Introducing the first ever modern birding expedition to the Northern Islands (Darwin and Wolf) of the Galapagos with birding and natural history purpose to spot the seabirds and the very rare Vampire Ground-Finch (Blood eating Darwin Finches), with great diving too (3-4 dives a day), the best of each or the 2 worlds.
This is a once in a lifetime unrepeatable trip, to the remotest islands of the archipelago.
– Group size 8 people including 1 tour leader. A minimum of 5 people are required to run the trip.
– Tour starts Sept 24, when you must arrive in Quito and spend one night close to the airport.
– September 25, we travel by plane in the morning from Quito to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands (a $20 dollars Galapagos Transit Control Card must be paid in Quito at departure to Galapagos), this flight has a cost of $600 pp (We can book in advance if you want us to do that job too. Upon arrival a National Park fee must be paid on the island for the whole trip ($100 pp).
– Our vessel is the Humboldt Explorer (https://www.humboldtexplorer.com/), we will be sharing the vessel with a diving group. The vessel accommodates 16 passengers in 8 A/C rooms, all of which have private bath and shower facilities, most cabins have 2 twin beds or one large bed, based on guests request. All rooms are double, in case you travel solo, you will be allocated with another group participant. Boat has a large AC salon on the main deck featuring dining tables, bar, TV, video player and lounge area. On the top level a partially covered sundeck includes a jacuzzi and ample sitting areas. Dive deck is arranged with individual gear bins, camera tables, recharging station, Nitrox filling station, tank racks, diving and birding is conducted from 2 large pangas easy to board from the dive deck.
– We are fitting a birding and natural history trip in the diving program, similar as we do in Cocos Island, having plenty of time to explore the shores and cliffs on a panga, as well 2 land activities in some of the main islands.
B(breakfast) L (Lunch) D (Dinner)
DAY 1 Sunday Sept 24 Arrival to Quito
Flight from your country to the City of Quito, and stay in a city hotel near the airport. the day before the flight to Baltra in the Galapagos Islands. This day is covered by every traveler.
Day 2 Monday Sept 25 Baltra Galapagos Islands
Guests fly to the Galapagos Islands from Mainland Ecuador, arriving in the late morning (Flight can be booked by us $600 if requested). The dive guides and birding tour leader will meet the guests at the airport between 11:00 am and 12 pm and escort them to the Galapagos liveaboard, Humboldt Explorer. Guests will board the vessel, have lunch, organize equipment and listen to the safety briefings, and your bird guide will provide printed materials such as birds and mammals check lists, itinerary and maps, as well a briefing of the plan for the adventure, we will spot birds at the dock, from the vessel and locally if the time allows. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (LD).
Day 3 Tuesday Sept 26 Baltra North & North Seymour
Equipement check for divers, (7:00 and 10:00 dives, sightings include rays and schools of fish). Birding along the ship and local rocky cliffs, in the afternoon we have a land visit to the North Seymour Island, we will walk the loop trail (1,5 miles | 2,5 Km), The trail is flat and easy, following a circular loop over rocky terrain, through palo santo & opuntia cactus forest. The island is home to some of the largest colonies of nesting Blue-footed Boobies, Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds, also is home to highlight species such as Swallow-tailed Gull, Pelicans, Yellow Warblers (Galapagos subespecies), Galapagos Shearwater, Brown Noddy, Lava Gull, Elliot’s Storm-Petrel, Galapagos Dove, Small Ground-Finch, Small Tree-Finch, Large Ground-Finch, Common Cactus-Finch, Medium Ground-Finch, Galapagos Mockingbird, herons and more, if we are lucky we could spot a Galapagos Short-eared Owl. Also North Seymour is home to a large colony of Sea lions and Galapagos Land Iguanas. This evening with a big taste of endemics at North Seymour, we depart for the remote Northern Island (Darwin and Wolf), 16+ hours of transit. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (BLD).
Day 4 Wednesday Sept 27 Wolf Island
Divers (4 dives 6:30, 10:30, 2:00 and 4:30. Possible night dive. Sightings often include hammerheads, whale sharks, eagle rays, sea lions, Galapagos sharks, and silky sharks). We will have 4 days exploring the cliffs and shores, before and and after the dives, having 4 days in the Northern Island to maximize the chances of document and photograph the unique Vampire Ground-Finch, that have developed a curious and perhaps a bit repugnant behavior – drinking the blood of the Nazca and Red-footed Boobies and other birds that nest on the island. The climate on Wolf is extremely dry most of the year and the seeds that are produced in the brief periods of rain are quickly eaten by the finches. To survive the long dry spells, the finches developed this extraordinary behavior. They peck the skin of the booby at the base of their feathers with their very sharp beaks until they draw blood. Other finches line up behind the booby and as soon as one leaves another takes its place. It is theorized that this behavior evolved from the pecking behavior used to eat parasites that live within the plumage. Curiously their feeding does not appear to harm the boobies.
The vampire finch also feeds on booby eggs, as well as the lubricating fluids released by the boobies when they lay the eggs. However, some finches are not strong enough to crack the eggs, so they roll them until they fall and crack, A mega bird that not many birders have had the chance to meet (There are only 8 records on eBird since there are no birding and natural history trips there other than the diving ones). The best place to spot the finch based on the experience of researchers and colleagues is the cliffs close to the Secret Cave at Wolf Island, we will have several visits to this section and other cliffs and shores. Other birds nesting and easy to spot very close from the dinghy include Nazca Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds, Galapagos Petrel, Galapagos Shearwater, plenty of Swallow-tailed Gulls (the only nocturnal gull in the world), and more. We spent the night anchor at Wolf Island. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (BLD).
Day 5 Thursday Sept 28 Wolf Island & Darwin Island
Divers (4 dives, Morning Wolf Island: 6:30 and 9:30, Darwin Island 2 dives 2:00 and 4:30. Underwater sightings often include Hammerheads, Red-lipped Batfish, Eagle Rays, Sea lions, Galapagos Sharks, and Silky Sharks.). In the morning we visit the cliffs of Wolf again for more birding and wildlife sighting, and in the middle of the day we have transit to Darwin Island. Darwin Island is inhabited only by sea birds and is rarely visited by tourists other than master divers. There is no terrestrial visitor site on the island. The island is well-known among divers for its diverse and abundant marine wildlife. It is not unusual to see large schools of Hammerhead Sharks. A main attraction of this tiny island is the impressive stone arch formation, known as Darwin Arch (Now called the Pillars of Evolution as the arch collapsed recently). This arch is home to many endemic birds. Darwin Island is the only island in the archipelago where the Sooty Tern breeds. Here we will go birding along the Pillars and cliffs, a population of the Vampire Ground-Finch also lives in the Darwin Island, and we want to spot and document them too, scientists already suggest variations in call in both populations (Darwin and Wolf), and potentially subespecies or separate species. Boobies, Frigatebirds, more Swallow-tailed Gulls, Brown Noddies, Yellow Warblers (Galapagos subespecies), Wandering Tattlers and storm petrels, and of course the Galapagos Doves, considered a subspecies from the main islands are target species here too. We spent the night anchor at Darwin Island. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (BLD).
Day 6Friday Sept 29 Darwin Island
Divers (4 Dives 6:30, 10:30, 2:00 and 4:30. Sightings often include Hammerheads, Whale Sharks (in season when we visit), Eagle Rays, Galapagos Sharks, and Silky Sharks). Today we will also explore the Pillars of Evolution for more bird action and the geology of the extinct volcanoes, by searching for the Finches and Gulls on the dinghy. Transit to Wolf Island in the afternoon. We spent the night anchor at Wolf Island. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (BLD).
Day 7 Saturday Sept 30 Wolf Island
Divers (3 Dives 6:30, 9:00 and 11:00). We will visit again the cliffs close to the Secret Cave at Wolf Island or other rocks along the Wolf Island documenting birds and other wildlife. In the afternoon we have great pelagic birding opportunities as we will sail a long transit (20 + hours) in the afternoon to the next day to Cousin’s Rock in Santiago Island. We will spend the daylight hours at the Sun Deck of our vessel watching for Storm Petrels, Shearwaters, Petrels, Tropicbirds, Boobies and Frigatebirds. At night we might have the Swallow-tailed Gull chasing or ship lights and hunting in the foam created by the liveaboard in transit to Santiago Island. We will be anchored by Cousin’s Rock. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (BLD).
Day 8 Sunday Oct 1st Cousin’s Rock – Santa Cruz Highlands and Puerto Ayora
Divers (1-2 Dives, 6:30 and 9:30, dependent on travel time from Wolf Island. This is great macro diving with an excellent chance of seeing sea horses, sea lions, and eagle rays). We will join the pangas for birding while the divers explore under the sea. Bird wildlife which can be observed here includes Nazca Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, Brown Pelican, Galapagos Penguin, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Red-billed Tropicbirds, and more. Lunch will be served while transiting to Santa Cruz (3 hours).
In the afternoon we will travel by coach to the Santa Cruz Highlands to visit the Giant Tortoises in their natural habitat. In the highlands target species include Galapagos Flycatcher, Galapagos Mockingbird, Grey Warbler-Finch, Vegetarian Finch, Small Tree-Finch, Large Tree-Finch, Woodpecker Finch, Small Ground-finch, Medium Ground-Finch, Large Ground-Finch, Common Cactus Finch, and if we are lucky we can spot the Brujo Flycatcher and the Galapagos Barn-Owl. Later we will visit Puerto Ayora Town and the Darwin Centre on your own. Here we will also visit the fisherman’s dock (pelican Bay) to have closer views of Lava Gull, More Brown Pelican and Great-Blue Heron. Farewell dinner on your own in Puerto Ayora (this dinner is not covered in the trip cost). Return to the Humboldt Explorer at 8:30 pm we will gather to complete the checklist and comments on the trip. Overnight Humboldt Explorer. (BLD).
Day 9 Monday Oct 2nd :Baltra – Departure
Depart the vessel by 9 am after breakfast. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Quito and your flight home or mainland Ecuador extensions. (B).
BIRDING – NATURAL HISTORY – DIVING LIVEABOARD (25 Sep – 02 Oct 2023)
Price for the Trip $ 6 195.00 USD, if you book in the next week by October 27 2022 and get a $ 300 discount from the final payment.
PRICE OF THE BIRDING – NATURAL HISTORY – DIVING LIVEABOARD (25 Sep – 02 Oct 2023) IS INCLUDING:
• 7 nights/8 days aboard the vessel.
• Divers: 2 to 4 dives per day (diving as per the itinerary). Birders: Daily visits to cliffs and birding locations as per itinerary, including 2 land activities.
• Transfers from and to the airport within the Galapagos Islands.
• 3 meals daily, plus between birding-dive snacks.
• Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
• Divers: Technical equipment: tanks, weights, weight belt.
PRICE IS NOT INCLUDING:
• Flights to Ecuador.
First and last night in Quito and those daily meals.
• Flights to/from the Galapagos Islands.
(Our crew can book the flights for you: Quito – Galapagos & return for 600 USD, including 1-2 check in bags)
• Galapagos National Park tax ($100 pp) – payable upon arrival at Galapagos Airport.
• Galapagos Transit Control Card ($20 pp) – payable in cash at Quito or Guayaquil Airport of departure for Galapagos.
• Last evening meal in town Puerto Ayora (Sunday).
• Premium Alcoholic Beverages.
• Fuel Surcharge, $150 per person.
• Trip Cancellation. (Have insurance).
Tips to your bird-dive guides.
EXTRA COSTS FOR DIVERS:
• Nitrox: $150 per person for the week – if they would like to dive Nitrox, not mandatory.
• Dive accident insurance (price depending on which insurance they chose).
• Personal equipment: Wetsuit, BCD (Buoyancy control device/jacket), regulator, booties fins, mask, dive computer, gloves, hoods, dive light – depending what they need
(full rental equipment would cost 250 USD per person for the week).
CONFIRMATION OF PARTICIPATION:
A $ 2 000.00 USD deposit is required at the time of booking or the full payment must be done by middle May 2023.
More information, details, reads and natural history documents will be shared when you have confirmed your participation in our trip.
Any comment do not hesitate on contacting us firstname.lastname@example.org
A pre or post tour will be suggested based on targets by the participants, but this is already a mega adventure, and we look forward to have you on board.