Galapagos Islands on a Private Yacht - June 2014

June 14-23, 2014
Limited to 19 participants (50% of the ship is filled already)
Leader: Andy Biggs

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 19 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 9. We can take our time on our nature walks, allowing us to bring our large lenses, monopods and 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 All About Photography

This trip will be very informal and fun. Andy Biggs 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 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 14 (Saturday) - You will arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador and will be taken to your hotel.Spend the day exploring the city. Overnight at the Hotel Oro Verde. (If you arrive late in the day, our recommendation is to arrive on Friday the 13th).

June 15 (Sunday) - Depart Guayaquil by airplane and arrive on SAN CRISTOBAL Island. Upon arrival to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, SAN CRISTOBAL, our crew is waiting at the airport to escort you by bus to the main deck and then by zodiac to your yacht anchored in the bay. After the welcome briefing and safety drill, a delicious buffet lunch is served. We travel by bus to Cerro Tijeretas or “Frigatebird Hill” is situated just outside town near to “La Predial” a fishing community present from 1952 to 1960. It is one of two sites where you can spot nesting colonies of both species of Friagebirds (Great and Magnificent). The trail leads to Playa Mann where there are vistas of beautiful scenery. We return to the yacht and depart 3PM to cruise around Leon Dormido aka Kicker Rock, a vertical tuff cone formation that rises abruptly almost 500 feet out of the ocean. On the cliffs, we spot Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and Magnificent Frigate birds. Join your fellow yacht mates this evening for your island briefing followed by our Captain’s welcome cocktail party and dinner prepared by our well-trained chefs.

June 16 (Monday) - We arrive to Cerro Brujo, a breathtaking white coral beach, considered one of the most spectacular in Galapagos and perfect for a peaceful walk with expansive views and good bird watching. We have an opportunity to snorkel or kayak from the beach or swim with sea lions as well as a Zodiac ride. During lunch, we cruise toward the northeastern tip of SAN CRISTOBAL to Punta Pitt, a tuff formation that serves as a nesting site for many sea birds including all three types of boobies: Blue footed, Nazca and Red-footed boobies, both Frigate species, swallow-tailed gulls, Storm petrels and a colony of sea lions. Punta Pitt is considered to be a first class site for birds and on par with Genovesa (Tower) Island. We return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner.

June 17 (Tuesday) - We disembark at Punta Suarez, ESPANOLA (Hood), 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 December, 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 boobies busily care for their young. Stunning swallow-tailed gulls are the only nocturnal gulls in the world and fish at night. 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". After lunch we have a wet landing on Gardner Bay, ESPANOLA (Hood), walk along seemingly endless stretch of this white sandy beach where you’ll find large colonies of sea lions. There is no trail to follow so this is a chance to explore or take a long walk. You may find a Galapagos Hawk, Darwin’s Finches or Hood Mockingbird. Swim with sea lions right from the beach, explore the bay and islets by kayak or just relax on the beach. There’s an excellent snorkeling site off Gardner Islet with a colorful diversity of sea life near Tortuga Rock. Explore caves by Zodiac covered with invertebrates. We return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner.

June 18 (Wednesday) - Step ashore at Punta Cormorant, FLOREANA (Charles), one of the few populated islands in the Galapagos. Floreana presents a rich human history with mystery and intrigue. Set foot on a green-sand beach alive with the sounds of sea lions. Follow a trail to a brackish lagoon, home of the pintail ducks, common stilts, and the Greater Flamingos, the pinkest in the world. Wind your way past a rich variety of plants including Morning Glory, Cut Leaf Daisies, Palo Verdes and Scalesia leading to a beach with power soft sand. Sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand dunes and rays swim in the shallow water. After the walk, we have an opportunity to snorkel at Devil’s Crown or Champion, a shallow sunken crater colonized by a brilliant array of colorful fish and corral. Chose to have a picnic lunch on deck or dine inside. After lunch, we visit Post office Bay, not the most scenic, but one of the most famous sites in Galapagos. Here is where a post barrel was erected and put into use in the late 18th Century by English whaling vessels. You are invited to leave a post card and to pick up any mail from your home area. We return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner.

June 19  (Thursday) - 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. Here, we visit the tortoise reserve at “Las Primicias” one of the private farms in the highlands where we encounter giant tortoises in their natural habitat. We stop at "the tunnels", the largest lava tubes 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. After lunch, we visit the Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena (aka the Charles Darwin Research Station). See 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 stop at Van Straelen Hall where there are exhibits and a presentation. Visitors can see the tortoise and land iguana corrals. Puerto Ayora is the social heart of the islands with the largest population of 24,000. This evening you have the option to return to your yacht for a buffet dinner or remain in town on your own account. Those who return to the yacht will be provided zodiacs to return to town to shop for souvenirs or stop in at an internet café. Zodiacs will be provided for your return to your yacht.

June 20 (Friday) - We disembark at BARTOLOME, where 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. Crystal clear water is an invitation to snorkel from the beach with schools of tropical fish and Galapagos Penguins or take a Zodiac ride. After lunch, we visit Las Bachas, (Spanish 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. Located off the Southern tip of Santiago is Sombrero Chino aka Chinese Hat that owes its name to its shape. After a wet beach landing with sea lion colonies, the trail gives way to a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble including cracked lava formations and lava tubes. We find marine iguanas and pairs of oystercatchers. You can choose to snorkel at a site that is frequented by Galapagos penguins. There is a briefing followed by dinner while we anchor in a calm protected area.

June 21 (Saturday) - Today we visit SOUTH PLAZA, a small geological uplift with tall cliffs offering spectacular views. After a dry landing, the trail leads us through Prickly Pear or Opuntia and Sesuvium. Here we can find the Galapagos Land Iguana feeding on the cactus leaves. Toward the end of the hill, we encounter a colony of bachelor sea lions. The dominant bulls are in various stages of recovery from battles lost over prime beach territory. We also find Swallow tailed gulls, Shearwaters and Red-billed tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs. After lunch, we have
a dry landing at North Seymour, a small geological uplift. 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, we find Marine Iguanas and sea lions body surf the northern swells. We return to the yacht for the Captain’s Farwell cocktail party and dinner as well as a special slide show presentation by your guides.

June 22 (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. Many flights depart later in the evening for the USA, however some do leave early in the morning.

June 23 (Monday) - Depart Guayaquil.

The Cost

The cost of this trip is U.S. $6495, $6995 or $7395 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 February 1, 2014. The remainder will be due by April 1, 2014.

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
* 2 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
* Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance (highly recommended)
* Meals not mentioned in itinerary (Guayaquil meals)
* Airport departure tax of $25

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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