Image Courtesy of International Expeditions
Thirteen major islands, six minor islands, and 42 volcanic islets make up Ecuador’s iconic Galapagos Islands. This volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, a mere 1,000 km off the Ecuadorian coast is one of the world’s leading destinations for wildlife viewing with 77 endemic animals and several plant species that can only be seen in the Galapagos.
This World Heritage site boasts a vast and ruggedly lush landscape with one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. While cruising around the islands in the comfort the MV Evolution, a 32-person boat, you’ll have endless opportunities to explore the ecosystem, the wildlife, and the stunning natural beauty is seen throughout. On the adventure front, there’s plenty of places and ways to flex your sense of adventure. Or you can simply sit back, relax and soak it all in.
The islands and the surrounds are equally rich in history with plenty of pirate stories and whaler's tales. It’s a very compelling place. It inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution in the 1830s. Who knows what it will inspire in you.
October 23rd - November 1st, 2020
From $7,498 USD & up
Group size: 12-32
Full and final payment due April 15, 2020
Deposit due asap to secure your spot & cabin
About the Trip
As a part of this rugged yet luxe experience, you will spend seven nights aboard the M/V Evolution ship, which features the most public space and largest cabins of any yacht in her class.
Your days will be spent surrounded by mind-blowing beauty while being immersed in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
Activities range from snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and hiking as well enjoying intimate picnics in the highlands with giant tortoises around, visiting family-run coffee and sugar cane farms and learning about conservation efforts at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
No matter what you do, you’ll be in the best of hands with the archipelago's best guest-to-guide ratio on small-group departures of just 26-32 guests.
(This is on a first come basis. Don't wait until the final deadline to pay or book as cabins are available to other travelers outside of this trip. If interested, best to book soonest to ensure a cabin.)
Dates - October 23rd - November 1st, 2020
Days -10 Days/9 Nights
Size - Minimum 10/Maximum 20
Style - Adventure, Wildlife & Culture
Needs - $600 deposit required asap to hold your spot. Full payment due - April 15th, 2020.
Treats - Exceptional marine & wildlife, stunning nature
Accommodations - Port Hotel & Boutique Style Yacht
Host- Karen Loftus
Fees - From $7,498 (shared accommodations) & up ($7,600 double) and $9,570 (single)
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1 October 23rd, 2020
Fly independently to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and transfer to the Hotel Oro Verde. With approximately two million people in the metropolitan area, the port city of Guayaquil is the largest and most populous city in all of Ecuador.
Like any big city, there is a mix of neighborhoods as well as creative, culinary and lifestyle attractions spread throughout this sprawling city. Be sure to visit the colorful favelas in the hills and the Rio Guayas melecon, the riverfront town square area, the hub of the city.
This first day and night in the city you are free to explore on your own. Meals, experiences, and excursions are on your own and at your own expense.
Day 2 | October 24th, 2020
Guayaquil / Baltra / Daphne Major
This morning we leave Guayaquil and fly to Galapagos to board your home away from home for the next week. The M/V Evolution provides ample living space and storage. So settle in. After a safety briefing, enjoy a circumnavigation of Daphne Major, a paradise for seabirds such as the magnificent frigatebird. A welcome dinner with our group on board and an introduction with Karen Loftus will follow.
Day 3 | October 25th, 2020
Isabela Island / Fernandina Island
We’ll start our first full day of adventure in Zodiacs that will take us on a dramatic ride into the heart of a sunken volcano at Punta Vicente Roca. We will take to the water, to swim and snorkel among sea turtles, penguins, and possibly even seahorses.
We’ll explore the lava fields of Punta Espinosa, located on Fernandina, the youngest and most volcanically active island in the Galapagos. Here we are sure to spot flightless cormorants and marine iguanas. Whale watching from the Evolution’s open-air decks as we cross the Bolivar Channel is a great way to end the day.
Day 4 | October 26th, 2020
Today we hike along the uplifted section of seafloor in Urvina Bay at the base of the Alcedo Volcano. Our naturalists will point out the tortoises, colorful land iguanas and other wildlife that feed on the vegetation. Later we board the Zodiacs for an excursion to Tagus Cove, where we look for penguins, flightless cormorants and pelicans along the cliffs before a chance to snorkel and swim. Dinner on board to follow.
Day 5 | October 27th, 2020
Bartolomé / Santiago Island: Sullivan Bay
This morning we visit Bartolomé Island, hiking to the top of a dormant volcano for a dramatic panorama, including famed Pinnacle Rock. The island is dotted with craters, cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones and broken lava tunnels which run down from the summit.
Our Zodiac drivers will take “non-hikers” for a ride around the cliffs to observe a stunning volcanic landscape and Galapagos penguins. Swim and snorkel with sea lions and maybe even speedy penguins. This afternoon, we hike across the pahoehoe lava of Sullivan Bay where we will see some of the hearty flora colonizing the landscapes. We’ll stroll along the coralline beach spotting black and white oystercatchers.
Day 6 | October 28th, 2020
Santa Cruz Island: Bachas Beach / Rabida Island
Today kicks off with a walk along the white sands of Bachas Beach looking for Sally Lightfoot crabs, black-necked stilts and whimbrels. We’ll snorkel in the calm waters where sea turtles nest. Our afternoon is spent along the distinct red-sand beaches and cliffs of Rabida Island. While exploring this uninhabited island at the archipelago’s geologic center, watch for up to nine species of Darwin’s finches, doves, yellow warblers and mockingbirds.
A small saltwater lagoon is a home to white-cheeked pintail ducks and black-necked stilts. Snorkelers may take to the water with sea lions, sea turtles and reef fish such as damsels and pufferfish. During a guided kayaking excursion, we’ll watch for brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies while savoring views of the island’s sloping volcanic peak.
Day 7 | October 29th, 2020
Santa Cruz Island
We’ll begin our day in the forested highlands, with ample opportunity to see and photograph giant tortoises in the wild. We’ll stop at a family run coffee and sugar cane farm and learning about the work being done to study and preserve wildlife at Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Center at the Darwin Research Center.
Day 8 | October 30th, 2020
As the southernmost island in the archipelago, Española’s relative isolation has resulted in not only an abundance of unusual wildlife, but species and subspecies that are endemic to the island, such as Española (Hood) mockingbird, Española (Hood) racer snake, Española (Hood) lava lizard, waved albatross and brightly colored marine iguanas. We’ll enjoy a Zodiac ride before wading ashore to Punta Suarez through a sea lion colony.
We’ll walk along the cliffs looking for waved albatrosses, Galapagos hawks, Hood mockingbirds and the red-colored race of marine iguana en route to Española’s blowhole, where waves spout 90 feet into the air. Afterwards we’ll have a relaxing lunch, swim, snorkel and kayak in the waters off Gardner Bay. If not up for all the activity, a book, a camera and a kickback in the white sands is also an option. A special dinner and event with Karen to follow over dinner for our final night onboard.
Day 9 | October 31st, 2020
San Cristóbal Island / Guayaquil
End your Galapagos Islands cruise by returning to San Cristóbal to visit the Interpretation Center, opened by the park in 1998. Fly to Guayaquil, with time to relax at the Hotel Oro Verde before your connecting flights the following morning.
(This evening you are on your own, however, Karen is working on organizing an event in the city of Guayaquil on this final evening together in Ecuador. Details to follow.)
Day 10 | November 1st, 2020
After breakfast at the hotel, you will board your independent flights home or to another destination.
Until we travel together again…
The M/V Evolution is an intimate ship that accommodates as many as 32 guests. The ship feels a bit like a boutique hotel with its chic beachy vibe and its open, airy and ample public space throughout. With an open-air bar, hot tub, indoor and outdoor dining areas as well as two sun decks, the Evolution offers guests more open-air public space than any boat in her class. The canopied bar on the roof deck is perfect for early morning coffee and whale watching and or for sipping of sundowners at days end.
Rooms offer ocean view portholes or windows. Ranging from 143 to 263 square feet, the oversized air-conditioned cabins aboard the Evolution are the largest on average of any ship in the islands.
Throughout the expedition, you will benefit from your local guides 20-year experience and their highest level (Level 3) by Galapagos National Park. Meals onboard are served in one seating in the dining room. Each meal boasts both international and traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. Dancing and local bands is not unlikely while on board.
*All images on the Galapagos page are courtesy of International Expeditions
Accommodations, Rates, Availability
SHARED ACCOMMODATION: FROM $7,498 USD & UP
Pricing is based on a shared triple and double- occupancy room and a single supplement. $600 deposit required asap to hold your spot as expeditions do sell out as cabins become full.
Full and final payment due - April 15th, 2020
This program welcomes a minimum of 12 guests booked with WAT. There is a maximum of 32 guests in total on the ship.
Hover over the image below to see the full BIO on Your Host, Karen Loftus
Your Tour Operator
With 38 years of pioneering immersive experiences in Earth's wildest regions, International Expeditions is an award-winning eco-travel company that travels to more than 20 countries. From sought-after signature Amazon River cruises and African safaris to their newest adventures to Cuba, Latin America and beyond, their small-group nature tours remain the standard for exploring Earth's most captivating natural and cultural wonders. Supporting conservation and community projects, International Expeditions has a long history of both founding and funding conservation and community projects throughout the world. Their efforts include such diverse activities as bringing clean water and school supplies to remote Amazon villages to supporting conservation in delicate ecosystems such as the Galapagos Islands.
Final Notes is the place for me to give you the inner skinny on the trip. This is where we discuss the insider bits and bobs, bits of interest and or the levels of adventure ahead. Here’s the deal with Galapagos.
So, I have chosen all of the Women’s Adventure Travel trips based on my own travels, having traveled with the tour operators, having stayed at many of the properties and knowing the restaurants, the sites and in many cases knowing the local guides.
This is the only trip on the list that I have not traveled to myself nor have I traveled with the company before. I have, however, traveled with their sister company, Quark Expeditions to Antarctica. They are handling WAT’s Antarctic trip in 2020 that’s how much I loved the company and their Antarctic experience.
So, I know that we too are in the best of hands with their sister company, International Expeditions. Similar to the other trips, I have been working meticulously with IE. We are working together to add the feminine elements on this trip, one of which is a female naturalist who will be traveling with us throughout.
As far as the adventure for this trip, you can dial it up or down on a daily basis based on your own interest and ability.