dry, as there is a persistent light mist (garua) and often light drizzle, and the higher mountain slopes are covered in cloud and fog or rain. At this time the winds are in the southeast and are higher than at other times, so seas can sometimes be choppy and anyone worried about seasickness might be better advised to avoid it. Daytime maximum temperatures lie between 27ºC and 31ºC, the cooler months being July to November. In July and August the fairly strong winds introduce a chill factor, and it can feel quite cold at nights, though throughout the year the official night temperatures vary between 19ºC and 24ºC.

'Wet season'

Depending on how close the convergence of the two currents comes to Galapagos, there may or may not be a wet season from January to April or May. Approximately every seven years the El Nino current actually hits the islands and there will be heavy rains in these months. In other years rain usually falls sporadically from otherwise clear skies. The ocean temperatures are higher, with generally calm seas and strong sunshine: pleasant, but potentially very hot. Apart from an El Nino year, the weather is usually better from December/January to April/May than at other times even if there is some rain, and most people would regard these months as the best time to go.

There are plenty of wildlife highlights throughout the year:

January: Nesting land birds; Green sea turtles arrive to lay eggs on the islands beaches; land iguana’s start breeding on Isabela.
February: Nesting Marine iguanas on Santa Cruz; Greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana.
March: The bright red throat pouches of frigatebirds are inflated during mating season on Genovesa and San Cristobal.
April: Huge numbers of Waved albatross on Española displaying courtship rituals; eggs of Green sea turtles begin to hatch; land iguana eggs hatch on Isabela.
May: Courtship of Blue-footed boobies begins on North Seymour; Waved albatross on Española start laying eggs.
June: Giant tortoises migrate to the lowlands and start nesting; migrating birds stop in the Galapagos to rest; migrating Humpback whales can often by seen around the western islands.
July: Dolphins and whales are more likely to be seen around the western islands; Blue-footed boobies on Española start breeding.
August: Nazca boobies nest on Genovesa Island; Sea lions start giving birth to pups.
September: Penguins seen in the water when snorkelling around Bartoleme.
October: Galapagos Fur seals start mating; Blue-footed boobies start raising chicks.
November: Curious Sea lion pups found in the water amongst snorkelers.
December: Mating Green sea turtles; Waved albatross chicks fledge.

Is this trip for you?

This trip has been graded 1 (Leisurely) with a Safari Rating of 5.

This trip is great for wildlife enthusiasts, photographers and those with an interest in history or geology. Though you do not need to be particularly fit, you should note that due to the volcanic nature of the Galapagos islands there will be some walking on rough ground and sharp volcanic rocks. The ability to withstand high temperatures and to swim will maximize your enjoyment. Due to local regulations in the Galapagos we have specific time slots for making our landings and site visits. There is usually very little disruption to the schedule, but this can mean little room for deviation in the event of poor weather or other circumstances.

In the Galapagos, each day will feature a mixture of walking, snorkelling and exploring the islands by boat. To get closer to the designated landing sites on each of the islands we disembark into small pangas (motorised dinghys). Landings on the islands are divided into two types - wet and dry. For dry landings, the panga will take you right up to a landing stage or rocky outcrop where you can disembark without getting wet. However in some places where there is no landing stage the panga will stop close to a beach and you will be expected to walk through shallow water (generally no more than ankle-deep) to the shore. The leader will always advise conditions prior to leaving and it is possible to skip any particular excursion if you would rather relax on board the boat.

There are plenty of opportunities for snorkelling in the Galapagos and this is one of the best ways to experience the marine life. A mask and snorkel will reveal an exciting underwater world with Sea lions, rays, turtles, Marine iguanas and a colourful array of fish. On most days of the itinerary there will be one or two snorkelling sessions.  Snorkelling in the Galapagos does not require any special skills, however, at times you will be snorkelling in open water where there are fairly strong currents. Before going into the water, the guide will evaluate the strength of the currents and the general condition of the sea to make sure they are right for this to be a safe and enjoyable activity. The dinghy will remain very close at all times; if you get tired or feel like coming out of the water you only have to raise your arm and they will come to pick you up so you can rest for a while before going back in or stay in the dinghy until it is time to return to the boat. Snorkelling equipment (snorkel, fins and masks) is provided, however, is advisable to wear a wetsuit which not only protects you from the cold but also makes floating much easier without as much effort.

We offer this Galapagos cruise in conjunction with our Ecuadorian partners, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than Exodus' minimum age for this trip.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & First Class Boat

7 nights on board a First Class Boat, the Cachalote Explorer, in en suite, air-conditioned cabins, and 2 nights comfortable hotel.

Cachalote Explorer: A 16-passenger Motor-Yacht with 8 comfortable double/twin cabins, each with en suite facilities. All cabins are air conditioned and have the following: shower with hot water, toilet, amenities and towels, porthole windows. Max speed 8 knots, size 88ft. Renovated in 2018.  

Optional single supplement available in Quito hotel only. 

Call for general departures:
1 800 267 3347
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed May 2019
    Shaun Robinson

    What a magical place....

    The trip was all arranged by Exodus and I can’t fault the organisation, it was faultless throughout the whole Journey. The Cachalote Explorer was fine, it’s not a super luxury motor yacht (its correctly advertised as a first class motor yacht) being a converted fishing boat, but the accommodation was perfectly adequate and the crew were very friendly and super efficient. The rooms were cleaned daily with clean towels by Martin who was also the waiter and bar man, and very good at it to. The chef was very good and was delighted to help one of our vegan passengers with different dishes every meal (which she often shared with the rest of us! Lol) The ship is a little noisy when travelling at night with the engines running, but I had some noise suppressing head phones that dealt with this. No one else really complained and I guess you soon get used to it after a tiring day The food was very well presented in buffet style for breakfast lunch and evening meal and there was always plenty of food. In between meals there is a tray of bananas, fruits and various biscuits and snacks Would I book it again, certainly yes without hesitation

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This is very difficult to answer as every day we encountered new wonders, wether it be animals or beautiful landscapes. People have asked me what was the highlight, and I can’t really say to be honest. I personally enjoyed the walks on virtually untouched islands, sea lions, marine iguanas the list is endless. Some of the sea life you can see from the boat it amazing. I spent many hours on the sun beds on the rear deck and some of the views of the islands from the boat, well it’s like some magical kingdom.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Luiz was excellent, a very knowledgeable guide approved by the Galapagos National Parks and always around to answer any questions we needed however difficult

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Firstly take plenty of cash for any alcohol drinks/incidentals on the boat. The trip notes and also the book handed to us by the boat crew state you can pay by credit card, you can’t. I went to pay the bar bill which was around $300 (don’t ask! Lol) and they said they could only accept cash which put me in a very difficult position The organisers should make this clear, and I can definitely confirm this directly affected the crew tip as most of it had to be used to pay the bar bill instead if them, which was very unfortunate but I had no choice Take sturdy boots, and waterproof sandals are useful for any wet landings If you are a light sleeper, ear plugs at night or in my case noise suppressing headphones were perfect.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do it, it’s a trip of a lifetime and when you get back you will sit in your chair and think, wow, did I really just go there .......... When we landed at Baltra Airport in Galapagos, at the very moment we touched down I had a lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes. It’s the sort of trip only someone like David Attenborough gets to do right?

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