Wildlife Group Tour

Cruise the Galapagos Islands with The Times

10 days

from £5,995pp
  • Join an exclusive Times charter with like-minded people on one of the newest luxury boats
  • Explore seven of the Galapagos Islands including the spectacular Espanola and Genovesa
  • Two naturalist guides on board means an excellent ratio of 1 guide to 10 clients
  • Travel when the weather is warm, the skies are blue and the waters are clear for snorkelling

This is a fantastic opportunity to travel aboard one of the newest vessels cruising the Galapagos Islands and travel with fellow Times readers.  The Infinity is a leading luxury motor boat chartered exclusively for The Times, providing the utmost comfort from which to discover this extraordinary archipelago that captivated naturalists such as Charles Darwin and continues to fascinate today.  

What Wildlife can be seen in December in the Galapagos?

The abundance of wildlife in the Galapagos is unrivalled with every island unique.  On land, December sees the start of the giant tortoise hatching season in the highlands of Santa Cruz. The delightful blue-footed boobies can be found on the remote Genovesa Island as can their relatives, the Nazca boobies and the red-footed boobies. December is a good time to see the impressive red pouches of the great frigate birds and on the island of Española, renowned for being home to a large population of marine iguanas, the first young waved albatross fledglings can be seen.

Underneath the water is as impressive as on land. Due to the arrival of the Humboldt current over the summer months, the waters are full of nutrients at this time of year, and therefore snorkelling may bring all kinds of surprises.  You may be lucky enough to see the green sea turtles displaying mating behaviour or share a snorkel with some playful sea lions. 

Will the sea be rough in December in the Galapagos?

The sea is generally calmer at this time of year. This itinerary explores the central islands which are more protected but the open waters around the outer-lying islands such as Genevosa may be a little choppier.

What is the Infinity boat like?

The Infinity is the latest addition to a luxury fleet.  Providing eight double cabins and two suites, all cabins boast private balconies. Cabins onboard Infinity are some of the largest that can be found in the Galapagos, especially for a motorboat. Her sleek modern interior is of a minimalist style and the floor to ceiling windows allow for exceptional views and wonderful light.  An outdoor dining area and bar make for a very convivial atmosphere onboard.

Is December a good month to travel to the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos is a great destination to visit year-round. While it sits on the equator, the weather is not tropical, and temperatures sit in the early twenties most of the year. However, in December the air temperature is starting to climb, and the skies should be clear, though the occasional shower is possible.  The water temperature is warm for snorkelling, especially amongst the central islands and shallower waters, but it’s typical of the Galapagos to experience some cold spots.



Departing on:
  • 9th December 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
9th Dec 2018 18th Dec 2018 £ 5,995 £ 900 £ 4,200 Peter Freire Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Bed and breakfast accommodation in Quito
  • City tour in Quito
  • Accommodation aboard the Infinity boat
  • Full board meals and snorkelling equipment on boat
  • English speaking National Park guides in the Galapagos
  • Tourist card $20 and national park fee $100
  • Domestic flights between mainland Ecuador and Galapagos Islands
  • Transfers throughout
  • 24-hour assistance while travelling

what is excluded

  • International flights to Ecuador
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Arrive in Quito
Today arrive in Quito, you will be met and transferred to the Patio Andaluz. The day is free to rest and relax after your flight or begin to explore the city.

With Pichincha Volcano on one side and Machangara Gorge on the other with the equator passing directly through, few cities can rival Quito's setting. Few also can match the splendour of its old town, with its colonial churches, mansions and plazas.

Quito was named as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. This historical city sits at 2,850 metres and has the largest and best preserved historic centre and colonial quarters in Latin America.


You will be staying at Patio Andaluz, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Half Day Colonial Quito Tour
This half day tour includes a panoramic view of the modern city and surrounding mountains from Panecillo Hill at 10,200 ft, followed by a visit to the colonial area. Visit buildings from the 16th century, including Independence Square and the Presidents Palace. See San Francisco Square, church and monastery, the oldest catholic complex in Ecuador built between 1535 and 1650, and La Compania de Jesus church, considered to be a perfect example of the baroque style in Latin America.


You will be staying at Patio Andaluz, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Fly Quito to Baltra


Baltra and Santa Cruz Island
This morning fly to Baltra in the Galapagos archipelago. After passing through Galapagos National Park inspection your national park guide will be waiting. The guide will accompany the group on the short bus ride to the waterfront. At the dock board a panga (dinghy) to make the short crossing to Infinity. Settle into the Infinity and have lunch and a briefing en route to the first visitor site of Black Turtle Cove in the northern part of Santa Cruz. This inlet is surrounded by mangroves and is only accessible by panga. The shallow cove is a haven for young marine life, black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles and a variety of rays are often spotted here.

There will be two naturalist guides leading the daily excursions and giving evening briefings.

It was Charles Darwin's 1835 exploration of the Galapagos Islands, whilst serving as a naturalist on HMS Beagle, and his subsequent 1859 publication On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection that first brought the world's attention to these fascinating islands.

Today the Galapagos remain a living laboratory of evolution where birds and animals have no fear of man. Blue-footed boobies, flightless cormorants, land and marine iguanas and giant tortoises roam freely making a visit to these islands an unforgettable experience.

Located some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the archipelago is now a National Park and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. There are 13 islands (isles) in total and dozens of smaller islets and rocks - all the result of volcanic activity with exotic plant life, unique wildlife species and an extraordinary landscape fringed with blue sea.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 4

Genovesa Island
Today visit Genovesa Island located in the far north east of the archipelago. Visit El Barranco which is also known as Prince Phillip's Steps. It is a steep, rocky path that leads up to a high cliff-face with a marvellous view. This site is home to palo santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galapagos swallows, and Galapagos doves.

In the afternoon visit the white-sand coral beach of Darwin Bay, a short trail winds through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls can be spotted here. Further down the path find tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 5

Santiago and Rabida Island
In the morning visit Sullivan Bay on the south east part of Santiago Island, it is one of the most outstanding volcanic sites in the Galapagos. In the nearly 100 years since the Sullivan Bay Flow, only a few plants like mollugo and lava cacti have managed to take root in this harsh environment. Oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and mollusks in the tide pools of Sullivan Bay.

In the afternoon visit Rabida Island which is one of the most colourful and volcanically varied islands in the archipelago as well as a great snorkelling site. Start on Rabida's famous maroon sandy beach, and after a easy hike, arrive at a stunning lookout to take in the amazing landscapes. The island is a birdwatcher's delight, some of the rarest species are in abundance such as nine varieties of finches, large-billed flycatchers, Galapagos hawks, and brown pelicans.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 6

Santa Cruz Island
This morning visit the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Centre at the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is home to tortoises ranging from tiny hatchlings to one-metre-long adults. The station runs a giant tortoise breeding program as part of its efforts to preserve this fragile ecosystem. It was home to the famous Lonesome George, for many decades regarded as the rarest creature in the world.

Later set out towards the highlands of Santa Cruz to visit El Chato, a private farm and natural tortoise reserve. Follow a trail through the reserve and observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. The area is also a good place to spot a plethora of birdlife, including short-eared owls, Darwin's finches, yellow warblers and paint-billed crakes.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 7

Santa Cruz Island
In the morning visit Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz, located on the north western part of the island, and consists of a trail that runs through three different environments although it is only slightly less than a mile long. At high tide it's a nice place for snorkelling.

In the afternoon visit Bachas Beach, a swimming beach, located on the north shore of Santa Cruz island. You may see flamingos, Sally lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black-necked stilts, and whimbrels, sea turtles also nest on the beach.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 8

Floreana Island
Today visit the famous Post Office Bay, the spot where 18th century whalers placed a wooden barrel that was used as an unofficial post box. The tradition continues today, with visitors leaving addressed postcards in the barrel and sorting through left mail to deliver at home.

In the afternoon head to Cormorant Point, hike to a salt-water lagoon which is home to flamingos. There is the opportunity to swim in the crystal clear waters of the Devil's Crown, an extinct volcano that peaks out of the waters just off of Floreana's coast and offers a magnificent snorkelling experience. Look out for sharks, rays and lots of tropical fish.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 9

Espanola Island
In the morning visit Suarez Point. On the trail there will be the chance to see blue-footed and Nazca boobies, red billed tropic birds, Galapagos Hawks and the curious Hood mockingbirds. Between April and December each year the island is the breeding site of nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses. See the famous blowhole that spurts water into the air, a fantastic landscape for photography.

In the afternoon, explore the spectacular Gardner Bay. After landing walk across a lovely white sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim and snorkel with sea lion pups.


You will be staying at Infinity, full board

Day 10

San Cristobal Island
This morning the final landing is at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, capital of the Galapagos Islands, on San Cristobal Island. Visit the Interpretation Centre which explains the natural history of the Galapagos, learn about the archipelago's fragile ecosystem and the conservation efforts currently underway. Afterwards travel by bus with the guide to the airport for the flight back to the Ecuadorian mainland.

Fly San Cristobal Island to Guayaquil

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz is a beautiful hotel, declared a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1978....

View Accommodation

Infinity

Infinity

The Infinity is a brand new motor boat, due to start sailing in 2018....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Galapagos Islands

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

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John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

Read More

Paul Bird, Travel Expert

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Roxy Dukes, Travel Expert

"Roxy filled us with enthusiasm and came up with some great ideas for a trip. We liked the idea of a slightly 'off the beaten track experience' and some private bespoke activities and that's exactly what we've had. Thank you!"

"Roxy created a wonderfully interesting route which was the basis for a super trip. She also chose lovely places for us to stay and interesting activities for us to participate in, introducing us to the idea of private guided experiences which we thoroughly enjoyed."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Peter Freire

Peter Freire
Peter has lived his entire life in the Galapagos Islands. He was born in Santa Cruz but grew up in Floreana. After graduating from high school he double majored in Hospitality and Marine Biology at the FASCO Guayaquil University. He was later certified by the Ecuadorian National Park Services and has been working as a Naturalist Guide for the last 23 years. Peter also works part-time at the Charles Darwin Research Center.

In 1995, Peter completed the Marine Reserve training to become a certified Galapagos SCUBA dive guide. Nine years later, he went to Colombia and completed the PADI SCUBA diving instructor course.

A renowned speaker, Peter has been lecturing on the ecology and conservation of the Galapagos Islands throughout the United States and Finland since 2006 - 2011

Peter continues to freelance for a number of Galapagos tour companies, but his passion is SCUBA diving and photography; particularly birds. He has archived thousands of photographs and hundreds of hours of video from above and below the ocean surface of the archipelago.

Fluent in Spanish, English, and Italian, Peter is a level III guide in all three languages.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 12 / Max 19

Tour Expert:

Peter Freire

Departure Date (S):

  • 9th December 2018

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