Wildlife Group Tour

Cruise the Galapagos Islands with Liz Bonnin

10 days

from £5,995pp
  • Visit the Galapagos Islands with leading science and natural history presenter Liz Bonnin
  • Explore seven varied islands including Isabela and Fernandina with superb marine life
  • The best ratio of guide to passengers in the Galapagos Islands of 1: 10
  • Eight days sailing on the M/V Evolution, a spacious and elegant motor yacht

Join our exclusive Galapagos holiday travelling with Liz Bonnin, a leading science and natural history presenter. As an ambassador for the Galapagos Conservation Trust - and the presenter of the three-part BBC series Galapagos - she is perfectly placed to give context to the wildlife of the islands, as well as sharing anecdotes and stories from her travels and expeditions. Liz will give lectures during the cruise and join the excursions. Spend eight days on our private charter, the M/V Evolution, and visit islands such as Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolome, Espanola and Santa Cruz.

There are few places on earth that can rival the wildlife of Galapagos, with an abundance of colourful creatures seemingly unafraid of humans. There will be many opportunities to get close to the islands' unique wildlife, either on foot, by kayak, by panga or when snorkelling. With three naturalist guides on board in addition to Liz Bonnin you can be assured of receiving personalised and insightful narrative on all the wildlife seen. Wildlife highlights include waved albatross, flightless cormorant, land and marine iguanas, two types of booby (blue-footed and Nazca), giant tortoises, Galapagos penguins, frigate birds and sea lions.

How can I make a difference?

Steppes Travel is a Gold Corporate member of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, which means anybody joining this private Galapagos charter will receive a year's membership to the Galapagos Conservation Trust. Membership helps the ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the Galapagos Islands and their unique wildlife.

What wildlife will I see in December in the Galapagos?

The Galapagos islands are a wildlife haven, both on and off the islands. During December in the Galapagos Islands, you may be able to witness

  • Giant tortoise eggs starting to hatch
  • Green sea turtles displaying mating behaviour
  • First young waved albatross fledglings appear.
  • Blue-footed boobies and frigate birds are nesting
  • Nazca boobies are breeding and nesting
  • Marine iguanas and land iguanas begin mating
  • Flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins are breeding and nesting

What is the Evolution boat like?

The Evolution is a 58 metre (192ft) elegant motor yacht, fully refurbished in September 2017, which provides plenty of space for just 32 passengers. The Evolution provides a high standard of comfort and is designed to take you back to the romantic era of the 1920s. There are 13 staterooms with portholes and on the upper deck, there are three suites with windows. All cabins have air conditioning and are furnished to a high level.

Social areas are plentiful with large indoor and outdoor dining areas, a bar area, a small library and an infirmary. On the sun deck is a jacuzzi and loungers for watching the marine life and islands during navigation. Attention to detail is high with a cruise director on board and on our charter with Liz Bonnin, Steppes has arranged for an extra naturalist to be on board, meaning a ratio of one guide to every ten clients. Snorkelling equipment and kayaks are available to use during the trip.

Will the sea be rough in December in the Galapagos?

In December the waters are usually calm, with good weather anticipated with light winds from the south-east.

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

December is a lovely time of year to travel to the Galapagos Islands, it marks the start of the warm season. The average daily temperature is 23.5 degrees centigrade with plenty of hours of clear skies and the water temperature a pleasant 22 degrees. It is also the start and end of the breeding and mating seasons for many animals in the Galapagos Islands, so wildlife encounters are interesting.



Departing on:
  • 6th December 2018

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

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
6th Dec 2018 15th Dec 2018 £ 5,995 £ 900 £ 4,495 Liz Bonnin Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Bed and breakfast accommodation in Quito
  • Welcome meal and city tour in Quito
  • Travel with Liz Bonnin throughout
  • Accommodation aboard the Evolution boat
  • Full board meals and snorkelling equipment on the boat
  • English speaking National Park guide in the Galapagos
  • Tourist card $20 and national park fee $100
  • Domestic flights between mainland Ecuador and Galapagos Islands
  • Transfers throughout

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa
  • International flights to Ecuador unless supplement paid

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 & Breakfast

Day 2

Half Day Colonial City Tour and Casa del Alabado Archaeological Museum
Begin your exploration of Quito by exploring La Ronda Street, considered the oldest street in the city. Continue to San Augustin Convent for a short visit of Chapter Hall, where the first declaration of independence of Ecuador was signed in 1809. Move on to Independence Square and La Compania church, known as the best example of baroque style in the country. Explore the wonderful pre-Columbian art museum Casa del Alabado displaying more than 5,000 archaeological pieces from indigenous communities.


There will be a welcome meal this evening at a local restaurant


You will be staying at Patio Andaluz, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Fly Quito to Baltra


Daphne Major Islet
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 M/V Evolution. Settle into the Evolution and have lunch and a briefing en route to the first visitor site of Daphne Major Islet.

Circumnavigate Daphne Major Islet, a volcanic island that consists of a tuff crater, home to a variety of birds including Galapagos martins, blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies, short eared owls and red billed tropic birds.

There will be three naturalist guides leading the daily excursions and giving evening briefings. Liz Bonnin will give three lectures on board during the voyage as well as accompanying the daily excursions.

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 Evolution, Full board

Day 4

Isabela and Fernandina Islands
This morning visit Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island where as a result of the nutrient-rich waters of the Humboldt Current, the snorkelling is incredible. There is the chance to see colourful fish, sea lions, penguins and sea turtles in the water.

This afternoon visit Fernandina Island, the youngest and westernmost island in the Galapagos. Visit Punta Espinosa, a beautiful narrow spit of lava and sand, where marine iguanas, sea lions, flightless cormorants, turtles, herons, egrets and Galapagos hawks can be seen in close proximity. There will more opportunities this afternoon for snorkelling.


You will be staying at Evolution, Full board

Day 5

Isabela Island
Today visit Urbina Bay on the island of Isabela, directly west of volcano Alcedo. Take a walk on Isabela Island and view a three-mile stretch of marine reef that has risen by four metres out of the water as a result of an uplift. A highlight of this excursion are the land iguanas and giant tortoises. Snorkelling can be done from the beach this morning.

In the afternoon, head north along the western coast of Isabela to visit Tagus Cove. Historically the cove was used as an anchorage for pirates and whalers and their ship names can be seen carved into the cliffs. This is a sheltered spot, ideal for panga rides looking for blue-footed boobies, brown noddies and pelicans nesting above on the cliffs. From here a wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance and continues around Darwin Lake, a perfectly round saltwater crater. Walk through a dry vegetation zone ending at a spectacular view point where Darwin and Wolf volcanoes can be seen.

Tagus Cove offers an unusual snorkelling spot with the floor of the cove covered in green algae, making it look like a submerged pasture. Here find marine iguana grazing the underwater vegetation, sea turtles gliding through the cove and if lucky see Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants darting about.


You will be staying at Evolution, Full board

Day 6

Bartolome Island and Sullivan Bay
In the morning visit Bartolome, famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded column that rises from the edge of the sea. Galapagos penguins and sea lions can be found here and sea turtles nest in the sandy beaches. Hike the 600-metre trail to Bartolome's summit and be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and Sullivan Bay as well as Pinnacle Rock and the beach below.

After lunch visit Sullivan Bay, 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. Oyster catchers can be seen fishing for crabs and molluscs in the tide pools of Sullivan Bay. After exploring the lava flow, there is swimming and snorkelling with the playful sea lions and a good chance to see Galapagos penguins in the water.


You will be staying at Evolution, Full board

Day 7

Santa Cruz and Rabida Islands
In the morning visit Las Bachas, a sandy white coral beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles and where blue-footed boobies can be seen. Walk the trail to a salt water lagoon where pink flamingos are often found with blue herons, common stilts, white-cheek pintail ducks and other wading birds. Las Bachas offers a great spot for snorkelling from the beach and a place where the sea is often warmer than other places in the Galapagos.

Sail on towards Rabida, a small island featuring red volcanic rocks and a beautiful red sand beach. A thick forest of Palo Santo trees sits back from the beach sheltering a yellow saltwater lagoon, home to brightly coloured pink flamingos. A sea lion colony likes to laze on the red sands of the beach, here hike up a tiny peninsula for a wonderful view of the beach and lagoon.


You will be staying at Evolution, Full board

Day 8

Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and its capital, Puerto Ayora, is the economic centre of the Islands. In the morning visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to visit the Giant Tortoise and Land Iguana Breeding and Rearing Program. Puerto Ayora is also a good spot to buy souvenirs and get laundry done.

This afternoon visit the highlands, where the dry coastal vegetation transitions to lush wet fields and forests overgrown with moss and lichens. Go to the Wild Tortoise Reserve, where there is the chance to track and view these creatures in the wild.


You will be staying at Evolution, Full board

Day 9

Espanola Island
Espanola is the southernmost island of the archipelago, and is one of the most popular due to the breath-taking variation and number of creatures that inhabit the island. In the morning visit Punta Suarez on the western side of the island, here expect to be greeted by inquisitive sea lions in the surf. Hike a circular trail and witness the largest variety of marine iguanas in the Galapagos, as well as Nazca boobies and blue-footed boobies nesting along the cliff edge. Upon reaching the rocky coast a blow hole can been seen shooting salt water into the air. Further along this stretch of coast is where the famous waved albatross can be seen between April and December.

In the afternoon visit Gardner Bay, a magnificent long white sandy beach, where colonies of sea lions laze in the sun, sea turtles swim offshore, and inquisitive mockingbirds boldly investigate new arrivals. This is a lovely spot for a swim in the turquoise waters and a great place to snorkel with the playful sea lions.


You will be staying at Evolution, Full board

Day 10

San Cristobal Island
This morning before arriving on San Cristobal Island pass by a spectacular rock formation known as Kicker Rock which stands 152 metres out of the ocean.

The last island to visit on this trip is San Cristobal, which was the first island Darwin visited in 1835. Stop at the administrative capital of Puerto Baquerizo and if time allows visit the Galapagos National Park Visitor Centre.

Travel by bus with your guide to the airport for your flight back to the Ecuadorian mainland.

Fly San Cristobal Island to Guayaquil


Depart Ecuador
Arrive back into Guayaquil airport, or continue to Quito, to connect with your onward flight.

If you have a long wait or over night we can book a room at the airport hotel or a transfer into the city.

Accommodation

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

Evolution

Evolution

Evolution is a 58 metre (192ft) elegant motor yacht which provides plenty of space for up to 32 passengers....

View Accommodation

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz

Patio Andaluz is quite literally a national treasure, having been declared a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO in 1978....

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."

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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."

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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

Liz Bonnin

Liz Bonnin
Born in Paris and raised in Ireland, Liz gained a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Trinity College Dublin, followed by a master's degree in Wild Animal Biology from the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Veterinary College. She presented the spectacular three-part BBC One series Galapagos that aired earlier this year. Other recent presenting credits include Wild Alaska Live and Stargazing Live. She is an ambassador for the Galapagos Conservation Trust.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 19 / Max 29

Tour Expert:

Liz Bonnin

Departure Date (S):

  • 6th December 2018
"The Galapagos is one of the greatest treasures of the natural world. It is an extraordinary, awe-inspiring place, with more than 1000 species found nowhere else on earth. I hope you can join me on this trip of a lifetime."
Liz Bonnin

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