Birding the Galapagos Islands
October 29 - November 9, 2024
The Galapagos Islands are a magical destination, sure to put a smile on any traveler's face. This journey focuses on the western islands of the Galapagos, where we'll see the bizarre flightless cormorant.
Many trips to the Galapagos are on larger ships lacking intimacy. Our journey will be on Tip Top II, the newest catamaran touring the islands. There are only 16 passengers permitted on this vessel, ensuring a more intimate trip.
A trip to Ecuador includes a six-hour plane flight from most destinations in the United States. Rather than immediately boarding another flight the following day to the Galapagos, this trip includes two full days birding a very productive wetland and rainforest outside of Guayaquil.
Once we arrive in the Galapagos, we'll board our ship for the next eight days. While we sleep, we'll hop from one island to the next. When you awaken each day, you'll be in entirely different surroundings from what you'd seen the night before.
Food will be excellent and served in the beautiful dining room aboard the Tip Top II.
Contact lead guide Steve Eshbaugh at (406) 570-2428 for more info.
Price: $4,900 Double Occupancy
Single supplement: $1,000
Tortuguero Extension: $900
Maximum size 8
Spaces remaining: 6
What's included in the price?
All trip materials, including detailed daily itinerary, list of what to bring, recommended field guides and pre-trip reading materials, checklist of likely birds & other wildlife. All meals from the start of the trip to the last night's farewell dinner.
All services of leaders/guides.
All in-country transportation, including taxi rides to and from the airport to the first night's lodging.
OCTOBER 29 - GUAYAQUIL
Upon arrival at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil, and after clearing customs and immigration, you’ll be met and transferred to our hotel. Most flights arrive in the late evening.
OCTOBER 30 - GUAYAQUIL
Today, we’ll visit Cerro Blanco, a private reserve of 15,000 acres of tropical dry forest on the Ecuadorian Coast, located in the Cordillera Chongón Colonche at km. 16 of the road to the coast, a remnant of the best-preserved dry forest in Guayaquil. The Reserve has more than 330 registered bird species. Cerro Blanco is one of the “30 priority sites for bird conservation” in the Tumbesian Region. It is one of four nationally protected areas that are home to seven or more globally threatened bird species (Cerro Blanco has nine). In 1998, Birdlife International declared Cerro Blanco the first Area of Importance for conserving Birds on the Ecuadorian Coast.
We’ll continue to Puerto Hondo, located across the highway from Cerro Blanco. At Puerto Hondo, we’ll take a canoe trip into narrow strips of mangroves to observe notable birds like the Masked Water-Tyrant, Striated Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Mangrove Warbler, White Ibis, and Green Kingfisher. We’ll return to Guayaquil for dinner and overnight.
OCTOBER 31 – GUAYAQUIL
Today, we’ll take the route to Puerto Inca to visit the Manglares Churute Reserve, where we’ll find the most extensive mangroves in Ecuador’s estuaries and Ecuador’s first protected mangrove area. The Reserve also protects arid and cloud forest ecosystems in the hills of the Cordillera Churute. The Reserve is home to many endangered wildlife species, such as the Horned Screamer (known locally as Canclón), an aquatic bird living in a lake of the same name. Because of the diversity and the expanse of wetlands that the Reserve protects, the Reserve in 1990 was declared a Ramsar site, an internationally recognized wetland of importance. At the Reserve, we’ll search for the Amazilla Hummingbird, Cocoi Heron, Comb, Black-bellied, and Fulvous Whistling Ducks. Other animals we may spot include the American crocodile, nine-banded armadillo, tigrillo, marañon white-fronted capuchin, and mantled howler monkeys.
NOVEMBER 1 - GALÁPAGOS
This morning, we’re off to the Galapagos Islands as we fly from mainland Ecuador to Baltra. After boarding Tip Top II, we’ll attend our first orientation and have a light snack. After lunch, we’ll disembark on Mosquera Islet, a reef of rocks and coral, and a great white sand beach. We’ll observe colonies of sea lions, Brown Pelicans, Blue-footed Boobies, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. We’ll Enjoy a welcome cocktail with the entire crew aboard the boat, followed by dinner. Each night during the cruise, there will be an orientation to discuss the events of the day and the next day’s plans. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 2- GALÁPAGOS
After breakfast, we’ll go ashore at Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, a perfect place to get a feel for the islands’ volcanic origin. We’ll search for new plant growth among the two distinct types of lava, pahoehoe and a’a. Before lunch, we’ll return to the boat for lunch, followed by an excursion on Rábida Island, distinguished by its red sand beaches. We’ll look for marine iguanas, sea lions, Blue-footed Boobies, Masked Boobies, and Brown Pelicans here. Next, we’ll walk to a small saltwater lagoon where we hope to see Galápagos Flamingos. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 3- GALÁPAGOS
Today, we’ll visit Espinosa Point on Fernandina Island to observe a large colony of sea lions, marine iguanas, Flightless Cormorants, and clumps of lava cactus. In the afternoon, a panga boat ride takes us around the islets of Elizabeth Bay to look for marine iguanas, marine turtles, seabirds, shorebirds, herons, Galápagos Penguins, and Blue-footed Boobies. We’ll have an orientation to learn about conservation efforts to protect the islands tonight. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 5- GALÁPAGOS
This morning, we’ll disembark on Isabela Island at Urbina Bay, a coral area at the base of Alcedo Volcano with land iguanas, Flightless Cormorants, and giant tortoises. We’ll Return to the yacht for lunch. In the afternoon, a panga ride takes us around Tagus Cove, between the shoulders of two volcanic craters, which protect the area from the open sea. We’ll observe marine iguanas, sea lions, and various birds, including Galápagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, and Blue-footed Boobies. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 6 - GALÁPAGOS
After breakfast, we’ll land at James Bay (Puerto Egas) on Santiago Island and walk to observe sponges, snails, hermit crabs, a variety of shore birds, barnacles, the endemic four-eyed blenny, marine iguanas, and sea lions. We’ll also visit Bartolomé Island in the afternoon to hike to the summit. During the hike, it’s possible to observe colonies of marine iguanas and lava lizards. On the summit, you’ll see an impressive view of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone of Pinnacle Rock, one of the most iconic sights in the archipelago. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 7 - GALÁPAGOS
After breakfast, we’ll land on Chinese Hat (Sombrero Chino), a small island off the Coast of Santiago Island. We’ll observe Galápagos Penguins, eagle rays, sea lions, and marine iguanas from the rocky shoreline. This afternoon, we’ll land at Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island, where we can see land iguanas and walk to a hypersalinic lagoon (saltier than the ocean) to observe flamingos, Common Stilts, White-cheeked Pintails, and other birds. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 8 - GALÁPAGOS
After breakfast, we’ll disembark and take a bus to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island to visit the native forests and the Twin Craters, two formations caused by the collapse of surface material caused by underground fissures. Next, we’ll visit a local farm to see giant tortoises in the wild and have lunch. We’ll return to Puerto Ayora. We’ll also visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center and Interpretation Center inside the Charles Darwin Research Station. The day concludes with a return to the yacht for dinner and nightly orientation. Overnight aboard Tip Top II
NOVEMBER 9 - GUAYAQUIL
After breakfast, we’ll take an early morning walk along the coast and the interior of North Seymour Island. Underground seismic activity uplifted this low, flat island from the sea. We’ll observe Blue-footed Boobies, which nest from May to November, as well as marine iguanas, pelicans, frigatebirds, shorebirds, sea lions, and the endemic palo santo trees. We’ll return to the yacht and navigate the pier, where we’ll disembark at 9 a.m. Our guide will accompany us on the bus ride directly to the Baltra airport for our Guayaquil flights. Lunch is on your own at the airport; food options will be available for purchase after passing security. Once in Guayaquil, we’ll settle into the hotel and then enjoy an afternoon at our leisure before attending a farewell dinner at the hotel. If your international flight departs very late this evening/before dawn the following day, please be ready to check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport after the farewell dinner.
NOVEMBER 10 - DEPARTURE
Today, you will transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Horned Screamer in flight
Tip Top II
Red-footed Booby photo by Steve Eshbaugh
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'Giant Land Tortoise photo by Steve Eshbaugh
Waved Albatross photo by Steve Eshbaugh
Galapagos Sea Lion
Sally lightfoot crab
Sea Turtle impression photo by Steve Eshbaugh