Galapagos Islands Workshop 2011

June 3-13, 2011
Limited to 18 participants
Leader: Randy Hanna

Please see our safaris and workshops page for more safari and workshop dates

Kicker Rock, Galapagos

About The Galapagos Trip

Come join us for an exciting photographic adventure to the Galapagos Islands. We have chartered a private 83-foot motor yacht for 20 people to this exciting location. We will visit many islands and will have the opportunity to photograph up close much of the wildlife on our 8 days and 7 nights aboard the M/Y Eric / Flamingo / Letty. We will have 2 naturalists on board and on shore for our group, which is an excellent naturalist-to-guest ratio! By park rules we are required to have 1 naturalist per 16 people, and we will have 1 per 10. All other Galapagos trips miss the best light each day, but we will not. We will be on land in the best light, and will eat our meals at other times. This is an extremely important distinction between this trip and others. We also can take our time on our nature walks, allowing us to bring our tripods. Since we have a small and intimate group, we can take the time to get the shots that we need.

Charles Darwin visited these fantastic islands in the 1830's aboard the HMS Beagle, and his experiences on the Galapagos Islands helped him formulate his theories of natural selection. Our naturalist guides, along with Randy Hanna, will show you the wonders of the Galapagos during interpretive walks and at briefings after dinner. From the deck, watch dolphins ride the bow wave or brush up on the biology of the Galapagos with a book from the library. After dark, stargazing carries you beyond Earth's surface.

The Galapagos Islands offer some of the most spectacular wildlife found anywhere in the world. In Galapagos you can literally walk right up to the hundreds of blue footed boobie birds, red footed boobie birds, masked boobie birds, albatrosses, penguins, land iguanas, marine iguanas, lava lizards, sea lions, fur seals, red chested frigate birds, flamingos, finches, tropic birds, lava gulls, giant tortoises, and flightless comorants which inhabit these islands. You can snorkel with penguins, swim with sea lions, walk through a lava tunnel, and see manta rays, dolphins and whales from your yacht.

About The M/Y Eric / Flamingo / Letty Yacht

The M/Y Flamingo, Eric or Letty (three identical yachts) is an all-air conditioned motor yacht, built especially for cruising the Galapagos archipelago. Accommodations include ten double outside cabins located on three decks, each with large private bathroom and fresh, hot and cold-water shower. Cabins are furnished with two twin lower beds or one double bed; roomy closet, drawers and overhead storage; plus separate climate controls and intercom system. The yacht features ample public areas; dining room, well-stocked bar, comfortable conference area and air conditioning throughout. Large pictures windows surround the upper two decks for panoramic viewing. Sun deck lounge chairs and observation areas invite you to catch the ocean breezes.

Highly sophisticated navigational and mechanical equipment meet the highest safety standards found in the Galapagos. They are self-contained and ecologically sound, equipped for noise-reduction and fuel-efficiency. False keels provide maximum stability.

Three daily meals feature both international and Ecuadorian specialties and snacks are served following shore excursions. The attentive 10-member crew including two experienced multilingual guides will make it a trip to remember. This is a non-smoking boat.

It's About Photography — Lots of it!

This workshop will be very informal and fun. Randy Hanna will be shooting alongside you at all times. We will have discussion and assistance on specialized topics such as, for example, long lens technique, action shooting, wildlife observation, field craft and animal behavior. Advanced techniques will be constantly discussed, demonstrated and put into practice.

This workshop is about shooting — lots of shooting. There will be no classroom sessions, no lectures, no slide shows, and most importantly — no unnecessary egos. We will all work closely together, sharing our knowledge and experience.

The Schedule

This photographic journey requires 8 days and 7 nights on board the M/Y Eric / Flamingo / Letty, as well as a day before and after our Galapagos islands cruise in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I encourage all participants to arrive at least a day before we depart the Ecuador mainland for the Galapagos archipelago, in case of any airline delays or baggage hassles. Here are the dates, an itinerary, and some details on what we will be able to see and photograph.

June 3 (Friday) - You will arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador and will be taken to your hotel. Overnight at the Hotel Oro Verde.

June 4 (Saturday) - Spend the day exploring the city. Overnight at the Hotel Oro Verde.

June 5 (Sunday) - Depart Guayaquil by airplane and arrive on SAN CRISTOBAL Island. Our crew will be waiting at the airport to escort us to our anchored yacht. After the welcome briefing and safety drill we set sail for Playa Ochoa, where we have a chance to test our snorkeling equipment and at the same time swim with a small colony of sea lions. Behind the beach, there is a tidal lagoon where birds can be spotted including the rare Chatham mockingbird. At sunset, we cruise around Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), a vertical tuff cone formation that abruptly juts up almost 500 feet out of the ocean. On the cliffs, we find blue-footed boobies, masked boobies and magnificent frigate birds.

June 6 (Monday) - We spend the entire day on TOWER (Genovesa), considered to be one of the most spectacular Islands in Galapagos for bird species. This morning, we have a dry landing at Prince Philip’s Steps. Red-footed boobies nest here in Palo Santo trees and Nazca boobies nest near the trail. In an open lava field, we find storm petrels in large numbers. If you are lucky, we will see the elusive short-eared owl.

After lunch, sea kayaks are available to paddle along the shoreline. Look for the beautiful red-billed tropic bird usually seen in a crevice. A snorkeling opportunity is offered along the inner rim of the volcanic crater. We land on Darwin Bay, a coral sand beach where swallow-tailed and lava gulls gather near the tide pools. Enter a forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves where colonies of great frigate birds nest. The males inflate their red-throated pouches to attract females as they fly overhead. The trail leads through a rich inter tidal zone where we find a wide diversity of animal life. Swim from the beach with sea lions.

June 7 (Tuesday) - This morning, we visit Las Bachas, which is the Spanish translation for “barges”. There is a long stretch of a soft white-sand beach and interior lagoons where we find the Greater Flamingo. There is also a wonderful chance to snorkel here from the beach. This afternoon, we disembark on North Seymour, a small geological uplift. After a dry landing, we follow a trail that leads us to swallow-tailed gulls, blue-footed boobies and the endemic land iguanas. Visit the largest colony of magnificent frigate birds found in Galapagos. As we stroll along the beach, sea lions body surfing the northern swells.

June 8 (Wednesday) - This morning, we visit Tagus Cove, located on the western Island of ISABELA. Six volcanoes flowed together and formed the largest Island in Galapagos. On our walk, we discover a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook with a spectacular view of the ocean, lava fields and volcanic formations. Explore the Cove in sea kayaks to find Galapagos penguins, boobies, pelicans and other seabirds. After lunch, we cross the Bolivar Canal. Be on the look out for whales and dolphins riding the bow wave.

We disembark at Punta Espinoza, FERNANDINA, the youngest and most pristine Island found in Galapagos. Hundreds of marine iguanas, the largest colony in Galapagos, bask in the sun along the rugged shoreline. Observe sea lion harems with resident bulls carefully guarding their territory. Flightless Cormorants build their nest on the point and Galapagos Hawks fly overhead. Recent lava flows formed by an active volcano stretch their way around the coast. A snorkel here provides opportunities to see many sea turtles.

June 9  (Thursday) - This morning, stroll along the shore at Puerto Egas, SANTIAGO (James) looking for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. At low tide, catch a glimpse of marine iguanas as they feed on exposed green algae. Watch for great blue herons, lava herons, American oystercatchers and yellow-crowned night herons. Our walk ends at the grottos, deep pools of clear water where we encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. Before returning to the yacht, there is a snorkeling opportunity with loads of tropical fish.

On Bartolome, it seems like we are walking on the moon. This young Island is inhospitable to most plants and animals. After a dry landing, climb 30 minutes up stairs leading to the summit of a once active volcano. Along the way, we pause to marvel at lava bombs, spatter cones and cinder cones. From the top of the wooden stairs, we can gaze out across the island for a panoramic view of the island and "Pinnacle Rock", an eroded tuff cone. Down below, crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos Penguins. On the other side of the Island, encounter sea turtles and white-tipped sharks.

June 10 (Friday) - Friday is feeding day at the tortoise corals at the Charles Darwin Research Station. We visit all three tortoise corals and the breeding center with new hatchlings and miniature tortoises not yet ready to be repatriated. Scientists from all over the globe work at the station and conduct biological research from anatomy to zoology. We also visit the Van Straelen Hall where there are exhibits and a short video presentation. Visitors can now see the pen of Lonesome George, the last surviving member of the Pinta Island subspecies.

After lunch on board, we travel by bus to the highlands of SANTA CRUZ Island. The scenery gradually changes as we wind our way through all seven vegetation zones found in Galapagos. We visit Los Gemelos, Spanish for “The Twins”, a pair of large pit craters where we find the bright red male vermilion flycatcher. We stop at "the tunnels", the largest lava tubes found in Galapagos.

June 11 (Saturday) - This morning, step onto Gardner Bay, ESPANOLA (HOOD). Walk along seemingly endless stretches of sandy beach where you will find large colonies of sea lions. There is no trail to follow so this is a chance to explore and you may find a Galapagos Hawk, Darwin’s Finches or Hood Mockingbird. Swim with sea lions from the beach. There’s an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet with a colorful diversity of sea life near Gardner Islet and Tortuga Rock with caves covered with invertebrates.

This afternoon, we disembark at Punta Suarez, ESPANOLA, where we witness the highest rate of endemic species in Galapagos. Sea lions noisily green us as we land on their beach. Curious Hood mockingbirds peck at our shoelaces. From April to November, the waved albatross, found only on Espanola, perform their wild mating ritual. Colonies of blue-footed boobies engage in “sky-pointing” to show off for potential mates. Nazca (formerly masked) boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls are the only nocturnal gulls in the world. Red-billed tropicbirds take shelter under the cliffs. We also find Darwin’s Finches, Galapagos Doves and Galapagos Hawks. Observe a unique specie of marine iguana identified with traces of red and green colorings. Colorful sally light-foot crabs crawl along the shoreline near to the famous "blow hole". This is the scene most people envision when they decide to visit Galapagos and is a glorious finale to your Galapagos cruise.

June 12 (Sunday) - This morning, we drop anchor in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL. We visit the Interpretation Center opened in 1999. Here we gain a more complete understanding of the natural and human history of the Islands. Afterwards, we head straight to the airport for our flight back to the mainland. Overnight at the Hotel Oro Verde.

June 13 (Monday) - Depart Guayaquil.

The Cost

The cost of this trip is U.S. $5595, $5995 or $6395 per person depending on cabin level desired, double occupancy (but not inclusive of airfare to Guayaquil, Ecuador from your home). Refer to the boat diagram to determine which cabins will work best for your needs. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography and participating in the workshop, or not.

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. The specific itineraries at the Galapagos Islands does change often, and this itinerary is what we know at this time.

A nonrefundable deposit of 30% will be required to secure your spot(s), and a second payment of $1500 will be due by November 1, 2010. The remainder will be due 90 days before departure, which is March 1, 2011.

Upon receiving your deposit, we will send trip materials, including a more detailed itinerary, travel guide and suggested reading list.

Cancellation Policy: If you need to cancel, Andy Biggs Photo Safaris will refund your monies only after we are able to market and re-fill your spots, less the nonrefundable deposit. We will make every possible attempt to refill your spots. We must receive written notification of your cancellation, at which time the following fees apply:

151 days or more before departure: 100% of payments less the nonrefundable deposit
150 to 91 days before departure: 50% of trip fee
90 or fewer days before departure: 100% of trip fee will be foreited

We recommend that you purchase cancellation insurance as this policy is strongly adhered to. The purchase of travel insurance covering baggage, accident/life and trip cancellation is highly recommended. Andy Biggs Photo Safaris reserves the right to cancel any group due to insufficient registration. In the even of such cancellation, those with reservations shall be notified as soon as possible and a full refund of trip payment will be given. Andy Biggs Photo Safaris is not responsible for refund or additional expenses incurred in preparation for a trip.

What's Included?

* Air transportation to and from the Galapagos islands from Guayaquil, Ecuador.
* 7 nights and 8 days aboard M/Y Eric / Flamingo / Letty
* Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee of $100
* 3 nights at the Grand Hotel Guayaquil at the beginning and end of islands visit.
* All meals and non-alcoholic drinks while on the ship
* Naturalists on board
* Snorkeling equipment

What is Not Included?

* Additional tips for staff such as guides (estimate around $20 per day per person for all crew members = $175 in total)
* International air to and from Ecuador and your home town
* Alcoholic beverages
* Laundry, phone and other items of a personal nature (yes we have laundry on board the vessel!)
* Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance (highly recommended)
* Meals not mentioned in itinerary (Guayaquil meals)
* Airport departure tax of $25

Click here to read comments from prior travelers and workshop participants.

What Do I Do Next?

Our groups are small, so space is limited. If this exciting trip has your name on it, if you're excited by the thought of becoming a member of this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this workshop. When they're spoken for, that's it. If you have any questions before registering, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to