Galapagos Catamaran Cruises
ROAM has been operating a variety of trips in Galapagos for almost two decades. Our all-inclusive charters are the most adventurous and active trips available in the archipelago. These trips utilize the largest of the sail catamarans in the Galapagos fleet (82 & 84 feet), two deluxe power cats and the archipelago’s most luxurious yacht (147 feet). Our vessels can accommodate 12, 16, or 18 guests depending on the program and boat.
Northern routes take advantage of Isabela and Fernandina, the largest and youngest islands in the archipelago, respectfully, and are the most remote of the two itineraries. Southern routes are busier but visit more of the iconic locations. Both routes have hikes, daily snorkelling, kayaking and land visits to the highlands. Scuba divers can pre-arrange dives (with advance notice) and no Galapagos trip would be complete without classic ROAM hospitality both pre and post sailing in Quito.
Our trips are designed for small groups so that you can explore the islands intimately without the crowds. The larger cruise ships are like floating apartment complexes and you can spend hours loading and unloading at visitor sites. ROAM’s smaller group sizes promote efficiencies, options and the ability for you to intimately explore the region at our own pace.
Customized extensions are available in the highlands, jungle and coast and these trips easily dovetail with our legendary Ecuador multisport weeks utilizing haciendas and unique lodges. ROAM also customizes nomadic surf safaris and owns and operates a bamboo surf house on the west coast of Ecuador. We have the knowledge, expertise and ground staff in place to ensure you will be immersed in Ecuador’s landscape and culture for a meaningful and wonderful experience.
|Trip Length||8 days|
|Meeting Place||Quito, Ecuador|
|Gateway City||Quito, Ecuador|
- Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1 (Sunday) – Flight to Galapagos (Baltra Island) and hike/snorkel North Seymour
Day 2 – Hike to see giant tortoises, snorkel, explore Santa Cruz
Day 3 – Hike and snorkel on Isabela Island and Punta Moreno
Day 4 – Snorkeling at Tagus Cove and Fernandina Punta Espinoza
Day 5 – Hiking and snorkeling – Santiago Puerto Egas and Espumilla Beach
Day 6 – Rabida and Sullivan Bay
Day 7 – Hiking volcanoes – Genovesa – Barranco – Darwin Bay
Day 8 (Sunday) – Arrive Baltra and flight back to Quito
Please note: we arrive back in Quito at approx 3-4 pm
- Detailed Itinerary
Because of the Galapagos’ famed natural history and remarkable creatures, these remote islands are revered the world over. In an effort to protect and preserve these “enchanted isles”, that literally changed the world, access is restricted and regulated. On these adventures, our special permits allow us to visit these protected sites.
Most flights arrive into Quito in the evenings so we highly recommend you arrive two nights before your flight to the islands. This allows you to decompress, affords time for flight delays or lost baggage. Here’s sample of what we recommend:
(Friday) – Arrive Quito, Ecuador
Upon arrival in Quito, you will be met at the airport and whisked to your nearby hacienda.
(Saturday) Optional activities
Today you can sleep in a little and enjoy the great breakfast at this family-owned and operated hacienda. Later in the morning, you can depart to Papallacta Hot Springs to soak and unwind after the flight to Ecuador. It’s about a one-hour scenic drive but a wonderful way to see the countryside. In addition to the private hot pools, we will have lunch and some may choose to do some hiking while others may opt to get a massage or other spa services. If hot springs are not your thing, we can organize a guided visit to Otavalao, Ecuador’s largest open air market. Dinner and overnight at the hacienda
Day 1 (Sunday) Early morning flight to Baltra and snorkel at North Seymour
Its an early day as we catch a flight from Quito to Baltra (which is adjacent to Santa Cruz). Once in Galapagos, your naturalist guide will meet you at the park entrance and take you to our yacht moored in the harbor. You’ll check in to your cabins and then regroup to enjoy a delicious lunch.
Soon after we navigate around Daphne Major and learn about Darwin’s Finches before landing at North Seymour for a guided walk. Immediately we will see sea lions, blue-footed boobies and nesting frigate birds. As we walk this beautiful trail we may see land iguanas and even marine iguanas. This island hosts great blue herons and small waders such as sanderlings and semi-palmated plovers. Pelicans, tropicbirds and herons may also be a part of the mix. Later in the day we’ll gather for the first in a series of congenial onboard dinners as we get to know our fellow travelers and navigate our way to Santa Cruz.
Day 2 Hiking – Santa Cruz and Charles Darwin Station
After a glorious oceanside breakfast, we will explore the island of Santa Cruz. In the morning we will travel up into the highlands to see tortoises in the wilds. A stunning view and relaxed private reserve, we will be able to wlak around on your own and take picture sof these incredible beasts.
In the afternoon we will visit the world famous Charles Darwin Research Centre where most of the efforts to protect and preserve the native flora and fauna are developed. The center also has giant tortoise rearing programs and is home to Lonesome George, the last of his species. Tonight we will dine while we navigate to Isabela Island.
Day 3 Hiking and snorkeling – Isabela Island and Punta Moreno
Located on the western shore of Isabela, Punta Moreno is a place where the forces of the Galapagos have joined to create a work of art. Our exploration starts with a panga ride along the beautiful rocky shores where Galapagos penguins and shore birds are frequently seen. After a dry landing, the path traverses through jagged black lava rock. As the swirling black lava flow gave way to form craters, crystal tide pools formed-some surrounded by mangroves. This is a magnet for small blue lagoons, pink flamingos, blue herons, and Bahama pintail ducks. Brown pelican can be seen nesting in the green leaves of the mangroves. You can walk to the edge of the lava to look straight down on these pools including the occasional green sea turtle, white-tipped shark and puffer fish. We will have time to snorkel before lunch and then navigate to Urbina Bay.
Lying at the foot of Alcedo Volcano, south of Tagus Cove, is Urvina Bay (Urbina Bay) one of the best and the most recent example of geological uplift in the Galapagos. Uplift occurs when the molten materials beneath the surface shift. In 1954 the shoreline was uplifted nearly 15 feet (4 meters). The coastline was driven 3/4 of a mile further out to sea, exposing giant coral heads and stranding marine organisms on what was now on shore. A Disney film crew visited the site shortly afterwards and discovered skeletons of sharks, sea turtles and lobsters unable to find the ocean from the rapidly rising land. Schools of fish were found stranded in newly formed tide pools. Boulder sized coral heads can be seen near the area that once was the beach. The uplifting of Urbina Bay was followed by an eruption of Alcedo a few weeks later.
Seasonally Urvina Bay provides a nesting area for many of the Galapagos creatures. Female tortoises journey down from Alcedo to lay their eggs in the sand. Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and brown pelicans nest in the area as well. The visit begins with a wet landing on the white sand beach. The difficulty of the route varies by season as the trail ranges from stark and easily passable during the dry season to mildly challenging requiring wading to pass during the rainy season. Visitors cross the uplifted region learning about this geological wonder. Then reach the sandy area that was once the beach. Shorter visits return to the landing point on the same path, while longer visits continue past the coral heads and new beach.
Other highlights of this site include marine iguanas and some of the largest land iguanas in the islands, and Galapagos Cotton an endemic plant, historians believe the Incas brought to the islands, while naturalist theorize it floated across from Peru. Tonight we will dine enroute to Tagus Cove
Day 4 Snorkeling at Tagus Cove and Fernandina Punta Espinoza
Tagus Cove is situated directly east of Fernandina Island on the west coast of Isabela Island. It is a beautiful, well-protected cove sheltered by the shoulders of two volcanic craters and has been used as an anchorage for over 300 years. A nature trail here ascends through the typical dry vegetation zone and offers spectacular views of Darwin Lake, a saltwater crater lake and the long narrow inlet that appears to connect with it. At the top of the trail it is possible to observe the different vegetation zones, catch a glimpse of Darwin and Wolf volcanoes, and observe Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants and pelicans. We will have an opportunity to snorkel before sailing to Fernandina.
Fernandina Island is the youngest and most active volcano in the Galapagos, with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools and large numbers of marine iguanas dot the sand. We also will have the opportunity to compare the aa and pahoehoe lava types here. Dinner at night and navigation to Santiago,
Day 5 Hiking and snorkeling – Santiago Puerto Egas and Espumilla Beach
A visit to Puerto Egas begins with a wet landing on the dark sand beaches of James Bay. Here we walk along the rocky coast giving visitors the opportunity to view some of the Galapagos Island’s best tide pools. Sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles and fish including the endemic four-eyed blenny can be seen. The walk also presents a variety of shore birds, marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs and sea lions.
There are two interesting excursions at Puerto Egas. The first is a short walk from the landing site to the site of one of the Galapagos’ first entrepreneurial endeavours. For decades salt was extracted from a local salt crater. The industry was abandoned in the 1950’s leaving behind a variety of rusted old machines and parts of buildings. The trail follows the path once used by wagon trains to the crater cone. The steep trail is easy, but can often seem one of the hottest hikes in the islands. Feral goats prune the arid vegetation, which lines the trail. The goats feed on any leaves within reach leaving little left for the endemic island creatures. Bird lovers will be delighted with the opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of Darwins finch, the endemic Galapagos hawk, or the colorful vermillion flycatcher.
Reaching the crater rim presents an incredible vista as you are able to see this extinct volcano whose floor has sunken below sea level. Salt water seeps into the crater creating a small salt lake. The sun evaporates the water, leaving the salt that many have tried to mine without success. Looking away from the crater are the older orange lava fields supporting vegetation including the palo santo trees and the younger desolate black lava fields.
The second excursion is to a fur seal grotto. Fur seals and sea lions can be seen swimming in the rocky lava ringed pools. This is the best opportunity guests have to see and swim with fur seals. Fur seals were once hunted to near extinction for their coats. The Galapagos Fur Seal is the smallest of the fur seals found in the southern hemisphere, now compare in numbers with the sea lions. During the day they hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs. At night they feed on squid and fish avoiding the sharks, which are their natural predator. The crystal clear water, volcanic bridges, fur seals and sea lions make this a magnificent place for swimming and snorkeling.
Visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach come in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes visitors through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt. Sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white cheeked pintails can be seen. The trail makes a loop heading over a knob into a sparely forested area then back to the beach. Along the way those with a watchful eye may spot a variety of Darwin finches or a vermilion fly catcher. Once back at the beach visitors may have the chance to swim or snorkel time permitting.
Less than an hour north of Puerto Egas, Buccaneers Cove served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors and whalers during the 18th and 19th century. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much needed repairs to their ships while other men went a shore to stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water and firewood. Several years ago ceramic jars were found at the bottom of the bay, the disregarded cargo of some mariner from years gone by. Inside the jars were supplies of wine and marmalade. Few boats stop at Buccaneers Cove today. Though many cruise by at a slow speed giving visitors the opportunity to view the steep cliffs made of tuff formations and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs. Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the “monk” and “elephant rock”. A large population of feral goats now frequents Buccaneers Cove and this portion of Santiago. The National Park Service has fenced off part of the area to protect the native vegetation from the destructive eating habits of this introduced species. A wet landing on the large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers. Dinner at night and navigation to Rabida.
Day 6 Rabida and Sullivan Bay
One of the special features of Rabida Island is its remarkable red color, which is a result of the high percentage of oxidized iron in the composition of lava. Here we will witness the nine varieties of finches also the large-billed flycatchers and brown pelicans. Here a small salt-water lagoon where greater Flamingos can be seen and a beautiful colony of sea lions. The main attraction of Sullivan Bay is the broad, pahoehoe or rope lava flow. It is one of the most incredible places to compare the lava flows and their characteristics. Dinner at night and navigation to Genovesa.
Day 7 (Saturday) Hiking volcanoes – Genovesa – Barranco – Darwin Bay
Also known as bird Island, El Barranco, is a place where tropicbirds, red-footed boobies and other nesting seabirds can be found. We follow the trail through a palo santo forest to a storm petrel colony passing boobies and great frigate birds along the way. Darwin Bay is the caldera of a collapsed volcano and has a small coral beach where we can land for an easier walk, snorkel and kayaking. This will allow for stunning views from the cliffs and an opportunity to photograph the amazing bird life such as swallow-tailed gulls, red-footed booby, nazca booby, large ground finch, large cactus finch, sharp-billed ground finch, small marine iguanas, and great frigate bird. Dinner at night and navigation to Baltra.
Day 8 (Sunday) Baltra
Birdlife abounds as the morning sunrise lights up the pink skies. Soon after, reality sinks in that it is time to leave this island paradise and make our way to the airport at Baltra. Tonight you may decide to re-group in Quito for a farewell dinner to share memories and laughs before retiring to your overnight accommodations. Please note: guests flying home on Delta may depart this evening from Quito
After an early breakfast at the hotel, take a taxi to the airport to catch flights home or get ready for your next adventure in Ecuador
- Pre-trip Accommodations in Quito
Featuring comfortable and luxurious suites, an on-site restaurant with cozy fireplaces and an extensive garden, Hotel Casa de Hacienda La Jimenita offers free Wi-Fi and a complimentary breakfast. The suites in Casa de Hacienda La Jimenita feature private bathrooms with vertical hydromassage showers, fireplaces, hand-made furniture and splendid scenic views. La Jimenita has a 90,000 square metre private natural reserve, natural trails and an archaeological tunnel on-site. The friendly staff at La Jimenita provide tourism information and tips to explore the area.
- About the Region
In 1835 Charles Darwin sailed on the British ship H.M.S. Beagle and visited the islands. His theory of the origin of species, which shook up the scientific world, was inspired by the evidence he found in this unique volcanic archipelago. The islands provide a living museum of evolutionary changes that profoundly affect all those who witness their splendor. In 1936 the Galapagos was declared a National Park to preserve its unique vegetation and wildlife. UNESCO declared Galapagos a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978 and subsequently a World Biosphere Reserve in 1985. Protection was further strengthened in 1994 with the creation of the Reserva Marina de Galapagos, which was recently extended to cover the 130,000 square kilometers within a 40-nautical mile radius of the islands making the Galapagos the second largest marine reserve in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The archipelago is purely volcanic in origin and features beautiful volcanic formations not found on the mainland. The islands emerged from lava eruptions that came from the bottom of the ocean and rise as much as 2,600 feet above sea level. Lava from more than 2,000 craters has continually altered the terrain of this region. Currently the archipelago contains 13 large islands, 6 minor ones, and more than 40 islets. Some of the younger islands still have active volcanoes. Many variables, such as isolation, climate, altitude, and the unique terrain account for the archipelago’s distinct flora and fauna.
From the world’s only seagoing lizards to flightless cormorants and penguins, flamingos, inflatable frigate birds, wave albatrosses, clownish boobies, giant tortoises, and 13 species of finches, you can enjoy thrilling encounters with animals-up close and in large numbers-who are completely at ease among human visitors.
There are extraordinary opportunities to swim with marine animals such as sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles and manta, eagle, and golden rays, as well as 300 species of colorful fish. The more adventurous may relish the chance to snorkel with the friendly Galapagos sharks, white-tipped reef sharks or even hammerheads.
The plants of Galapagos are equally fascinating. Many species of indigenous Scalesia (“tree daisies”) as well as tree ferns, bromeliads, and orchids are found in the highlands. Giant prickly pear and candelabra cacti abound on the coast while tiny Brachycereus cacti grow on barren lava flows. Vivid morning glories and mats of bright red sesuvium blanket the shores. Galapagos also has its very own native species of cotton, tomato, pepper, guava, and passionflower. Many kinds of plants, particularly those belonging to the daisy family, have evolved into whole arrays of endemic species on the different islands, providing scientists with perfect examples of adaptive radiation
- Trip Planner
Planning Your Trip
This trip planner has been created to help prepare you for your upcoming adventure. We have tried to anticipate questions you might have concerning travel arrangements, what to bring, and getting in shape. If any of your questions remain unanswered, please don’t hesitate to call.
Your trip begins and ends in Quito, Ecuador. You will need to arrange for your international flights. American, Delta, United and Continental airlines offer direct service into Quito from Miami, Atlanta and Houston respectively. We will make the arrangements for your Quito-Galapagos flights.
Upon arrival at the Quito Airport you will clear customs and then take a taxi to your designated hotel. Unless told otherwise, your hotel will be:
Hacienda La Jimenita:
Via Pifo , Sector Barrio Andrango Calle S/N
International Phone Calls 24/7 English Speaker: (593) 998750 972
Local Phone Calls: (593) 22 380 285
We will fly to Galapagos on Sunday morning. Our representative will have your e-ticket itinerary printed and your Ingala card ready for you at the hotel. When you arrive at the domestic terminal, take your bags through the screening system on the right hand side before you check in at the airline desk. You will need to present passports in order to get your boarding pass. Upon arrival in Galapagos you will need to check into the National park. Please be sure to have your cash ready for your park fee because at this time they do not accept credit cards (cash only)
After Your Trip
Following your nights onboard the boat, we will return to Quito where you will spend one final night at the hacienda before transferring to the airport the following morning for flights home.
Ecuador uses US dollars as their currency. Each participant will be required to pay a park entrance fee for the Galapagos Islands ($100 per adult, $70 per child, 12 years and under). Having between $300 and $600 for souvenirs and meals in Quito should be more than adequate depending on how much you like to shop! In the Galapagos Islands, you will most likely need cash as ATM machines are limited and credit cards are not widely accepted. In hotels and shops in Quito you can use credit cards to charge purchases such as food, accommodations, and clothing. American Express, Visa, and MasterCard are widely accepted.
The trip leader is responsible for the safety of all trip members and he or she may evacuate or disqualify a trip member in the field if anyone’s safety is jeopardized. Please be aware that hospital facilities for serious medical problems may be far away, doctors are not always available and that evacuations can be prolonged, difficult and expensive.
If you are taking any prescription drugs, be certain that you bring a sufficient supply to last through the trip. Do not pack these medications in your checked luggage. You will not find common American drugs in Ecuador. If you have concerns about seasickness, we suggest that you speak with your doctor about available treatments. Scopolamine patches (prescription) or Bonine (over the counter) are common medications for preventing seasickness, while an electro-stimulator worn on the wrist can also be an effective prevention.
Currently, if you fly direct between the USA and Ecuador, no vaccinations are required. However, regulations and recommendations change frequently, so please check with the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/travel/tropsam.htm) for up-to-date information.
Essential Travel Documents
Your Passport – If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date. Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement.
Check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have a least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have additional pages added. You also need to make sure your passport expiry has more than 6 months remaining or they may not allow you entry.
Please do not pack your passport in your check-in luggage. You may be asked for your papers not only upon departure but a various times during your trip, even while checking into the hotel in Quito. If you are carrying a customs form, please keep it in a safe place at all times, perhaps in your pouch along with your other valuables. We do not recommend carrying it in the passport because you must often submit the passport at hotels, where the form can easily be lost.
Visas – Visas are not required for US or Canadian citizens to enter Ecuador. For others, please check with the Ecuadorian Consulate.
Travel and Evacuation Insurance
Travel insurance that includes medical emergency evacuation is advised. You may call Travel Insurance Service at 800-937-1387 or visit their website at http://www.travelinsure.com/what/imedhigh.htm?32931. Coverage for baggage loss, medical protection, trip cancellation, trip interruption is highly recommended. When selecting a policy please make sure you are very clear about what it will and will not cover. No travel insurance covers all scenarios. Proof of insurance will be required prior to your trip.
Please let us know if you’re having a birthday or anniversary on the trip. We’ll also need to know of any medical or dietary requirements that you’d like us to consider in planning your trip (i.e. if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or if you have any food allergies.). Please note this on the Guest Registration Form (be specific as to what your needs are) and return it to our office at least 60 days before your trip. If you’re booking your trip less than 60 days before departure, please make sure you’ve discussed any special requests with our office.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend you check the following web sites: www.weather.com or www.wunderground.com
There are two primary seasons during the year in the Galapagos. Each offers a good time for visiting, but the character of each season is somewhat different.
November through May is the warmer time of year, with the highs in the upper 80s to mid-90s. Although the islands receive relatively more rainfall during this time most of the lower elevations of the islands are quite arid and there is plenty of sunshine and blue skies. The sea is at its warmest, and it is usually calmer at this time of year.
The drier “garua season” lasts from June through October. The garua is mist that forms in the highlands of the islands. Ironically, the garua season provides more moisture at the upper levels of the islands than the so-called wet season. Air temperatures are lower, with highs in the upper 70s. The climate at this time is affected by the strong Humboldt Current, which comes from the south. The water temperature, therefore, is at its coolest during this time, about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Quito, which is about 9300 feet above sea level, the elevation greatly moderates the climate. The temperature ranges from 45 to 70 degrees, with lower temperatures from April to October. Daytime temperatures are warm and pleasant, while evenings are cool and comfortable.
This trip is relatively moderate but hiking, snorkelling and kayaking require a combination of cardiac and strength training. Jogging, swimming, and aerobic exercises will help increase endurance for the activities. Push-ups, sit-ups and other weight training exercises that increase upper and lower body strength will ensure preparedness for getting the most out of your experience. Regular exercise prior to your trip will certainly add to your enjoyment.
The hikes are moderate and allow you to get up close and personal with the magnificent wildlife in the islands. We recommend that your hiking shoes be lightweight, with sturdy soles, and that they are well worn in. If you are buying new hiking shoes for this trip, be sure to walk them in well in advance to avoid blisters during the trip.
Snorkelling will expose you to a new world. You may come face-to-face with baby sea lions as they dart playfully past your mask. Penguins flit by in a trail of bubbles and sea turtles glide beneath you. The ecological diversity characteristic of the Galapagos is on grand display beneath the surface of the ocean as much as it is on land. If you’ve never snorkelled before, you’ll want to try it out here as the experience is not to be missed.
The Galapagos is a wonderful place to sea kayak as you glide over a plethora of marine life. The yacht is equipped with two kayaks for exploring the seashore. In the last few years, they have begun to strictly regulate the areas in which we can sea kayak so it tends to vary by the trip and park regulations. In any case, the paddling is always exceptional!
Suggested Packing List
If you do not already own any of the items on the suggested packing list feel free to call our office for suggestions.
- Duffel Bag: Bring your gear packed in a soft duffel bag rather than suitcase
- Daypack: For day hikes it should be large enough to carry water bottles, camera and rain jacket and can double as your flight carry-on bag
- Spare soft duffel for purchases while in Ecuador (or purchase in Ecuador)
- Plastic Bags: Large trash bag and ziploc bags to separate clean and dry clothes from wet and dirty.
- Sunglasses with securing strap
- Earplugs: It will sometimes be necessary to motor through the night to make it to the next day’s destination
- Sunscreen (Waterproof & SPF 15 or higher)
- Lip Protection (SPF 15 or higher)
- Moisturizing Lotion
- Insect repellent
- Personal First Aid Kit (Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin)
- Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
- Water Bottles: Heavy duty and minimum 2 quart capacity. For day hikes, hydration systems like a “Camelbak” are great too
- Headlamp or Flashlight, extra batteries and bulb
- Camera, batteries, film or memory cards
- Notebook and Pen
- Cash for National Park entrance fee, gratuities and souvenirs
Any clothing you bring should be synthetic, quick drying, and breathable. This is a sub-tropical adventure and you will be exposed to sun, wind, and water. Long sleeves, long pants, and wide brimmed hats are recommended for sun protection. In general, you will need loose fitting clothes for the hotter parts of the trip and some extra layering for evenings. Keep in mind that some of what you bring may get sweaty and wet due to the humid climate. You will also encounter dust, sand, and salt, and may feel a little grubby from time to time. No fancy dress clothing is required.
- Long Sleeved Shirt: Lightweight and light color for sun protection.
- Long Pants: Lightweight and light color for sun protection (jeans not recommended)
- Shade Hat or Visor with tie and a spare
- Rain Jacket & Pants: A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck and wrists. Rain pants are optional
- Swimsuits: 2
- 1 -2 rash guard tops for snorkeling
- Underwear: Quick-drying
- Shorts: 2-3 pair lightweight, and fast drying
- T-shirts or lightweight fast drying tops
- Sport Sandals: Teva, Chacos or Keen brand
- Athletic Shoes or Lightweight Hiking Boots: 1 pair, comfortable and with good tread
- Hiking Socks: 3 or 4 pair mid-weight
- Casual clothes for evenings and in Quito (Note: evenings are cool)
- Walking Stick: collapsible
- Binoculars: compact
- Shortie wetsuit
- Electrolyte mix for flavouring water
- Personal snorkel gear (we provide gear but many prefer their own)
Bringing the right camera equipment will go a long toward determining the quality of your photographs. If you’re an avid photographer, we recommend bringing a good digital SLR camera that can be used on land and when aboard the catamaran. There are many great underwater digital cameras that are salt-water resistant and protected against sand.
Bring more memory card space than you think you’ll need. And don’t forget to pack spare camera batteries or a charger. You should be ready for bright sunlight, so you may want to bring a polarizing filter. Zip-Lock plastic bags help protect you camera against sand and salt. We strongly recommend you take out a rider on you homeowner’s policy to cover your camera -especially if it’s fine equipment.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich size zip-lock bags. They can be used during the day while you are on the water or hiking and can be disposed of when you reach your overnight lodging. (Hint for tampon users: o.b. tampons are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping). Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes.
Packing Your Gear
We recommend traveling as light as possible! Excess baggage can be a burden to you and to support personnel. On an international flight, you are typically allowed 1-2 pieces of checked luggage at no additional fee but luggage restrictions are changing regularly and vary according to airline – please check with your specific airline to determine luggage allowance. On the flight from Quito to the Galapagos, you will only be allowed 44 lbs. Excess luggage may be kept at the hotel in Quito.
Complimentary bottled drinking water is available at the hotel in Quito. We will provide purified water while in the Galapagos. It is best to bring your own reusable water bottle or hydration pack, in order to limit waste. Do not drink water from the tap as it frequently contains bacteria that can cause stomach problems.
The boats are equipped with a water desalinization machine to provide us with freshwater for daily use. Please limit the number and time of your daily showers, as the machine provides 200 litres of freshwater per hour, and an average shower requires 40 litres. For the same reason, we ask that you do not wash your clothes on the boat.
It is crucial that you stay hydrated while in the tropics, especially when we are hiking, biking and kayaking. Electrolyte powders make water taste better, while replacing salts and minerals lost to sweating.
Ecuador is on the 110V AC system. Sockets are the standard US style, either 2 flat prongs or 2 flat prongs and a round ground. There are sockets on the catamaran for recharging batteries. In order to save power, please remember to switch off the light and A/C when not in your cabin.
The sun is very strong in the Galapagos. Reapply sunscreen often, and wear your hat and sunglasses.
In hot climates, cuts and scratches can easily become infected and take a long time to heal. Prevent infection from coral cuts by immediately washing wounds with fresh water. Use an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide and an antibacterial like Neosporin. Prickly heat, or salt/heat rash is a common ailment for tropical adventurers. It is caused by salt buildup in the sweat glands. The skin becomes soggy and small red blisters appear. At first sight of the rash, wash with fresh water and apply calamine lotion, dust with talcum powder and change clothes. Until the rash improves, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Passengers will be transferred from the catamaran to the islands in a panga (dinghy). The landings may be wet or dry. Dry landings mean you step directly onto rock, while wet landings mean you step into the water and wade to shore. Your guide will tell you ahead of time what type of landing to expect. Either way, crew members will be there to assist you.
Your guide will conduct a briefing every evening after dinner. He or she will explain the following day’s activities and talk about what animals and plants might be seen.
Please remember you are visiting a national park, and will be expected to follow park regulations. The instructions you receive from your guide are intended for the preservation and conservation of the Galapagos.
- Stay on marked trails
- Do not touch or feed the animals
- Do not smoke on the Islands
- Clean the soles of your shoes to avoid carrying endemic seeds from one island to another
- Take only pictures, leave only footprints
Each guest will be given a mask, a snorkel and a pair of fins, in an individually numbered bag, to use for the duration of the trip. Please rinse your gear in freshwater after each use. Snorkelers are asked to follow these simple instructions:
- Stay with the group; look up every few minutes to check that you are still close
- Be aware of the location of the panga
- When getting on and off the panga, stay clear of the outboard motor
- Have all your gear on before getting off the panga
- Take off only your fins before re-boarding the panga
- When diving under be sure to look up before resurfacing
- If you feel more comfortable in a life vest, you are welcome to wear one
For those interested, scuba diving will be an option for an extra fee. The dives are offered at times that will not interfere with the land-based activities. Please bring your diving license if you’d like to participate but advance notice is required.
Please inform us of any dietary restrictions when booking the trip. Meals are generally served at these times (subject to change to suit the itinerary):
-Breakfast 7:00 – 7:30
-Lunch 12:00 – 12:30
-Dinner 19:00 – 19:30
Snacks will be offered between meals.
There are a variety of soft drinks, beer and liquor available. The bartender will open a tab for you and settle up at the end of the cruise.
The cabins are cleaned every morning. Towels and sheets are changed 3 times a week. Please do not bring any food or drinks into the cabins.
Your guide will thoroughly explain safety procedures once you are onboard. Please be sure to check exactly where the life vests are located in your cabin. In the unlikely event that the alarm sounds, you will be expected to gather your personal documents, put on warm clothes, and bring your life vest to the lounge where the crew members will be waiting with further instructions.
Smoking On Board
There are designated smoking areas on deck. Please ask one of the crew members for an ashtray and do not throw butts into the water. Smoking on the islands is not allowed.
Everywhere in Ecuador, including Quito, the Galapagos Islands and our catamaran, people are asked not to throw anything into the toilets, including toilet paper. A wastebasket is provided for toilet paper and it is emptied often. This may seem strange to North Americans, but please obey this rule and avoid being the cause of a backed up septic system. Thanks!
Laundry service is available at the hotel and the occasional location in the islands. Before dropping any laundry check for turn-around times. We recommend lightweight, quick drying articles of clothing that can air dry on the boat.
The Galapagos Islands are in the same time zone as Central Standard in the USA (CST). Quito time is the same as Eastern Standard Time.
The tipping of guides is entirely discretionary, and we feel strongly that gratuities should not be offered to them if they lead anything less than a great trip. However, we expect that our crew will do a great job in making your trip memorable and, when they do, it is not uncommon for our travelers to offer a gratuity. The guides very much appreciate it.
In this regard, we are often asked what is appropriate. As a general tipping guideline, we have found that our travellers will each leave $150 (for the crew to split) and another $100 to the naturalist and tour leader. Once again, tipping is entirely at your discretion and varies by culture and situation.