|MEETING PLACE:||Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel|
|RETURN TIME:||The afternoon of day 10 (you are free to depart this evening or anytime on day 11)|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 8|
|TRIP LENGTH:||11 days / 10 nights, including arrival and departure days|
|ACTIVITIES:||Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking|
Cruising the Galápagos aboard the Integrity combines luxury with an active exploration of the enchanted islands. The yacht’s size allows us to island hop in comfort, but also easily access areas of the islands that bigger vessels may not venture, providing a more intimate opportunity to observe wildlife in its natural habitat and take in the unique sights and sounds of this volcanic wonderland. Additionally, the trip’s group size, no more than 16 guests, gives travelers the opportunity to interact with our naturalist guide one-on-one.
Our permit allows us to moore in a different location each night and experience the best the Galápagos has to offer without cruise ship crowds. For the Western Route this includes exploring 7 different islands and more than 15 sites within the archipelago.
Days are spent bobbing with blue-footed boobies, swimming nose-to-nose with friendly and playful sea lions, snorkeling and kayaking with sea turtles and observing breathtaking marine, bird and wildlife. Evenings offer time to relax aboard our private yacht, take in a rejuvenating soak in the top deck hot tub and enjoy delightful regional cuisine prepared fresh daily by our chef. This is the ultimate Galápagos luxury vacation.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area and sometimes the weather. (Important: Some activities may be subject to change dependent on weather and participants’ ability; however, daily distances and activities within the park are governed by our permit, which allows us to visit these protected sites on our adventure.) The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1 (Thursday): Arrive to Quito, Ecuador
Upon arrival at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, OARS will arrange your transfer to our hotel. Our hotel is located near the airport, about 45-minutes outside of Quito city. If you’d like to explore the city of Quito or the surrounding region, you may want to spend additional nights in or around the city before or after your Galápagos cruise. OARS can arrange additional services, per request.
Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel
Day 2 (Friday): Flight to Baltra and the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
After an early breakfast, an OARS representative will provide our group transfer back to the airport for the morning flight to the Galápagos Islands. We will try to arrive at least 2 hours prior to our flight to Baltra (which is adjacent to Santa Cruz Island). The OARS representative will guide you through the airport check-in process.
Upon arrival to Baltra, you’ll transit through the VIP arrivals lounge where the staff will assist you with your Galápagos National Park Entry. Our islands-based guide will meet you here and accompany the group to the Canal de Itabaca, where a short ferry ride brings us to the island of Santa Cruz.
Once on Santa Cruz Island, we’ll meet our private vehicle for the drive into the highlands, where you’ll notice dramatic changes in the vegetation as we travel along the paved road through the arid zone up to the rainforest highlands. Once in the highlands, we’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
During our afternoon on Santa Cruz Island, we participate in the following activities (the order of these activities will depend upon the season):
Search for giant tortoises – these tortoises can be seen during a visit to a local farm where wild tortoises are allowed to roam freely. During our visit, you will likely see Darwin’s finches that often pose for photos among the tortoises.
Visit one or two lava formations – Los Tuneles (The Tunnels) and Los Gemelos (The Twins). Los Tuneles are lava tubes, remnants of underground lava channels where lava once flowed. Los Gemelos are two lava sink holes that formed when great lava pools drained leaving empty, roofed caverns. The roofs subsequently collapsed and exposed these craters.
After lunch and our explorations, we’ll make our way to Royal Palm Resort or Galápagos Safari Camp for check-in and orientation. Once you have had a chance to settle in, we’ll reunite for dinner.
Royal Palm Resort or Galápagos Safari Camp (B, L, D)
Day 3 (Saturday): Exploring Santa Cruz Island
After a leisurely breakfast, we offer an optional (yet highly recommended) snorkel practice in the hotel pool. After the snorkel lesson, we depart for the seaside town of Puerto Ayora, where we have lunch and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here, you will learn about conservation issues as well as the tortoise hatching and rearing program. You may also see several species of resident giant tortoises up close as well as the Lonesome George exhibit. This afternoon you will have your wetsuit fitting. Remember, the tighter the fit, the warmer the wetsuit!
In the late afternoon, we’ll meet with our park Naturalist and board our yacht, the Integrity. Once aboard, everyone will participate in a safety and life jacket drill. Afterwards, you have time to settle in to your stateroom before dinner is served. During the night the yacht will get underway and you will awaken just as we anchor at the southernmost island of our cruise, Floreana.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 4 (Sunday): Floreana Island
This morning you’ll rise to the sounds of the sea and a view of Punta Cormorant and Champion Island. Following breakfast aboard Integrity, we’ll prepare for our first of many shore excursions. Our pangas will take us to a green, olivine sand beach next to a large lagoon usually adorned with feeding flamingos and other water birds. A short hike through one of the more varied plant communities leads to Flour Beach where sea turtles nest and small rays frolic in the surf. We’ll also hope to catch a glimpse of the rare Floreana Mockingbird.
Next up is snorkeling along the shores of nearby Champion Island with curious, playful sea lions and the array of fish that frequent these waters.
While we enjoy lunch, the yacht will motor to our next excursion, which takes us to several popular attractions – Post Office Bay, Asilo de la Paz and Black Beach. Arriving ashore, our first stop is at the wooden barrel that has served as a mariner’s “post office” since the 18th Century. Here you’ll have the opportunity to continue the “postmaster” tradition of assisting with the delivery of a postcard or letter left by another traveler. From here we head into the Floreana Highlands to visit a collection of tortoises and learn about the island’s intriguing human history at Wittmer Caves. This is where one of Galápagos’ only freshwater springs is located. Our day ends with a walk on Black Beach before returning to Integrity for a well deserved dinner.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 5 (Monday): Isabela Island
After motoring overnight, we awake at the largest of all the islands in the archipelago – Isabela. Home to five major volcanic cones, two of which erupt frequently, the island is relatively young and geologically very alive, making it a “hot spot.”
This morning’s excursion is at Punta Moreno. Here we’ll walk onto this young lava flow at the base of Cero Azul, past cacti and other early colonizing plants. This flow is dotted with numerous “oases” of brackish lagoons containing a wide variety of life including flamingos, Paint-billed Crakes, White-cheeked Pintails and Common Gallinules. Our Naturalist will lead us along the trail and provide a variety of interpretive information about the flora and fauna surrounding us.
As we enjoy lunch, the sights and sounds of the sea and coastline entertain us while we motor to Elizabeth Bay, a pristine mangrove lagoon. Once our pangas reach the entry to the enclosed lagoon, our guides will slowly navigate through the narrow channels while we watch for rays, Flightless Cormorants, penguins, pelicans, Lava herons, sea turtles, sea lions, Blue-footed Boobies and other species that inhabit this vital zone. Green sea turtles come here to mate before nesting. The tranquil scene sets the tone and reminds us how fortunate we are to experience this special place.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 6 (Tuesday): Isabela Island and Fernandina Island
A short overnight cruise brings us to Urbina Bay, one of the most unique and rewarding sites we’ll visit. In 1954, volcanic activity caused a massive stretch of seafloor to be uplifted 15 feet in a matter of hours, stranding coral heads and all sea life that couldn’t escape. Here we get to walk among the skeletal coral garden, now home to marine iguanas, pelicans and mockingbirds. Not far inland is a colony of large land iguanas. During certain times of the year we may encounter the giant Alcedo tortoises, which come down from the highlands to nest in the warm sands of the bay. The vegetation is varied and several species of birds nest here.
Lunch aboard Integrity is served while we motor along neighboring Fernandina Island to our destination at Punta Espinosa. Fernandina is the most pristine and youngest island of the Galápagos and is volcanically active, the most recent eruption occurring in 2008. Upon landing ashore, we are met by an abundance of small, dark marine iguanas and brightly colored Sally Lightfoot Crabs. Here we’ll walk out on a pahoehoe lava flow—younger than the one at Punta Moreno—past a few pioneering plants. Along the sandy shore you can see Flightless Cormorants, pelicans and numerous lounging sea lions. Sunsets from here are often stunning.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 7 (Wednesday): Isabela Island
This morning’s excursion takes us to Tagus Cove, a deep and secluded bay surrounded by high cliffs. Pirates and whalers in the 19th Century using Tagus Cove for anchorage left their marks on the cliffs of this sunken caldera, a tradition of graffiti that continues to today. A short, steep hike passes Darwin Lake, which sits within a tuft cone and is filled with salt water. This site is an excellent place for viewing land birds, including Ground and Tree Finches, Galápagos Hawks, Yellow Warblers, Large-billed Flycatchers and sometimes the Woodpecker Finch. A rare sighting of land iguanas is a treat. A panga ride or paddling a kayak along the cliffs provides views of geologic features, as well as penguins and other bird species.
Our afternoon destination is Punta Vicente Roca, a huge collapsed tuft cone that foots the northwest corner of Isabela Island. The large cave, cleaved tuft cone and caldera wall are impressive geological formations and provide a beautiful backdrop for nesting birds, including Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies, gulls, Storm Petrels and Brown Noddy Terns. It also forms a calm gathering area for sea turtles. There is no landing at this site, so we explore the cliff faces by panga or by snorkeling. Along with sea turtles, snorkelers can see many species of colorful fish, penguins, sea lions, sea anemones, small jellyfish and other sea life. As we depart this site in the late afternoon, we’ll enjoy refreshments aboard the yacht as we cross the equator.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 8 (Thursday): Santiago Island
We awake this morning to the prominent island of Santiago, a large, varied and dramatic island. Black lava flows and volcanic cinder cones, their gray slopes dotted with silvery Palo Santo tress, combine to create a stunning geologic panorama
Our pangas deliver us to Puerto Egas, where two separate trails are found. The first meanders along the coast to the fur seal grottoes, a safe haven for the shy Galápagos Fur Seal amongst the crags and swimming inlets. This area is also home to American Oystercatchers, marine iguanas and ubiquitous sea lions.
The second, less-used trail heads inland to a lagoon at the Salt Mine Volcano where flamingos and other birds are found.
We return to the yacht for lunch and the cruise to Espumilla Beach and Buccaneer Cove. Espumilla is a red-sand beach and a sea turtle nesting site, with an inland trail that passes a small lagoon and into the arid zone where it is possible to view many land birds in a beautiful landscape, including Galápagos Hawks.
Buccaneer Cove is located on the north side of Santiago and is a legendary hideout for pirate ships preying on Spanish Galleons. At Buccaneer Cover we’re able to snorkel or kayak. Here you may see sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles, rays, sharks, pelagic fishes and amazing underwater geologic formations.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 9 (Friday): North Seymour Island and Santa Cruz Island
North Seymour is the flattest island of our Galápagos cruise. The trail at North Seymour heads inland where you will see the largest colony of Magnificent Frigatebirds in Galápagos, Blue-footed Boobies and occasionally bush-climbing land iguanas. We’ll then head along the coast where you will have ample opportunity to observe sea lions and marine iguanas. Snorkelers will enjoy their last underwater experience in the channel between North Seymour and Mosquera, which can be one of the most interesting sites.
This afternoon, we’ll come ashore at Bachas Beach. Here we’ll enjoy Bachas’ fine white sand beach. Two small lagoons just over the dunes sometimes host flamingos. The name “Bachas” comes from the remains of a barge which ran aground decades ago, leaving just a few rusty spines visible today.
Next, at Caleta Tortuga Negra, we are propelled silently in our pangas by our guides pushing us along with a pole. We may see Spotted Eagle and Golden Rays gracefully swimming in formation just below the surface of the water. You’ll also see sharks, egrets and Lava Herons. Caleta Tortuga Negra is a shark nursery and we may see very small sharks in the shallows. Sea turtles hang out in this lagoon most of the year but are here by the hundreds during their mating season between December and March.
Afterwards, we’ll gather for our final sunset and dinner aboard Integrity.
Integrity (B, L, D)
Day 10 (Saturday): Baltra and Return to the Mainland
Bird life abounds as the morning sunrise lights up pink skies. Reality sinks in that this is our last day in this island paradise, as today we will make our way to the airport at Baltra.
You’ll have breakfast on board Integrity, then disembark at Baltra Island. The group will fly back to the mainland and, depending on your flights, either connect to your international departure, have an extended day use room for your late-night departure, or for overnight if your flight is the following morning.
Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel (B)
Day 11 (Sunday): Departure
OARS will arrange transport to the Quito International Airport for your departing flight this day.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Fully crewed luxury yacht with English-speaking park naturalist
- 3 nights hotel lodging (based on double occupancy): 2 nights near Quito Int’l Airport and 1 night on Santa Cruz Island
- 7 nights on a deluxe yacht (based on double occupancy)
- Meals from breakfast on day 2 to breakfast on day 10 (outlined in the itinerary as B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
- Access to the airport VIP arrival lounge in Baltra
- Complimentary soft drinks, coffee, tea, juice and draft beer (or select bottled beer) while aboard yacht
- Two glasses of house wine served with dinner each night aboard the yacht
- All activities and equipment as outlined in the itinerary
- Snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit; you may prefer to bring your own)
- Airport transfers to and from the Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel
- Laundry service aboard the yacht
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to/from Quito, Ecuador
- Roundtrip flight from Quito to Galapagos, approximately $560 (arranged by OARS)
- Excess baggage charges
- Single supplement fee—by choice or circumstance
- Transfers to or from hotels other than the Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel
- Galápagos Islands transit control card – $20 per person (arranged by OARS)
- Galápagos Nat’l Park entrance fee: $100/person; $50/children 12 & under (arranged by OARS)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage (must have a minimum $100,000 coverage value)
- Alcoholic beverages from the boat’s inventory
- Pre- or post-trip accommodation and/or day tours (can be arranged by OARS upon request)
- Items of personal nature
- Gratuities for the park naturalist, guides and yacht crew
Upgrades & Supplements:
Owner’s Suite Upgrade
- Upgrade to the Owner’s Suite is an additional $2400 ($1200 per person based on double occupancy)
Single Supplements for Staterooms on the Yacht
Single occupancy rates for the yacht do not reflect the cost for a single occupancy room at the hotels.
- Single occupancy in the dedicated single stateroom is an additional $1800 (stateroom #2)
- Single occupancy in staterooms #3-9 is an additional 0.95 x the per person yacht price:
Regular season – $7310; Fall season – $6360; Holiday season – $9115
- Single use of the Owner’s Suite is 2 x the per person yacht price:
Regular season – $7695; Fall season – $6695; Holiday season – $9595
Plus the $2400 upgrade
Single Supplement for Hotels (3 nights)
- Land-based single supplement is $695
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
10-Day Free Look Period: This stipulation allows you to cancel your travel protection plan within 10 days from your effective date of coverage or before your scheduled departure date, whichever comes sooner. OARS will refund all of your premiums paid if you cancel coverage within the time specified, provided you have not already filed a claim under the travel protection plan. Effective date refers to 12:01 AM the day after the policy premium is paid.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of $100,000 emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
As of May 1, 2018, Ecuador requires foreign visitors to have health insurance.
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: A second deposit is due in our office 165 days prior to your trip. Final payment is due in our office 105 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for the final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when these payments are due.
Meeting Place & Time
Upon arrival at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO), OARS will arrange transport to our nearby accommodation – Wyndham Quito Airport Hotel.
Getting to Quito, Ecuador
American Airlines and LAN Airlines offer nonstop flights from Miami; United Airlines offers nonstop flights from Houston; Delta Airlines offers nonstop flights from Atlanta. Other carriers include Copa and Avianca.
The roundtrip flight from Quito to the Galápagos Islands is not included in your trip price. Once you have confirmed your reservation, OARS will arrange that flight for you. The cost is subject to change but typically costs $560 per person ($480 for ages 12 & under). At the time of reservation, we will secure the best rate available.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in Latin America destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
Please do not purchase airfare until your departure has been confirmed by the minimum number of required guests.
Please note: if your flight is delayed and you arrive after our departure to the islands the morning of itinerary day 2, we’ll do our best to get you on the next possible flight. However, you’ll be asked to pay the associated costs. It is for this reason we encourage travelers to consider arriving at least one day ahead of the scheduled OARS program.
After Your Trip
Following our nights aboard the yacht in the Galápagos Islands, we will return to our hotel near the Quito Int’l Airport where you may choose to spend one final night (included in your trip price). The following day, itinerary day 11, you may take a departing flight home or continue your adventure in Ecuador or elsewhere. Flights departing late (after 10:00 PM) on itinerary day 10 are an option.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
This trip includes accommodation near Quito Int’l Airport for 2 nights (days 1 and 10). If you plan to arrive early or extend your stay, please contact our office if you would like assistance in booking pre- or post-trip accommodation at the hotel we use. Accommodation elsewhere should be arranged directly with that hotel.
Day tours can be arranged for early arrivals or later departures. For day tours in and/or around the Quito area, ask your OARS Adventure Consultant for suggestions and rates.
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended date of departure from Ecuador. Make photocopies of the photo page of your passport and carry one separately from your passport while traveling and leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate expedite authorization for replacement. We request that you send us a copy to keep on file for emergencies during your trip. Also, check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added. Do not pack your passport in your checked luggage.
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Ecuador for visits fewer than 90 days. For non-U.S. citizens, please check with the Ecuadorian Consulate or your embassy.
As a precaution, please make copies of your important documents—passport, air tickets, visas, credit cards, vaccination card, etc. and carry them separately from the originals. These copies will prove invaluable in the event that you need to replace any of these necessary items. Bring an additional ID, such as a driver’s license.
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase a minimum of $100,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate in this expedition. For a basic policy that extends coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
As of May 1, 2018, Ecuador requires foreign visitors to have health insurance.
In 1835 Charles Darwin sailed on the British ship H.M.S. Beagle and visited the islands. His theory of the origin of species, which shook up the scientific world, was inspired by the evidence he found in this unique volcanic archipelago. In 1936 the Galápagos was declared a National Park to preserve its unique vegetation and wildlife. UNESCO declared Galápagos a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978 and subsequently a World Biosphere Reserve in 1985. Protection was further strengthened in 1994 with the creation of the Reserva Marina de Galápagos, which was recently extended to cover the 130,000 square kilometers within a 40 nautical mile radius of the islands, making the Galápagos the second largest marine reserve in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Galápagos is one of those rare destinations where you become accustomed to being surprised. Nothing quite compares to the joy of observing animals in the wild here, or the sense of wonder and privilege felt while spending time with creatures that don’t run or fly away when humans approach. Galápagos is home to many endemic animals, most of which are fearless because of their lack of natural predators.
From the world’s only seagoing iquanas to flightless cormorants and penguins, flamingos, inflatable frigate birds, wave albatrosses, clownish boobies, patriarchal giant tortoises, and 13 species of Darwin finches, you can enjoy thrilling encounters with animals—up close and in large numbers—who are completely at ease among human visitors.
There are extraordinary opportunities to swim with marine mammals such as sea lions, dolphins and manta, eagle and golden rays, as well as thousands of the 300 species of colorful fish. The more adventurous may relish the chance to snorkel with the Galápagos sharks or even hammerheads and white-tipped reef sharks. Marine turtles and whales are commonplace and simply add to the magic.
The plants of Galápagos are equally fascinating. Many species of indigenous Scalesia (“tree daisies”) as well as bromeliads and orchids are found in the highlands. Giant prickly pear and candelabra cacti abound on the coast while tiny Brachycereus cacti grow on barren lava flows. Vivid morning glories and mats of bright red and green Sesuvium blanket the shores. Galápagos also has its very own native species of cotton, tomato, pepper, guava and passionflower. Many kinds of plants, particularly those belonging to the daisy family, have evolved into whole arrays of endemic species on the different islands, providing scientists with classic examples of adaptive radiation.
Integrity offers uncompromising comfort and safety. This luxurious, stabilized, 141-ft yacht carries 16 passengers, 10 crew members and a superb naturalist on an intimate, rewarding adventure. From the swimming platform aft to the extended bow for whale and dolphin watching, every inch of Integrity was designed to enhance your Galápagos experience. You’ll find your home away from home in a spacious, well-appointed stateroom. You can relax and gather for refreshments and camaraderie in the Salon and Sun Deck lounges. And there’s no better way to unwind from an active day than a soak in the spa while cruising past volcanic shores. Up for some action? Integrity also carries snorkel gear and a fleet of sea kayaks, perfect for exploring shorelines, inlets, bays and quiet coves. Two pangas (zodiacs) transport guests to and from the yacht for shore visits and snorkeling.
The only Galápagos yacht designed with integrated, active stabilizers, Integrity was built in the US and completely refitted for Galápagos cruising. Continual maintenance, annual dry-dock, regular upgrades and frequent remodels keep Integrity in top shape. Integrity is the most environmentally conscious yacht in the Galápagos, earning the Galápagos Quality Gold Seal for its practices, including on-board treatment of all waste water. Two electronically controlled, vibration isolated Detroit/MTU 4-stroke diesel engines provide smooth cruising that’s environmentally friendly. Two generators provide sufficient electrical power to easily support the air conditioning, walk-in freezer and refrigerator, extensive electronic systems, water makers and on-board wastewater treatment plant. Unparalleled commitment to conservation, safety and quality are the hallmarks of Integrity’s operation.
Accommodation on the yacht consists of various options and price levels for you to choose from at the time of reservation, per your interest and availability.
The 350 ft² Owner’s Suite spans the Main Deck from port to starboard with picture windows on both sides for unobstructed views of the Islands. This luxurious suite offers a king bed, ample seating, a writing desk with chair, a spacious bathroom, and plenty of storage. You’ll enjoy individual climate controls, a large-screen entertainment center, satellite phone and minibar.
The sofa offers a pull-out twin bed that can accommodate one child. The child will be allocated one bed in another stateroom (typically the Single Stateroom), therefore must pay the cost for one bed space aboard the yacht.
Standard King and Twin Staterooms:
Integrity offers five 150 ft² convertible staterooms that can be configured with one spacious king bed or two full-sized twin beds. Each stateroom offers a table with chairs, plenty of storage, a mini-fridge, individual climate controls, and entertainment center. The en-suite bathroom facilities have a full-sized rain shower, sink, toilet, hairdryer, and storage cabinet.
The 150 ft² Queen Stateroom offers a queen-size bed, ample storage, a table with chairs, ample storage, a mini-fridge, individual climate controls, and entertainment center.
The Single Stateroom accommodates a single guest in one twin bed. This 120 ft² stateroom features large picture windows and an en-suite bath with walk-in rain shower and full amenities. The Single Stateroom is ideal for solo travelers as well as a child traveling with parents, located adjacent to the Owner’s Suite and opposite one of the Standard King Staterooms.
Cabin Service on the Yacht
Your stateroom will be cleaned on a daily basis. Towels are replaced as needed, while linens will be changed once in the middle of the cruise. Soap, shampoo and a hair dryer are provided. Please do not bring any food or drinks into the cabins in order to avoid bad odors and insects.
Your guide will thoroughly explain safety procedures once you are on board. Please be sure to check exactly where the life vests are located in your cabin. In the unlikely event that the alarm sounds, you will be expected to gather your personal documents, put on warm clothes and bring your life vest to the lounge where the crew members will be waiting with further instructions.
We know food is an important part of any vacation and our talented chefs work magic in the galley creating new taste sensations and surprising twists on old favorites. Menus are varied and healthy. Special diets are accommodated to the best of our ability and children’s favorites are always available.
In the Main Deck entry, you’ll find snacks, refreshments, and chilled hand towels awaiting your return from shore visits, kayaking and snorkeling.
Delicious, healthy meals await you each day at intimate tables of six. Start your morning with a lovely breakfast buffet of cereals, fresh fruit, baked goods, eggs cooked to order and an array of hot and cold beverages. At lunch and dinner, indulge in tasteful multi-course meals of local specialties.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets, as sourcing special ingredients in the Galápagos can be challenging.
Bottled drinking water will be available at our hotel accommodation in Quito and on Santa Cruz. We will provide purified water while in the Galápagos Islands, as our boat has a desalinator. Do not drink water from any tap as it frequently contains bacteria that can cause stomach problems. It is crucial that you stay hydrated while in the tropics, especially when we are hiking and kayaking. Consider bringing electrolyte powders, which replace salts and minerals lost to sweating.
We have free and unlimited draft beer available for guests (the local Ecuadorian “Pilsener” brand). We offer 2 glasses of house wine at dinner. For spirits, there is a fully stocked bar, limited to brands available in Ecuador. We also have premium wine available for sale by the bottle, as well as a reasonably well-stocked bar for spirits available for purchase ($10-$15 per glass). Soda and juice while on board the yacht is included in the trip cost. The bar tab may be settled by credit card at the end of the week.
Although we carry a variety of wines and spirits, if you have a favorite brand or appellation we recommend bringing it with you. While aboard the yacht, you may enjoy alcohol you bring along with no corkage fees. Ecuador allows travelers to bring into the country certain items, including (at this writing) three liters of alcohol. Please reference the most current regulations prior to travelling.
For travelling, we strongly recommend using a bottle protector. Please note, you will need to repack it in your checked bags for the flight out to Galapagos, so any bottles will contribute to your allowable weight.
Once on Santa Cruz Island, the ProInsular Market is located directly across the plaza from the municipal dock. There is a very limited choice of alcohol, mostly dictated by local tastes and whether or not the weekly supply ship arrived.
Each evening aboard the yacht, our naturalist will host a discussion on what you saw during the day and will preview what you should anticipate for the next day.
Passengers will be transferred from the yacht to the islands on our two pangas (zodiacs). The landings may be wet or dry. Dry landings mean you step directly onto rock or sand, while wet landings mean you step into the water and wade to shore. Your guide will tell you ahead of time what type of landing to expect. Either way, crew members will be there to assist you.
Please remember you are visiting a national park and will be expected to follow park regulations. The instructions you receive from your guide are intended for the preservation and conservation of the Galápagos.
- Stay on marked trails
- Do not touch or feed the animals
- Do not smoke on the Islands
- Clean the soles of your shoes to avoid carrying endemic seeds from one island to another
- Take only pictures; leave only footprints
The hikes on our excursions are moderate and allow you to get up close and personal with the magnificent wildlife on the islands. We recommend that your shoes be closed-toed, lightweight, have sturdy soles and be broken-in. If you buy new walking shoes for this trip, be sure to walk in them in advance to avoid blisters.
Our two pangas (zodiacs) transport guests; sometimes our arrival is a dry landing and sometimes a wet landing.
A mask, snorkel, fins and flotation belt are available on the yacht, but the quality may not be equal to those that you own. We recommend you consider bringing gear that you know fits you well, especially the mask and fins.
A wetsuit will be chosen from a dive shop in Puerto Ayora prior to boarding the yacht and is included in your trip price. The water in the Galápagos Islands is cooled by cold ocean currents. We recommend you bring or plan to pick out a wetsuit.
Snorkelers are asked to follow these simple instructions:
- Stay with the group; look up every few minutes to check that you are still near others in the group
- Be aware of the location of the panga
- When getting on and off the panga, stay clear of the outboard motor
- Have all your gear on before getting off the panga
- Take off only your fins before re-boarding the panga
- When diving under be sure to look up before resurfacing
- If you feel more comfortable in a life vest, you are welcome to wear one
Integrity offers tandem sit-on-top kayaks to use in locations permitted by the national park. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two kayaks are equipped with backbands for support and comfort. Kayaking opportunities are available in between scheduled land excursions and snorkeling, or at times can take the place of them. Your guide and boat crew can help you determine when the opportunity to kayak is available.
Galápagos National Park rules prohibit scuba diving from any vessel other than licensed dive boats. Guests may arrange day-dives from Puerto Ayora independently either before or after their cruise.
The only opportunity to dive is on itinerary day 3, from Puerto Ayora. Keep in mind you’ll miss the activities offered this day. A dive must be arranged and paid for directly with a dive operator and is best done in advance of your trip; however, it can likely be arranged in Puerto Ayora on itinerary day 2. Remember to bring proof of your dive certification.
We recommend working with Scuba Iguana to arrange your adventure.
Everywhere in Ecuador, including Quito, the Galápagos Islands and our yacht, people are asked not to throw anything into the toilets, including toilet paper. A wastebasket is provided for toilet paper and it is emptied often. This may seem strange to North Americans, but please obey this rule and avoid being the cause of a backed up septic system.
Aboard the Integrity, the high-tech wastewater treatment system eliminates solids and bacteria from all waste water before it is released into the sea. The treatment system is very sensitive and will cease to function if ANYTHING other than human waste and toilet paper enters the system. Onboard repairs in such cases are difficult and in extreme cases the crew may have to interrupt the cruise to fix the blockage.
We therefore urge you not to put ANY feminine hygienic products, paper towels or any other solid objects or materials into the toilets or drains. If something inadvertently falls into the toilet, notify the crew immediately so it can be extracted before it enters the system.
While aboard the yacht, the crew will offer to wash and dry items for you one time during your cruise. You’ll be informed on which day this service is offered and you’ll be provided with a laundry bag. Towels are provided and will be changed for you daily. We recommend you plan for quick washes with biodegradable soap in case you need to clean an essential item outside of the one time laundry service.
Ecuador is on the 110V AC system, as is our yacht. Sockets are the standard U.S. style, either 2 flat prongs or 2 flat prongs and a round ground. There are sockets on the yacht for recharging batteries. In order to save power, please remember to switch off the light and A/C when not in your cabin.
Hair dryers are available aboard the yacht. In our experience, the relaxed atmosphere on the cruise and the high humidity in the islands make hair dryers seldomly used.
Bringing the right camera equipment will go a long way toward determining the quality of your photographs. If you’re an avid photographer, we recommend bringing a good digital or 35mm SLR camera that can be used on land and when aboard the yacht. In addition to this, bring a smaller and less-expensive salt-water resistant camera that you can use while snorkeling, with a lanyard or floating accessory.
Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife.
Bring extra memory cards and don’t forget to pack spare camera batteries and/or a charger. You should be ready for mostly bright sunlight, so you may want to bring a polarizing filter. Zip-Lock plastic bags help protect your camera against sand and salt. You will be able to plug-in to recharge your camera on the boat. We strongly recommend you take out a rider on you homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is limited cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices. If you intend to take your phone or other electronic device with you on the water, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
Communication – Cell Phone Service and Internet
Check with your carrier for cell phone service in Ecuador. Mainland Ecuador has decent coverage and our hotels have free Wi-Fi (of variable strength). Galápagos, 600 miles off the coast and on the far reaches of current satellite coverage areas, has weak to no cell service. You will have some signal while near population centers, and Wi-Fi is available on Santa Cruz Island (although slow and intermittent), but you will likely have no signal in the outlying islands.
Aboard the Integrity, complimentary marine satellite-based internet is available to our guests. The system provides download speeds up to 2 Mbps and upload speeds up to 1 Mbps. You should be able to access emails and websites with relative ease, however speeds will not be sufficient to support streaming. The Wi-Fi signal is based in the main salon and dining room.
If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they can call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
The U.S. dollar is Ecuador’s national currency. All prices are set in U.S. dollars. Coins in the same denominations of the U.S. 50-, 25-, and 5-cent coins have been minted by Ecuador. These coins are good within Ecuador, but not in the U.S. The dollar bills and dollar coins are minted in the U.S.
MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in Ecuador and the Galápagos. American Express is often accepted at mainland hotels. Please keep in mind that intermittent internet connections in the Galápagos Islands occasionally cause credit card machines to fail, so some purchases may require cash.
ATMs are available at the airport and in & around Quito. ATMs are also available in Puerto Ayora; however, they’re not reliable due to their distance from the mainland.
Travelers should plan to bring enough cash to cover souvenirs, tips and other expenses. Travel with small bills, such as $1’s, $5’s, $10’s and $20’s.
The Galápagos Islands have a surprisingly cool, sub-tropical climate regulated by the cold, north-flowing (Humboldt) and west-flowing (Peruvian) ocean currents, which originate in Antarctica. Generally, December to April are the warmest months (75-90°F) and coolest from May through November (60-75°F), with August and September being the coolest months. The islands only receive an average of 10 inches of rain per year, so it is rarely “rainy” though you can expect some precipitation year-round.
The temperature of the air and water varies depending on the strength of the trade winds. During periods of weak winds, December through March, the cooling currents subside and temperatures rise. The waters are warmest during this period (65-80°F). In April, the trend begins toward stronger winds and cooler temperatures (both air and water) with the strongest trade winds and coolest temperatures being customary in late September. In October, the trend reverses. And so the seasons cycle endlessly through time, with the occasional appearance of El Niño and La Niña phenomena.
The larger islands with volcanic peaks have a dramatic range of climatic zones. The coastal areas are quite arid, covered with plants adapted to desert conditions, and receive infrequent precipitation. The highland parts of these islands receive moisture almost year-round in the form of garúa (thick fog, mist or drizzle), which supports a lush rainforest where all of the tortoises live.
In the Quito area, which is about 9000 feet above sea level, the elevation greatly moderates the climate. The temperature ranges from 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with lower temperatures from April to October. Daytime temperatures are generally warm and pleasant, while evenings are cool. Bring a warm layer for the evenings.
|Average Air Temp (F°)||Average Water Temp (F°)|
|February||warm to hot 75-85||70-80|
Ecuador is on the Equator so days and nights are almost equal in length year-round. The sun rises at about 6 a.m. and sets at about 6 p.m.
The Ecuadorian mainland is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. The Galápagos Islands are one hour behind mainland Ecuador. Ecuador does not observe Daylight Savings Time. When Daylight Savings Time is in effect in the U.S., mainland Ecuador is at the same hour as Central Standard Time and the Galápagos Islands are the same time as Mountain Standard Time. During the rest of the year mainland Ecuador is the same time as Eastern Standard Time and the Galápagos Islands are the same as Central Standard Time.
Health and Medical Information
Currently, if you fly direct between the U.S. and Ecuador, no vaccinations are required. However, the CDC does recommend routine vaccinations for travelers visiting Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Since regulations and recommendations change frequently, please check with your doctor and visit the CDC for up-to-date information.
If you are taking any prescription drugs, be certain that you bring a sufficient supply to last through the trip, accompanied by a doctor’s prescription in case you lose your supply. We recommend carrying prescription drugs in their original container and traveling with them in your carry-on bag (versus a checked bag).
Motion Sickness: Taking precautionary measures against motion sickness should be an important part of your Galápagos travel planning. Motion sickness is a normal response to real, perceived or anticipated movement. It occurs when the body, the inner ear (a tiny structure involved in hearing and balance) and the eyes send conflicting signals to the brain. Not everyone will be affected, but prevention is the key. While on the boat, prevention is best accomplished by seeking areas of lesser movement in an interior location of the boat or by facing forward and looking outside the boat. Avoid alcoholic beverages and drink plenty of water.
Several medications are available both by prescription and over the counter that may prevent or limit unpleasant symptoms. As always, please consult with your doctor as to what would be best for you. If medications are necessary, they are best taken at least one hour before embarking.
Over-the-counter medications like Dramamine II or Bonine can be very effective for short trips or when symptoms occur intermittently. Past clients have found success with Meclizine, the active ingredient in both Dramamine II and Bonine. For longer relief, prescription medications in the form of a patch can be worn behind the ear.
Some people have found ginger root effective for mild symptoms. Ginger candies, tea and herbal pills are common sources.
Diarrhea: Sometimes travelers have a passing experience with diarrhea. The major problem with diarrhea is fluid loss leading to severe dehydration. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Caffeine is a diuretic and should be avoided or consumed only in small amounts. The best drinks are bottled water, weak tea and caffeine-free soft drinks. Avoid milk and dairy products. Bananas, rice, crackers, bread or potatoes will sit well on your stomach and don’t aggravate the malady.
Some medications may help with diarrhea – please consult your doctor. Bismuth, if taken soon enough, may prevent bacteria from taking over the intestinal tract. Cipro may help counter diarrhea, as once it has set in it is too late for Bismuth to prevent the take-over. Cipro is available over-the-counter in Ecuador, but you may not have time to purchase it there. Consult your doctor for their recommendations.
Treating wounds: In hot climates, cuts and scratches can become infected and take a long time to heal. Prevent infection from coral cuts by immediately washing wounds with fresh water, then rubbing with vinegar or alcohol—painful, but effective. Use an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide and an antibacterial ointment. Prickly heat, or salt/heat rash, is a common ailment for tropical paddlers. It is caused by salt buildup in the sweat glands. The skin becomes soggy and small red blisters appear. At first sight of the rash, wash with fresh water and apply calamine lotion, dust with talcum or medicated powder and change clothes. Until the rash improves, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Traveling at High Altitude
Discuss with your doctor any medical conditions or medications that may be affected by altitude. You can familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment and more about altitude illness at the CDC.
Quito is 9350 ft above sea level; some people are mildly affected by the elevation. Altitude sickness occurs when you ascend to high altitude quickly. Mostly travelers experience no more than shortness of breath and mild headaches; they may also become light-headed, have a shortened attention span and experience some dehydration. Drink lots of water.
We recommend you take it easy the first day and avoid tobacco and alcohol. Eat lightly and avoid fried foods and meat-heavy meals. If you feel ill, rest, breathe deeply, drink fluids and take a mild painkiller for headaches. If symptoms are severe, oxygen may be the only effective relief. Call the front desk of the hotel and ask for oxygen to be brought to you. If it is severe and persists, call our local emergency contact number for further assistance.
For travelers with a known altitude issue, we recommend arriving and departing from Guayaquil, located on the coast.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. We recommend you bring some sandwich size zip-lock bags. They can be used during the day while you are on the water or hiking and can be disposed of later. (For tampon users: o.b.® tampons are ⅓ the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping). Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes.
Traveler Responsibility Code
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
4. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
5. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
6. Minimize your impact on the environment.
7. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
8. Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for Hiking Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS hiking trip.
- Ability to walk three or more miles in a backcountry environment.
- Ability to independently navigate rough terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to walk and maintain your balance on backcountry hiking trails, including trails with rocks, roots and low branches. The trails are dusty, steep, and present numerous reinforced log steps, loose rocks, and animal excrement. They range in width from 1 to 3 feet with exposed overlooks.
- Ability to carry your own daypack with a minimum of 1 liter of water, rain gear, insulating layers, sunscreen and other personal items (approx. 10 lbs).
- Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
- Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as heat related illness and sunburn.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a hiking trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria,” but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness hiking trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including heat and the potential for sun, wind and rain. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters in the wilderness can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense, and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid on the trail (by way of example) are: walking without shoes, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards, and walking near precipitous ledges.
While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your hiking ability.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. For this trip you should be exercising weekly. The best way to get ready is to combine cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise, strength training and hiking. Running and exercising on elliptical machines and stair steppers are also great ways to increase your endurance and strengthen your legs at the same time. While hiking, it is helpful to carry a weighted daypack and wear the same footwear that you will be using on the trip. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip
Packing for Your Trip
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
Much of the clothing you bring should be quick drying and breathable. During this sub-tropical adventure you will be exposed to sun, wind and water. Long sleeves, long pants and wide brimmed hats are recommended for sun protection. In general, you will need loose fitting clothes for the hotter parts of the trip and some extra layering for evenings. Keep in mind that some of what you bring may get sweaty and wet due to the humid climate. You will encounter dust, sand and salt. No fancy dress clothing is required.
You will want to bring slightly warmer clothing in the cooler season (June through November) and lighter clothing in the warmer season (December through May).
Start with sunscreen, shorts or lightweight pants and a lightweight long-sleeved shirt. Then add additional layers if needed. As the day warms up, layers can be taken off and stored away.
After a long active day, you may want to refresh and change into clean comfortable clothing. Soft, loose-fitting shorts or pants, t-shirts, etc. will allow you to truly relax in the evening. Many women find sarongs or cotton dresses a nice change. Evenings on the boat may be cool so additional layers and a rain/wind jacket can come in handy.
On shore during hikes, closed-toe footwear is highly encouraged. These shoes may get wet. It’s rocky on the islands so sandals are not a good option unless they protect your toes and have hiking soles. Make sure you get good-grip, no-slip soles. You’ll be asked to remove your outdoor footwear when coming aboard the yacht—no street shoes are to be worn on board—therefore you may want to bring slippers or light-soled deck shoes if you dislike going barefoot while on the boat.
Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
A lightweight, hooded jacket is recommended. A rain jacket doubles as a warm layer and will protect you from the wind.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Daypack for shore visits: to fit a water bottle, camera and rain jacket (may double as your flight carry-on bag)
☐ Water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Toiletries (soap and shampoo are provided) and medications
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended). Please consider reef safe products that do not contain Oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Octinoxate or 4-Methylbenzyldine Camphor.
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent: Mosquitoes are generally not a problem, but it’s always best to be prepared
☐ Personal first aid kit (sea sickness medication, stomach/diarrhea medication, Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops etc.)
☐ Spare pair of prescription glasses and/or contacts (sand can cause problems for contact wearers)
☐ Earplugs: we will motor into the night and waves slapping the hull can be loud
☐ Cash for gratuities and incidentals
☐ Athletic shoes or light hikers: closed-toe, comfortable and with good tread (for land excursions)
☐ Amphibious shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®)
☐ Deck shoes or slippers: the yacht does not allow street shoes to be worn on board – they must be left at the gangway. Ideal if you prefer to not be barefoot on the yacht.
☐ Flip flops (optional)
☐ Socks for hikes: 3 or 4 pair, light-weight
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Short-sleeved shirts: T-shirts, collared, lightweight cotton or quick-drying
☐ Shorts: lightweight for hiking/walking
☐ Long pants: lightweight cotton or quick-drying and light color for sun protection
☐ Swimwear (1-2 sets)
☐ Warm fleece or sweater to be worn under windbreaker (rain jacket) in the evenings (temps in Quito can be cold)
☐ Shade hat (wide brim) or visor with securing strap (and a spare)
☐ Rain gear: a lightweight, hooded jacket or poncho. Rain pants are optional.
☐ Pajamas: lightweight
☐ Casual clothes for evenings (evenings can be cool)
☐ Personal snorkel gear (mask, snorkel, fins): included, but the quality may not be equal to those that you own
☐ Wetsuit: included and arranged in Puerto Ayora, but the quality may not be equal to one that you own
☐ Camera and accessories. Consider a waterproof camera for snorkeling
☐ Dry bag, zip lock bags for carrying valuables, such as a camera
☐ Rash guard top for snorkeling
☐ Trekking poles: collapsible
☐ Headlamp or small flashlight, extra batteries and bulb
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Clothes pins
☐ Collapsible umbrella
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your travel bag
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book, field book, English-Spanish dictionary
☐ Spare roll-up duffel for purchases while in Ecuador (or purchase one in Ecuador)
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
We recommend soft luggage for the Galápagos portion of your trip, as it can be easier to handle for the crew and may fit better in the limited space of the yacht’s staterooms. We recommend traveling as light as possible; excess baggage can be a burden to you and to support personnel. On an international flight, you are typically allowed 1-2 pieces of checked luggage at no additional fee but luggage restrictions change regularly and vary according to airline—please check with your airline to determine luggage allowance.
You will be required to have a luggage tag displayed on your baggage. OARS will provide these to you. We suggest you have identification easily accessible inside your bags, as well.
The current checked baggage allowance on flights to & from the Galápagos Islands is one piece per person, subject to a maximum weight of 50 pounds (23 kilos) and a size limitation of 62 linear inches (length + width + height). The airline may refuse bags that exceed this limitation or you will be required to pay excess baggage fees.
The current carry-on allowance for flights to & from the Galápagos Islands is one piece per person, subject to a maximum weight of 17 pounds (8 kilos) and a size limitation of 21 inches long, 13 inches wide and 9 inches deep. Expect your carry-on item to be weighed. One additional personal item is allowed, such as a purse, laptop or camera. We suggest all documents, money, passports, medications, prescription glasses, camera, personal electronics, binoculars and other items of value be in your carry-on luggage.
The Galápagos National Park authorities will inspect all luggage going to the Galápagos Islands. They check for organic material such as food, plants (including wood) and banned substances. For this reason, if you bring your own snacks make sure they are pre-packaged and sealed.
The custom of tipping has served through the years to encourage and reward excellence. Gratuities must be earned. For this reason, we do not include tips to guides or yacht crew in the trip price. To guide you in this sensitive topic, consider the following outline.
Please provide gratuities in cash (USD), as credit cards can not be used except at restaurants. . It’s not possible to cash traveler’s checks in the Galápagos.
Galápagos Naturalist – $100 – $150 per traveler
Yacht captain and crew tip pool – $200 – $300 per traveler
Guides (on Santa Cruz Island or on the mainland) – $10 – $15 per traveler per day of service
Transfers, drivers, porters, taxis – tips for airport transfers and for Santa Cruz drivers are included in your trip price; it is not necessary to tip taxi drivers; tips are not included for hotel services (room service, porters, or other)
Restaurants – most add 12% VAT and a 10% service fee to the bill, but for exceptional service you may want to add another 5%
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $50 per person donation to the Galapagos Traveler Conservation Fund, administered by the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association, a non-profit association of travel companies, conservation organizations and other groups that are dedicated to a complete and lasting protection of the Galápagos Islands. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to conservation, research and education in the Galápagos and your contribution is tax-deductible. For more information, go to www.igtoa.org. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
The IGTOA has produced a series of videos that are available for travelers to the islands. These videos will help you learn more about challenges facing the Galápagos Islands and how travelers can be part of the solution by following best practices. Please view these videos before your departure! www.igtoa.org/save
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations & Deposit
A $1200/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. A second deposit of $5000/person is due 165 days prior to departure. The final balance is due 105 days prior to departure.
Cancellations & Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
The deposit is non refundable. However, if we receive notification cancelling your reservation at least 180 days prior to your planned departure, a one-time transfer of the deposit (less a $200 per person processing fee) may be made to another Galápagos Origins of Species cruise date that departs within one year from the original departure date.
A transfer to another departure date with less than 180 days notice before departure is considered a cancellation and re-booking of a reservation; thus, all payments to date will be subject to the cancellation penalties outlined below. If we are notified of cancellation of your reservation more than 150 days but less than 180 days prior to your trip departure, the deposit will be forfeited. After that time all payments will be refunded less the following cancellation fees computed as of the date of our receipt of cancellation notice:
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|121 – 150 days prior to your trip||30% of trip price|
|91 – 120 days prior to your trip||55% of trip price|
|61 – 90 days prior to your trip||80% of trip price|
|60 days or less (including “no show”)||100% of trip price|
OARS International and the outfitter INCA/Inca Floats, Inc. reserve the right to cancel any trip prior to departure for any reason whatsoever, including too few participants or logistical problems such as strikes, wars, acts of God, or any other circumstances which may make operation of the trip inadvisable. All trip payments and nonrefundable deposits which were received will be promptly refunded. This refund will be the limit of OARS’ liability. OARS and the outfitter INCA/Inca Floats, Inc. are not responsible for any expenses or damages incurred by trip members as a consequence of any cancellation, such as costs expended in preparing for the trip (including non-refundable or penalty-carrying airline tickets), special clothing, via or passport fees, lost income or any other trip-related losses or expenses.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of $100,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release before the trip, acknowledging awareness that some risks are associated with the trip. Safety is of the utmost concern on our trips. However, due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate and consistent with O.A.R.S. International, Inc. cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., INCA/Inca Floats, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays, and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which they have no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings, and other factors. There is risk in boating and kayaking. Boats and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard, your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size more than 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to safety on our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss requirements ahead of time.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices and itinerary are subject to change without notice.
International Nature & Cultural Adventures (INCA):
INCA/Inca Floats, Inc., travel partner of O.A.R.S. International, Inc., is the operator of this trip. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.