9 Days, 8 Nights|
Guides, ground transportation, support vehicle, lodging, meals per itinerary (B,D), all kayaking equipment, mountain bikes and instruction.|
Airfare to/from Quito; Airfare to/from Galapagos, Galapagos National Park entrance fee: $100 USD p/p (subject to government change); Galapagos transit card: $10 USD p/p (subject to government change), daily lunches, drinks and one dinner, personal clothing and accessories, full medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurance, airport taxes, any additional historical tours, and gratuities for guides.
Travel in the wake of Darwin and H.M.S. Beagle for a one-of-a-kind multi-sport adventure in the “Enchanted Isles.” Instead of looking down from a cruise ship observation deck, you’ll paddle with dolphins and marine turtles through electric turquoise water to white sand coves lined with sea lions. You’ll mountain bike among surreal wildlife born without fear of humans, and trek through stunning volcanic landscapes incomparable to anything else on the planet. Don’t forget your camera! You’ll learn why the Galapagos have been called an open-air zoo, and after each day’s guided adventures, you’ll retire to the most comfortable accommodations the islands have to offer.
Day 1: You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for a good night’s sleep. Dinner is on your own, typically aboard your inbound flight for most arrivals.
Day 2: Following breakfast, you will be transferred back to the airport to meet your early morning flight to San Cristobal Island some 600 miles off-shore. Upon your arrival the park-entrance fee is due ($100 USD), so plan ahead and make sure to have US dollars in cash. Following a short transfer to our hotel, we will have a tour of the beautiful new San Cristobal Interpretive Center, funded by the Spanish government. Then we’ll take a walk to Frigate Hill, followed by a dip in the sea at Carola beach, time permitting. Our evening will conclude with welcome drinks and orientation, followed by dinner in town together. Stroll along the waterfront to experience the unbelievable sight of hundreds of sea lions displaying various behaviors. You’ll learn why the Galapagos are dubbed an “open-air zoo”. (B, D)
Day 3: This morning, our kayaks and support vessel will take us to two offshore islands along the northwest shore of San Cristobal. Boat supported and dependent on sea conditions, our goals are Darwin Bay, then on to two spectacular snorkeling destinations by support boat, Isla Lobos and Leon Dormindo (the "sleeping lion", also known as Kicker Rock). The paddling will lead you along the pristine coastline exploring the array of breathtaking nooks, caves and corners. You may spot seals, marine birds and countless other marine species. The day will be broken up with breaks for swimming, snacking, snorkeling, and otherwise enjoying this photographic paradise. We will conclude our day with dinner in town together. (B, D)
Day 4: After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our small aircraft flight to the largest of the islands, beautiful Isla Isabela. Our home for the next 3 nights is Iguana Crossing, a name you will understand almost immediately! Newly opened, this is an exquisite base for our adventure. We will walk to a tortoise breeding center and explore the coastline by snorkel and fins discovering the islet of Tinetoreras. Tinetoreras, the local word for the white tipped shark, is home to a pod of such sharks along with sea lions and a newly-founded penguin colony. (B, D)
Day 5: After a delicious breakfast, we prepare for a full day of adventure on the land. We will transfer to Sierra Negro and hike to Vocan Chicao with breathtaking views of the islands. Our mountain bikes will be nearby for the downhill ride to lunch at Campo Duro, and then back to the hotel for a refreshing swim in the sea or a dip in the new pool overlooking the sea. Don’t miss the opportunity for a rooftop sundowner in the Jacuzzi… (B, D)
Day 6: A restorative sleep is followed by another scrumptious breakfast before leaving from the small harbor for a full-day excursion of snorkeling and exploration. Tunelos is our destination where we will snorkel through a variety of protected rock formations where penguins and sea turtles abound. Returning home, there is time for a siesta and a swim before setting out on bikes along the sea to visit the Wall of Tears. Dinner will be on your own tonight. (B)
Day 7: Early in the morning, we will transfer by fast boat to the more cosmopolitan island of Santa Cruz in the heart of the archipelago. We’ll have breakfast upon our arrival, and then depart for the Highlands of Santa Cruz. We’ll visit the tortoise reserve and explore the lava tunnels that are seemingly frozen in time. We’ll return to the port, and then hike out to Tortuga Bay for an afternoon of kayaking, keeping an eye out for turtles and marine birds. Our evening is just starting with dinner and a walk through Punta Ayora giving you a glimpse of modern day island life. (B, D)
Day 8: We’ll spend the morning kayaking at Garrapatero Beach, followed by lunch in the port. In the afternoon, we’ll explore Academy Bay by kayak. One final celebration dinner will help you capture the essence of island life firmly in your memory. (B, D)
Day 9: After breakfast, we will tour the Charles Darwin Center before transferring to Baltra Island, where we will have a brief moment for souvenir shopping before flying to Quito and transferring to your hotel. The Northwest Passage guides will help with any transfer from airport to hotel after arriving back in Quito. (B)
Beyond your time on the islands: We encourage you to consider additional one-day or multi-day adventure add-ons. Our experience shows that a day walking the open-air markets with a local guide or zip-lining and exploring the jungle forests really round out the Galapagos Islands adventure. Of course Macho Picchu is within reach from Quito and we can help make that a reality. Our office has the knowledge to help plan additional days in and around Quito.
* Note I: This is our intended itinerary. As with any adventure travel, the forces of nature can be unpredictable, forcing us to make adjustments and changes to the itinerary. Rest assured that our many years of exploring have provided us with numerous options if changes need to be made.
**Note II: Our office staff is happy to help discuss the ideal travel options to meet your specific needs. Please call or email for additional information. Travel insurance is strongly encouraged and mandatory for your piece of mind.
These are all the personal items you will need - anything else is unnecessary baggage and will only be extra weight to carry.
- 3-7 t-shirts, some synthetic for paddling
- 1 shirt, long sleeved
- 2-3 pair shorts (some quick drying)
- Sun/rain hat
- Sneakers/cross trainers hiking; some prefer hiking in Tevas or other sandals with socks
- Rain gear just in case! (Paddling jacket works well as an alternative, or windbreaker jacket)
- 1 pair sport sandals; Tevas, water socks, etc. (Paddling booties are great!)
- Bathing suit(s)
- Underwear, socks
- Casual clothes for evenings (shorts/summer dresses are fine!)
- Clean change of clothing for the trip home
Many of these items are included in our convenient Paddle Pack -Northwest Passage Paddle Pack (optional, yet highly recommended)**
- Passport (be sure to check expiration date - it should be at least six months after your intended date of return)
- Toiletry kit- toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, moleskin, baby powder, soap, washcloth etc.
- Personal medication kit- ibuprofen, aspirin, vitamins, band-aids, Dramamine®, cold/sinus meds if prone to colds
- Daypack/fanny pack for hiking options
- Collapsible walking stick for hikes if you normally use one
- Sunglasses Chums/Croakies® to keep glasses on your head are imperative
- Water bottle (optional- bottled water is plentiful and cheap)
- Small dry bag with carabiner clip (clear ones are very useful)
- Headlamp (optional)
- Camera, film/digital media, waterproof container
- Paddling gloves (for the tender of palm- not neoprene but any open fingered glove can help e.g. biking gloves etc)
- Small towel (e.g. PackTowel® works well)
- Small travel alarm clock
- Mask and snorkel (can be purchased inexpensively)
- Field glasses – binoculars
- Your own Paddle/PFD- we will supply standard paddles and PFDs for the group but, if you prefer your own paddle and PFD, feel free to bring them along. We also offer an upgraded high-performance paddle option for a small extra fee.
- Ziploc® storage bags (to keep stuff extra dry in dry bag)
Galapagos: Exploring Darwin's Tapestry by John Hess
Darwin in Galapagos: First Steps in a New World by K. Thalia Grant
Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. Available in many editions or on-line
The Galapagos Islands - Lonely Planet
What is special about this trip?
This trip is an oppotunity to intimately explore the Galapagos using low-impact methods which bring us extremely close to the amazingly rich wildlife and natual geological beauty of the islands. During this trip, we acquaint ourselves with some of the most diverse and interesting wildlife on the planet. This truly is an adventure of a lifetime.
How do I get there?
Fly to Quito, Ecuador, the best staging city for launching a Galapagos Islands adventure. You will be met in Quito and then we will fly as a group to the Galapagos. Flight cost is not included.
What papers do I need for travel?
A valid US passport is required for all US citizens; the expiration date should be at least six months after the date of your intended return. Non-US citizens should contact their Ecuadorian embassy for requirements.
Do I need to get any shots before traveling?
No inoculations are required for entry. Many frequent international travelers obtain additional vaccinations for such things as hepatitis A and B but this is not required. Any extra vaccinations should be obtained well in advance of your trip in case of any reactions. If you are planning to extend your trip into other regions of Ecuador or to other South American countries, you may want to review the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for Ecuador.
How and where will you meet me?
You will provide us with your arrival information for Quito; please book your international flights only after checking with our office for the optimum arrival time and other considerations. A guide carrying a Northwest Passage sign will greet you at the airport in Quito, and transfer you to your hotel.
How long will it take me to get there?
Obviously, flight times vary depending on location, layover, etc. but the direct flight from Miami takes about 4 hours, from New York about 7.
Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan to arrive early or stay late, give the office for a recommendation on a great place to stay. We will be taking care of the hotel reservation for the night before our group departure to the Galapagos.
What money should I take?
You must have $100 US dollars (in cash) for the San Cristobal Interpretive Center park entrance fee, $10 for the island transit card, and $428 for the flight from the mainland to the Galapagos.
Bring money for gifts, drinks and the meals that are not included in the trip price (see itinerary).
What's the currency? Exchange rate? Where can I exchange money?
US dollars are accepted everywhere on the islands. If you need to exchange money, do so in Quito (not at the airport) for the best exchange rate.
Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
Most places on the islands accept Visa and Mastercard. American Express is much less widely accepted. ATMs are available across the islands.
What's the weather like?
The Galapagos Islands enjoy a tropical climate. During the time we travel, you can generally expect warm, sunny days with some rain showers around midday. Also, the ocean currents make the water extremely comfortable for swimming, snorkeling and diving around this time of year.
What are the accommodations like?
We choose to stay in nicer hotels with attached bathrooms and other amenities important to your personal comfort.
What do I need to bring?
We will send you a detailed gear list upon registration.
Can I drink the water?
Yes, our accommodations have running potable water. Bottled water is available everywhere we stay as well.
What's the food like?
Expect a lot of delicious seafood. There are many tourist restaurants that cater to American tastes, but generally we prefer to the locals’ favorite cafes and restaurants.
What time zone will I be in?
The Galapagos are in GMT -6 hours or the US Central Time Zone.
How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
You will receive a list of all your hotels’ contact information prior to the trip so that people can contact you if a need arises. You can buy phone cards, and on the main street, there is a Pacifictel office with several phone booths. (In all the populated ports, you can find Pacifictel, Porta and Bellsouth booths.) Phone calls to the United States after 8:00 PM generally run around $.25/minute. Europe is a bit more, and Latin America is very expensive! The country code for Ecuador is 593, and the Galapagos have an area code of 05. All phone numbers have six digits preceded by an area code.
How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
We typically kayak or mountain bike about 5-10 miles day. We make sure to leave free time in the afternoon for relaxation or more exploration.
What kind of equipment do you use?
We use double and single kayaks as well as foldable double kayaks.
How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
Typically, between 4 and 8 people join us on this trip. The guides are experienced outdoor professionals with extensive kayaking and other experience who also hold certifications in Wilderness First Aid.
How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
No prior kayaking experience or conditioning program is necessary for this program. We have had many participants get into a kayak for the first time ever in the Galapagos. If you are normally very sedentary, you may want to add a daily walk or other exercise to your routine with the goal of getting the most out of this remarkable trip.
"Superb! Many thanks to both Ryan and Jorge! Very good restaurants. Last day paddling and snorkeling was the best- never had an experience like the latter- 22 sea turtles AND a hammer-head shark! Wonderful- loved it all!" - Karen C., Ottowa, ON – Galapagos 2012
"The guides were excellent. Jorge spoke good English and was very knowledgeable about the area, culture, and history. Ryan was excellent. The hospitality was great." - Mike M., Birchwood, WI – Galapagos 2012
"All inns were lovely and we were made to feel at home immediately. All requests were taken care of expeditiously. Food was very good overall. I especially liked the local fare the first day we did the “cloud forest.” All the guides were delightful. Fabian was especially knowledgeable. Jorge could not have been more gracious and all spoke very good English. This is a wonderful way to really see the Galapagos and partake of local flavor as well as support the local economy." - Anne S., Glenview, IL – Galapagos 2012
"The accommodations were very nice, clean, and comfortable. We thought the guides were great! All the activities were fun and easy!" - Florence W., Centennial, CO – Galapagos 2012
"Ryan and Jorge were outstanding! Between the two of them all bases were covered - marvelous personalities, very knowledgeable, complemented one another. I felt we went to the best restaurants each place had to offer, and we were certainly kept busy with a variety of fun activities. Overall, congenial people, great guides, and fabulous snorkeling!" - Judi M., Birchwood, WI – Galapagos 2012
"This was an incredible trip. The activities, the food, lodging, animals, guides, all came together for a great adventure." B. Hayslip 2011
“This was one of the most exotic & adventurous trips I have ever taken. I had never been that close to nature and that much interaction with wild animals. I loved our tour guide, Fabricio, and the knowledge he shared with us. It was an awesome & unforgettable experience. Thanks, Rick! :)" -Corina Martinez, Age 12
“This Galapagos Adventure proved to be an expedition worth remembering. The new activities that we experienced such as kayaking and snorkeling made me feel very fortunate. The lessons learned could not have been taught by anyone else except our educated tour guide, Fabricio. With his enthusiasm for this archipelago, his fluency in both English and Spanish, and his great sense of humor, made our vacation that much more enjoyable and worthwhile. Our Northwest Passage tour guide, Rick, also made our experience incredible. His knowledge of the S.A.O. Club and his choppy Spanish made this trip a lot more fun. Although this was the first Northwest Passage trip to Galapagos, Rick’s responsibility and care made it feel like he’s been touring trips in Galapagos for years! I also taught him a new word: deux ex machina. This trip has been wonderful and special. Thank you Northwest Passage -Julian Martinez, Age 16
“Rick (Northwest Passage) Thank you so much for such a memorable experience at the Galapagos Islands. Your therapy also helped me tremendously in understanding my husband. May this be the first of many journeys to the Galapagos. Best Regards,” -Jenny Martinez
“Great trip! It exceeded my expectations by 300% It is the ultimate land & water outdoor 300. Never expected to be able to be so close to the wild life without threatening them. Rick & our guide Fabricio took care of every possible detail. It has been the best multi-sport adventure trip that we have ever taken. Thanks to the Northwest Passage Staff!” -Gus Martinez
"The accommodations were excellent at each stop. The local guide was outstanding, knowledgeable, and generally always helpful and really impressive. Ryan was supportive and encouraging after my fall. Always UP!! The days in the Galapagos were terrific!" - Mike S., Glenview, IL – Galapagos 2012