Thursday, March 26, 2015

Galapagos Photo Tour

Trip Dates: February 21-27, 2016

Guides / Instructor: Local Guides in Quito, Galapagos Guides, Kevin A Pepper

Price: $5990 Canadian ($4950USD) for shared accommodation. A single supplement of 1.6 times the-per person rate will be charged where applicable

Deposit: $750 Canadian

Straddling the equator 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador are the Galápagos Archipelago. It is one of the premier nature photography locations in the world, and a must-see for anyone who enjoys experiencing wildlife at close range, warm tropical weather, snorkeling with colorful fishes, and al fresco dining under the stars.

You will see virtually all of the famous Galápagos wildlife specialties, and photograph many of the incredible and unique life forms that captivated Charles Darwin. One of the great joys of a visit to these islands is the remarkably unwary seabirds, which include such photogenic favorites as the red-footed, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, as well as the flamboyant magnificent frigate birds with their scarlet throat pouches and aerial acrobatics.

These birds of the open ocean allow human approach within a few yards during courtship and breeding. In addition there are elegant swallow-tailed gulls, handsome waved albatrosses, red-billed tropic birds and flocks of resplendent American flamingos in their feathered finery.

On Day One you will arrive from all over the world, you and your fellow travelers will come together for an evening meal and official briefing.

If you arrive early, you can use your free time to get acquainted with one of the highest capitals in the world sitting at just over 2740 meters (9000 feet) above sea level. The city is nestled in a long, narrow valley of the Andes and flanked by the Pichincha Volcano to the west. For a great view and a little exercise, Pichincha is easily accessible for a day trip. If you’re in a cultural mood, head to the old town to stroll through the magnificent cathedrals and take in the colonial architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

El Panecillo or 'the Little Bread Loaf,' is located high atop a hill in the old town and is a major Quito attraction boasting a panoramic view of the city. Museums are scattered throughout the city as well as local artisan markets that are great for picking up souvenirs. The new town is teeming with cafes and restaurants and is a vibrant mix of locals, expats, and fellow travelers. Both the new town and old towns are easily accessible by trolley or taxi. If you’d prefer, we’d be happy to help arrange these pre-tour activities for you. We can also assist in booking any accommodation you may need if arriving earlier or staying later in Quito.

Quito Hotel

On day Two we will fly out to Baltra and transfer to our boat . The Estrella Del Mar. An elegantly furnished and graceful on the water, Estrella del Mar is a ship that cruises the Galapagos Islands with style.

On-board accommodation can be found in one of the eight double cabins which feature windows, air-conditioning, and private baths with hot water.

Guests can relax in one of Estrella del Mar’s fully air-conditioned, indoor social areas, or breathe the salty sea breeze from one of her ample sun or shade decks. She also offers a bar, TV/DVD use, and a comfortable dining area.

Day Two, Three, Four, Five, Six - For four full days we will cruise by night and photograph in the early mornings and late afternoons to help ensure the best light for your photography.

We will visit the following islands and locations.

Bartholomew Island - Home of the famous Pinnacle Rock, Bartholomew consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations. A trail of stairs leads to the summit of the volcano, boasting one of the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for snorkeling and possible sightings of the Galapagos penguin.

El Barranco - Also known as Prince Phillip's Steps, El Barranco’s steep, rocky path leads up to a high cliff-face. A marvelous view can be appreciated from here. This site is also home to palo santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galapagos swallows, and Galapagos doves.

Darwin Bay - This white sand coral beach heads a half mile trail (0.75km) that winds through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls can be spotted here. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully. At the end is a spectacular view from a cliff.

Sante Fe Island - Santa Fe (Barrington) is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island’s northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff, and the other spanning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest.

El Chato – The El Chato reserve is divided into two areas; Caseta and Chato. The trail begins at Santa Rosa, 22 km from Puerto Ayora, with the Caseta route being the more challenging. The reserve allows visitors to observe giant tortoises in the wild during the dry season, and is also a good place to spot short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, Galápagos rails and paint-billed crakes.

Twin Craters - Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking.

Estrella Del Mar in share accommodation (All Meals)

On Day Six, after spending our time exploring the Galapagos Islands and gaining a deeper understanding of the art of photography, it is time to head back to Quito. You'll leave the islands with a new network of passionate photographer friends with whom you'll be able to share ideas and photography tips.

Quito Hotel (Breakfast)

Day Seven is the last day of the photography workshop tour. If your flight home is scheduled in the morning, an included transfer to the airport is provided for your convenience. Alternatively, if you are spending more time in Ecuador, you may want to book a day tour or excursion to see another part of the country.

Most flights depart around midday, so you may have an hour or two of free time in the morning to pick up some souvenirs and bid farewell to the people and animals of the Galapagos. Your transfer to the airport will take 60-90 minutes depending on local bus and ferry crossing schedules. Upon arrival in Quito, you'll be transferred to your hotel and have some time to explore the city before your Farewell Dinner in the evening.

(Breakfast included)

Included in Price - 4 nts in the Galápagos Islands aboard the Estrella del Mar - Flights to and from the Galápagos Islands - Certified Galápagos National Park Service guide - All landings, excursions, and transportation - Snorkeling equipment - Visit to a wildlife interpretation center - 6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners. (Allow USD75-100 for meals not included. Drinks and tips while on the yacht are extra. - USD10 Transit Control Card fee at the Quito airport and a USD100 (cash) Galápagos park entry fee immediately upon arrival to the Islands - Local flight, Estrella del Mar motorized yacht, van, Zodiac, private bus. - Galápagos National Park Service guide while in the islands. Local representative in Quito. - Hotels (2 nts), aboard the Estrella del Mar in twin-share cabins (4 nts).

Not Included in Price - International airfare - Beverages (alcoholic and soft drinks) - Gratuities for on-board staff - Entrances fees not listed - Applicable tourist visas - Incidentals - Insurance - Airport Taxes - Meals not mentioned above

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