Evolution's Playground

Galapagos Islands

May 12 - 30, 2018
Cost: $8,780 - $9,580
Leader: Juan Manuel Salcedo
Group Size: 14
Days: 19

Safari Overview

The evolutionary story of the Galápagos Islands has been told many times but only through immersing yourself in their splendor can you truly appreciate the impressive forces that shape nature here and around the globe. Embark on the Samba for the most in-depth itinerary 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 photographic conditions. With our expert resident guides, you will discover the islands' famous reptiles, endemic land birds, breeding boobies, albatross, penguins, marine mammals, sharks, tropical fish, and much more. Our guides, along with 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.

• Visit 16 islands on our 15-day Galápagos voyage to experience the diversity of the archipelago.
• Snorkel with sea lions, penguins, tropical fish, sharks, rays and rare coral formations.
• View mating behavior of frigatebirds, Blue-footed Boobies, and Waved Albatross on Española Island - the only known Waved Albatross nesting site in the world.
• Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn about conservation and restoration programs.
• Engulf yourself in Ecuador's cloud forest on a two-day field trip to observe mainland species.

Itinerary Updated: April 2018

Ship Info Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
May 12 Arrive in Quito, Ecuador. El Relicario del Carmen, Quito
May 13 Field trip to cloud forest for bird watching in Yanacocha and Nono-Mindo, night walk for mammals and amphibians. Lodge in Bella Vista B, L, D
May 14 Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek, Refugio Paz de las Aves. El Relicario del Carmen, Quito B, L, D
May 15 Fly to Baltra, Galápagos Islands. Board the Samba, first landing on Mosquera Islet. 14 nights aboard Samba B, L, D
May 16 Genovesa: Darwin Bay and Prince Philip's Steps. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 17 Marchena: Snorkel at Punta Mejía and Playa Negra. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 18 Isabela: Punta Albemarle and Punta Vicente Roca. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 19 Fernandina: Punta Espinoza. Isabela: Urbina Bay. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 20 Isabela: Elizabeth Bay and Punta Moreno. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 21 Floreana: Asilo de la Paz, Cerro Alieri, and Devil's Crown. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 22 Santa Cruz: Highlands and Charles Darwin Research Station. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 23 Floreana: Punta Cormorant and Post Office Bay. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 24 Española: Punta Suárez with Waved Albatross, Gardner Bay. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 25 San Cristóbal: Isla Lobos, Kicker Rock, and Punta Pitt. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 26 Santa Fé: Barrington Bay. South Plaza. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 27 Sombrero Chino. Bartolomé: Pinnacle Rock. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 28 Santiago: James Bay. Rábida. Aboard Samba B, L, D
May 29 Last landing at North Seymour, disembark at Baltra. Fly to Quito. Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel B, L
May 30 Depart from Quito, Ecuador. B

Our Trip Leaders

Juan Manuel Salcedo

Juan grew up in the Galápagos Islands where he developed his passion for wildlife while sailing on his father's boat. He received a degree from the University of San Francisco, Quito after studying Applied Ecology, Biology and Geology. Juan also earned a skipper certificate after studying sailing and navigation in Los Angeles. Involvement in Environmental Education projects in the Galápagos Islands and on mainland Ecuador fills his spare time.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Arrive in Quito, Ecuador

May 12

Arrive in Quito, Ecuador for overnight.

Yanacocha, Nono-Mindo Eco-route, and Bella Vista cloud forest

May 13

Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris supports World Cetacean Alliance

Juan Manuel Salcedo will lead a two-day field trip to explore the tropical flora and fauna in the cloud forests near Quito. Travel from the high Andes to the cloud forest and observe the change of climate, vegetation, and geology. Visit Yanococha and the Nono-Mindo Eco-route for vibrant bird life then experience a night walk at Bella Vista for mammals, amphibians, and insects.

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, Refugio Paz de las Aves

May 14

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Depart before dawn to the Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek for colorful displays by the males plus many other special bird species in this area. Visit Refugio Paz de las Aves for more bird watching and a traditional Ecuadorian brunch. Take in the wildlife around the lodge at Bella Vista including countless colorful hummingbirds that frequent feeders on the lodge grounds. Return to Quito for dinner and overnight.

Fly to Galápagos, first landing on Mosquera Islet

May 15


After an early breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for a morning flight to the Baltra Airport in the Galápagos Islands. Juan Manuel Salcedo will be with the group throughout the process to coordinate all logistics. We'll take a small bus for the short transfer to the dock where the Samba awaits. We’ll embark on 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 nearby Mosquera Islet. Imagine a beach rising from the ocean floor in the middle of nowhere with sand grains as soft as sugar. This volcanic uplift dates from 100 thousand years ago. On shore, encounter Galápagos Sea Lions, Sally Light Foot Crabs and shorebirds. Once back on board, we will be served a welcome cocktail and meet all the members of this very friendly, professional crew. This evening, we will travel to Genovesa in the outer archipelago. Before dark, it's possible to view marine mammals and seabirds from the 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 appearing to encapsulate dolphins in a glowing shield as they bow-ride with the boat.

Isla Genovesa: Darwin Bay and Prince Philip’s Steps

May 16

Red-footed Booby

On arrival at Genovesa, we anchor in Darwin Bay, a huge flooded volcanic caldera. The walls of the caldera provide wonderful ledges for Galápagos Fur Seals, a very rare fur seal that we will find along their haul-out area in the vicinity of the stone stairway known as "Prince Philip's Steps." Nesting sites of Red-billed Tropicbirds line the caldera walls, so look for these elegant birds flying overhead as we make our approach. 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 (Galápagos) 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, and they are adapted to hunting far out to sea and can only rear a single young every two years. Blue-footed Boobies, in 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 storm-petrels during the day by hiding within their colony.

Snorkeling in the Galápagos is a very enjoyable experience with many beautiful species of tropical fish to discover along with the chance of seeing sea turtles, fur seals, 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.

We'll end our day at remote Genovesa with a landing at the small beach in Darwin Bay. Noted evolutionary biologist Rosemary Grant conducted much of her research on Darwin's finches here at Darwin Bay. Enjoy excellent views of Red-footed Boobies and Great Frigatebirds nesting here 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. Frigatebirds are ceaseless with aerial displays of kleptoparasitism as they "dog-fight" along the cliffs for scarce nesting material. 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, and we can find all four species 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). Unlike boats with shorter itineraries, we'll have the luxury of spending the night anchored in the calm waters of Darwin Bay and will travel west to nearby Marchena early the next morning.

Isla Marchena: Snorkeling at Punta Mejía and Playa Negra

May 17

The Samba Samba has been granted the rare opportunity to visit this wonderful site, making our experience today truly unique to our voyage. Landings are not permitted on Marchena, but it is one of the best places for snorkeling, so it is well worth including in our itinerary. This in an excellent place to snorkel with tropical fish as well as rays, sea turtles, sharks, and eels. We may also find hermatypic (reef building) coral formations here, an uncommon sight in the rest of the archipelago. During our navigation to and from Marchena, we will sail through some of the most whale-rich waters in the region, so keep your eyes on the horizon and your binoculars ready!

Isla Isabela: Punta Albermarle and Punta Vicente Roca

May 18

Punta Albermarle is another uncommon visitor site, yet is home to one of the loveliest Flightless Cormorant colonies in the Galápagos (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.

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 Galápagos 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 bizzare-looking Sunfish (Mola mola), which can reach 10 feet in length.

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 in this region.

Isla Fernandina: Punta Espinoza, Isla Isabela: Urbina Bay

May 19

Galapagos Penguins

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 Galápagos 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 Galápagos Penguins, Lava Lizards, and pelicans. Take a walk along the relatively young basalt or "lava rock" to examine interesting formations and find Lava Cactus (Brachycereus nesioticus), the only species in this genus, 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 Marine Iguanas depend on for food.

This afternoon, we head back east across the canal to Isabela for a very interesting landing at Urbina Bay. In 1954, this portion 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 the foot of Volcán Alcedo to examine evidence of the geologic forces that continue to shape these islands. Along our walk, we will find rocks full of bleached shells and massive coral heads now far from the sea. Large iguanas, both land and marine, live here as well as a few Giant Tortoises, the species for which the Galápagos Islands were named. At Urbina Bay, we will snorkel in some of the coldest water of the trip so we'll be happy to have full-length wetsuits as we discover the underwater world rich in nutrients and wildlife.

Isla Isabela: Elizabeth Bay and Punta Moreno

May 20

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 in these cold, rich waters. 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 Sierra Negra 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 excellent for whale-watching.

Isla Floreana: Asilo de la Paz, Cerro Alieri, Devil’s Crown

May 21

Snorkeling with a Galapagos Sea Lion

After breakfast, we land at Puerto Velasco Ibarra for a ride up to the highlands of Floreana in a chiva (a small open-sided bus). 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 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. 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 the Samba, we will sail to one of the best spots in the world for snorkeling - Devil´s Crown. This afternoon, we'll navigate to Santa Cruz Island for a quiet dinner in Academy Bay. Out on deck we will be on the lookout for cetaceans, seabirds, and other wonders.

Isla Santa Cruz: Highlands and Charles Darwin Research Station

May 22

Exploring Galapagos Islands

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. We'll 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 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 Galápagos Rail, Short-eared Owl, Large and Small tree finches, Vegetarian Finch, and the famous tool-using Woodpecker Finch. We will also walk through a 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.

Isla Floreana: Punta Cormorant and Post Office Bay

May 23

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 a few flamingoes. 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, Galápagos Shearwaters, and large flocks of diving boobies. After lunch we'll stop briefly at Post Office Bay, where you can follow 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 Española!

Isla Española: Punta Suárez with Waved Albatross, Gardner Bay

May 24

Waved Albatross

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, the majority of the world's Waved Albatross select this as their nesting site. The albatross are wonderful to witness in flight and are starting to breed this time of year. Young adults and birds that have recently paired will be courting each other, 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, and Galápagos Sea Lions. The seascapes are spectacular, particularly where the waves force water through a blowhole spouting up to 75 feet high.

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

Isla San Cristóbal: Isla Lobos, Kicker Rock, and Punta Pitt

May 25

San Cristóbal is one of the oldest islands in the archipelago. It is home to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Galápagos Province, which 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, sea 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. Tonight we'll head back west toward the central islands of the archipelago.

Isla Santa Fé: Barrington Bay, Isla Plaza Sur

May 26

Red-billed Tropicbird

This morning, we land on the island of Santa Fé. 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 Giant Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia spp.). We will search among these cacti for Santa Fé Land Iguanas. These iguanas are a different species from the ones found elsewhere in the Galápagos and can grow 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 we may find 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 Giant Prickly Pear Cactus 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 nests at our feet. This evening we travel along the northeast coast of Santa Cruz and Baltra then west to Santiago.

Isla Sombrero Chino, Isla Bartolomé

May 27

If the light is good in the early morning, we will visit the surreal landscape of Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat). This Island is a symmetrical cinder cone (leading to the island's name). The coiled structures of the pahoe-hoe lava flow appear as if they were formed yesterday. Lava tubes run like petrified rivers and white sand from eroded coral surrounds the black rock. This afternoon, we will head to Bartolomé and climb to the 360-foot-high summit 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. Galápagos Penguins are often present in small numbers near Pinnacle Rock so we will have a decent chance to snorkel with the penguins (or at least near them), and maybe even White-tipped Sharks (harmless but exciting)! Also enjoy colorful starfish, tropical fish, and amazing underwater lava formations. We'll have a short navigation tonight to the western side of Santiago.

Isla Santiago: James Bay, Isla Rábida

May 28

Sally Light-foot Crab

This morning we'll begin with a landing at James Bay on the western side of Santiago. This is a beautiful place at any time of day, but 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. 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 aboard the

Isla Seymour Norte, disembark, fly to Quito

May 29

North Seymour Island will be our last landing site and the wealth of wildlife we find here reminds us that our fifteen-day voyage is only just barely long enough. We'll 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 as they dance and the frigates calling for females with their wings spread wide and their dramatic red throat pouches inflated, an unforgettable sight! 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 Giant Prickly Pear Cactus 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 where you will say goodbye before your return flight to Quito.

Depart from Quito, Ecuador

May 30

Fly home from Quito or extend your stay.


Sail on the most in-depth itinerary possible around this archipelago famous for charismatic wildlife unafraid of you or your camera.

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Ship Information


The Samba is a 78-foot, steel-hulled motor yacht with a stabilizing sail making her the perfect choice to experience the Galápagos Islands to their fullest. This sturdy, stately, and very comfortable ocean-going vessel is a European Dutch classic and best in her class with a specially designed high bow.

More Information
Samba with Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Description Cost Per Person
Trip cost, double occupancy Standard Cabins (#1-6) $8,780
Trip cost, double occupancy Upper Deck Cabin (#7) $9,580

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. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. Single rooms are subject to availability. If space is available, cabins can be booked for a single occupant by adding 90% over the listed cabin cost.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second June 1, 2017 $1,500
Third September 1, 2017 $1,500
Final December 1, 2017 Remaining balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $300 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip's departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. We strongly recommend you consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.

Dates Forfeited Amount per Person
On or before September 30, 2017 $300
October 1 to October 31, 2017 10% of tour cost
November 1 to November 30, 2017 40% of tour cost
On or after December 1, 2017 100% of tour cost


  • All leaders, transport, landing fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • Fourteen nights aboard the Samba.
  • Accommodations for the nights of May 12 through May 14 and May 29, during mainland stay.
  • Meals from breakfast on May 13 through lunch on May 29, plus breakfast on May 30.
  • Airport transfers in Quito on May 12 and May 30.
  • The Galápagos National Park Entrance Fee/Port Tax and Immigration Transit Card fee (currently $100 and $20 per person, respectively).
  • The Government of Ecuador fuel tax/surcharge that applies to most vessels operating in the Galápagos does not apply to the Samba because it is a smaller, locally based vessel and is highly fuel efficient, using less than 3,000 gallons of diesel per month.
  • Use of the Samba‘s snorkeling gear and full-length wetsuits.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • $650 to $1,500 round trip from the continental US to Quito, Ecuador (UIO), plus approximately $640 for the Quito-Baltra round-trip flights.
  • Ecuador international departure tax (about $50, subject to change).
  • Dinner on May 29 and any other meals not listed as included.
  • Additional hotel nights and separate airport transfers.
  • Gratuities – tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $650–$780 total per participant for the entire tour. We’ll provide additional information with your Trip Materials.
  • Public or private health insurance with international coverage, but it is required. For more information see travel insurance.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
  • 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/Release Form.


We often get the question “When is the best time to visit to the Galápagos?” With this wonderful destination, it’s hard to go wrong any time of year, however there are some key reasons we pick this time of year for our tour. The Galápagos has two seasons: January to roughly mid-May is the wet/warm season and June to December is the dry/cool season. Late May is the transition between the two seasons, so it tends to be a bit cooler than earlier in the spring with less chance of rain (although, even earlier in the year, the showers are usually brief). In late May, average daytime highs are in the 80’s °F (around 27–32°C) and nighttime lows are in the low to mid-60’s °F (15–18°C). The water in the Galápagos is quite cool, considering the archipelago straddles the Equator. The cold Humboldt current flowing north from Antarctica and northwest from South America account both for this cold water and the productivity of the islands. 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 sea bird activity. Breeding activity of land animals increases 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. Average temperatures during your mainland excursion range from nighttime lows in the 50’s to mid 60’s to daytime highs from mid 60’s to low 80’s.

Fitness Level

Walks on shore vary from short strolls on the beach to a few miles over broken and uneven terrain. We travel at a pace that allows us to see, appreciate, and photograph the unique nature of the Galápagos, so even those who are not accustomed to walking long distances will still be able to join in most activities. If you anticipate struggling with the walks, we suggest that you do some hiking beforehand to get yourself in good condition for the trip. You will need to be comfortable going up and down stairs onboard the yacht and to get in and out of the panga (small boat that takes you to shore). The more fit you are when the trip begins, the more you will enjoy your time in the field! You’ll need to be able to swim if you wish to snorkel. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.

Snorkeling is not mandatory but is a significant part of the voyage and it allows you to discover the beautiful marine habitats of the islands. There are snorkeling opportunities almost every day, sometimes twice per day. Snorkeling experience is not required but you should be able to swim and be comfortable in water to fully enjoy this activity. Most snorkeling will be based from the pangas, sometimes over deep water so it is not an ideal place to learn snorkeling if you are not comfortable in the water or are intimidated by these conditions. The more comfortable you are, the more fun you will have and the more you will see, so getting some experience in advance may be beneficial, however, the Samba crew will assist you if you are uncomfortable.


Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Quito, Ecuador (UIO) no later than the night of May 12, 2018. Depart from Quito (UIO) anytime on or after May 30, 2018.

Flights we book for you: The round-trip flights between Quito and the Galápagos (Baltra Airport). The cost of this round trip booking will be added to your final trip balance.




Don’t let a fear of seasickness keep you away! For all but the most sensitive, seasickness is rarely a problem in the Galápagos. Because we are close to the islands most of the time, the seas tend to be gentle and the few open-ocean passages will be overnight. It’s a good idea to bring medication if you get seasick or are unsure, but you may find that you do not need it after a couple days once you have your “sea legs.” Even those who have experienced seasickness reported that the charm and beauty of the islands and their incredible wildlife were well worth the temporary discomfort. Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.



  • 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 nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, 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 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 it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often 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 tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release 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.