a Birdseekers Tour

Thursday 2nd October - Friday 17th October

These "enchanted isles" made famous by Charles Darwin, and more recently by many evocative TV documentaries, are the number one destination for most wildlife enthusiasts. Our superb tour starts with a full 10 days cruise aboard our exclusive "first class" motor yacht the "Fragata" which was built specifically to cruise the Galapagos. We will visit all the most important islands giving us the best possible opportunities to look at some of the tamest wildlife imaginable, from the 26 endemic birds species to spectacular seabird colonies, Giant Tortoises, Marine Iguanas, whales and dolphins. This will prove to be an unforgettable experience! If you’ve ever wanted to visit these magical islands then this tour will live up to all your expectations. To finish off our holiday we will spend the last five days in an exquisite cloud forest lodge in Ecuador, where you have the chance to explore the extensive trails looking for a wealth of tropical bird species, or just relaxing while
hummingbirds visit the feeders outside your own private balcony.

Our Tour Itinerary

Day 1 We take a morning flight from London Heathrow arriving in Quito, Ecuador late evening. Overnight Quito.

Day 2 This morning we take a flight from Quito to the small island of Baltra in the Galapagos Islands, where we board our "first class" motor yacht the "Fragata" our home for the next 10 days.

A little about our boat:

The Fragata was built specifically to cruise the Galapagos Islands and being a motor vessel will not be subject to wind conditions. Birdseekers have chartered the whole boat so we will not have the problems that some of the larger mixed interest groups encounter. The tour will be run according to our specific requirements. Equipped with a crew of 8 it is able to provide comfortable cruising, fine dining and attentive service, as well as offering a blend of spaciousness, comfort and elegance that will make our journey around these fascinating islands such a memorable one. All of the cabins are air-conditioned, fully carpeted with locker, toilet, basin and hot water shower. On board there is a bar, saloon, dining room, TV, library and sundeck as well an as international cook and bilingual naturalist guide. The ample deck space provides us with great opportunities for everyone to watch seabirds and other marine life as well as superb chances for photography.

Today a short trip to Bachus on Santa Cruz will give us our first views of Greater Flamingo and Marine Iguanas. We then use the night time to cruise towards Genovesa, truly a birdwatchers paradise!

Days 3 As we wake to the sight of Genovesa we will be greeted by volcanic sea cliffs and white coral beaches. After setting foot on this pristine land we can walk amidst the incredibly tame Red-footed and Nazca Boobies, and marvel at the Great Frigatebirds with their huge red inflatable throat-pouches, while Red-billed Tropicbirds glide by and vie for photographs. In fact throughout the tour you will be amazed at how easy it is to photograph the wildlife even without a zoom lens, as these unique creatures sit just a few feet away totally unconcerned. Our first full endemic species, the beautiful Swallow-tailed Gull, should be found and Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels are active by day. Here also are a few of Darwin’s Finches, birds that helped formulate the theory of evolution.

Days 4 - 10 As we are not in a sail boat we will not be dictated to by the winds and we should therefore be able to follow our planned itinerary. Unfortunately for other visitors this is not always the case. Over the following days we will cruise at night enabling us to make the most of each island during the day. Our circuit now takes us from spectacular Genovesa to Bartolome with its famous pinnacle rock, impressive views and colony of Galapagos Penguins and Fur Seals. We then continue by James Island and spend three days visiting different areas of Isabella. Here amongst even more spectacular scenery we will search for Flightless Cormorant, Lava Gull, Lava Heron, Galapagos Hawk, Short-eared Owl and a selection of finches including, Vegetarian, Large and Small Tree-Finch, Woodpecker, Mangrove and Warbler Finch. We will visit the highlands, venture up to Sierra Negro volcano and also search for Giant Tortoises. We will then cruise to Floreana the only island where Medium Tree-Finch can be found. We could also find Galapagos Flycatcher, Vermillion Flycatcher, Charles Mockingbird, Galapagos Crake, Galapagos Dove and much more. On then to the most southern most, and remote Espanola Island or Hood as it is often called. This island is the breeding ground for the endemic Waved Albatross, a magnificent bird which we also have a chance to see anywhere at sea!. Other birds here can include any of the four Ground-Finches, Hood Mockingbird, Galapagos Martin, Blue-footed and Nazca Boobies as well as Red and Green Marine Iguanas, Sea Lions and even the famed Blow Hole! We then head back to Santa Cruz where we visit the Charles Darwin Station and a chance to observe the tortoise research and breeding programme. We take a trip into the highlands and view enormous pit craters, lava tunnels and hopefully some wild Giant Tortoises. As we travel around these islands, watching beautiful sunsets and sunrises, we shall encounter much more than briefly described here. At sea we can watch several species of Storm-Petrel and Shearwaters, while Bottle-nosed and Spinner Dolphins play in front of our boat, and Whale species could include Orca, Sperm, Minke and Humpback, and there is also a possibility of Whale Shark. Add to all of this Lava Lizard, Galapagos Snake, Sally Lightfoot Crabs and a whole host of beautifully coloured tropical fish that we have many opportunities to swim amongst,

and you won’t be wrong in saying that this has to be the ultimate in wildlife watching experiences.

Day 11 We visit North Seymour with its countless sea lions, Frigate Birds, boobies and gulls before returning to Baltra to catch our plane back to Quito. After our arrival we will be met by our local guide before making our way just 2 hours to our lodge, set in a cloud forest paradise.

Days 12 - 14 Set in the Tandayapa valley this is a perfect introduction to the birds of Ecuador. This veritable jungle with its profusion of birdlife and extensive trails offers the chance to see some of the 360 species of birds recorded here. We will search for Giant Antpitta, Tanager-finch, Swallow-tailed Nightjar, White-faced Nunbird, Beautiful Jay, Ocellated Tapaculo, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan and a multitude of dazzling hummingbirds, many of which can be observed easily around the lodge. Nearby we will also look for the spectacular Andean Cock-of-the-Rock a magical finale to our tour! Amongst the resident mammals here are Spectacled Bear, Puma and Coati.

Days 15 - 16 We leave very early and make our way back to Quito where we catch our flight back to London arriving early the next day.

Leaders: Steve Bird and Kevin Easley plus local guides.

£2999.00per person

Breakdown: Airfares £855.00

Ground arrangements £2144.00

Single supplement £480.00

Deposit: £200.00

Maximum group size: 15 Excluding leaders

Included in cost: Return flight from London to Quito, Ecuador, internal flights to Galapagos, full board en-suite accommodation on first class motor yacht, en-suite rooms and all meals at lodge, transport throughout the tour, entrance fees and all services of the leaders.

Not included: Insurance, extra drinks, tips and other personal expenses.