Choose a luxury Cormorant cruise around the Galapagos Islands for the very best holiday to the archipelago.
This elegant boat’s eight cabins all offer balconies and sea views, and it social areas boast a bar, a lounge and a jacuzzi.
Built in 2011, you will travel in style while discovering the Galapagos and its wildlife, the islands and their volcanoes.
The best guides make sure that yours will be the trip-of-a-lifetime.
Get close to giant tortoises, iguanas and numerous bird species on land, while discovering all about Galapagos’ formation by volcanic activity.
Itineraries feature plenty of snorkelling with the marine fauna, and there are also kayaks aboard in case you wish to paddle alongside turtles, sharks and sea lions.
Choose twin, double or a single cabin for your cruise, with the incredible itineraries offering flexibility too – sail for 4, 5 or 8 days (or more).
The Cormorant’s attentive staff with an eye for detail make this boat one of the top-rated cruises in the Galapagos Islands.
Aarrive at Baltra Island in the morning.
After passing through immigration and baggage claim you are met by Cormorant staff and transferred to the yacht. You will be shown to your cabin where you will have some time to settle in before lunch and a welcome briefing.
The afternoon visit, Bachas Beach, is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz, and is a great swimming beach.
One of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II, a floating pier, remains. You may see flamingos, Sally-Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, Black-Necked Stilts, and Whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach.
Head to the yacht for dinner and briefing.
Our morning visit includes Bartolome (Bartholomew), home of the famous Pinnacle Rock.
Bartholomew consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations. We take a trail of stairs to the summit of the volcano (about 30 or 40 minutes), from where you can enjoy one of the best views of the Galapagos.
We also visit a small, beautiful beach, surrounded by the only vegetation found on this barren island. The beach is perfect for snorkelling where you may see Galapagos penguins.
Next, and located southeast of Santiago Island, we head to Sullivan Bay, of great geological interest. The area is covered by Pahoehoe lava flows combined with A’A lava. It was very active 200 years ago.
This flow is geologically very young. The magma formed is flat, but the movement of underground lava, the rapid cooling and other eruptions led to the break in many places – you can see patterns of vegetation that were burned during the eruption.
A visit to this area of black lava is preferable in the afternoon because the temperature is more pleasant and the light is better for photographs.
Swimming with sea lions and other wildlife from the shore is a lovely way to finish off the day.
Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.
In the morning, we head to South Plaza. This small island with steep cliffs was formed by rising lava and is now covered by Opuntia cacti. It is also home to one of the largest sea lion colonies as well as colourful yellow and red land iguanas. The most characteristic plant is the Sesuvium.
During the rainy season its colour is a greenish to yellowish tone and in the dry season (end of June through January) a bright red.
Our afternoon visit is to Santa Fe Island, formed by a volcanic uplift. Santa Fe (Barrington) is home to the small picturesque bay and anchorage on the island northeast coast. The bay has two visitor trails, one leading to a scenic viewpoint atop a cliff and the other spanning from a small beach to a tall prickly pear cactus forest.
The island is home to a colony of sea lions which would be more than happy to join you for a swim. Santa Fe also has its own sub-species of land iguana.
We visit Witch Hill (Cerro Brujo) in the morning and explore one of the nicest beaches in the Galápagos – powdered, soft, white sand. With a colony of sea lions and Blue-footed Boobies, this scenic place is bustling with life.
Just beyond the beach is a lagoon, thriving with Egrets and Great Blue Herons. The turquoise water and abundant marine life invite you to snorkel their midst.
In the afternoon we visit Pitt Point.
Pitt Point holds its own as the northeastern most site on Isabela. After an easy hike, we arrive at the only nesting site which hosts all three species of Galápagos Boobies.
The attractive volcanic tuff formations have geologists and laymen alike imagining the forces of nature that possessed the earth to create this land.
In the morning we visit Lobos Island, a rocky bay just a 30-minute walk from Puerto Baquerizo. Note the beautifully coloured plants in the area down by the beach, and the enormous colony and nursery that Galapagos sea lions call home.
Sea lions are normality here – dozens can be seen at any time as well as shore birds and marine iguanas.
In the afternoon we enjoy a dinghy ride and snorkelling around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), known as such because of its resemblance to a sleeping lion.
This site is located off the coast of San Cristobal. Kicker Rock is the remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea and two vertical rocks rising 500 feet above the ocean, forming a small channel that is navigable by small boats.
This Galapagos Islands natural monument has become a favourite sight for cruises due to the many tropicbirds, Frigate birds and Boobies that fill the surrounding air.
Beneath the sea the crystal waters offer a brilliant show of colourful tropical fish and invertebrates.
Española Island is the southernmost island of the Galapagos and is the breeding site of nearly all of the Waved Albatrosses in the entire world.
Española is densely populated with Mockingbirds, Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, Darwin finches, Galapagos Doves, Hawks and more, plus red and green marine iguanas, and loads of sea lions.
In the morning we arrive at Suarez Point. This area is great for spotting Blue-footed Boobies, Albatrosses and Nazca Boobies. A beautiful site on the ocean front, the large Waved Albatrosses use the cliff as a launching pad.
A famous attraction is the magnificent blowhole, spurting water high into the air. This site presents wonderful photographic opportunities.
Gardner Bay, on the eastern side of the island, is the breeding site of nearly all of the world’s 12,000 pairs of Waved Albatrosses. It has an ample white sandy beach with a myriad of sea lions, perfect for relaxing and snorkelling in the turquoise waters. Its rocky shores make this site a great place for diving and snorkelling.
After landing at Osborn Islet, you can walk across a lovely white sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim with sea lion pups. This small island is a marine visit where you can enjoy fantastic snorkelling and swimming.
We visit two sites on Floreana Island today.
Floreana is known for its fabulous snorkelling sites, its vibrantly pink flamingos and its black sand beaches.
First up is Cormorant Point in the northern part of Floreana. Here, we land on a green-coloured beach from the olivine crystals it is composed of.
Enjoy a hike to a salt-water lagoon which is home to flamingoes and other sea birds.
The trail continues to another beach known as Flour Beach because of the very fine white-sand particles it is made of, it is also really important to the turtles that nest there. You also get to swim in Champion, one of the best snorkelling sites in the Galapagos Islands.
In the afternoon, we visit the famous Post Office Bay and Baroness View Point.
We land on a beach and head to a spot where 18th century whalers once placed a wooden barrel for use as an unofficial mail box. The custom continues to this day with Galapagos visitors. So, don’t forget your postcards, and don’t be surprised if the post card arrives to its destination before you even get home.
Baroness View Point offers spectacular views of the coastline and is a great place to learn more about the endemic Mangroves.
Dinner on the yacht completes your day, as we sail back towards Santa Cruz.
In the morning we start at the Charles Darwin Station and Breeding Centre “Fausto Llerena” – home to turtles ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long.
Here we can observe the various sub-species of turtles interacting with each other, and possibly with you. Many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans, and may stretch out their heads for a pet.
The babies are only kept until they are about four years old, or large enough to survive in the wild. These conservation efforts continue to be extremely successful.
After this visit we transfer to the airport for your flight back to the mainland.
Upon arrival to the airport in Baltra you will be greeted by Cormorant staff and taken across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz before boarding the boat. The visit includes a short hike. Dress appropriately with sturdy shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt due to the climate of this area.
On Santa Cruz you see a unique ecosystem, the Highlands, which consists of a humid cloud forest where giant tortoises dwell and birds find sanctuary. This ecosystem contrasts with the dry coastal areas of the islands and the beautiful white sandy beaches, characteristics of the volcanic Islands.
A boxed lunch is served and afterwards we visit the town of Puerto Ayora before embarking.Once on the Cormorant Yacht you have time to settle in and make yourself at home.
In the morning we visit the Tintoreras Islet or Sierra Negra – depending on conditions and the group.
Tintoreras is located a short distance from Puerto Villamil and is the home to a great variety of wildlife. Its turquoise, crystalline waters are inhabited by White-Tipped reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sea lions. One of its beaches, surrounded by mangroves is one of the few sites where marine iguanas can reproduce successfully.
Sierra Negra boasts the largest volcanic basaltic caldera in Galapagos at 9 x 10km. The site offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe up to seven species of finches and a rich display of vegetation.
The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005.
In the afternoon, again we have a choice. The Wetlands of Isabela Island are located just outside of Puerto Villamil and consist of lagoons, swamps, and mangroves. They are home to a variety of unique bird species such as Common Stilts, Whimbrels, White-Cheeked Pintails, and Gallinules. The Wetlands can be visited on foot via a path that winds through the swamps.
Return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner, or choose the Breeding Centre visit (discuss with guide).
In the morning we visit Moreno Point, located south west of Elizabeth Bay.
Here, a dry landing onto what was once flowing lava is possible. The lava has left craters in its wake, which formed crystal tide pools. By looking into the pools, you can peer into another world, as the marine life drifts by. In the brackish pools of this area, you may see pink flamingos, White-Cheeked pintails, and Common gallinules. If you look carefully into the pools you may see White-Tipped reef sharks and some sea turtles.
The afternoon visit takes us to Elizabeth Bay, a secluded space lacking any landing sites. We take a traditional ‘panga’, or dinghy ride, passing the red mangroves and amongst the wildlife of the lively bay. Elizabeth is known for its marine life; you may see sea turtles and rays skimming the surface of the water. You may also see the Brown Pelicans diving for fish, Galapagos penguins, Blue-footed Boobies and even possibly spot humpback whales.
In the morning we head for Mangle Point.
A visit to Mangle Point gives amazing views and wildlife of the coast of Fernandina. Mangle Point is a small inlet on Fernandina’s coast where you can snorkel to your hearts delight and watch playful sea lions, curious penguins, and also catch a glimpse of Flightless Cormorants.
In the afternoon, we land at Urbina Bay, which presents some fascinating geological formations.In 1954, an uplift from the sea formed the bay; which has been characterised by the resulting terrestrial coral reef ever since.
Expect to see stingrays and sea turtles swimming near the surface of the water, along with Flightless Cormorants, Pelicans, and marine iguanas. You get a breathtaking view of Volcano Alcedo.
Fernandina – no foreign species have ever invaded this island and therefore it is one of the world’s most pristine island ecosystems. Fernandina is the youngest island in Galapagos.
Access to this site is extremely restricted by the Galapagos National Park and you will be one of those very lucky visitors. The volcano “La Cumbre”, dominates the land space with lava fields reaching the ocean.
Crossing the Bolivar Channel that divides Isabela and Fernandina Islands, we land at Espinosa Point. After walking past a colony of marine iguanas and a group of sea lions, we reach the island’s highlight: the Flightless Cormorant nesting site.
This area also provides a great opportunity to see the Galapagos Hawk.
In the afternoon we visit Isabela Island once again – Vicente Roca Point. Comprised of two separate coves, this site is a large bay with spectacular sea life. Keep an eye out for seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating Mola-mola sunfish.
Back aboard for dinner and briefing.
Egas Port is a well-known site in the Galapagos Islands that is also known as James Bay on the western side of Santiago Island.
There are trails that lead to tide pools with lava lizards scattering along the trail and remains of an old salt mine operation can be seen on one of the trails.
Fur seals and marine birds can be seen nearby and snorkelling can be enjoyed and very much recommended here. Years ago Buccaneer Cove was a safe haven where pirates in the 1600 and 1700s would stake out on the Northwestern side of Santiago Island. Sea turtles now take the pirates place and dig their nests for their eggs near the Mangrove trees. It is a great location for snorkelling and many marine birds and sea lions can be found here.
Espumilla Beach is another famous visitor site in the Galapagos Islands. After a wet landing, find yourself on a large beach where the guide leads you on a path through a Mangrove Forest.
After weaving through the Mangroves, find an inland lake where Flamingoes, Pintail Ducks and Stilts reside. The site is mostly inhabited by Flamingoes that nest and feed in this location.
The morning takes us to El Barranco, also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, whose steep, rocky path leads you up 25 metere (82 ft) to a cliff-face.
After marvelling at the view we take a 2km trek through Palo Santo vegetation. Look out for Red-footed Boobies, Short-Eared Lava Owls, Galápagos Swallows, and Galápagos Doves – all are abundant.
Our afternoon visit takes us to the beach at Darwin Bay. This white-sand coral beach heads a 750m trail that winds down through mangroves that are filled with land birds.
You may see Nazca Boobies, Red-Footed Boobies, and Swallow-Tailed Gulls. Further down the path, you may see sea lions playing in tidal pools. We arrive at a cliff-side and as the spectacular views soak in, the Boobies and iguanas will keep us company.
Back aboard for our farewell dinner!
Our last trip of the tour!
North Seymour Island: Galapagos Sea Lions, Blue-Footed Boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds are abundant on North Seymour Island. The island was formed by series of submarine lavas containing layers of sediment that were uplifted by tectonic activity. The island is characterised by its arid vegetation zone.
Alas, it’s time to say goodbye. Your guide accompanies you to the airport and you fly back to the continent, or stay on for more Galapagos exploration.
Accommodation, all meals plus purified water, tea and coffee, snacks, naturalist bilingual Galapagos guides level II/III, shore excursions, snorkelling equipment, transfers in the Islands between the airport and dock, kayak use
International flights, Round trip flights to the Galapagos Islands, Galapagos National Park fee, Galapagos Ingala fee, soft and alcoholic drinks, personal items, souvenirs, tips, wetsuit hire, travel insurance, personal items, Ecuador services
The Cormorant features eight double cabins, which can be twin and doubles, and each has a balcony, private bathroom with hot/cold shower and air conditioning.
In the social areas, there is a lounge, library, dining room and bar on the main deck, plus another eating area and bar on the upper deck.
The sun deck has loungers and a jacuzzi, as well as a shaded area.
The crews are “Galapagueños”, guides, captains and crew members were born and raised in the Galapagos Islands.
They know the area well and are prepared to show you the islands only like a native can do it.
The Naturalist, English-speaking guides have studied and been trained at Charles Darwin Scientific Station, and have long years of experience guiding at the Galapagos Islands.
The boat uses as much locally sourced produce as possible, including fish, coffee, eggs, fruits and meat farmed in Galapagos, to reduce carbon footprints and make sure the best ingredients are used.
The chef prepares three main meals a day, with snacks and drinks available after activities.
All dietary requirements can be catered for, vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant and more.
Breakfast usually features a juice, tea and coffee, toast, jams, eggs and pastries.
Lunch will include soups, then a main meal of rices, pastas, fish, omelettes and many more options, and often a small pudding.
Dinner will again be a hearty affair, with a starter, main meal and pudding, with water, teas and coffees available.
There is a bar with beers and cocktails available at extra cost.
Every visit to each island involves an easy or moderate walk, which can last between 2 to 3 hours, and are not considered strenuous. On these walks you will be led by an expert naturalist guides in a small group along clearly marked trails. They will explain in great detail all the wonders of each of our carefully selected itineraries. Most days there are two guided walks on a specific island where you will be able to walk and hike on beaches, lava fields, alongside cliffs and around mangrove estuaries.
Snorkelling in the Islands is the highlight of the Galapagos cruise for many of our guests. You have the opportunity to go snorkelling almost every day – snorkelling with marine iguanas and with playful sea-lions are some of the highlights, as well as with green sea turtles, penguins and an incredible variety of colourful reef fish. On the western islands the water is a little colder but teaming with life. There are beach snorkels for beginners and deeper waters.
Dinghies, or “Pangas” as they are known in Galapagos, are inflatable zodiacs that serve as the main transportation method from our Galapagos yachts to the visitor sites. At several times during your week-long Galapagos travel adventure, you will have the chance to enjoy dinghy (or panga) rides in shores, mangrove estuaries, coves and caves.
One of the most luxurious catamarans available, rooms have private balconies plus there are interconnecting rooms for families.
These magical islands comprise of 50 volcanic islands of varying shapes and sizes, which lie 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador.
Here, unlike anywhere else on Earth, you can enjoy a thousand close encounters with a weird and wonderful variety of ‘friendly locals’, including giant tortoises, fur seals, sea iguanas, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
Read our Galapagos Islands Guide and more about diving.
In 1535, Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, floated into this archipelago and named it Galapagos after the giant tortoises he encountered. Pirates used the islands for refuge and to bury their stolen treasure after that.
The islands’ most celebrated visitor was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
It wasn’t until 1959 when it became part of Ecuador’s national park system that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species came under protection.
In 1979 the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Landscapes vary from the drier south to the more humid north.
The Highlands, or sierra, encompass two Andean Cordilleras (the Central and Western), which run north to south through the country. Ecuador’s largest volcano is Chimborazo (6,310m) whose summit, because of its proximity to the equator, is the closest point on earth to the sun. Several of Ecuador’s volcanoes are still active, and it’s a great area for trekking.
Descending the steep, east-facing slopes of the eastern Cordillera, one passes through a transition zone comprising dense cloud forest and humid high jungle, before entering the Amazon lowlands.
This mainly primary rainforest covers a third of the country, accounts for 5% of the population and stretches across Ecuador, from its Colombian to its Peruvian borders.
The Galapagos Islands are simply unique. Lying 600 miles off the mainland, the archipelago comprises the summits of gigantic equatorial volcanoes.
The flora and fauna of the Galapagos, long separated from their continental cousins, have evolved differently. Charles Darwin used his observations there to develop his theory of Evolution.
When to visit Galapagos Islands: weather and wildlife
There is no real ‘best’ time to visit Galapagos on holiday as there is always wonderful wildlife and weather to enjoy. Read our blog for more.
Most animals – tortoises, sharks, sea lions and boobies – are found year round and many of the species here are non-migratory.
The Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator so air and water temperatures do not vary by much.
Having said that, there are two recognised seasons, and each months brings natural marvels for the visitor to enjoy.
Below is our quick guide to the weather and wildlife you can find on the Galapagos Islands.
General weather information
The warm season (Jan-Jun)
Sea temperatures: 22-25°C / 72-77°F
Land temperatures: 21-32°C / 72-90°F
The dry ‘garua’ season (Jun-Dec)
Sea temperatures: 15-22°C / 60-72°F
Land temperatures: 18-24°C / 65-75°F
Air and sea temperatures in Galapagos, month-by-month
You have to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil at least the night before your flight to the Galapagos.
Flights to Galapagos leave from from Quito or Guayaquil early in the morning on the first day of your tour, landing Galapagos around midday.
There are two intercontinental airports on the Galapagos one is on Baltra Island and the other is on San Cristobal Island and is also known as the Baquerizo Moreno Port.
Flights are usually included in your package to ensure all passengers are arriving at the same time on the same flight and into the correct airport.
On Isabela Island there is a landing area available only to inter-island flights for small planes.
Flights from the Galapagos back to Quito or Guayaquil usually leave around midday or later (depends on the vessel).
You can sometimes connect in Guayaquil with a flight home on the same day you leave Galapagos.
Please check times with us before booking any flights – you need to make sure that the Guayaquil departure is in the late evening / night. If you miss the connection in Guayaquil, your international airline may or may not switch you to the next available flight.
Before you fly from Quito or Guayaquil airport, you need to pay USD 20pp for a transit control card. Some cruises pre-pay this and include it in your trip cost.
On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be asked by a representative of the Galapagos National Park to pay the Park fee in cash (currently US$ 100 per person, USD 50 per person for under 12s).
The dock tax is US$5 on Isabela Island, and the airport tax is US$15 for flights between islands.
All National Park fees subject to change without prior notice.
You will also need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.
British nationals do not need a visa for Ecuador.
Non UK residents please check with the Ecuadorian embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
ALL visitors to Ecuador and Galapagos must have valid health and medical insurance to cover their entire stay. Inability to show a valid policy on arrival at customs will lead to a refusal of entry.
Galapagos park rules
1. Visitors to any protected areas within the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorised by the GNPD.
2. Travel only with tour operators and/or boats authorised to work in the protected areas of Galapagos.
3. Remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife, and for your safety.
4. Maintain a distance of at least six feet (two metres) from wildlife to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you.
5. Never feed wildlife, as this can cause health problems.
6. Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife. Professional photography and videos recorded for commercial purposes must be authorised by the GNPD.
7. Camping is only allowed in a few authorised areas in the Islands. Request authorisation to camp at the Galapagos National Park’s offices at least 48 hours in advance.
8. It is your responsibility not to introduce food, animals, or plants into the Archipelago. Cooperate fully with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit.
9. Do not take or buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances, including black coral, shells, lava rock, animal parts, or any native wood or vegetation prior to leaving Galapagos. This is illegal and must be reported.
10. Practice “leave-no-trace” principles in order to maintain the beauty of the environment.
11. Pack out all trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat.
12. Smoking and/or campfires are strictly prohibited within the Galapagos National Park, as fires poses a serious risk to the flora and fauna of Galapagos.
13. Fishing is only permitted on recreational tour boats authorised by the GNPD.
14. Motorized aquatic sports, mini-subs, and aerial tourism activities are not permitted in the Galapagos National Park or Marine Reserve.
The Galapagos Islands are a suitable destination for most ages and fitness levels. Walks are generally short, although some volcano hikes are more challenging and may involve 2-3 hours of walking. Snorkelling is a real highlight on the Galapagos, so the ability to swim and snorkel is recommended. Snorkelling is suitable for those that have never tried before.
You need to be able to make some wet landings i.e. stepping out of a panga onto a sandy shore, and you may need to ascend or desend small ladders when getting on or off boats at docks or to snorkel.
The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the Islands, but they really are accessible to all. You can choose to skip any activities you do not wish to partake in.
Read more in our blog about a typical day on Galapagos.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.
Galapagos – general advice
Galapagos is warm and humid, and you will need t-shirts (moisture wick-away or breathable t-shirts can be very useful, it can get very hot in the day), shorts, lightweight skirt or trousers and bathing suits.
One or two cotton shirts can be used to protect you from sunburn, especially when snorkelling (not very elegant worn in the water over a swimsuit, but practical – and Galapagos is NOT an elegant place!).
You may want to change into different clothes for the evening, but don’t take anything dressy or smart – there really is a very relaxed atmosphere on board.
Pack something warm for going on deck in the early morning or evening a fleece, maybe, and a sweatshirt – and a waterproof for the Highlands.
Strong sandals, trainers, or light hiking boots are ideal footwear – you may like to have something suitable for easy walks and another for tougher terrain – your guide will advise you daily what the walking will be like. Most boats ask passengers not to wear heavy shoes on board.
Do take a hat!
Seasickness tablets if you think you will have problems – i.e. Sturgeon, or Mareol if you buy them in Quito. The sea can be choppy, so it is recommended to take them as a precaution.
Galapagos – detailed kit list
The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact.
Please try to minimise your impact by:
Pleasantly warm during the day, but can be quite chilly during the morning or at night when you might want a jacket or a fleece, plus a waterproof.
You may want to dress up a little more in the evening here, depending on where you are staying, and what sort of restaurant you like.
Conditions here are similar to Galapagos – hot and humid. T-shirts and shorts in the day, and like Quito, something smarter for eating out in restaurants at night.
We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Ecuador visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.
For people travelling to the Amazon/coast and regions below 1,500m (excluding Galapagos, which is malaria free):
Official name: Republic of Ecuador
Country population: 15,000,000
Capital city: Quito (2.51 million)
Largest cities: Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Machala
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua
Latitude/Longitude: 2º S, 77º 30 W
Official currency: US dollar
Major industries: bananas, shrimp, oil, gold, roses
Time zone: GMT-5 (Galapagos GMT-6)
Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers; we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.
International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.
Typically, you fly to a country’s capital city and then overnight there or make a connecting flight (if available) to your next destination.
Please contact us for flight advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets that are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.
Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.
Almost all flight tickets are now e-tickets. Any that are not will be handed to you on arrival in South America – this is most common for flights on smaller planes in Amazon areas such as Guyana/Bolivia.
The final travel instructions we send you some 2-3 weeks before departure will list the latest flight times, flight numbers etc as well as list your e-ticket numbers and booking reference code (6 characters i.e. GB75RK). This is what you will need to check in with.
How do I check in?
Depending on the airline, we can reserve some seats for you at the time of booking your international flights with us.
If we cannot reserve seats at the time of booking, you have to wait for online check in to open (usually 24-72 hours before departure).
To check in online you will need to go to the website of the airline you are travelling with, and have your e-ticket number/booking reference to hand. Click check in online, enter your details, and choose your seat.
Some flights will allocate seats at the check in desk at the airport and some may not allocate seats at all.
Help flying via the USA (ESTA form).
The United States (USA) has an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which all travellers to and via the USA must complete BEFORE travel to/via its airports and shores.
More information can be found on their ESTA website.
Passengers who have not completed the form will be denied boarding.
Before you begin this application, make sure that you have a valid passport and credit card available.
This application will only accept the following credit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).
Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.
We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.
We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.
When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.
You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.
What is ATOL?
The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.
And ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.
Who is covered?
To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).
If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.
If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.
Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.
I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?
If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.
We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.
If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.
You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.
In large cities such as Quito and Guayaquil, you should guard against bag snatching, bag slashing and pick-pocketing.
Highway robbery should also be guarded against. We strongly recommend you take the following precautions:
Currency & Money Exchange
Ecuador and Galapagos use the US dollar as currency.
On Galapagos, there are a few ATMs on Santa Cruz island and San Cristobal islands, although they do not always work and you may not ever go near them as part of your tour.
Galapagos park entry fees and most Galapagos boats, hotels and restaurants only accept cash payments for food, drinks, tips, kit rental etc, so you need to arrive with plenty of USD cash.
There are ATMs at Quito and Guayaquil airports that dispense USD.
Take small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills, 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s being the best. You will find it hard to use 50s, and 100s are seldom accepted anywhere.
On the mainland in Ecuador, ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees), and there are ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines widely available in towns and cities.
Don’t forget to read our Guide to Tipping in Ecuador, too.
Eating and drinking
Galapagos has a growing range of places to eat and drink. They are not cheap due to the high costs of living on the remote islands, and almost everywhere will ask for payment in cash. Some more top end places take card payments on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.
Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Ecuador.
Beer/soft drink: USD 3-4
Menu del dia: USD 8-15
Coffee: USD 2
Tourist style restaurant
Beer/soft drink: USD 3-5
Main dish: USD 15 upwards
Coffee: USD 3
On cruises, you must take sufficient cash (USD) with you. You will most likely not have an opportunity to get to an ATM and most boats do NOT accept credit card payments or traveller cheques.
On board you will need to budget for drinks (soft drinks from US$1, beer from US$3), extra snacks, souvenirs. Snorkelling gear and wet suits can be hired on most boats if not included in the price, but again anything hired needs to be paid for in cash. Tips (USD 50-100pp) also payable in cash.
Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.
This is a rough guideline – please note that all Galapagos tips must be left in USD cash.
And then throughout mainland Ecuador:
On the coast
Ceviche de pescado Raw marinated fish, served with tostado (roasted maize).
Ceviche Popular everywhere, is best on the coast.
Ceviche de mariscos Marinated shellfish. Most varieties of shellfish ceviche – e.g. camaron (prawn) and langostino (king prawn) – are cooked before being marinated. The exception is ceviche de conchas (clams) which is marinated raw.
Langosta Lobster (Increasingly endangered, but is still fished illegally).
Empanada de verde Ground plantain pasty filled with meat, cheese or shrimp.
Sopa de bola de verde Plantain dumpling soup
Encocadas Dishes prepared with coconut milk. Can be shrimp, fish etc.
Patacones Fried plantain chips
In the Highlands
Locro de papas Potato and cheese soup.
Mote Burst maize.
Caldo de patas Cow-hoof soup (with mote).
Llapingachos Fried potato and cheese patties.
Empanada de morocho Ground maize shell filled with meat.
Sancocho de yuca Vegetable soup with manioc.
Cuy Guinea pig
Fritada/Chicharron Fried pork
Hornado Roast pork
Humita Ground maize meal wrapped in maize leaf and steamed (sweet or savoury).
Quimbolito Similar to humita, but made from maize flour and steamed in a banana leaf (sweet or savoury).
Jugos Fruit juices are very good, including naranjilla, maracuya (passion fruit), tomate de arbol (tree tomato – like a sweet tomato) and piña (pineapple).
Aguardiente Unmatured rum (Cristal is nice). Also known as paico, trago and trago de caña.
Cerveza Lager-type beer is very popular. Several brands, including Pilsener and Club.
Ecuador uses 120 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hz.
Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.
Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.
Ecuador and Galapagos boats mainly use two-pin, flat-pronged Type A plugs and some sockets take Type B plugs.
Type A plug
Type B plug
The international code for Ecuador is +593.
Regions have dialling codes, with a 0 prefix – Galapagos is 05.
Galapagos is a very remote destination and your mobile phone will most likely be out of range.
People on cruises will almost certainly be out of contact for most of the time aboard. Some boats are starting to offer Wi-Fi at expensive rates.
People in hotels will be able to access phones and very slow internet.
Ecuador’s landlines have 7 digits, and to call landline-landline in the same city, simply dial the 7 digits.
If calling landline to another regional landline/city, start with a 0 then the regional code.
If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. for Galapagos (code: 05), dial +593 5 1234567.
Mobiles have 8 digits, and start with 09 to make a total of 10 digits;
If you are dialling Ecuador mobile to mobile, simply dial the full number, including the 09.
If using your own mobile phone to call an Ecuadorian mobile, dial the country code, then omit the 0 of 09, then the 8 remaining digits e.g. +593 9 1234-5678.
Almost all unlocked phones will work in Ecuador with a local SIM, however – check with your provider before arrival if your phone will work.
Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.
To send postcards, you can leave them at Post Office Bay for fellow travellers to pick up and send on.
Otherwise, head to the official postal service, Correos del Ecuador, on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal.
Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.
Below are some basics to get you started.
Good morning Buenos días
How are you? ¿Cómo estás?
Good afternoon Buenas tardes
Good bye Adiós
Most frequently asked questions (theirs):
Where are you (plural) from? ¿De dónde eres (son)?
What time is it? ¿Qué hora es?
Where have you come from? ¿De dónde vienes?
Give me (frequent, unwelcome question) Dáme / regálame
Most frequent questions (yours):
How much is it? ¿Cuánto vale?
What is this place called? ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?
What’s your name? ¿Cómo te llamas?
Do you have a map? ¿Tienes un mapa?
In the street / places:
Where can I find a currency exchange? ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?
Where is there a cash machine? ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?
Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?
Where can I find a taxi? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?
Where can I find a Supermarket? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?
Where is the hospital? ¿Dónde esta el hospital?
Where can I find a restaurant? ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?
In the hotel:
What floor am I on? ¿En qué piso estoy?
Where are the elevators/lifts? ¿Dónde están los ascensores?
How do I access the Internet? ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?
How do I call for room service? ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?
How do I call down to the front desk? ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?
In the restaurant:
A table for two/four please Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor
I would like to drink… Me gustaria tomar….
May I see a menu? Puedo ver la carta/menu?
I would like to order.. Me gustaria pedir…
Can you bring me the check/bill please. Me trae la cuenta por favor
I need help. Necesito ayuda.
I have lost my passport. He perdido mi pasaporte.
Someone stole my money. Alguien robó mi dinero
I have been robbed. Me han robado
I need to call the police. Necesito llamar a la policía
I need to call the (country) Embassy Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)
Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.
Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.
We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.
We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.
With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.
Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.
Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.
Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:
All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).
We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.
In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.
Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.
We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.
We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.
If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.
When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.
Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.
When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.
A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.
You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.
It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.
We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.
Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.
Many of our tours travel through remote areas.
We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.
Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.
This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.
What's a group trip?
Join a small group of like-minded travellers on a guided trip.
Prices From $5,620 / £4,683 per person
Dates: From January 2019 to December 2020
Capacity: 16 per person
Enquire about booking
Prices From $4,595 / £3,829 per person
Prices From $4,320 / £3,600 per person
Capacity: 14 per person
Prices From $4,850 / £4,042 per person
Prices From $4,700 / £3,917 per person
Capacity: 20 per person
Select an available date to view pricing and information for that particular trip.
8 days (Sat-Sat) USD 7,545 per person
5 days (Sat-Wed) USD 4,645 per person
4 days (Wed-Sat) USD 3,545 per person
2020 price, per person, shared standard cabin
Single supplement applies - ask about cabin shares
Supplements apply to peak season dates
Cabin upgrades available
$7,545 / £6,287
Enquire about booking
Prices From $7,545 / £6,287 per person
Ask a question and our expert in this area will have your answer.
Can’t find what you’re
looking for? Get in Touch
+44 (0)131 467 7086
+44 (0)131 554 6025
We had a great time in Quito and the Galapagos, thanks. Everything went even better than expected – we really liked the friendly hotel, and couldn’t fault anything on the Mary Anne. I have already recommended you to a friend!
A. Kyari, UK, 2010
» Mary Anne Cruise, Galapagos Island Sail Boat
We both felt our South America holiday was the highlight of 2012, and it was easy to see why people travel halfway across the world to see the sights of Peru and Ecuador. Our highlight overall was probably the Galapagos cruise and we never guessed how fascinated we’d become by the landscapes, the island and sea animal life, and the history of the islands. Guide was excellent in the Galapagos. From an organisational point of view, it was such a relief that everything worked; as we were trying to pack so much in to a tight timescale it seemed risky that had anything gone wrong it could have been difficult to get back on track. All the information given out beforehand was very comprehensive and I can’t think of anything on the ‘we wish we’d known that before leaving’ list. We were shocked how much and how high quality the food on both the Inca Trail and Galapagos cruise was.
R. Brackenbury, UK, 2012
» Archipel, First Class Galapagos Catamaran
Want to get a taste of Chile's Fiestas Patrias, which start today? www.facebook.com/Andeantrails.…
18th September, 2019 8:07 am
Chile’s long thin geography gives it an incredible variety of landscapes and topography which can be explored more in full with a self drive holiday itinerary. The country boasts awe inspiring desert landscapes, majestic mountain scenery, craggy rocky scenic coasts, lush forests, pristine lakes and much more. The suggested itineraries below can give a taste of some of these attractions. These itineraries can be tailored to suit each individual requirement. Green Patagonia – Lakes, Volcanoes and Forests. 8 Days / 7 nights Pick up car: Puerto Montt airport. Drop off car: Temuco airport. Day 1 …
Sign up here to receive the latest news and info from Andean Trails