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The Galapagos Islands
In-depth Exploration of Evolution's Playground
May 19 to June 5, 2013

The evolutionary story of the Galapagos Islands has been told many times but only through personal experience on these isolated islands can one truly appreciate the impressive forces that shape nature here and around the globe. Embark on the most in-depth itinerary currently possible to explore this tropical, volcanic archipelago rich in charismatic wildlife unafraid of you or your camera. This very special expedition caters to photographers and wildlife enthusiasts, delivering maximum time in the field with early and late landings to take advantage of the best conditions for photography. With our expert resident guides, you will discover the islands' famous reptiles, endemic land birds, breeding boobies, albatross, penguins, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, sea lions, and much more through many landings and snorkeling opportunities. Our guides and the Captain and crew of the Samba are environmentally and socially responsible and are devoted to making your journey the trip of a lifetime, whether this is your first or twenty-first time visiting The Enchanted Isles.

Galapagos Fur Seal mother and pup in Galapagos
Galapagos Fur Seal mother and pup

At a Glance

Cost: $6,300 to $6,900 per person, double occupancy, depending on cabin choice. Not including airfare. Review cost details.

Boat: The Samba, 14-passenger yacht.

Leader: Juan Manuel Salcedo and assistant guide.

Participants: 14 participants with two leaders for maximum flexibility.

Days: 18

Conditions: A non-smoking safari for people who are very interested in all wildlife and spending the maximum time in the field.

Update: This itinerary was updated in October 2012.

Synopsis:

Date Activity Lodge Meals
May 19 Arrive in Quito, Ecuador. (Optional Yanacocha birding trip available for those arriving early.) El Relicario del Carmen in Quito. Not included
May 20 Free day in Quito or optional city tour. Welcome dinner. B, D
May 21 Fly to Baltra, Galápagos Islands, meet Juan on arrival. Board the Samba, first landing at Bachas on Santa Cruz. 14 nights onboard the Samba B, L, D
May 22 Genovesa (Tower): Darwin Bay and Prince Phillip's Steps.
May 23 Marchena: Snorkeling at Punta Mejia and Playa Negra.
May 24 Isabela: Punta Albermarle and Punta Vicente Roca.
May 25 Fernandina: Punta Espinoza. Isabela: Urvina Bay.
May 26 Isabela: Elizabeth Bay and Punta Moreno.
May 27 Floreana: Asilo de la Paz and Cerro Alieri in the highlands, La Lobería.
May 28 Santa Cruz: Highlands, Los Gemelos, and Charles Darwin Research Station.
May 29 Floreana: Punta Cormorant and Post Office Bay.
May 30 Española (Hood): Punta Suárez with Waved Albatross, Gardner Bay.
May 31 San Cristóbal: Isla Lobos, Kicker Rock, and Punta Pitt.
June 1 Santa Fé: Barrington Bay, South Plaza.
June 2 Santiago: Sullivan Bay. Bartolomé.
June 3 Santiago: James Bay. Rábida.
June 4 North Seymour, Baltra and flights to Quito. Farewell dinner. El Relicario del Carmen in Quito. B, L, D
June 5 Departures home from Quito. not included B

Note: All routings and visitor sites in the Galapagos Islands are subject to change by the Galapagos National Park Service in an attempt to minimize traffic and impact on all visitor sites.

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Detailed Itinerary

May 19, Sunday: Flights to Quito (or optional day trip to Yanacocha if arriving early)
Arrive in Quito by the evening of May 19. See complete flight information. Juan Manuel Salcedo or a transfer agent will be waiting for you at the airport to transfer you to the hotel. Dinner will be on your own this evening if not served on your flight. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can arrange your airport transfer and book extra nights at the lovely Patio Andaluz in historic old town Quito. We may arrange an optional birding trip to the highland cloud forest outside of Quito for those who are interested. This would mean arriving in Quito by the evening of May 17. Please contact us for details.
Lodging: El Relicario del Carmen

May 20, Monday: Free day to enjoy the city of Quito or optional city tour
Today you will have a full day to explore beautiful Quito before enjoying a welcome dinner with the group. A tour of Colonial Quito and Mitad del Mundo (the Equatorial Monument) may be booked at additional cost; contact us for details. Breakfast at the hotel is included, while lunch is on your own. Juan Manuel will meet the group in the Galápagos, so one of his guides will lead the city tour and also host tonight's welcome dinner for all participants.
Lodging: El Relicario del Carmen

May 21, Tuesday: Flight to Galápagos, embarkation and first landing at Bachas on Isla Santa Cruz
After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for a morning flight to the Baltra Airport in the Galápagos Islands. On arrival, pass through immigration where each visitor pays the Galápagos National Park fee (see "Not Included" section at end of itinerary). Juan Manuel Salcedo will greet you at the airport and coordinate getting to the dock via a short bus ride to meet the Samba, our home for this glorious adventure to the best landing and snorkeling sites in the Galápagos.

After introductions, lunch, and a safety briefing, we'll make our first landing at Bachas, a lovely white sand beach on nearby Santa Cruz Island. Here we will have our first introduction to the fearless wildlife of the Galapagos. Mangrove lagoons behind the beach may delight us with flamingos and shorebirds and we are likely to enjoy a glorious sunset. Once back on board, we will be served a welcome cocktail and meet all the members of this very friendly, professional crew, including the Captain, first mate, engineer, chef, and sailors.

The chef on the Samba serves excellent international cuisine and is happy to prepare special dishes to fulfill dietary requests (with advance notice). The majority of the food on board is organic and grown locally. The beef is from Santa Cruz Island, the poultry and pork from Floreana, and fish is specially provisioned from carefully chosen fisherman known to the Salcedo family who own the Samba. Given the endangered status of the Galapagos Islands, it is very important to buy from fishermen with responsible fishing techniques.

This evening, we will travel to Genovesa in the outer archipelago. Before dark, it's possible to view marine mammals and seabirds from the open deck. After dark, look for phosphorescence from ctenophores (comb jellies) and other plankton on the surface of the water. If you are lucky, you may even see these tiny invertebrates glowing on dolphins as they bow-ride with the boat after dark.
Lodging: aboard the Samba

Blue-footed Boobie, white morph, in Galapagos Islands
Blue-footed Boobie
white morph

May 22, Wednesday: Isla Genovesa (Tower): Darwin Bay and Prince Phillip's Steps
On arrival at Genovesa, we anchor in Darwin Bay, a huge flooded volcanic caldera. The walls of the caldera provide wonderful ledges for Galapagos Fur Seals, a very rare fur seal that we will find along their haulout area in the vicinity of the stone stairway known as "Prince Philip's Steps." There are also nesting sites for Red-billed Tropicbirds along the caldera walls. Our first landing will start with a hike up the stone steps for a great view of Red-footed and Nazca booby colonies on the way to the Wedge-rumped (Galapagos) Storm-Petrel colony. These three bird species need the open ocean for feeding so they tend to nest in the outer archipelago. The largest Red-footed Booby nesting site in the islands is here on Genovesa. They are adapted to hunting far out to sea and can only rear a single young every two years. Blue-footed Boobies, by contrast, fish in shallow water close to their nests and raise two or three young in a brood, if conditions allow. We will also keep a sharp eye out for the elusive Short-eared Owl that hunts for petrels during the day by hiding within their colony.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos is a very enjoyable experience with many beautiful species of tropical fish to discover along with the chance of seeing sea turtles and rays. This is a great place for the first snorkel of the trip in the calm caldera waters of Darwin Bay. Juan Manuel will assist you in the techniques of snorkeling if you have not yet tried this wonderful sport, which we equate to "birding underwater."

The grand finale of this very special day at remote Genovesa is a landing at the small beach in Darwin Bay. Genovesa's four species of Darwin's finches – the Large Ground Finch, Large Cactus Finch, Small-beaked Ground Finch, and Warbler Finch – show huge variation in bill size. All four species can be found here at this landing, making it one of the two most outstanding sites that we will visit for Darwin's finches (the other being the Highlands of Santa Cruz). Noted evolutionary biologist Rosemary Grant has done much of her research on Darwin's finches here at Darwin Bay. Also here, boobies and Great Frigatebirds nest with unparalleled density. Following the cliff edge, we will find ourselves in a flyway for incoming boobies and frigatebirds, an ideal opportunity for photographing these incredible birds in flight. They are ceaseless with aerial displays of kleptoparasitism as they "dog-fight" along the cliffs for scarce nesting material. Unlike boats with shorter itineraries, we'll have the luxury of spending the night anchored at Genovesa and will travel west to nearby Marchena early the next morning.

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Snorkeling in Galapagos
Snorkeling

May 23, Thursday: Isla Marchena: Snorkeling at Punta Mejia and Playa Negra
Our experience today will be truly unique to our voyage as the Samba has been granted the rare opportunity to visit this wonderful site. Landings are not permitted on Marchena but it is one of the best places for snorkeling and is well worth including in our itinerary. This in an excellent place for tropical fish plus we may see rays, sea turtles, sharks, and eels. There are also hermatipic coral formations here that are very uncommon in the rest of the archipelago. Our navigation to and from Marchena passes through some of the most whale-rich waters in the region, so keep your eyes to the horizon and anything can happen!

May 24, Friday: Isla Isabela: Punta Albermarle and Punta Vicente Roca
Punta Albermarle is yet another uncommon visitor site, yet is home to one of the loveliest Flightless Cormorant colonies in the Galapagos (and, thus, the world). This landing is the first of our explorations of the great island of Isabela, by far the largest in the archipelago and an island we think you will come to love.

The northwest tip of Isabela, called Punta Vicente Roca, sits at the edge of a sharp drop into deep, nutrient rich waters. While cruising Punta Vicente Roca, we may see Galapagos Penguins, Brown Noddies, Sea Turtles, Marine Iguanas, and Blue-footed and Nazca boobies. We will also be on the lookout for marine mammals and the unique and gigantic Sunfish (Mola mola). From here to Fernandina, we will again keep our eyes out for whales as this is an excellent place to see them due to the cold, deep water on the western side of the archipelago. These deep waters offer the chance to see Orcas, Pilot Whales, and larger species such as Sperm Whales. A study by Hal Whitehead, with the help of World Wildlife Fund, found Sperm Whales particularly abundant in an area 250 km long and 150 km wide west of Isabela Island where the subsurface Cromwell Current, traveling eastward along the Equator, meets land. It is likely that the whales find high densities of squid (their favorite food) in this region. Whitehead found that, like elephants, male Sperm Whales roam between female/calf groups, instead of one male dominating a harem.

Fernandina Island in Galapagos
Fernandina Island

May 25, Saturday: Isla Fernandina: Punta Espinoza, Isla Isabela: Urvina Bay
Across the calm Canal Bolivar separating Isabela from Fernandina sits Punta Espinoza, one of the most wildlife-rich sites of the trip. Isla Fernandina, the youngest of the Galapagos Islands, is known as one of the world's most pristine islands, where no known introduced animals have become established. Here we will observe and photograph the largest of the Marine Iguanas sunning in piles by the hundreds. The famous Flightless Cormorant also inhabits this island, as well as Galapagos Penguins, Lava Lizards, and pelicans. Take a walk along the relatively young basalt or "lava rock" to examine interesting formations made by different types of lava and find Brachycereus cactus growing directly out of what still seems like fresh lava. Snorkeling is no longer allowed in this location to protect the rich basalt coastline covered with algae that the Marine Iguanas depend on for food.

We cross back to Isabela for a very interesting landing at Urvina Bay this afternoon. In 1954, a portion of the coast of Isabela lifted out of the sea so suddenly that fish and even a sea turtle were trapped literally high and dry on a freshly changed coastline. We will explore this unusual site at Urvina Bay at the foot of Volcán Alcedo. Along our walk, we will find rocks full of bleached shells and massive coral heads now far from the sea. Large iguanas of both species, land and marine, live here as well as a few Giant Tortoises, the species for which the Galapagos Islands were named. At Urvina Bay, we will be snorkeling in some of the coldest water of the trip, but there is also great potential for discovery in these rich waters.

Panga Ride in Galapagos
Panga Cruising

May 26, Sunday: Isla Isabela: Elizabeth Bay and Punta Moreno
Our morning begins with a visit to Elizabeth Bay, one of the most spectacular locations for panga (small boat) cruising. We will join the swimming sea turtles as we cruise this paradise, following channels through the verdant green mangrove forests. The endemic Flightless Cormorant and the marvelous Galápagos Penguin are in their prime habitat here. Over lunch, we travel west along the coast of Isabela to the wildly stark landing site of Punta Moreno, or Dark Point. Here raw basalt coats the landscape for as far as the eye can see, rising into the slopes of the shield volcanoes of Cerro Negro and Cerro Azul. Yet amid the stark, seemingly sterile landscape, rich lagoons with surprising life can be found. This evening, we begin making our way around the southwest end of Isabela and then east toward Floreana, traveling through more nutrient-rich waters good for whale watching, so keep your eyes on the horizon!

May 27, Monday: Floreana: Asilo de la Paz, Cerro Alieri, La Lobería
After breakfast, we land at Puerto Velasco Ibarra for a ride up to the highlands of Floreana in a "chiva" (small open-sided bus for rural transportation). On the way up to the humid zone, we'll stop to climb Cerro Alieri, where a good number of steps will reward us with a breathtaking view and the chance to see the famous Medium Tree Finch. The fantastic landscape of the highlands is decorated with lichens and epiphytes. Floreana holds a rich and compelling human history, which we'll have a taste of beginning with the pirates' cave carved out in the 1800s near the only fresh water spring on the island. At Asilo de la Paz, we will learn the fascinating story of the Wittmers, Doctor Ritter and Dora, and the famous Baroness and her three lovers. Share a wonderful lunch in the highlands with Claudio Cruz and his family, providers of many of the organic foods that we will enjoy on board. We'll also have the opportunity to photograph a group of Giant Tortoises that are kept in a large enclosure up here in the highlands. After heading back to town, we will visit the nearby lobería (sea lion rookery) where we can swim, snorkel, and/or kayak amidst a large colony of sea lions. It is a refreshing end to a wonderful day with beautiful afternoon light adding to the scenic views. Tonight we travel north to the island of Santa Cruz.

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Woodpecker Finch in Galapagos
Woodpecker Finch

May 28, Tuesday: Isla Santa Cruz: Highlands, Los Gemelos, and Charles Darwin Research Station
Upon reaching Santa Cruz, we will anchor in Academy Bay beside the bustling small town of Puerto Ayora. This is the islands' primary population center. Travel to the Santa Cruz Highlands to seek out some of the elusive island endemics in beautifully unique habitats. We will explore Los Gemelos, two incredible volcanic sinkholes surrounded by tall Scalesia forest. The genus Scalesia is excellent habitat for the highland Darwin's finches and a classic example of evolutionary adaptive radiation, a parallel to Darwin's finches. The elegant tall Scalesia tree evolved from beach composites, making it essentially the world's largest daisy. Here in the highlands it is possible to see the shy Galapagos Rail, Short-eared Owl, Large and Small tree finches, Vegetarian Finch, and the famous tool-using Woodpecker Finch. We will also walk through a wonderful lava tube left over from Santa Cruz's active volcanic island-building days.

We return to Puerto Ayora in the afternoon for a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, the center of evolutionary science and conservation in the Galápagos. Our visit to the station will include the opportunity to see the resident tortoises and enjoy an intimate look at the captive breeding programs that are designed to return the Galápagos to a more pristine, pre-colonization state. This will be one of our best opportunities to photograph tortoises up close. Tonight we will travel back south for more of beautiful Floreana.

May 29, Wednesday: Isla Floreana: Punta Cormorant and Post Office Bay
Floreana is known for its excellent snorkeling, especially at the dramatic submerged volcanic cone known as Devil's Crown. We normally see many rays and sea turtles as well as surgeonfish, parrotfish, jacks, wrasses, and other tropical fish. In addition to an excellent snorkeling experience, we will land behind Punta Cormorant for a walk to the flamingo lagoon in search of teal and shorebirds alongside the flamingoes. Unfortunately, the flamingo population has declined in recent years, but we hope to see at least a few in the lagoon. The plant life here is unique and includes another species of the endemic composite Scalesia. The sand on Floreana contains a large proportion of fine crystals of olivine, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving it an olive-green tone. The waters around Floreana are great for dolphins so keep your eyes open! These waters are also rich with seabirds, such as Waved Albatross, three species of storm-petrels, Audubon's Shearwaters, and large flocks of diving boobies. After lunch we'll stop briefly at Post Office Bay, where you can follow in the whalers' tradition of dropping a letter or postcard in the box and taking one to deliver for someone else that was already here. This evening we head east for wonderful Espanola!

Galapagos Sea Lion in Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Sea Lion

May 30, Thursday: Isla Española (Hood): Punta Suárez with Waved Albatross, Gardner Bay
Punta Suárez, on the island of Española, is unique beyond description, as rich as any spot in the Galápagos Islands. Breeding birds and iguanas are present in huge numbers and, most significantly, it is the nesting site for the majority of the world's Waved Albatross. The albatross are wonderful to witness in flight and are at the start of their breeding season at this time of year. Young adults and birds that have recently paired will be displaying courtship behavior, a most enticing expression of the lifelong bond that breeding and survival depend upon and an unforgettable site to observe. We will also find the fearless Española Mockingbird, Blue-footed and Nazca boobies, Swallow-tailed Gull, Galápagos Hawk, Marine Iguana (a red and black race unique to this island), Lava Lizard, Galápagos Sea Lion, and beautiful seascapes complete with a blowhole for incredible photos.

For the afternoon, we sail east to Gardner Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in all of the Galapagos. A nearby snorkel is likely to find us in the water with playful sea lions, a great diversion before time on the beach. Galapagos Sea Lions populate the surf while the remarkably brave Espanola Mockingbird has been known to peck at shoelaces. Enjoy photographing shorebirds and sea lions, looking for the Large Cactus Finch (which looks very different from the subspecies on Genovesa), or just walking along the beautiful beach.

May 31, Friday: Isla de San Cristobal: Isla Lobos, Kicker Rock, and Punta Pitt
San Cristobal is geologically one of the oldest islands in the archipelago. It is home to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Galapagos Province, and has the second largest population in the islands. Instead of spending our time in town, however, we will travel along the north coast for some excellent wildlife and snorkeling, visiting Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock. Kicker Rock, also called León Dormido (or Sleeping Lion), is a volcanic tuff cone that dramatically rises straight out of the water to the height of about 500 feet. Here we will look for frigatebirds, sea lions, Green Turtles, Blue and Red-footed boobies, tropicbirds, Marine Iguanas, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and dolphins. The afternoon will bring an opportunity to stretch our legs at the geologically striking Punta Pitt and examine some of the island's vegetation, which includes flowering plants such as Calandrinia Galapagosa and Lecocarpus darwinii.

June 1, Saturday: Isla Santa Fe: Barrington Bay, Isla Plaza Sur
This morning, we land on the island of Santa Fe. The short hike from the beach to a low plateau rewards us with great views and a beautiful species of Scalesia that thrives near a large forest of amazing Tree Opuntia. We will search among the Opuntia for Santa Fe Land Iguanas, a different species from the ones found elsewhere in the Galapagos. The Santa Fe Land Iguanas can be up to five feet in length!

The small yet incredible island of South Plaza is our afternoon destination. This is a beautiful island with abundant Land and Marine iguanas, enough of each that there are often a few hybrids near the shore. The landscape is colorful with a red and green ground cover of Portulaca, sometimes sprouting yellow flowers that the iguanas enjoy dining on. In the Tree Opuntia we can compare the Cactus Finch alongside Small and Medium ground finches, stars of the excellent book, The Beak of the Finch, the story of modern-day Darwinian evolution as deciphered by pioneers Rosemary and Peter Grant. At the top of the island we come to a cliff where bachelor sea lions escape from the competition of stronger males and Red-billed Tropicbirds fly gracefully by, circling again and again before slipping into their cliff-side nest holds at our feet. This evening we travel along the northeast coast of Santa Cruz and Baltra then head west to Santiago.

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Galapagos Penguins in Galapagos
Galapagos Penguins

June 2, Sunday: Isla Santiago: Sullivan Bay, Isla Bartolomé
If the light is good in the early morning, we will visit the surreal landscape of the Sullivan Bay pahoehoe lava flow from an eruption in 1897. Because the basalt here is so young, geologically speaking, it is essentially untouched by erosion and looks as though the lava might have flowed only yesterday. Darwin would have seen a far different coastline that what we see today when he was here some 60 years prior to the eruption. The basalt in the flow retains a rainbowed patina that adds color to a study of natural flow, form, and pattern.

Right across from Sullivan Bay is the small island of Bartolomé. This afternoon, we will climb the boardwalk trail and steps to the summit (360 feet) for a gorgeous, iconic view of Pinnacle Rock and the surrounding bays. Then a wet landing puts us on a beach for a short walk through mangroves and dune vegetation. Near Pinnacle Rock, Galápagos Penguins are often present in small numbers. Our snorkel here gives us a decent chance to snorkel with the penguins (or near them at least), and maybe even harmless, but exciting, White-tipped Sharks. Also enjoy colorful starfish, tropical fish, and amazing underwater lava formations. We'll have a short navigation tonight to the island of Rábida on the south side of Santiago.

June 3, Monday: Isla Santiago: James Bay, Isla Rábida
This morning we'll begin with a landing at the very special James Bay on the western side of Santiago. This is a beautiful place at any time of day and the morning light will make it even better for photography! Exploring the tide pools of James Bay at low tide is like going on a treasure hunt, where the grand prize is a visit to the Fur Seal Grotto. At the collapsed lava tubes in this zone, we are likely to find a number of Galápagos Fur Seals swimming in emerald pools. It is enchanting to watch and photograph not only fur seals but also bright red-orange Sally Lightfoot Crabs (so named because they contain so little meat). This site offers a great diversity of ecosystems and geological strata, as well as good snorkeling.

In the afternoon we'll head to the south side of Santiago and the nearby islet of Rábida. The beaches on Rábida are a beautiful deep ochre red, creating a striking landscape for the wonderful flora and fauna found here. Sea lions playing in the surf make for splendid photo subjects against the red sand in the late afternoon light. Tonight we head back east to North Seymour, just off the northern tip of Baltra (also known as Seymour Island). Sadly, this will be our final evening onboard the Samba.

June 4, Tuesday: Isla Seymour Norte, Isla Baltra, flights to Quito
North Seymour Island will be our last landing site and the wealth of wildlife we find here shows that our fifteen-day itinerary is only just barely long enough! Wander past many breeding Blue-footed Boobies and a large colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds. We hope to find males of both species in full display, the boobies sky-pointing and showing off their bright blue feet and the frigates calling for females with their wings spread wide and their dramatic red throat pouches inflated, an unforgettable sight with fabulous photographic opportunities. We also have the chance to see Galápagos Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, Striated Herons, Brown Noddies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, and Lava Gulls. The endemic Palo Santo and low bushy Opuntia plants add great scenery to the amazing abundance of Galápagos wildlife.

We must reluctantly depart for Baltra and bid farewell to the Samba and its crew. Juan Manuel will escort you to the Baltra airport for your return flight to Quito. After arriving back on the mainland in the late afternoon, there will be time to check in and freshen up before heading to the farewell dinner together, in celebration of our wonderful exploration of Las Islas Encantadas.
Lodging: El Relicario del Carmen

June 5, Wednesday: Flights homeward
After breakfast, our agent will transfer you to the Quito Airport to arrive more than two hours before your flight home, or you may choose to extend your stay in South America. See complete flight information.

Yacht

Sailing on the Samba in Galapagos
The Samba

Yacht: The Samba is the perfect choice to experience the mystical isolation that shaped the life of the Galapagos Islands. This sturdy, stately, and very comfortable motor yacht is a true European Dutch classic and best in her class. A great ocean-going vessel with her specially designed high bow, she provides safe crossings and boasts a special stabilizing sail. Her main salon and aft dining facilities make her socially versatile while top-side settees and a flush and ample forward deck provide great getaways or extra space for group activities such as stargazing, whale watching, or simply sunbathing. The Samba accommodates 14 guests, a perfect number to enjoy the magic of the islands with privacy and flexibility. The professional, experienced, and friendly crew are committed to redefining your idea of quality of experience and excellence of service. The Samba is a graceful, top-quality craft and the crew take great care to make everything environmentally friendly as well as socially responsible. She is locally owned and all the crew members are from the Galapagos. Accommodations include six air-conditioned double cabins and one exterior double bed cabin, all with private bathrooms and hot water. Additional ship information, photos, and deck plan are available on our website or by mail upon request. View the deck plan and more details.

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Costs

Costs, Payments and Cancellations: All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. Upon receiving your deposit and reservation form, we will send trip materials with additional information to help you prepare for your safari. Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person. This fee may go toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip's departure date. There are no refunds given after the Final Payment due date. If you are a single traveler and desire so, we will find a roommate for you: if we cannot find a roommate we may have to charge you the single supplement fee. We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation and in the exchange rate. All costs are in US$.

Costs per person
Trip cost, double occupancy, Standard Cabins (#1-6)
$6,300
Trip cost, double occupancy, Upper Deck Cabin (#7)
$6,900
Single supplement $5,670
Payment Schedule
Deposit - due now to reserve your space $500
Second Payment - November 1, 2012 $1,000
Final Payment - February 1, 2013 Remaining balance
• For reservations made after the Second Payment date, the Deposit and Second Payment will be due with registration.

Included:

  • Fifteen days and fourteen nights on board the Samba.
  • Landing fees and permits.
  • Government fuel tax of an estimated $450 per participant.
  • All meals from breakfast on May 20 through breakfast on June 5 except lunch May 20.
  • Three nights lodging at El Relicario del Carmen in Quito.
  • Airport transfers in Quito on May 19 and June 5.
  • Non-alcoholic bottled beverages while on board the Samba.
  • Use of snorkeling gear and full-length wetsuits on the Samba.
  • Gratuities to airport and hotel porters in Quito and service at the welcome and farewell dinners in Quito.

Not Included:

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris will make a group reservation for the Quito-Baltra round trip flight on TAME and the cost ($525, estimated May 2012, subject to change) will be added to your balance and due with the final payment. The Quito Airport departure tax (approximately $42, subject to change) must be paid before your departure flight if it is not already included in your international ticket.
  • The Galápagos National Park fee of $100 and immigration transit card fee of $10 (fees are subject to change).
  • Optional birding trip to Yanacocha on May 19. Contact us for cost and details.
  • Optional Colonial Quito and Mitad del Mundo tour on May 20. Contact us for cost and details.
  • Lunches in Quito (unless included in an optional day tour) and any other meals not listed as included.
  • Separate airport transfers.
  • Gratuities – Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $360 total per participant for your entire trip (not including optional extension). This includes a recommended tip of $340 per participant to the Samba crew and guide ($240 for the crew, $100 for the guide) plus an extra $20 for your free day in Quito. For any additional time in Quito, add about $20 per day for tipping drivers and/or guides, depending on your plans.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, and items not on the regular menu, etc. (If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your reservation form.)
  • Travel insurance.

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Sign-up

To Make a Reservation: Please contact us (there are many methods of contacting us) to assure space availability and to let us answer your questions. Then, print our reservation form, fill out one form per person, and post it to us in the mail with your deposit. Or fill out our handy online information request and we will send you more information.

Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris
20800 Kittredge Road
Saratoga, CA 95070
Toll Free: (800) 527-5330
Fax: (408) 741-0358
Skype: CheesemansEcologySafaris
Email: info@cheesemans.com

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Other Details

portrait of Juan Manuel Salcedo
Juan Manuel Salcedo

Leader: Juan Manuel Salcedo was born in the Galapagos Islands. He grew up in Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island, living and learning in the outdoor evolutionary lab of the Galapagos. Outside of school, Juan spent time sailing on his father's boat where he developed his love and passion for observing and interpreting the wildlife of the archipelago. He moved to Quito to finish high school and begin his academic studies. Juan Manuel spent a year in Los Angeles studying sailing and navigation to gain a skipper certificate. Through all of his experiences, Juan has maintained and nourished his love and passion for the world around him. He finished his undergraduate studies at the University of San Francisco, Quito where he studied Applied Ecology with minor degrees in Biology and Geology. He has been involved in Environmental Education projects with several non-governmental organizations in the Galapagos Islands and on mainland Ecuador. Juan is pleased to be able to offer the most in-depth voyages possible in the Galapagos on board his own boat, the Samba.

Flight Information: Please let us know if you would like help arranging your international flights and we will put you in contact with our excellent ticketing agent. Airport transfers are included on July 28 and August 14 only. Please contact us if you would like to arrive earlier or stay later. We will be happy to arrange your separate airport transfer and book extra nights at the El Relicario del Carmen (not included and subject to availability), unless you prefer to make your own arrangements.

Arrival: Arrive in Quito, Ecuador (UIO) no later than the evening of May 19. Most international flights to Quito arrive in the evening. (If arriving early for Yanacocha trip, please book early arrival on May 18 to be prepared for early departure to Yanacocha the next morning.)

Departure: Depart from Quito (UIO) the morning of June 5.

Domestic: The round-trip flights on TAME from Quito to the Galápagos will be arranged by Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. The cost of this round-trip booking will be added to your final balance.

Climate: There are basically two seasons in the Galápagos. From January to roughly mid-May is the wet/warm season, with June to December being the dry/cooler season. Late May is the transition between the two seasons, so it will be a bit cooler than even earlier in May and less chance of rain (although, even earlier in the year, the showers are usually brief). In late May, daytime highs tend to be in the 80's °F (around 27-32°C) and nighttime lows are low to mid-60's (15-18°C). The water temperature averages between 70 and 74°F (21-23°C). The change of seasons is primarily due to the southern trade winds bringing the colder Humboldt Current north to the Galápagos and with it excellent snorkeling conditions, more cetaceans and more activity among the sea birds. Breeding activity of land animals is increased in the spring due to the plant growth from the wet season. Courtship of several species, including the Waved Albatross and Great Frigatebird, are best in April and May, with late May being a good time to see both courtship and possibly a few chicks. Sea Lion pups are also just reaching their most playful stages in spring and early summer.

Travel Insurance: Emergency Medical Insurance is optional, but encouraged, for this tour. Read about travel insurance and our recommendations and requirements.

Seasickness: Don't let a fear of seasickness prevent you from signing up! Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness.

Trip Materials
Detailed information about your specific tour will be sent to you after you make your reservation with us. These trip materials include information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc. Please take a moment to read this important informtation upon receipt.

Conditions

  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible to observe all wildlife behavior, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather, wildlife sightings, or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but understanding and accepting the risks, both medical and logistical, are important. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but due to the fact that we often travel to locations far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this trip. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your tour deposit and signed reservation form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.

Mailing List
If you would like to be on our mailing list or request information, please use our online information request form or contact us to give us your name, address, email address and phone number. Please note we will never share your personal information with anybody!

Responsibility
Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris, Saratoga, California, act only as agents and shall not be responsible or become liable for any delay incurred by any person in connection with any means of transportation, nor for the loss, damage, or injury to person or property by reason of any event beyond the control of the agency or default of such agency suppliers. We reserve the right to cancel the tour prior to departure in which case full refund will constitute full settlement to the passenger. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour unless arrangements are made at the time of booking. All rates are based on current tariffs, exchange rates and fuel prices and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited. Baggage is at the owner's risk.

Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is registered as California Seller of Travel #2063050-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California. Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris is a participant in the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation (TCRC). In event of a client canceling where a refund is applicable in accordance with the schedule above, or in the event that CES needs to cancel the trip, all payments for transportation or travel service not provided to the client shall be promptly refunded, unless the client instructs us otherwise in writing. All client payments are deposited into a trust account in accordance with California law. If for any reason a valid refund is not forthcoming, the client may request reimbursement from the TCRC within six months of the scheduled end of the tour. Please feel free to ask us for more information.

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All material © Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris.
All photos © Doug or Ted Cheeseman, unless otherwise credited.

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