Galapagos Islands on a Private Yacht - May 2016

May 15-24, 2016
Limited to 12 participants
Leaders: Andy Biggs and Michael Reichmann
**This will be Michael's only travel workshop for 2016***



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


About The Galapagos Trip


Come join us for an exciting photographic adventure to the Galapagos Islands. We have chartered a private 36-meter motor yacht for 12 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 Galapagos Majestic vessel. 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 booby birds, red footed booby birds, masked booby 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 Galapagos Majestic Yacht

The Galapagos Majestic is an all-air conditioned motor yacht, built especially for cruising the Galapagos archipelago. It is the newest yacht in the Galapagos, and accommodations include nine cabins located on two decks, each with large private bathroom and fresh, hot and cold-water shower. Cabins are furnished with double or twin beds; roomy closet, drawers and  storage; plus separate climate controls and intercom system. The yacht features ample public areas; dining rooms both inside and outside, well-stocked bar, comfortable lounge area and air conditioning throughout. The sun deck lounge chairs, jacuzzi 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 9-member crew 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. Michael and Andy will be shooting alongside you at all times. We will have discussion and assistance on anything related to photography. 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 Galapagos Majestic, 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.

May 15 (Sunday) - 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 Saturday the 14th).

May 16 (Monday) - 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. The Junco Lagoon, located about 700 m above sea level, is one of the few permanent freshwater bodies in the Galapagos. Frigate birds are often seen here washing the salt from their feathers as well as white-cheeked pintails and common gallinules. Its name comes from a type of plant that is common in this area called “junco”.

May 17 (Tuesday) - We arrive In the 18th century whalers passing through the islands placed a wooden barrel on Floreana Island for use as an unofficial mail box. The tradition continues today as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home. We will reposition the vessel to visit Cormorant Point after our morning excursion. During this time we will enjoy a nice lunch and time can be spent in the jacuzzi, hanging out on the sun deck or relaxing in your cabin. Cormorant Point hosts a large flamingo lagoon where other birds such as common stilts and white-cheeked pintails can also be seen. The beaches on this island are distinct: The “Green Beach” named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the “Four Sand Beach” composed of white coral.


 

May 18 (Wednesday) - Today we will visit Española Island, one of the most memorable islands in the Galapagos Islands. 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. Its rocky shores make this site a great place for diving and snorkeling. In the afternoon we will see another side of Española, Gardner Bay. 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. The famous attraction is the magnificent blowhole, spurting water high into the air. This site presents wonderful photograph opportunities.

May 19 (Thursday) - Santa Cruz is our destination for today. Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking. After our morning excursion, we will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to turtles ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long. Subspecies of turtles interact with one another and many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans stretching out their heads for a photo opportunity. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own.

May 20 (Friday) - The ship will sail through the evening, and we will wake up at Genovesa by sunrise. Also known as Prince Phillip's Steps, El Barranco’s steep, rocky paths leads up to a high cliff-face. A marvelous view can be appreciated from here. This site is also home to palo santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared lava owls, Galapagos swallows, and Galapagos doves. In the afternoon we will be at Darwin Bay. This white sand coral beach heads a half mile trail (0.75km) that winds through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls can be spotted here. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully. At the end is a spectacular view off a cliff.

 

May 21 (Saturday) - Rabida Island (Jervis) is one of the most colorful and volcanically varied islands in the archipelago and a great snorkeling site. Its famous maroon sandy beach and stunning lookouts provide wonderful 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. This afternoon we will visit Chinese Hat. This small islet is located near the southeast coast of Santiago Island. Its name comes from the distinct shape of the islet’s summit. This small islet is a great location to view many geological formations such as lava tubes and lava flows.

May 22 (Sunday) - Today is all about San Cristobal, and in the morning we will visit Witch Hill. Located on the northern coast, this eroded hill and its surroundings present one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos with its white powdery sand and the abundance of animals. Wildlife includes sea turtles, rays, and various types of booby birds. The clear water provides an excellent opportunity for enjoying swimming and snorkeling. This evening we will reposition the vessel for one of the more dramatic scenes in all of the Galapagos: Kicker Rock. This striking rock formation is located a couple hours off the western shore of San Cristobal. Jutting out of the water, the rocks stand vertically at hundreds of feet above the ocean divided by a small channel. Although there are no landing areas, kayaking and scuba diving allow visitors to spot a variety of marine life.

May 23 (Monday) - 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. We have a hotel for the night of the 23rd, so we have you covered even if you leave later on the 24th.

May 24 (Tuesday) - Depart Guayaquil.


The Cost


The cost of this trip is U.S. $9,995 (but not inclusive of airfare to Guayaquil, Ecuador from your home). 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 50% will be required to secure your spot(s), a second payment of 25% will be due by December 1, 2015 and a final payment of 25% will be due by February 15, 2016.

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. 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 Galapagos Majestic
* Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee of $100
* 1 night at the Grand Hotel Guayaquil at the beginning and end of islands visit.
* All meals and drinks while on the ship
* Naturalist 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
* Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance (highly recommended)
* 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 info@andybiggs.com.