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Albatross: Ecuador's highlands and Galápagos

16 days from £5,452pp

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Albatross: Ecuador's highlands and Galápagos

16 days from £5,452pp
 

Group Journey

 

Tour Leader

On this tour, you’ll be accompanied throughout mainland Ecuador by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour leaves Guayaquil for the Galápagos, they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go. Once you land in the Galápagos Islands you will be in the capable hands of the crew and naturalist guides onboard the cruise.

 

Transport

2 flights (longest 3hrs); 4 road/rail journeys; week-long Galapagos cruise.

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates upper mid-range hotels. The motor cruiser in the Galápagos, all air-conditioned with private facilities.

Examples of hotels include:

• Quito: La Casona de la Ronda
• Riobamba: Abraspungo
• Alausi: Hosteria La Quinta
• Cuenca: Hotel Santa Lucia
• Guayaquil: Hotel Oro Verde
• Galápagos Islands: MC Galápagos Seaman Journey

Upgrade your cabin:

On board the Galápagos Seaman journey all cabins have panoramic windows, but you may wish to upgrade for an extra fee to a cabin located on a higher deck which may offer more light and air.

On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily, full board days 9-15.

Included excursions

• Quito: guided city tour
• Avenue of the Volcanoes: Devil's Nose train ride
• Avenue of the Volcanoes: guided tour of Ingapirca Inca site
• Cuenca: visit to Las Cajas National Park
• Galápagos Islands: 8 day cruise with guided land excursions and optional snorkeling everyday

Summary of nights

16 days, 15 nights: Quito 2; Riobamba 1; Alausi 1; Cuenca 3; Guayaquil 1; Galápagos cruise 7.

Included in the journey price

• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader (for the mainland sector)
• All land and internal air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees
• Use of snorkel and flippers in the Galápagos

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified
• Galápagos National Park entrance fee
• Wetsuits at $50 for a week
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket

Optional excursions

There are a few days on this tour where optional excursions are available, which are booked locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints.

A budget of around $60 should cover participation in the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences. The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest.

• Cuenca: Day trip to the pueblos artesanos (local artisan villages) of Gualaceo or Chordeleg
• Galápagos Islands: All your excursions during your cruise are included, although you may choose to do some extra snorkelling or swimming from the boat or beaches

Currency

The unit of currency in Ecuador is the US dollar; in the Galápagos it is the US dollar.

Budget

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of good quality meals on those days in the holiday itinerary when not on the cruise, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.
We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can spend as the dollar is the local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques (American Express are the most widely accepted), though these are gradually falling out of use. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $US5-10 (or local equivalent) per person for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.

On the Galápagos Islands cruise $10-15 per person per day for the crew and the same amount for the guide is appropriate. Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants. If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6 per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality. Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are some early mornings and some fairly long days of travel. All walks are optional, as is swimming and snorkelling in and around the Galápagos Islands and you can discuss with your guide which are suitable for you. This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors.  The sea can be choppy around the Galápagos islands.

Climate

Lying at 2,850m on the Equator, the highlands have a permanent spring-like climate. The rainy season in the Andes runs between November and April when there are showers most afternoons. The dry season is June, July and August when the sun is strong during the day, but at night the temperature drops dramatically (maybe as low as freezing point.). May, September and October are less predictable, with both rainy and sunny spells. Given the proximity to the equator, altitude is the determining factor with regard to temperature. In the mountains at any time of year you should expect a variation between 15°C and 25°C. In the Galápagos, from January to April it’s hot and the sun is relentless, with some sudden showers. May to July, and October to December is cloudier; August and September it’s often cloudy and cool, and a stiff breeze makes the waters choppier. High and low seasons reflect demand rather than the best time to go. Many boats are in dry dock in September.

Altitude

Several days are spent at high altitude (over 2,500m). A small minority of visitors may suffer temporarily from altitude sickness. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, slight nausea and breathlessness. If you don’t recover in a day or two speak to our representatives; in very rare instances it is necessary to descend to lower altitudes. Most people are unaffected and if you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of suffering any symptoms.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information. 

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. Both warm clothing and a sun hat are essential at altitude; a light fleece jacket and a Gore-Tex outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well on the Galápagos Islands and in the jungle. Long-sleeved shirts will protect you from insects.

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellent, sun block, hat and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for ocean swimming (Galápagos). You can hire snorkelling equipment but may prefer to bring your own. Aqua-socks or rubber sandals are useful for embarking and disembarking on wet landings. Bring a light waterproof jacket in case of rain. For June to November departures, wetsuits are recommended, as the waters can be chilly for snorkelling. Don’t forget your binoculars, camera, charger and memory cards. Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America and Galápagos.

Reduce plastic waste

Journey Latin America has partnered with Water-To-Go to offer JLA Group Tour passengers the opportunity to purchase 75cl filtered water bottles for a 50% discount. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink. Please call your contact at JLA to add it your booking and it will be delivered to your address. More information about this initiative can be found on our website here.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements such as malaria prophylactics. For admission to the Galápagos a yellow fever certificate is required for anyone over 1 year old coming from an area with risk of yellow fever transmission.  You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Clients with a different nationality should enquire or check with the Ecuadorian Consulate.

Esta - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally. Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them. APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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