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Signature Galapagos

11 days from £4,668pp

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Signature Galapagos:
Trip Dossier

Travel to Quito, the highland capital of Ecuador, and after a couple of days in this exotic capital fly on to embark on a leisurely cruise around the Galápagos Islands, to see the greatest wildlife show on Earth. It was on a similar trip 200 years ago that Darwin returned to the archipelago to write the seminal book ‘On The Origin of Species’. Step into his shoes and explore the diversity of land and marine life which inhabit these enchanting islands.

You’ll sail in one of a pair of compact, identical craft: MVs Letty and Eric. They offer explorations of the Galápagos Islands for those who prefer to discover the islands from a small motor yacht rather than a large cruiser, but without sacrificing comfort or excellence. On board these well appointed yachts you'll have a proper nautical experience.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Quito and transfer to hotel.

Day 2

Guided walking tour of Quito.

Day 3

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, board MV Eric or Letty.

Days 4-9

Land excursions on the Galápagos Islands.

Day 10

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Quito and transfer to hotel.
 
Transfer to your hotel in old Quito, the Andean capital of Ecuador. The active volcano Guagua Pichincha, to the east, glowers over the dynamic city which, at 2,850m, is one of highest capital cities in the world. Quito is divided into two contrasting districts. The modern zone is characterised by towering glass buildings, and houses banks, international companies, hotels, shops and restaurants, while the central colonial area has well-conserved and recently spruced-up white-washed architecture, open air markets and graceful Spanish-style mansions and churches.
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Day 2

Guided walking tour of Quito.
 
Visit the colonial centre of the capital, the first city ever to be named a world heritage site. High on the agenda is a walk through the Main Plaza, the Plaza de Independencia, where you will see the government palace, the cathedral, and some of the most important churches built around the 16th and 17th centuries, including the monastery of San Francisco. 
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Quito old town

Day 3

Fly to the Galápagos Islands, board MV Eric or Letty.
 

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos Islands (2 hrs) where you will embark on one of a pair of identical cruisers: the MVs Eric and Flamingo, for your 8-day cruise around the archipelago. Your naturalist guide will be waiting to take you to the quayside. 

These vessels are very popular, small, mid-range motor cruisers. The teak furnishings create a sleek, nautical look. Each has 2 transparent-bottomed kayaks in which to explore the undersea world.  

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MV Eric

Days 4-9

Land excursions on the Galápagos Islands.
 
The Galápagos Islands emerged in the Pacific Ocean six million years ago following a spate of volcanic activity and, isolated from the continental mainland, have become home to unique plant and animal species. Without fear of humans, they are sufficiently trusting to allow you to approach them and observe them up close.

The islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which formed the basis for his revolutionary book ‘On The Origin of Species’, published in 1859.

Although geologically constantly on the move, these islands remain suspended in time, with Giant tortoises, iguanas, penguins, Frigate birds, Waved albatross and Blue-footed boobies and a wealth of rare flora all thriving there. For many, the fascinating and unique wildlife and natural beauty of the islands are matched by the thrill of being at sea. Find a spot on deck as your ship makes way through the ocean, often trailed by flocks of birds and playful dolphins.

The itinerary for your days in the Galápagos will depend on your date of departure and is subject to change. There are normally two landings each day to seek out the different wildlife that inhabits the islands. 

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Galapagos

Day 10

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with international flight home.

Essential information

Transport

2 flights (longest 2hrs); 8-day cruise.

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates a small mid-range hotel with character and some history and special features.  MVs Letty, Eric and Flamingo, offer comfortable Galápagos Island cruising at the top end of their class.

Meals

Breakfast daily, full board days 3-9.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

• Guided walking tour of Quito.
• 8-day cruise around the Galápagos Islands with guided land excursions.

Summary of nights

10 days, 9 nights: Quito 2; Galápagos 7.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Galápagos National Park entrance fee.
• Ingala tourist card.
• Excursions as specified.
• Complimentary use of mask, snorkel, flippers and wetsuits. 
 

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Optional excursions.

Currency

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

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$35 per day should cover  drinks and the odd souvenir, and  the cost of good quality meals on those days in the holiday itinerary when not on the cruise. 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 expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

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.

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

This holiday is suitable for all able, reasonably fit visitors. 

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

A couple of days are spent at high altitude (over 2.500m), and you may notice the effect of this. Symptoms vary; most common are mild headaches, and breathlessness. Most people are unaffected and if you drink plenty of water and do not exert yourself too much on 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 waterproof/breathable outer shell makes a good combination. Trousers, skirt or shorts made from light, quick-drying synthetic materials work well on the Galápagos Islands. Long-sleeved shirts will protect you from insects. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellant, sun block, hat and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for ocean swimming (Galápagos). 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 for snorkelling, as the waters can be chilly. They are included in the cost of the cruise but you may prefer to bring your own.

Don’t forget your binoculars, camera, charger and 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.

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. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

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/esta.html

This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be e-passports with an embedded chip. 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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