Sir David Attenborough already enticed us with his stunning BBC-documentaries about the Galápagos Islands. He showed us waved albatrosses, marine iguanas and wingless cormorants in spectacular surroundings, full of volcanoes and dramatic coastlines. But reality is even better! So join us on an adventurous journey with experienced photographers and nature guides. They will take you to the most stunning islands along the eastcoast: San Cristobal and Española.
14 to 24 November 2021
11 – 13 people
Easy to moderate
14/11 – 15/11 Brussels/Amsterdam – Quito
15/11 – 16/11: Santa Cruz highlands: We take an inland flight to Baltra. After embarking our ship, The Samba, we explore the primary forest and see Darwin finches, mockingbirds, vermillion flycatchers and tortoises.
17/11: Floreana: Punta Cormorant where we see flamingos, whimbrels, herons, black-winged stilts, sea turtles, stingrays and reef sharks. We explore tiny Champion Island to meet the sea lions and mockingbirds.
18/11: Española: Punta Suarez is vibrant with its sea lions, sea iguanas and sally lightfoot crabs. The cliffs harbour the only tropical species of albatross on earth, living aside tropicbirds and blue-footed boobies.
19/11: San Cristobal: Chatham is the first island where Charles Darwin set foot ashore. We swim with Galapagos sharks, sea turtles and eagles rays. We explore Punta Pitt by kayak.
20/11: Santa Fe: Barrington Bay enchants us with pearly white beaches, turquoise water and gigantic cactuses. At South Plaza, iguanas roam the red seaweed.
21/11: Chinise Hat with lava tunnels, white beaches, black cliffs and penguins. At Bartolomé Island, we enjoy the view of Pinnacle Rock and hike on beaches where sea turtles, penguins and sharks are at home.
22/11: James Bay harbours oystercatchers, whimbrels, sanderlings and other waders, sea iguanas and brightly coloured crabs. The enormous lava tunnels are home to Galápagos fur seals.
23/11: We visit North Seamore for a hike amongst the biggest colony of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds. After breakfast, we leave the ship and return to the airport. Goodbye, Galápagos!
24/11: Return flight Santa Cruz – Quito – Brussel/Amsterdam
From a geological point of view, the Galápagos Islands are very young. They ‘only’ emerged a few million years ago and were discovered by chance in 1535. Ecuador annexed the archipelago a hundred years later. But it was Charles Darwin who really discovered the islands in 1835. This is when he set foot ashore and explored the islands for weeks. His extensive research of the fauna and flora formed the basis of his evolutionary theory. Because he noted the presence of several species of Darwin’s finches, he linked the isolation of the archipelago to the evolution of the species who lived there.
The Galapagos Islands are characterised by extremes. The cold Humboldt Current brings in cold and eutrophic water, supporting an enormous ecosystem. But this changes every few years, because of the El Niño-phenomenon. Warm water comes in and the sea currents change. This causes a massive decline in the population of iguanas, seals, penguins and other species, and an absence of sea birds. Extreme climate changes that have, however, proven to be optimal for the emergence of new species. Evolutionary theory at work!
The Galapagos Islands never disappoint photographers. Impressive landscapes and spectacular wildlife are united on the archipelago. It has been a protected Ecuadorian National Park since 1968. This measure has proven to be vital for the conservation of numerous unique species.
The broad deck of our ship and the limited number of guests ensure sufficient room for manoeuver. We offer the very best conditions to explore all the beauty the islands have to offer.
The Galapagos islands harbour many endemic species. There’s the famous sea iguana, whose black skin heats its body temperature every time it emerges from the cold waters. The giant tortoise is the largest species of tortoise on earth. And sea life along the coasts is absolutely abundant.
The iconic blue-footed booby, a Pacific species of gannet, is one of the hallmarks of the Galápagos. Most of the islands house several species of the famous Darwin finches. They are not the only species that have diversified on the island during evolution. For example, you’ll find 4 different species of mockingbirds. And how about that ivory black lava gull? In short, nature lovers and birdwatchers alike can rest assured when embarking on this adventure.
I will guide this trip, together with nature photographer Jeffrey Van Daele and a very experienced local crew. Expedition leader Juan Manuel Salcedo grew up in the Galápagos Islands. He developed a passion for wildlife while sailing on his father’s boat. Studying the archipelago for many years, he attained a degree in ecology, specializing in biology and geology. He is always up-to-date with the regulations for protection of the fragile ecosystem. His crew guarantees a correct attitude in this National Park, undoubtedly the best-conserved archipelago of the tropics.
Exploring the islands of San Cristobal and Española means you mainly discover the east side of the archipelago. Curious about what the other islands have in store? Here’s your chance to find out! STARLING organises two consecutive trips to the Galapagos islands. If you register for both, you get a 5% discount. The ultimate adventure!
Photographers, nature lovers and bird watchers will all indulge themselves during this trip. We discover many endemic birds, explore the waters around the islands and photograph rare sea creatures. Each island is unique due to the volcanic landscapes. Our well-adjusted ship allows us to sail close to every island, assuring care-free photography. In short: this is the ultimate journey for anyone who wants to zoom in on the Galapagos under professional guidance.
The Samba houses 14 guests. This is the perfect number to fully experience the magic of the Galápagos Islands, because privacy and room for manoeuver are guaranteed. The latter is essential for exhaustive nature photography. The boat crew is very professional and kind. And your guides? We will always go the extra mile to show you the beauty of nature and share our best photography tips and tricks. A trip of a lifetime!
We charter the boat, which gives us more freedom to sail where we want.
Extra overnight stays and excursions in Ecuador – Quito are possible. We can supply an overview of all the options and extensions on demand.
The cold season lasts from May to September, with an average temperature of 20°C. December to April brings really hot and dry weather, with an average temperature of about 32°C. We travel in-between seasons, so be prepared for both types of weather. It gets cold at night during both seasons, and rain is no exception. Be sure to bring sweaters and a raincoat.
Our hikes comprise several kilometres at most. Because of this, they are accessible for anyone with a normal physical condition. The volcanic terrain can be rough, so be sure to bring sturdy shoes.
Professional guidance, booking fees, all local transport, all meals and nights on board of Samba, snorkeling gear, non-alcoholic drinks, all land excursions, entrance fee for the national park entrance.
Flight(s) to Baltra Airport, hotels in Quito before and after boat trip, alcoholic beverages, cancellation insurance, travel insurance, purchases of personal nature, gratuities for guides and crew.