GALAPAGOS FAMILY PHOTO ADVENTURE
July 30 – August 7, 2011
Trip Leader: Chris Gamel
About The Photographic Adventure
Are you looking for an amazing wildlife experience with your family and the opportunity to bring home photographs that will make your friends jealous? Well this is your chance! Explore Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with a professional photographer! Learn photographic techniques such as composition, lighting, wildlife photography, and more. Your family will experience the rich culture of the Andes and the amazing natural history of the Galapagos on this truly incredible family vacation, and professional photographer Chris Gamel will be along every step of the way to help you record your family vacation using digital photography.
Our journey begins in the rolling Highlands of the Ecuadorian Andes. Visit with villagers and artisans, learning about their ancient culture and and shopping for crafts in colorful markets, and we’ll also have the opportunity to explore Inca ruins.
From there we travel west of the mainland on our nature cruise among the Galapagos Islands, one of the planet’s most fascinating ecosystems. Each day we disembark on a different island to explore, swim, and take pictures of the almost tame wildlife. Each day offers wonderful opportunities to take pictures of Ecuador’s stunning scenery and amazing wildlife, and Chris will offer informal lessons and workshops to help you improve your photography skills.
Day 1 – Depart home country for Guayaquil, Ecuador
Upon arrival in Guayaquil, Ecuador, one of our local staff members will meet you at the airport and assist you with your luggage and your transfer to the hotel (about 10 minutes), where your Ecuador family vacation begins.
Day 2 – Guayaquil to Andean Highlands
After breakfast we will fly to the beautiful Colonial city of Cuenca. Upon arrival, we will head directly to the forest of Aguarongo. We’ll enjoy an easy hike through this magical mountain forest.
Next, we’ll continue on to the remote countryside village of San Bartolomè, reaching our highest point at over 10,000 feet before descending to town. Here woman wear traditional dresses and panama hats, and the locals manufacture guitars and mandolins.
Later this afternoon we will arrive at the comfortable Hosteria Uzhupud, our home for the next three nights. There will be time for swimming in the pool – complete with a water slide!
This evening we’ll have an early dinner after our long day.
Day 3 – Andean Highlands
After breakfast we’ll take a short drive to an Orchid Reserve. Ecuador has 4200 species of orchids, and here we will have see an amazing variety of these incredible flowers.
Next, we’ll take a short drive to the village of Cojitambo to visit the school and meet our pen pals. After a picnic lunch we’ll explore the one of the largest sites of Canari and Inca ruins. Cojitambo Mountain offers wonderful walking, hiking, and even the opportunity to try your hand at rock climbing! Our expert will teach you how.
Returning later to the hotel, there will be time for swimming and games before dinner.
Day 4 – Andean Highlands
After breakfast, we will head into Cuenca to visit a pottery workshop to learn about making traditional ceramics. Then we’ll walk the cobblestone streets of this beautiful city; be ready with your bartering skills at the Market 10 Agosto where you can buy everything from native made trinkets to herbal cures for whatever ails you! Walk and visit San Francisco market, Flower Plaza and the New Cathedral.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll visit the Inca ruins at Pumapungo. Learn about the Incas Heliocentric system, the sun at the center of their vision of the universe, and their use of ceques, or imaginary lines drawn from the stars and constellations that indicated their places of worship and principal cities.
We’ll return to Uzhupud for dinner and perhaps make some pizzas in the outdoor oven! This evening have a special briefing for Galapagos.
Day 5 – Andean Highlands to Galapagos Islands
This morning we’ll leave our Highlands guide behind, and fly to the Galapagos. We’ll arrive at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal (the easternmost of the Galapagos Islands) in the afternoon, where we’re met for transfer to the ship. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos province and the location of the new Interpretation Center for Galapagos National Park. We’ll board the ship and settle into our cabins.
Our seagoing home will be the M/V Galapagos Explorer II, a 293-foot, first-class ocean-going cruise ship that carries 100 passengers. Comfortable cabins feature air-conditioning, private bathrooms and a small sitting area. Experienced naturalists will lead shore expeditions to seek out wildlife. When we’re not exploring, enjoy the ship’s Jacuzzi, solarium and reading room without experiencing the motion of a smaller vessel.
Our first day in the Galapagos will be spent on location near San Cristobal Island. At Cerro Brujo we will go to the beach for swimming and snorkeling activities. Wildlife sightings include blue footed boobies, brown pelicans, coastal birds (whimbrels, sander lings, etc.), Darwin’s finches and yellow warblers. There will also be free time to walk on the beach.
Day 6 – Galapagos Islands
Morning: Punta Suarez, Hood Island - This morning we’ll visit Hood Island, southernmost island of the archipelago. Because it is so isolated, the island has a large population of indigenous wildlife. We will explore Punta Suarez, one of the most spectacular spots in the Galapagos, where we’ll look for sea lions surfing the breaking waves and groups of iguanas basking in the sun. Further inland, masked and blue-footed boobies nest beside the trails. We can hike a trail towards the cliffs to the Blowhole, a fissure in the lava cliffs where seawater jets high in the air.
Afternoon: Gardner Bay, Hood Island - Gardner Bay is a long beach, about 1km, which is among the most magnificent in all of the Galapagos. It is home to many sea lion colonies and the turquoise colored water makes a beautiful contract to the white sand that consists of shell dust. Mocking birds fight for their territory and inspect the backpacks of tourists. About 50 km off the coast there is a rock where we will encounter tropical fish and rays while snorkeling. Even more spectacular is the Gardner Rock, which can be reached with a dinghy. It is home to white-tipped reef sharks, cactus finches, and other colorful sea dwellers. It’s very popular among snorkelers!
Day 7 – Galapagos Islands
Morning: Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz Island - In the morning we will visit Santa Cruz Island, landing in Puerto Ayora Town. We’ll visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about the research conducted on the island. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a Galapagos tortoise breeding and rearing center, where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats. Afterwards, we’ll be able to stroll through Puerto Ayora, largest town on the islands.
Afternoon: Rabida Island - In the afternoon we’ll visit Rabida Island. This is a small island, covered by dry and coastal vegetation, with a central volcano. Rabida contains the largest variety of lava types, red being the dominant color. A salt-water lagoon provides occasional sightings of flamingos. While the beach holds a large sea lion colony, fur seals also may be seen here. Red sands and teal waters characterize this island. Sea lions cover the waterfront, and the bull is always making a show of his bravado. There is a short walk to the top of the trail where we can take fabulous photos of the clear waters and volcanic peaks. There is also great snorkeling. We’ll keep near the rocks and keep our eyes out for sharks and rays.
Day 7 – Galapagos Islands to Guayaquil
The activity this morning will be one of the following, to be determined by flight schedules, weather conditions, and the Galapagos National Parks Department regulations:
Head to Bachas Beach, a white sand beach that is a nesting site for sea turtles. It is a delightful swimming beach, with a small lagoon behind, where you can see flamingos, and marine iguanas frequent the shore. Whimbrels, blue heron, pelican, sally lightfoot crab and other species.
Visit the Darwin Interpretation Center, donated by the Spanish Government in 1998, this state of the art facility offers both tourists and the inhabitants a complete education on the Islands.
Disembark: We’ll take a zodiac ride to the Baltra Pier and then a 15 minute bus ride to the Baltra airport. There, we’ll board our flight back to Guayaquil where we’ll reunite with our Highlands guide.
There will be free time this afternoon for shopping or enjoying the hotel’s swimming pool.
This evening, we’ll enjoy special farewell dinner.
Day 9 – Guayaquil to home country.
Make an early transfer to the Guayaquil International Airport for your flight home.
The cost of this all-inclusive trip is U.S. is $4,390 for children under 12, $4,990 for children 12-17, and $5,190 for adults. Internal air costs $500 per person. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography and participating in the workshop, or not. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodations (double occupancy) and all meals.
Accomodations are two persons to a room. If you are travelling alone and would like a private room there will be a supplemental charge. For an additional fee you can choose to have both the trip andyour flight booked for you. We encourage this service if you are departing from North America, as we will all be able to arrive in Ecuador on the same flight at the same time. It is our experience that this service eliminates many scheduling headaches, and the cost is at o slightly below the average market rate for such a flight.
Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, or cultural) 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. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.
What Do I Do Next?
Does traveling to Ecuador excite you? Can you see yourself photographing the wildlife of the Galapagos? Do you dream about meeting tortoises that are bigger then you are? Then now is the time to register. Our group size is limited, so register now to reserve your space on the family trip of a lifetime. If you have any questions or are ready to register now, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (210) 723-5999.