From: March 11 to March 25, 2018
Destination: Ecuador's Galapagos Islands and Amazon Jungle
After an hour long ride in a motorized canoe, we arrive in time to settle in before lunch and an introductory briefing. Our exploration of the Amazon starts this afternoon with a walk on the Socali Path, a perfect introduction to learning about the different flora and fauna that we can find in different types of forest. We'll return in time for a little downtime before dinner and then be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the jungle. Overnight Yarina Lodge. B, L, D
Isabela was formed approximately one million years ago by the merger of six shield volcanoes: Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra, and Wolf, all but one of which are still active. Two of the volcanoes, Wolf and Cerro Azul, stretch above the cloud cover and are therefore arid on their upper flanks. Because it is a relatively young island, Isabela's lava fields and surrounding soil do not have the varied vegetation zones of other islands. Despite this, the rich animal, bird, and marine life are beyond compare.
Upon arrival on Puerto Villamil, the main town on Isabela, we check into San Vicente Hotel. On a walking tour we'll start learning about and get oriented to the area. Overnight San Vicente Hotel or similar. D
After an informative visit, we'll board small pangas for a trip to the small isolated islet of Tintoreras or Shark Alley. This island is a unique volcanic formation. On its west face a primitive species of lichen flourishes in the moisture brought by the prevailing wind. This is a popular iguana nesting site that's home to hundreds of marine iguanas. In the quiet lagoon there are also boobies and other birds. We'll snorkel in a calm inlet with colorful fish and winding underground lava tubes. This area is frequented by green sea turtles that like to rest on the calm, sandy bottom.
In the late afternoon, we'll return to town in search of our own sandy resting spot and enjoy our first Isabela sunset, arguably the most beautiful of all the islands.
In the afternoon we head by boat to Isla Santa Cruz (about 2.5 hours), also called Indefatigable Island. The tourist capital of the Galapagos, Santa Cruz is located in the center of the Galapagos Islands archipelago. It is also the center of human activity, since the National Park Headquarters, the Darwin Research Station, and the largest settlement in the Galapagos Islands, Puerto Ayora, are all located on Academy Bay on the south side of Santa Cruz Island. We'll check in to the hotel and then go for a short walking tour of Puerto Ayora. Our hotel is close to the center of town and if you have been wanting to do some shopping, there are lots of choices here. Overnight Lobo de Mar hotel or similar. B, D
Returning to Isla San Cristobal we'll have our final afternoon in the Galapagos free to do whatever we want. Perhaps you might go for a hike to Frigate Bird Hill for panoramic views of the Pacific Islands and some bird watching. Or you may find it hard to leave Mann Beach, with its delightful setting and the opportunities to swim with sea lions. Perhaps you just want to sit on a quiet beach and reflect on everything you've seen and done in the past 2 weeks. However you want to spend it, it will be just perfect. B, L
Not included: Travel to and from Quito, Galapagos National Park Entry Fee ($100), Galapagos Transit Card ($20), Isabela Port Fee ($5), alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, travel insurance, optional activities not on the itinerary.
If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.
How do I pay for my trip?
You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.
What if I’m coming alone?
The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.
Can you accommodate special diets?
It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.
What if I have to cancel my trip?
The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.
Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?
Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.
What other information will you send me?
When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.
Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?
For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.
How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?
If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.
What is the role of the guide(s)?
On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.
What if I have more questions?
Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.
You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.
We will spend three nights in Quito at a tourist class hotel about 10 blocks from the Old Town. In the Amazon we'll spend four nights at the Yarina Lodge, located on the Napo River. In the Galapagos we'll be staying at three different locally-owned and small hotels (see itinerary for specifics). In every hotel the rooms are double occupancy with ensuite bathrooms.
Vegetarian options for this trip will be limited. Other types of dietary needs cannot be accommodated unless supplemental food is brought.