Galápagos Expedition: Darwin’s Playground, Central and North

Quark Expeditions
4.0 . Great
74%
Travel Style: Array Relaxed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. 3- Moderate
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
10 days
From: $ 5,998 $ 600 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Snorkel with sea lions, marine iguanas and sea turtles, walk among giant Galapagos tortoises, and see one of the largest bird populations on Genovesa Island
  • Explore volcanic islands, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and Zodiac cruise through the Black Turtle Cove mangroves
  • Enjoy this journey on its own, or as part of an epic adventure combined with an Antarctic Explorer expedition

Short Description

Exploring the Galapagos Islands is never mundane, and from the time you board our small expedition ship Evolution, you’ll recognize this as the adventure of a lifetime. Stroll among pricklypear cactus and look for yellow land iguanas on one of the smallest islands of the archipelago. Take a Zodiac cruise, or frolic in waters teeming with marine life. Genovesa Island, often called “Bird Island”, is home to one of the largest and most diverse bird populations in the Galapagos - bird species here include red-footed boobies, short-eared owls and the rare lava gull.  A true highlight is your opportunity to swim, kayak or snorkel in the water-filled calderas of extinct volcanoes! Wrap it up with a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where you can learn about conservation efforts on the islands, and see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

Style Small ship cruise
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City Guayaquil
End City Guayaquil

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Guayaquil, Ecuador

Fly independently to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and transfer to the preexpedition hotel.

Day 2: Embarkation Day, Playa Ochoa and Kicker Rock

Fly to the islands, landing on San Cristobal, and board the Evolution. Stroll along the beach at Playa Ochoa, where a nearby tidal lagoon plays host to flamingos, finches and Chatham mockingbirds. At sunset, we cruise around Kicker Rock.

Day 3: South Plaza Island

At only 426 feet (130 m) wide, South Plaza is one of the smallest islands in the archipelago. Look for yellow land iguanas on a walk to a grove of pricklypear cactus.  Non-hikers can enjoy a Zodiac cruise, watching for swallowtailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds and blue-footed boobies. Since there is no true trail on Mosquera Islands, you are able to stroll at your leisure.

Day 4: Sombrero Chino Island / Santiago Island: Puerto Egas

The tiny uplifted island of Sombrero Chino – or Chinese Hat – features a primeval landscape of volcanic rubble and lava tubes. The “land” is made of a few adjacent craters and old, fragile pahoehoe lava flows. Vegetation is just starting to take hold, including colorful carpetweed plants. Enjoy a Zodiac cruise and swim before lunch. This afternoon, search the tide pools of Puerto Egas for sea life. During low tide, we may see marine iguanas feeding on algae. Our naturalists will point out the birdlife, including great blue herons, lava herons, oystercatchers and yellowcrowned night herons.

Day 5: Genovesa Island

Genovesa is often referred to as “Bird Island” for the vast numbers of pelagic seabirds that come here to nest. And while Genovesa harbors one of the Galapagos’ largest and most diverse bird populations, there are no land reptiles — with the exception of some very small marine iguanas. This is due to the direction of the ocean currents, which couldn’t carry the terrestrial animals here. Climb Prince Philip’s Steps to an area with colonies of red-footed boobies. Watch for short-eared owls which feed on the petrels that fly about. Explore Darwin Bay, home to the rare lava gull. While anchored at Genovesa, enjoy an opportunity to swim, kayak and snorkel in the calm caldera of this partially eroded volcano.

Day 6: North Seymour Island / Santa Fe Island

North Seymour is the nesting site for a large population of magnificent frigate birds and the only place where we can always find males showing their red pouches to attract females. Plus, we are sure to see blue-footed boobies perform their comical courtship dance in the open areas. Hike to a scenic lagoon, where we may observe Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds and a variety of Darwin’s finches. You may kayak and snorkel from the beach.

Day 7: Floreana Island

Hike to Post Office Bay, once used by navigators to send mail with homebound messengers. Swim and kayak in the bay before a walk along the olivine beaches of Punta Cormorant. After hiking to a flamingo lagoon, spot fish and sea turtles during a relaxing stroll along the beach. Enjoy superb snorkeling at Devil’s Crown, where sea water has filled the sunken cone of an extinct volcano.

Day 8: Santa Cruz Island

Begin at the Charles Darwin Research Station, learning about work being done to preserve Galapagos wildlife. Head into the forested highlands, with ample opportunity to see giant tortoises in their verdant habitat. Walk through the forest surrounding a pair of pit craters, an excellent place to spot vermillion flycatchers. Time permitting, walk underground to explore a lava tube.

Day 9: Depart Galápagos for Mainland Ecuador

Enjoy a Zodiac cruise through Black Turtle Cove, drifting silently through this area of mangroves. Fly to Guayaquil, with time to relax at the post-expedition hotel.

Day 10: Depart Guayaquil

Board independent flights home.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 5,998
Price Per Day: $ 600 per day
  • Deposit Price: $ 1,000

Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Quark Expeditions.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

77 Quark Expeditions Travel Reviews & Ratings

74%
4.0 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 56
Great 2
Average 0
Disappointing 1
Terrible 18
Value
4.0
Guide
4.0
Activities
4.0
Lodging
4.0
Transportation
4.0
Meals
4.0

Galápagos Expedition: Darwin’s Playground, Central and North

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Company Reviews

Company is a scam

1.0
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This company cancelled our trip 3 times due to COVID. The most recent cancellation was less than 10 days notice. When we tried to re-book this time for a later date (our fourth reservation with them), they charged us over $10,000 more for the EXACT same itinerary even after their 100% guarantee says they have a voyage-for-voyage exchange on cancelled trips and we would be able to exchange the trip for the same itinerary. Now they've changed their rules to say they only have 1 date available that's approved for "exchanges." So our original booking, which was the week of Christmas, now has to be some random week when conditions are not as good and we won't even see Antarctica in the season we wanted. For the EXACT same itinerary as we already booked and paid for (and they kept the money for over 2 years for, while continuing to cancel our trips) they want 10k+ more to book. This is a scam and these people have kept our money for going on 3 years now with absolutely no intent to honor their "guarantee." This company has been a nightmare from the beginning and I highly recommend you book with someone else.
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Terrible company.

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Terrible company. It has taken me 10 months to finally get the refund from the trip me and my wife had booked (Aberdeen to svalbard). Quark refused to refund for the first 7 months saying they didn't cancel the trip (even though it didn’t run and the boat was at anchor in a different country) i was told that the trip has been re scheduled and not cancelled so legally they do not have to refund me. I hope Andrew white the ceo is proud of his decision to steal hard earned money from customers and make them fight for months to get back what is rightfully there's. After 7 months of me constantly badgering the travel agent i booked through and quark directly they agreed to refund my money but it will take them 90 days to process this refund. Its amazing quark can accept payments automatically but needs 90 days to return payments. If you are booking with quark now on there new refund terms be careful of the wording. It says IF THEY CANCEL THE TRIP which quark will not do, they will re schedule it for another date 12 months or more away, ie next years trip which you will then have to pay the price increases to them as well. Avoid at all costs.
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So much excitement yet letdown after letdown

2.0
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My wife and I recently planned and booked a trip to Antarctica with Quark. We were thrilled about the opportunity and had done the research to ensure we could make it happen. We chose Quark because of there great marketing and reviews and leadership with the expeditions in the area.

Everything was great until we actually went to go book. It started off by experiencing an abnormal 3 week delay in response to our request to book a tour. Then once we did and responded with specifics about what to book and where to send the deposit, another long delay. Eventually Quark made the decision to cancel all of its upcoming trips until March 2021. They presented options on how to reconcile any prepayments. We responded with how we would like to move forward. THREE MONTHS LATER, we get a response that they had a technical error preventing them from being able to provide refunds without having to send over specific bank details. Poor customer service in general. Maybe we will have forgotten by the time we go to book this again in the future, but other travelers should know.

TLDR: Great marketing, terrible service.
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Warning

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Warning
I booked a trip to the Arctic Circle 2021 on 08/28 and paid a deposit.
On 09/10 Quark canceled the trip and informed me today that the repayment will take up to 90 days due to the high workload!
I assume that Quark knew about the cancellation at the End of August and managed to collect my money in 2 days despite the workload.
I would like the money back that fast!
With the cancellation, Quark made a promise that it would be very easy to rebook in 2022, fo the same voyage, the same ship and the same price (or two options for money back).
Well, nothing was easy, because the promise could not be kept, since 2 trips in 2021 will only become one trip in 2022.
First they had a single cabin for me, then suddenly they didn't.
Instead of offering me another shared cabin at the price of the booking period - there was an early bird discount - they offered a single cabin for 34,000.00 and told me that the prices in 2022 were now higher.
Where was the promise?
And now they keep my money up to 90 days. This is really bad style Quark Expeditions!
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Do NOT book with Quark

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Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
Do NOT book with Quark. Please please please take your hard earned money elsewhere. Due to Covid, our voyage was cancelled for January 2021 which is totally acceptable. Times are tough and businesses need to make the right decisions for their employees, their investors and their future. However, by not taking care of customers, they have failed miserably. Quark wanted to book us on a future voyage instead (great!) but then proceeds to tell us that all of the options that we have paid for are not available - so a lesser product. Additionally, before the voyage was cancelled, we had friends that we travel with frequently shop for the same trip. The price was lower each time (again, typical business practice and understood by me as someone that works in both marketing and in the travel space), but the issue is that Quark refuses to do a price adjustment (we have screenshots sent from friends of what that price was). Noted here, per Quark's cancellation policy, we could have cancelled and rebooked on that same trip at the lower rate ($3k per person lower rate). However, when we contacted Quark at that time, we received no response as they were clearly deciding how to solve the challenge they created by having a cancellation policy that was in conflict with their pricing strategy. So instead of just making it right for the customer, Quark has lost a customer. Simple price adjustment, date change to the same excursion we booked and decent customer service would have built some loyal customers that can easily influence others to give their product a try. Quark has failed us, do not let them fail you. There are plenty of other options available.
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Check the Quark terms and conditions

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Check the Quark terms and conditions carefully and my guess is you will decide against booking or choose an alternative provider.

Details

Ship Name

Evolution

Ship Stats

Staff and Crew: 22

Guests: 32

Length: 192 feet, 58.5 meters

Draft: 10.5 feet, 3.2 meters

Cruising Speed: 10-12 knots in open water

Lifeboats: 4 life rafts, open

Registration: Ecuador

Ship Description

Travel with the comforts of home aboard the Evolution. Enjoy delicious meals and first-class service as you explore the Galapagos Islands and take advantage of complimentary snorkeling equipment and sea kayaks. Hike and explore among volcanic rock, flora and fauna under the expert tutelage of our naturalist guides.

Deck & Cabin Plans

All Deck & Cabin Plans (affiliate link) Trip Photos (affiliate link)

Optional Activities

Add an Extra Rush of Adrenaline to Your Expedition

Every Quark Antarctic voyage includes great daily outdoor activities including Zodiac cruises, hiking and some also offer snowshoeing. The more discerning adrenaline junkie can also choose from a range of optional adventure activities, with varying exertion levels, to experience the 7th continent in a more personal way. Contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser to learn more about adventure options, including physical requirements.

  • Kayaking
  • Rafting

Kayaking in the archipelago

Sea kayaking is offered on all of our departures and you require no previous experience to enjoy this activity. Our sea kayaks are the ideal means by which to get some good exercise and explore the cliffs and shores of the various visitor sites around the archipelago. A typical cruise week offers great opportunities to go kayaking around secluded coves, shores, mangrove estuaries and beautiful beaches. Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, sea lions and many other animals can be seen up close on a kayak and even as they swim!

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport

Local Flights

There is an additional cost of $695 USD (2016) /  $720 USD (2017) required for charter flights.

Mandatory Flight And Park Fees Include:

  • Roundtrip domestic airfare from mainland Ecuador to Galapagos Islands $575 (2016) $600 (2017)
  • National Park entrance fee $100
  • Galápagos National Park INGALA transit card $20

Group Size

Standard Group - 25 + people

Cancellation policy

All requests for cancellation must be received in writing. Cancellations received 180 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less an administrative fee of minimum US$1250, AU$1000, £650, €800 per person. If cancellation is received between 179 days and 120 days, the deposit is forfeited. If cancellation occurs less than 120 days prior to departure, all payments are forfeited. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. To protect the traveler’s investment, we recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance.

Cancellations cannot be made online.

Additional Information

Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. There are no guarantees that we can achieve everything we set out to accomplish. A measure of flexibility is something all of us must bring to a voyage. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands and the places mentioned above may be changed to others equally as interesting.

Trip ID#:

GalExpQua

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