No visit to Ecuador is complete without the Galapagos Islands. Combine your horse riding holiday with a trip here. These islands are the crown jewel of the natural world, set along the equator, 600 miles off the west coast of South America. Darwin's theories of evolution were derived from his observations of the wildlife on these islands. There are no predators on the islands meaning all the wildlife inhabiting the 13 major islands can be observed up close. Birds will come to drink out of your hand with no fear at all and marine iguanas ignore cameras at 5 inch distance! Baby sea lions swim and play with guests in the water and colonies of boobies, frigate birds and sea lions are common sights as well as the giant condors at the right time of year. Land Iguanas can be seen in forests of opunita cactus. For many visitors, a trip to the highlands of Santa Cruz is their only opportunity to see the Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the wild. 

The islands can only be visited as part of a cruise. Different species inhabit different islands and areas. All land visits are accompanied by a qualified wildlife guide, both for educational purposes and to ensure the wildlife is protected and observed without interference. The number of tourists allowed on the islands is strictly limited each year. We offer itineraries on 3 different cruise ships, see below for details.

These extensions are the perfect end to Ecuadorian riding holidays such as the Avenue of the Volcanoes Trail and the Cotopaxi Cattle Round Up

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Yacht La Pinta has been designed for the ultimate luxurious expedition adventure in the Galapagos Islands. The 63 meter (207ft) yacht accommodates 48 guests. After intense days of wildlife exploration, yacht La Pinta provides a haven of relaxation and tranquility with tastefully appointed accommodations and all the facilities for a stylish yet informal ambiance. For more information, yacht plans, videos and detailed itineraries see http://www.yachtlapinta.com

With a capacity of only 40 guests, our classic Yacht ISABELA II offers a relaxed atmosphere while enjoying  an unforgettable Galapagos expedition, where guests fully experience their sense of discovery and bonding with nature. ISABELA II Galapagos Island Cruise offers all aspects of the Galapagos: an intimate contact with wildlife, active volcanoes, a vast Marine Reserve, adventure, comfort and safety. Yacht ISABELA II offers the most in-depth week itinerary (Tuesday to Tuesday). For more information, yacht plans, videos and detailed itineraries see http://www.yachtisabela.com

The flagship 90 guest Santa Cruz yacht is the best option for families and includes a number of children's programmes. In order for guests to get closer and understand more about the islands' marine world, the ship now has a hydrophone for listening to the calls of dolphins and whales, as well as a ‘splashcam' video camera which lets the guests film these creatures in action underwater from the pangas. The Santa Cruz also has a spotting scope for improved observation of wildlife.  For more information, yacht plans, videos and detailed itineraries see http://www.mvsantacruz.com

The different cruises visit different islands and regions, a summary is provided below. 

Eastern Galapagos
Islands: San Cristobal, Santa Fe, South Plaza, Santa Crus, Exspanola, Baltra
Species:Galapagos sea lion, giant tortoises, Santa Fe land iguana, hybrid iguana, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, Galapagos doves, Galapagos mockingbirds, Chatham mockingbirds, Espanola mockingbirds, Darwin finches, Galapagos hawks, brown pelicans, greater frigates, magnificent frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, lava herons.
Highlight sites: Charles Darwin Research Station, Kicker Rock and Espanola's Blowhole.

Western Galapagos
Islands: Baltra, North Seymour, Isabela, Fernandina, Santa Crus, Floreana
Species: Galapagos sea lion, Galapagos fur seal, giant tortoises, Galapagos land iguana, marine iguanas, Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, Darwin finches, greater flamingoes, brown pelicans, greater frigates, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, lava herons.
Highlight sites: Post Office Bay, Darwin Lake, Urbina's Upheaval and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Northern Galapagos species
Islands: San Cristobal, Genevosa, Santiago, Fernandina, Isabela, Rabida, Santa Crus, Baltra
Species: Galapagos sea lion, Galapagos fur seal, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, Galapagos mockingbirds, Chatham mockingbirds, Galapagos doves, Darwin finches, greater flamingoes, Galapagos hawks, short-haired owls, brown pelicans, greater frigates, Galapagos penguins, swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, lava herons.
Highlight sites: Pinnacle Rock, Kicker Rock and Buccaneer Cove.

Central Galapagos
Islands: Baltra, Santa Crus, Santa Fe, South Plaza, North Seymour, Bartolome, Santiago
Species: Galapagos sea lion, Galapagos fur seal, giant tortoises, Santa Fe land iguana, Galapagos land iguana, hybrid iguana, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, Galapagos mockingbirds, Darwin finches, Greater flamingoes, Galapagos hawks, Brown pelican, Greater frigates, Galapagos penguins, Swallow tailed gulls, Magnificent Frigates, Lava gulls, Lava (striated) herons
Highlight sites: Pinnacle Rock, Chalrse Darwin Research Station

Southern Galapagos
Islands: Baltra, Santa Crus, Santa Fe, South Plaza, North Seymour, Bartolome, Santiago
Species: Galapagos sea lion, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, Galapagos doves, Galapagos mockingbirds, Chatham mockingbirds, Espanola mockingbirds, Floreana mockingbirds, Darwin finches, Galapagos hawks, Brown pelican, Galapagos penguins, Swallow tailed gulls, Lava gulls, Lava (striated) herons, Waved Albatross
Highlight sites: Post Office Bay, Kicker Rock, Charlse Darwin Research Station


SAMPLE LA PINTA 3 NIGHT ITINERARY

Day 1
Arrival by plane to San Cristobal Island and transfer to Yacht La Pinta for cabin assignment, introductory briefing and lunch.
A dinghy ride along the shores of tuff-stone layers takes guests to Cerro Brujo's white corlaine beach. The beach is a large expanse, great for walking, with rewarding birdwatching with good views of seabirds like blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, herons, frigate birds and more shore birds. Also, look out for Galapagos sea lions. Highlights ashore include the Chatham mockingbird and Chatham lava lizard; both species are endemic to this island and seen nowhere else in the Galapagos. These are the same shores that Charles Darwin walked upon, back in September 1835, as San Cristobal was the first island where he set foot in the Galapagos.
Evening cocktail, briefing and dinner.

Day 2
Early disembarkation for what is the longest hike on the itinerary (4 miles). The trail goes up the slopes of San Cristobal's well eroded shield volcano. The trail takes guests through the arid zone, a great place to see Darwin's finches and other land birds including the endemic Chatham mockingbirds. Along the way, one can spot some of the last individuals of the San Cristobal giant tortoise population, living in the wild (tortoises here were almost hunted to extinction during the late 19th century by local colonizers). After the invigorating hike, enjoy a swim to cool off before returning back on board for lunch.
Afternoon disembarkation on the eastern tip of the island. Pitt point is an eroded tuff cone; the trail that ascends from the beach provides spectacular views of the shoreline. This is the only site in the Galapagos where the three species of boobies can be found together, as well as the two frigate species, plus a colony of bachelor sea lions along the beach. After the walk, if conditions are favourable, there is a chance to swim from the beach.
Expedition plan for the next day and dinner.

Day 3
Morning outing at Punta Suarez for an exciting walk on lava/boulder terrain to visit its unique sea bird colonies, including the waved albatrosses, Nazca boobies, blue-fotted boobies, swallow-tail gulls and the famous blowhole. Among its land birds, the Hood island mockingbird, and three species of Darwin's finches are common highlights. Also, look for red-green-black marine iguanas. Back on board for lunch.
In the afternoon, disembark at a white coral beach for a short walk to observe the sea lions, mockingbirds, finches or enjoy the beach. There is great snorkelling in this area; or guests can kayak or ride the glass-bottom boat.
Briefing and dinner.

Day 4
Morning disembarkment to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and the 'rearing in captivity' programme for the giant tortoises. Here guests witness the efforts and results of all the field work done in the name of science. An impressive giant prickly-pear cactus forest and many land birds can also be seen.
Transfer by bus across Santa Cruz Island and a short ferry ride to Baltra. Transfer to the airport to take the flight back to the mainland.

 

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Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

Rider requirements

Yacht La Pinta has been designed for the ultimate luxurious expedition adventure in the Galapagos Islands. The 63 meter (207ft) yacht accommodates 48 guests. After intense days of wildlife exploration, yacht La Pinta provides a haven of relaxation and tranquility with tastefully appointed accommodations and all the facilities for a stylish yet informal ambiance. Guests will also enjoy the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the second largest in the world with various snorkeling outings, chances for swimming and whale and dolphin watching during inter-island cruising. La Pinta guests will cover all aspects of the Galapagos: discovery, adventure, environmental interpretation, aquatic activities, relaxation, superb service and great dining. Naturalist Guides enhance their interpretative skills with the use of state-of-the-art-expedition equipment. With a capacity of only 40 guests, our classic Yacht ISABELA II offers a relaxed atmosphere while enjoying an unforgettable Galapagos expedition, where guests fully experience their sense of discovery and bonding with nature. ISABELA II Galapagos Island Cruise offers all aspects of the Galapagos: an intimate contact with wildlife, active volcanoes, a vast Marine Reserve, adventure, comfort and safety. Yacht ISABELA II offers the most in-depth week itinerary (Tuesday to Tuesday), allowing guests to enjoy all that Galapagos is famous for: from ancient giant tortoises to penguins, from sleek flamingos to bold sharks, from bizarre flightless cormorants to rugged marine iguanas and from whales and dolphins to dramatic island volcanoes and breathtaking scenery, plus the exploration of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (the second largest in the world) on kayaks, the glass bottom boat, swimming or snorkeling. The flagship 90 guest Santa Cruz yacht is the best option for families and includes a number of children's programmes. In order for guests to get closer and understand more about the islands' marine world, the ship now has a hydrophone for listening to the calls of dolphins and whales, as well as a ‘splashcam' video camera which lets the guests film these creatures in action underwater from the pangas. The Santa Cruz also has a spotting scope for improved observation of wildlife. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style with a 3 course menu available for dinner.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

British nationals are issued with a visit visa on arrival which is valid for up to 90 days. Visit extensions of a further 90 days can be obtained through the local immigration authorities. Your passport must have a minimum validity of six months. In the UK the Embassy of Ecuador can be found at:
Embassy of Ecuador
Flat 3b
3 Hans Crescent
London SW1X 0LS
Telephone: (020) 7584 2648/1367/8084
Email: embajada.ecuador@btclick.com

In Ecuador the British Embassy can be found at:
Citiplaza Building,
Naciones Unidas Ave. and Republica de El Salvador 14th Floor
(Consular Section 12th floor)
PO Box 17-17-830,
Quito
Telephone: (593) (2) 2970 800 / 801
Email: britembq@interactive.net.ec
Website: www.britembquito.org.ec

The British Foreign office gives up to date travel advice on 0845 850 2829 or www.fco.gov.uk



Climate Summary

Though the islands are located on the equator, the ocean's surface temperature ranges greatly from 7 to 28 degrees centigrade. The islands also go through dramatic changes. January to March is considered the hot/wet season, March being the hottest month of the year. The islands are brimming with plant life, and the water temperatures are ideal for snorkeling and diving at this time of year. Because of the climate changes in July through September, there's less rain and the islands are drier, though cooler. The water temperature drops considerably, though this is the ideal time of year to see more aquatic life, as the animals prefer the colder currents.

Climate Chart

Temperature and rainfall chart for Ecuador

Health

At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance. While cases of the Zika Virus remain predominantly in Brazil and Ecuador, there have been reports of cases in Mexico, Barbados, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cape Verde.
Whilst the symptoms of the Zika Virus are usually mild, customers are recommended to take the strict insect bite avoidance measures. This is particularly relevant if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, suffer from a severe, chronic medical condition, or have a medical condition that weakens your immune system.

Customers due to travel to the affected areas should monitor the World Health Organisation website for further updates and advice.
Customers planning to become pregnant should discuss travel plans with a healthcare provider to assess the risk of infection and receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures.
Customers who are already pregnant should inform their obstetrician or midwife if they have recently travelled to a country where Zika is known to occur.


High altitude, e.g. in Quito (2800 metres) can affect some people's health. You should take sensible medical precautions and seek advice from your doctor before travelling. If visiting Quito you are advised to take it easy for the first few days and drink plenty of water. See your local doctor or the department of healths web site for further details www.dh.gov.uk

Electricity

110V, 60Hz as in the USA. You may need a transformer as well as an adaptor to plug in UK or European appliances.

Packing List

Packing List

The following is a personal equipment list suggested for travelling in this circuit. Day temperatures can vary considerably in the mountains (65º F during the daytime, 30º F at night). Average temperatures will range in 50's.



Clothing:
Shirt: Cotton or wool, long sleeved or turtleneck
Sweater: Heavy wool or fleece sweater or vest
Trousers: Full length, wool, blend, or pile or other warm pants.
Underwear: Light-weight (polypropylene) thermal underwear, top and bottom
Headwear: Skycap, wool hat or wide brim felt hat, bandana, and sunglasses.
Jackets: Insulated or Gore-Tex mountain parka for rain and wind (important)

Gloves: Wool, leather, or polypropylene, recommended water proof
Socks: Wool or polypropylene
Footwear: Tennis shoes, lightweight hiking boots, or rubber boots

Camera extra batteries

Binoculars

Programmes

Eastern island tours have a 5 day/4 night programme departing on Thursdays. Northern island tours have either a 5 day/4 night programme (Yacht La Pinta and Santa Cruz II) departing on Mondays or a 7 day/6 night programme (Yacht Isabela II) departing on Tuesdays. Western island tours have either a 7 day/6 night (Yacht La Pinta) departing on Fridays or a 6 day/7 night programme (Santa Cruz II) departing on Wednesdays. Central island tours have a 5 day/4 night programme departing on Mondays. Southern island tours have a 5 day/4 night programme departing on Fridays.
All tours are available throughout the year.

Departure Dates

Available year round (high season 19 Dec - 4 Jan)

Pricing

From: £2,500.00

Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.
Wildlife

Many of the fascinating native species of the Galapagos Islands are endemic and display no inherent fear of humans; making it an ideal environment in which to study natural selection. You can expect to see such wildlife as the Galapagos sea lion, giant tortoises, Santa Fe land iguana, hybrid iguana, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, Galapagos doves, Galapagos mockingbirds, Chatham mockingbirds, Espanola mockingbirds, Darwin finches, Galapagos hawks, brown pelicans, greater frigates, magnificent frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls and lava herons.

Other Country Information

Bordering the Pacific Ocean at the equator, Ecuador has a tropical climate in coastal regions, getting cooler inland. It is the smallest country in the rugged Andean highlands. The terrain consists of coastal plain (costa), inter-Andean central highlands (sierra), and a flat, rolling eastern jungle (oriente) and the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. The Galapagos Islands and the waters surrounding it are both World Heritage Sites and of vital ecological importance. Charles Darwins visits to The Galapogos played a vital role in the development of his ideas on evolution.

Advanced indigenous cultures flourished prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 15th century. The capital, Quito, was once the centre of the Inca Empire. Ecuador was subsequently conquested by the Spanish in 1534, finally gaining independance in 1830. Ecuador has retained an array of vibrant cultures and stunningly well preserved colonial architecture.

Ecuador is five hours behind GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Quito (UIO) or Guayaquil (GYE) airports
Transfer:
Flight Guide:
London (LON) - Quito (UIO) return from £600
Quito (UIO) - Galapagos (GPS) return from £220