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Experience the island chain that has enchanted explorers since Darwin first dropped anchor off its shores. Spend a week exploring the incredible wildlife of the Galapagos archipelago aboard a stylish vessel - the Yolita II. This tour takes you to some of the lesser-visited islands like Genovesa in the North and Isabela in the West. Expect to witness an amazing concentration of birdlife and massive bird rookeries, including the largest nesting colonies of red-footed boobies and frigatebirds. Please note that this tour is operated in conjunction with a local specialist company and is not exclusive to Explore customers. Your fellow passengers may come from a number of different countries although all guiding is done in English, and may include families.
7 nights comfortable boat
2 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Quito, Ecuador's mountain capital and the second highest capital city in Latin America. One of South America's most beautiful cities, Quito lies in a narrow valley at the foot of the Pichincha Volcano, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and extinct volcanoes. On arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), a representative will be waiting to meet you directly in front of the arrivals section, holding a sign with your name on it. They will show you where to go to catch your transfer to your hotel.
For those arriving on time, a group representative will meet you in the hotel reception at approximately 5pm for the welcome meeting. You will have the opportunity to meet other tour participants and receive information about the trip, as well as departure times for the following day. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the exact meeting time, though we do recommend that you arrive at the hotel by 4pm. If you arrive late, the representative will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the following morning. There are no other activities planned today.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to explore the new and old parts of the city. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich blend of colonial architecture, imposing churches and bustling local markets. A climb to the top of Cerro Panecillo affords one of the best views across the city and the surrounding mountains, presenting you with an unparalleled vista of the encircling Andes from the viewing platform offered by the statue of the Virgen de Quito.
Hilton Colon (or similar)
Today we transfer to the airport early for our flight to the Galapagos Islands.
Lying on the Equator, 970km west of the Ecuadorean coast, the Galapagos National Park is a unique collection of islands, formed by volcanoes over hundreds of thousands of years and consists of six main islands, 12 smaller islands as well as over 40 small islets, supporting a distinct and unique flora and fauna, including prehistoric creatures found nowhere else on earth. This desolate and fantastic habitat was discovered in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga. One of the original designations by him was Las Islas Encantadas, the Enchanted Isles. Charles Darwin visited the islands on the Beagle exactly three hundred years later, in 1835. He observed the total isolation of the giant reptiles and other creatures, and this played a substantial part in his formulation of the theory of evolution.
The Galapagos have never been connected with the continent. Gradually, over many hundreds of thousands of years, animals and plants from over the sea somehow migrated there and as time went by they adapted themselves to Galapagos conditions and came to differ more and more from their continental ancestors. Thus many of them are unique: a quarter of the species of shore fish, half of the plants and almost all the reptiles are found nowhere else. In many cases different forms have evolved on the different islands.
Of the extraordinary animals to be found in the Galapagos many are reptiles, such as the great tortoise, large land iguanas, numerous lizards and three species of non-poisonous snakes. There are also several species of turtle, which come ashore to mate. Up to three quarters of a million seabirds flock to the islands, including a third of the world's blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, pelicans, cormorants, albatross and petrels. Only 35cm tall, the Galapagos penguin can be seen swimming among tropical mangroves, whilst offshore it is common to see dolphins, sea lions and fur seals playing in the water. Fearless though not tame, the extraordinary wildlife can be easily approached and the opportunities for photography are superb.
The Galapagos National Park charges a visitor fee of $110 USD, payable on arrival, which funds park maintenance and supervision in the Galapagos, as well as ecological study, conservation and infrastructure development in Ecuador's other national parks. Entry fees and the funds they generate for the national park system are among measures taken by the Ecuadorian government to protect its natural heritage.
On arrival, we will meet our naturalist guide and transfer to our ship - the glorious Yolita II. After lunch on board, we will head to Bachas Beach where the sand is made of decomposed coral, making it soft and white, and a favourite site for nesting sea turtles. Spot abundant Sally Lightfoot crabs on the lava rocks along the water's edge -- these crabs will eat anything they can get their claws on. Trek to see a wide range of wildlife, including flamingos, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and marine iguanas.
Yolita II (or similar)
Visit Darwin bay and marvel at the sheer number of birds along the many trails. Walk along the white coral sands of Darwin Bay surrounded by bustling sea birds. Follow the trail and see nesting frigatebirds, gulls, and boobies. Be sure to bring your camera to take some snaps of your new feathered friends. Visit this sunken caldera for a great snorkelling opportunity. See large schools of tropical fish, swarming near the vertical walls and if lucky, see manta rays, white-spotted eagle rays, sea lions, and hammerhead sharks. Head to El Barranco in the afternoon to see the many types of boobies, including red-footed boobies.
Visit Bartolomé for a guided tour to see the island's dramatic volcanic features. Hike to Bartolomé's summit for a stronger perspective of the islands' not-too-distant volcanic origins and enjoy a panoramic view - it's one of the best among the islands. See other Galápagos Islands in the distance as well as Pinnacle Rock, the island's famous towering landmark. Take the opportunity to swim and snorkel along the shore, home to one of the most iconic volcanic rock formations on the islands. Home to Galápagos penguins, friendly sea lions, sea turtles and a huge variety of fish, Bartolomé and its surrounding waters are a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of the Galápagos. Continue to Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, to witness the giant lava formations, contrasting the white-coral-sand beach. Very few plants have managed to survive on this island due to its harsh environment and relatively new lava flow. Enjoy a walk along the lava formations before coming to a white-coral sand beach, where abundant Sally Lightfoot crabs and sea lions gather on shore. After exploring Sullivan Bay on foot, enjoy a cool dip. Grab a snorkel and discover many species of fish and other marine life in the shallow waters. Keep an eye out for turtles, rays, and large schools of colourful fish.
Early landing in the small town of Puerto Villamil before beginning the hike to the Sierra Negra Volcano, which has the largest basaltic caldera in the Galápagos. Trek across the moon-like landscape of the lava fields and fumaroles, and enjoy spectacular views looking north toward Fernandina and the rest of Isabela Island. The volcano last erupted in June 2018, making it the most recent eruption of the Galápagos. This hike is 7km in total (3.5 km each way.) In the afternoon, explore the tortoise breeding centre in the Puerto Villamil area. With the giant tortoise on its way to extinction in the late 1950s, this program was established to protect these noble creatures.
Pay a morning visit to Elizabeth Bay which offers amazing bird and marine life viewing opportunities. Head out on the pangas and explore the shallows and mangroves to look for sea turtles and penguins. Visit Urbina Bay, located at the base of Alcedo Volcano. Hike the trail to get a view of the caldera. Walk among a massive marine reef that was raised out of the water in 1950 during an uplift. See sculptures of dried coral and other ocean formations while touring the area on foot. Urbina Bay also offers great opportunities to see land iguanas that have astonishingly yellow skin, flightless cormorants, land tortoises as well as marine turtles and rays.
Stop for a visit at Tagus Cove and hike to a lookout to get a stunning view of the bay. Spot old graffiti on the cliffs from whalers and pirates who once visited the the cove. Tour the area on foot for spectacular views of Darwin Lake (a spherical saltwater crater), the bay, and Darwin and Wolf volcanoes. Upon landing, take the wooden stairway to the trail entrance, and follow the trail through a dry vegetation zone. Opt to continue on an ascent to a promontory made up of spatter cones (small volcanic cones) or explore the area by dinghy. Grab a mask and snorkel and witness schools of tropical fish as you navigate through the calm waters. If you're lucky, spot rockfish, sharks and seahorses.
Continue to Punta Espinoza on Fernandina, the youngest of the Galápagos Islands. Witness the large colony of marine iguanas and a variety of bird life. Tour a number of different trails and follow the path along the beach and across lava flows, for a unique opportunity to explore one of the least-visited areas of the Galápagos. Considered one of the best snorkelling sites in the islands, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas grazing underwater, sea lions, sea turtles, rays, puffer fish and dolphins.
Enjoy a morning panga ride in Buccaneer Cove, watch for sea lions, shorebirds, and interesting lava formations and cruise alongside high cliffs and rock formations. Bucaneer Cove was a favourite hideout for pirates, looking to stock up their boats with food and water. Spot sea lions relaxing on the beach and sea birds nesting in the cove - there's alot to see at this site. Get up close and personal with the local marine life, sea lions and many marine birds, during a snorkel excursion through the beautiful waters of the cove. Take an afternoon excursion to the red sand beaches of Rábida to see a lagoon and the famous bachelor sea lion colony. This area is known for it's abundance of wildlife, including pelicans, white-cheeked pintails and boobies. Explore the trails of Rabida; a short trail leads to a saltwater lagoon; another trail goes past the lagoon to the interior, where the revered palo santo trees grow. (When burned, the branches of this tree give off a pleasing aroma and ward off mosquitoes.) Grab a snorkel and discover many species of fish and other marine life. Keep an eye out for white-tip sharks and sea lions.
Today, we explore the tiny conical island of Daphne, home to nesting blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, Darwin's finches and other wonderful wildlife, before flying back to Quito. Observe from the boat, as this island is dedicated to scientific research. On arrival back on the mainland, we transfer to the hotel for our final night in Ecuador.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Quito.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. We recommend spending extra time in Quito, particularly if you wish to go on some of the optional day trips that are bookable locally, or if you are looking to book on our Amazon extension package (trip code: AE). Pick-up times for your airport transfer to Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) will be re-confirmed locally in your welcome pack. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at the hotel.
Temperature ranges are similar all year round. In the highlands: the dry season lasts from June to mid-September. November and December are partially dry. The rainy months are October and from January to May, but showers are short and mostly in the afternoons. Temperatures range from 12°C to 24°C. Nights are cold at altitude (4°C - 10°C). The Coastal Region: from December to May it is hot and wet. From June to November it is generally cool and misty with sudden light showers. Temperatures range from 16°C to 32°C. The Amazon Area: it is humid all year round. Temperatures range from 16°C to 32°C. From April to August the rainfall is heavier. The Galapagos: On the Galapagos, the hot season is January to April with largely sunny days and the possibility of heavy showers; the cool season runs from May to December and is generally more cloudy with much cooler seas. Please note that although it is windier from July to November the sea can be rough at any time of the year. On the mainland the dry season lasts from June to October, though September can be wet.
2 Pin Flat
The below optional activities are bookable locally in Quito in the reception area of the Hotel Hilton Colon. Please note, the following prices are a guideline only and may be subject to change. Due to International flights timings and the times of flights to and from the Galapagos, excursions will require extra days in Quito which we can arrange for you before travel, please speak to one of our travel consultants to secure additional nights and extra transfers :- Quito city tour (Half Day) - US$50 (1 pers) / US$40 (2+ pers), Plus entrance fees approx. US$ 9pp Quito city tour + Equator Line (Half day) - US$60 (1 pers) / US$45 (2+ pers) Plus entrance fees approx. US$ 9pp Equator line museum US$9 Equator Line (Half day)- US$50 (1 pers) / US$40 (2+ pers) Museum ents. US$9 Mindo Cloudforest (Full day) - US$100 (1 pers) US$70 (2+ pers) plus entrance fees US$20 Otavalo Market (Full day) inc visit to Calderon - US$100 (1 pers) US$70 (2+pers) Cotopaxi Volcano (Full day) US$100 (1 pers) US$70 (2+pers) plus Park Entrance fee $35 USD per group (this can be split between group) Papallacta Hot Springs (Full day) - US$100 (1 Pers) US$50 (2+ pers) plus US$7 Entrance fee per person. This is transport only Spa treatments are extra. Cable Car - US$3 taxi ; Entrance US$8 You can get from 2.800 m to 4.200 m in 10 minutes and view Quito at your feet. Please note that optional activities will need to be paid in cash and do not include lunch - please allow US$10 accordingly.
We recommend that you do not bring too much clothing as space is limited in the cabins. We would recommend you bring a fleece top, waterproof jacket, 4 shirts / T shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 2 pairs of trousers and 1 pair of hiking trousers. You will also need a swimsuit for the additional water-based activities offered. Full snorkelling equipment is provided on board.
Bring comfortable walking boots or shoes and trainers or sandals with a good grip. Plastic sandals (not flip flops) are useful for wet landings.
We recommend the use of a duffel bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). A good size daypack is also essential. If you don't wish to take your entire luggage with you to Galapagos, please ensure you have an extra bag you can leave behind at hotel storage and pick up on your return. Please note that the amount of luggage you can bring on the boat is LIMITED due to small cabin size. We recommend travellers use soft sided duffel bags of 40-50 litres in capacity. We will accept luggage types onboard, however if you are a single traveller sharing with another traveller, it's especially important to keep in mind that cabins are small in size and it's best to pack light.
Pack a torch, water bottle, sunglasses, insect repellent, high factor sunscreen, a beach towel, waterproof bag for camera and motion sickness tablets/patches for the boat. You may also wish to take binoculars. Full snorkelling equipment is provided on board.
Bus, Flight, Yolita II, Zodiac
The Yolita II is a stylish 16 passenger ship which has recently been refurbished. Boasting spacious cabins with plenty of outside deck space. The large upper deck allows you to soak up as much of the Ecuadorian sun as you need. All cabins have side by side berths, private bathrooms and air conditioning. All meals are provided and are served aboard the vessel. There is an outdoor and indoor dining area. Snorkelling equipment, wetsuits and beach towels are included at no extra charge. The daily schedule consists of a shore excursion immediately following breakfast then lunch aboard and perhaps a siesta before the afternoon shore excursion. In the evening after dinner, your naturalist guide will brief you on the islands to be visited the following day. You are ferried from the yacht to shore via small boats called pangas. Landings are either 'dry' or 'wet', where you may have to wade ashore in shallow water. Your naturalist guide will accompany you during all excursions. Snorkelling and swimming are a large part of this trip and water-based activities will be offered on most days while travelling in the Galapagos. Please note, if you are not keen on water sports, there will often be no alternative to the extra water-based activity offered, other than staying and relaxing aboard the vessel. In some landing spots, there might be an option to walk on shore but this would be without a guide. Our Galapagos trips are often part of longer or shorter itineraries, so it is not unusual that some of the group may change mid-way through your trip.
Please note that the rooming on our Galapagos yachts is done on a first-come, first-serve basis, and we are not able to guarantee the specific cabin you will receive on board. The cabins are comfortable and clean, all with private bathrooms. Due to the specific location of the cabins on board, the window sizes vary as well as the noise at times when the boat is navigating, given the proximity of the cabins to the engine room. Our friendly and competent crew will ensure a smooth and comfortable journey for the duration of your tour. On this tour, the price is based on a lower deck cabin. You can upgrade to an upper deck cabin if you wish, prices vary depending on dates and start from £60 per person.
On our Galapagos yachts, food is included, plentiful and made of fresh local ingredients. Dining is casual, tables are unassigned and the dining room is capable of seating the entire passenger compliment at one time. There is always a selection of different meals available, and vegetarians will find plenty of options. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice, please advise us at time of confirmation. Coffee, tea and water are all provided free of charge. All other beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic are not included and can be purchased at the bar. Approximate prices : Beer - $4 - 6 USD Bottle of wine - $30 USD Spirits / cocktails - $6-8 USD Please note : Payment for drinks will need to be made in cash (USD) at the end of your trip. Cards are not accepted on board.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Ecuador: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. In order for your visa to be granted on arrival, you will be required to show proof of travel insurance valid for the duration of your trip. Please also ensure your passport is stamped with the T3 permit (for 30 or 90 days) on arrival in Ecuador. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. Galapagos Islands: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. USA: (including those in transit) Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - where you apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which applies if you enter the country by sea or by air. This must be done on line - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. Please note for your ESTA application you will be required to supply Point of Contact information. Explore' s USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. If you are leaving for the USA before this, please call the Explore team to get this information.(Not necessary if in transit) For further information please check out the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim. Snorkelling and swimming form a large part of this trip and are included in addition to the standard daily itinerary. Please note, if you are not keen on water sports, there will often be no alternative to the extra water-based activity offered, other than staying and relaxing aboard the vessel. In some landing spots, there might be an option to walk on shore but this would be without a guide.
We recommend protection against malaria, Tetanus, Infectious Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Yellow fever in only recommended for those travelling east of the Andes (Amazon Extension). Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.