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Private Journeys

Value Galapagos: Budget cruising in the Enchanted Islands

11 days from £4,270pp

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands / Galapagos Islands


Places visited

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Overview & Highlights

From the vibrant port Guayaquil, fly to the Galápagos for a cruise on a small, good value, popular and informal vessel.

  • Tour of vibrant Guayaquil
  • 8 day cruise around the Galápagos Islands on a comfortable motor vessel
  • All excursions whilst on your cruise including islands visits and snorkelling
  • Spotting the fantastic bird and wildlife

It doesn’t have to break the bank to spend a whole week’s cruise observing the unique fauna of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands. You’ll sail on a small motor cruiser offering the informal atmosphere favoured by those who prefer the laid-back approach of smaller craft to the larger luxury vessels. You will have ample opportunity to make new friends among people with shared interests. In addition to landings on the islands you will have the opportunity to snorkel or swim with sea-lions. Travel by night and awaken next day with a new island to discover.

Travel to Guayaquil, on the Pacific coast of Ecuador, and fly to the Galápagos Islands. Spend a day relaxing in this congenial town of Puerto Ayora before embarking on a cruise 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 ‘The Origin of the Species’. Step into his shoes and explore the diversity of land and marine life which inhabit these enchanting islands. You’ll have the opportunity to observe a wide range of bird, mammal, reptile, insect species in a hugely contrasting variety of natural habitats, not to mention a plethora of exotic flora. The twisted lava, dense forests and white sand beaches are a great attraction too as are the snorkelling and swimming experiences.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Guayaquil and transfer to hotel.

Transfer to your hotel in the Pacific port of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second city. Vibrant seaport and powerhouse behind the Ecuadorian economy, Guayaquil still has something of the edgy rawness born from its isolation. But the city is rapidly growing, being upgraded and renovated. You might visit the newly refurbished malecón (promenade) which stretches for 2km along the fast flowing Río Guayas and has an exuberant and bustling atmosphere.  

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Day 2

Guided city tour of Guayaquil.

Vibrant seaport and powerhouse behind the Ecuadorian economy, Guayaquil still has something of the edgy rawness born from its isolation. But the city is rapidly growing, being upgraded and renovated.

On your guided city tour you will stroll along the newly refurbished malecón (promenade) which stretches for 2km along the fast flowing Río Guayas and has an exuberant and bustling atmosphere.

You visit Parque Seminario, locally known as Iguana Park, where you will have an opportunity to see these lugubrious creatures living peacefully in a busy urban environment. Continue to the Guayas river waterfront on to Santa Ana Hill, where the city was born. This picturesque neighbourhood has small wooden houses painted in bright colours and the best views of the city. The historical park includes a reconstruction of the urban life of Guayaquil during the 19th and early 20th centuries, including the city’s fashions and the manufacture of sweets, tobacco and other products derived from local agricultural activities.

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Day 3

Fly to the Galápagos Islands and embark MV Cachalote Explorer 1 for your cruise.

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the Galápagos Islands (2 hrs). Embark on the MV Cachalote Explorer for your 8 day cruise around the archipelago. Once you’ve paid your national entrance fee (currently $US100 but under revision), your naturalist guide will be waiting to take you to the quayside.

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Days 4-9

Land excursions from the cruise around 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 animal and plant species.

The islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which formed the basis for his revolutionary book ‘The Origin of the Species’, published in 1859. Without fear of humans, they are sufficiently trusting to allow you to approach them and observe them up close.

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 you make your 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 a day to seek out the different types of wildlife which inhabit the islands.

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Day 10

Fly to Guayaquil, connect with international flight home.

Disembark and fly back to Guayaquil for your international flight home. 

Essentials

Tour info

Transport

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

Accommodation

This holiday incorporates a small mid-range hotel with character and a small motor yacht in the Galápagos.

Meals

Breakfast daily, full board days 4-10.

Journey Grade

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

The sea can be choppy around the Galápagos islands.

Summary Of Nights

11 days, 10 nights: Guayaquil 1; Puerto Ayora 2; Galápagos 7.

Climate

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.

Clothing And Special Equipment

For day-to-day wear you should go prepared to encounter all seasons. 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 and sun burn. 

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 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.

Currency

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

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.

Daily Spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$35 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.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed 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.

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.

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.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP.

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.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

What's included in the 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
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Galápagos National park entrance fee
  • Ingala fee
  • Excursions as specified

Included Excursions

  • Tour of vibrant Guayaquil
  • 8 day cruise around the Galápagos Islands on a comfortable motor vessel
  • All excursions whilst on your cruise including islands visits and snorkelling
  • Spotting the fantastic bird and wildlife

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
  • Optional excursions

Real Latin America Experts

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Expert

    It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

Meet the team