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Galapagos Tortoise Special

14th November - 26th November 2012

Summary of Trip

  • Excellent tortoise viewing possibilities
  • Specially chartered private yacht in the Galapagos
  • Behind the scenes look at the Charles Darwin Research Station
    and the chance to meet resident experts
  • Small group of up to 15 guests

This special holiday will give you fantastic opportunities to see the magnificent wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, in particular Giant Tortoises in the wild, and meet experts helping restore the tortoise population. Accompanied by one of the top naturalists in the Galapagos, Santiago Bejarano, you will visit and explore in depth some of the most spectacular visitor sites in the Galapagos, with an extended stay on the Island of Santa Cruz, the best Island to see Giant Tortoises in the wild. Ideal for people who can’t travel to Quito for health reasons.


  • 13-day trip begins and ends in Guayaquil
  • 8 days/7 nights on board the yacht, 2 nights in hotel on Santa Cruz Island, 2 hotel nights in Guayaquil.
  • Tour Cost £2,915 per person, excluding international flights. Includes all accommodation, guide services, meals, transport, internal flights Guayaquil-Baltra-Guayaquil, non-bottled soft drinks.
  • Flights from the UK to Quito and Guayaquil start at around £850. We can help guests co-ordinate their international flights which are available from local UK airports.

Outline Itinerary
14th November – Depart UK - arrive Guayaquil late afternoon
15th November – Cerro Blanco Forest
16th November - 23rd November – Galapagos Cruise
23rd November - 24th November – Santa Cruz
25th November – Galapagos- Guayaquil-Flight Home
26th November – Arrive in UK

Land cost includes:
  • Return domestic flights from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands.
  • All accommodation meals and soft drinks in mainland Ecuador and aboard the yacht in the Galapagos.
  • The price is based on 2 people sharing a double room.
  • $10 Galapagos Migration Card.
  • The services of expert local naturalists and all transport in the Galapagos.
Land Cost Does Not Include:
  • International airfare
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee ($100 per person)
  • Departure Tax from Ecuador ($28 per person)
  • Alcoholic beverages. Gratuities
Single Supplement:

If you prefer your own room, there is a single supplement cost of £270 per person for the time in mainland Ecuador. All boat cabins must be shared, except by special arrangement.


If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01964 552292 for more information or email email us today.

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14th November – Guayaquil Arrive early in the afternoon/evening to the airport in Guayaquil. You will be met at the airport and taken to our hotel the Grand Hotel Guayaquil. Time to relax before a light evening meal together at the hotel (guests need to arrive in Ecuador at least 24 hours before the Galapagos flight in case of delays – this itinerary is designed assuming guests fly with KLM, but also works with flights on Iberia via Spain or on flights via the USA).

15th November – Guayaquil – Cerro Blanco Tropical Forest An early start today to visit one of the last remaining areas of dry tropical forest on Ecuador’s coast. A private reserve, around half an hour drive from our hotel on the outskirts of the city which is home to 54 species of mammals, including Howler Monkey and White Fronted Capuchin Monkey, as well as 219 species of birds including the Great Green Macaw and 7 species which are globally threatened as well as a rich variety of plant life. We return to the hotel for lunch. Then in the afternoon we will visit the nearby Iguana Park, and then back to the hotel for some time to relax before our welcome dinner. Overnight Grand Hotel Guayaquil.

16th November 23rd November – Galapagos on Board the Tip Top III After breakfast we take our flight to the Galapagos Islands, arriving to Baltra airport at around noon. From here we will be transferred to our private yacht, the Tip Top III, a spacious and comfortable motor yacht which was fully refurbished in 2008, which has a fantastic friendly crew and is run by one of the oldest families in the Galapagos.

The yacht accommodates 16 passengers in 10 double cabins each with private shower and toilet. Just some of the luxuries you'll enjoy on the yacht's three decks are air conditioning, a TV, a VCR, a full sound system, an inviting dining room, a fully equipped bar, a library filled with a variety of reading materials, a spacious sundeck, and snorkelling equipment. Moreover, each of the craft's nine homey cabins is outfitted with a private bathroom with both hot and cold water, a personal safe, and a wardrobe. The vessel is also equipped with the most advanced navigational and safety equipment, all of which meets or exceeds international Coast Guard safety regulations.

16th November – Baltra A small islet that we will fly to, where we will be met by the crew of the yacht and go on-board for lunch.

Santa Cruz – Bachas Beach
A beautiful white sandy beach, turquoise water and a great place to practice snorkelling. A fantastic introduction to the islands with Greater Flamingos, Marine Iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions to welcome us!

17th November – James Island – Sullivan Bay A spectacular lava flow built 100 years ago, but looks and feels like just yesterday. We will walk upon this lava flow, giving us a perfect introduction to the volcanic origins of the islands and an understanding of their geology. A great snorkel site, with the possibility of snorkelling with Galapagos Penguins here too for those who wish to snorkel.

Bartolome Home to one of the most iconic scenery shots of Galapagos, this small island located off the eastern shore of James Island is home to beautiful panoramic views. The striking volcanic landscape, looks almost lunar and provides a great introduction to the volcanic origins of the islands, with spatter cones and cinder cones. You will also see Pinnacle Rock, a striking example of a tuff cone, and good examples of pioneering plants, including some beautiful stands of lava cactus. At sea level, this is a great place for swimming and snorkelling, if you are lucky with Galapagos Penguins.

18th November – Genovesa (Tower) A highlight of any visit to the Galapagos, a truly beautiful island thanks to the richness of its birdlife. Located in the northeast portion of Galapagos, the island is an outpost for many seabirds (as is Espanola in the South). Interestingly there are no land reptiles here and only very small marine iguanas, due to direction of ocean currents which apparently would not have carried terrestrial animals there. You will visit the following sites.

Darwin Bay This bay is actually the caldera of an extinct, partially eroded volcano, with the surrounding cliffs forming the inner portion of the rim. You arrive on a corral beach, and will immediately be struck by the birdlife. Great Frigate bird males, Red-footed boobies nesting in the mangroves, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, and Yellow-crowned Night Herons can all be seen along the sandy trail.

Prince Philip’s Steps The visit begins with a great panga (small dingy) ride along the base of the cliffs where you see Red billed Tropicbirds trying to make a precise landing in their nest. Squadrons of Frigate birds are seen flying back and forth, whilst Red-footed boobies perch on branches of Palo Santo trees which seemingly grow out of the cliffs. Once you arrive on land and climb to the cliff-top, you enter an area where nesting Nazca Boobies and Great Frigate birds are found. It is also a great place to see Galapagos Doves and Vampire Finches (sharp-beaked ground finches)…ask your guide for the full story on the name! You will also see great numbers of Storm Petrels here, sometimes in tens of thousands. If you are lucky, you may also see a short-eared owl hunting Petrels during the day.

Download large jpg version of this map: PDF Detailed Itinerary

19th November – James Island A chance to take look at one of the sites visited by Darwin (Buccaneer Cove) where he spent the majority of his land visits in the Galapagos. We also visit Puerto Egas, a beautiful walk along the coast and the best place for Galapagos Fur Seals, plovers, herons and oyster catchers. In the afternoon we navigate across the eastern coast of Isabella, with some fantastic volcanic sites, beautiful scenery and the chance of seeing whales and dolphins.

Tortoise20th November – Punta Vicente Roca Measuring over 1800 square miles, and accounting for over half the land surface area in Galapagos, at about 80 miles in length, the seahorse shaped Isabela Island is the largest in the Galapagos. Isabela is formed from six separate volcanoes (Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf). A fantastic volcanic formation which we will visit by dingy. Located on the north-west side of Isabella Island, it provides a dramatic landscape of a giant collapsed shield volcano. Also great for seeing Brown Noddies, Blue-footed Boobies, Flightless Cormorants and Galapagos Penguins.

Fernandina Together with Genovesa, this is a ‘must see’ place in the Archipelago. Fernandina is the largest and most pristine of the islands and home to the largest population of marine iguanas as well as being the best place to see nesting Flightless Cormorants. It is also a good place to see the Galapagos Snake, Hawk and Lizard.

21st November – Isabella - Urbina Bay A newly uplifted area with colourful land iguanas and lush vegetation on the foot hills of Alcedo Volcano that host the largest population of Giant Tortoises along with a population of Flightless Cormorants, the Galapagos Hawk and finches. If we are very lucky we may see a Giant Tortoise here, but they are usually further inland.

Elizabeth Bay Spectacular mangrove cove that will give us the opportunity to enjoy one of the best breeding grounds of the Galapagos Penguin as well as the chance to see green sea turtles.

22nd November – Isabella Island (Puerto Villamil) Today is our first guaranteed sighting of Giant Tortoises. The Galapagos has 11 different species of Giant Tortoise with five different species on the island of Isabella. We get the chance to see them at a new breeding site built by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station. We will also explore the island in the hope of seeing some Giant Tortoises in the wild. The island is also a great place for Galapagos Penguins and marine iguanas.

23rd November – Santa Cruz After an early breakfast we leave the boat to take a bus that will drive us up to the highlands of Santa Cruz, were we will have a chance to look for Giant Tortoises in the wild, and see the amazing forests of Scalacia (giant daisies!) Full day exploring all the possible areas to see Giant Tortoises today, taking a relaxed pace so you can really enjoy seeing these magnificent giants in their natural territory. Overnight at the Finch Bay Hotel in Puerto Ayora, a beautiful hotel set by the sea, were you can see Marine Iguana’s resting on the lava rocks.

Iguana24th November – Santa Cruz After an early breakfast we go to visit the private house of Jaqueline de Roy, which has amazing possibilities to see Galapagos Finches, from here we take a boat across the bay to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. This offers a great chance to learn about the work being done to conserve and protect the islands wildlife, we will have the chance to meet researchers working in the field and will be led round by one of the researchers at the Tortoise Rearing Centre.

You can also visit the pen of the famous Lonesome George, the last-surviving member of the Pinta Island sub-species – he may not always be lonesome….as he is still young by tortoise standards, and the Station is actively working to try and encourage him to pair up with some females from closely related subspecies. For the latest details on Lonesome George’s love life you will have to ask your guide!

25th November – Baltra – Guayaquil We return to the islet of Baltra today for our flight back to Ecuador. We return to Guayaquil arriving early afternoon. Here were we will be met and return to our hotel for a meal together, and the chance to freshen up before returning to the airport for the international flight home.

26th November Arrive back in the UK

Please note: Itineraries are unlikely to change significantly but are subject to change. Weather, wildlife breeding, instructions from the Galapagos National Park, specific abilities and interests of passengers as well as operational matters may cause your guide or captain to change the times or nature of your visits. Your guide will always endeavour to have the best itinerary for you within these constraints.

Download a PDF of this Itinerary - PDFGalapagos Tortoise Special Itinerary


If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01964 552292 for more information or email email us today.


Tip Top IIITip Top III

The Tip Top III is owned by one of the oldest families in the Galapagos, which has a great reputation for good food, good service and a very helpful crew....

Grand Hotel GuayaquilGrand Hotel Guayaquil

The location of the Grand Hotel is what makes this a great choice, just a few blocks from the Malecon, Guayaquil’s new promenade area along the River Guayas...

Grand Hotel GuayaquilFinch Bay Hotel

This stylish low rise hotel, has its own private sand beach in a quiet location where only pedestrians and cycles are allowed. The hotel is only accessible by boat...


If you would like any more information or to chat over the details of the trip we would be delighted to help. Telephone Telephone01964 552292 for more information or email email us today.

Think Galapagos

SantiagoCall Santiago, Galapagos specialist and trip leader
on 01964 552292
Contcat us online

Quote “A dream holiday come true. The organisation of the trip was brilliant and Santiago and his guides, drivers etc were excellent.”

Sue Wilkinson.

Quote “Trip of a lifetime. The trip was even better than I had expected. Extremely well organised.”

George Thompson.

Quote "This was a wonderful holiday that was made memorable by the quality of the guides and the input of local knowledge that can only come from a bespoke and dedicated company."

Ian Thorpe.

Quote "Excellent in every way. We can’t fault it. Locations, guides, food, boat, organisation brilliant."

Mr and Mrs Coley-Smith.

Tailor made extensions to this trip are available in, Galapagos, Quito, Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador’s Cloud Forest the Andes and Guayaquil.

If you wish we can also organise an extension to Peru to visit Machu Picchu. We also can organise ‘soft landings’ arriving a day or so before the group trip begins so you are fully recovered from the flight and change in time zone before the trip begins.

Rachel DexCall Rachel, Ecuador and Galapagos Specialist
on 01964 552292
Contcat us online

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