Tijeretas Colin | San Cristobal Island

Galapagos Photo Tour

This expert-led Galapagos photo tour is one part adventure and one part photography workshop.

Each of our Galapagos Photo Tours includes hands-on learning workshops with experienced photographers. Some past tours have been run by National Geographic photographers Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet. Throughout each photo trip, you’ll have a rare opportunity to hone and improve your photography skills in an open learning environment with industry professionals.

Carefully created by Galakiwi and your photography instructors, each day of the Galapagos photography itinerary has been crafted to provide a mix of adventure and free time. As a land-based photography tour, visiting all the inhabited islands of the Galapagos, your free time will be spent in town getting to know the locals, instead of offshore on a boat.

On the activity side you may find yourself cycling through lush highlands one day, snorkeling with sea lions the next day or hiking to a seaside lookout.

Welcoming wildlife, including blue-footed booby birds, marine iguanas and sea lions, will present you with ample opportunities for close-up and action photography. The quaint towns and farms of the inhabited islands of the Galapagos will also provide you with a great contrast to the inviting wildlife of the archipelago. Photography opportunities abound and each day of this Galapagos photo trip takes advantage of the golden hours of morning and evening light.

On the photography workshop side, your special guest guides will provide advice on different aspects of photography and present a daily challenge. During the course of your Galapagos photo workshop, you’ll complete a project and share your photographic results with the rest of your group.

With plenty of one-on-one time and photo critiquing, this Galapagos photo tour is geared towards passionate amateur photographers wanting to learn more and enthusiasts who may feel that their skill level has hit a plateau and needs a spark.

Nightly recaps and photography chats will round out your days. Over the course of the workshop you’ll learn new skills and gain a deeper understanding of your personal shooting style and preferences. Following the guidance of your instructor you’ll finish this photography workshop armed with the tools needed to advance your hobby or career in photography.

Day by day

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Welcome Briefing and Dinner

Dinner is Provided.

Arriving from all over the world, you and your fellow travellers will come together for an evening meal and official briefing with Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet. If you arrive early, you can use your free time to get aquatinted with one of the highest capitals in the world sitting at just over 9,000 feet above sea level. The city is nestled in a long, narrow valley of the Andes and flanked by the Pichincha Volcano to the west. For a great view and a little exercise, Pichincha is easily accessible for a day trip.  If you’re in a cultural mood, head to the Old Town to stroll through the magnificent cathedrals and take in the colonial architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. El Panecillo or 'the Little Bread Loaf,' is located high atop a hill in the Old Town and is a major Quito attraction boasting a panoramic view of the city. Museums are scattered throughout the New and Old Town as well as local artisan markets that are great for picking up souvenirs. The New Town is teeming with cafes and restaurants and is a vibrant mix of locals, expats, and fellow travelers. New Town and Old Town are easily accessible by trolley or taxi. If you’d prefer, we’d be happy to help arrange these pre-tour activities for you. We can also assist in booking any accommodation you may need if arriving earlier or staying later in Quito. 

 

Day 2: Fly from Quito to San Cristobal, Visit Interpretation Center and Hike to Tijeretas, Sunset at Carola Beach

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

Let the photo adventure begin! You will be picked up at the hotel this morning to head off to the Galapagos. Typically a morning flight, you can expect to arrive in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno around lunchtime. For lunch, you'll be treated to a typical island meal at a family-run restaurant.

A visit to the Interpretation Center starts off your afternoon, where you'll gain an in-depth understanding of the human and geological history of the islands. Afterwards, a walk along a vegetation-lined path to Tijeretas will keep you busy looking for lava lizards and unusual cacti formations. 

As the sun gets closer to the horizon, you will spend time at Carola Beach, home to plenty of inquisitive (and sometimes noisy) sea lions.

Photography Presentation: Light

Day 3: Coastal Boat Ride, Snorkel at Kicker Rock

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Taking advantage of early morning light, the day begins with a boat ride out to visit Kicker Rock, also called Leon Dormido. You’ll start the morning with a calm, introductory snorkel along the coast. It is common to spot blue-footed boobies and pelicans diving for fish, as well as photogenic sea lions swimming below surface. From there, you’ll continue on to Kicker Rock. Here, you may see a variety of seabirds on the sheer cliffs of this compacted ash formation. Put on your snorkel gear and dip into the ocean for your first deep-water snorkel to see what waits below the surface. Kicker Rock is a popular destination for spotting sea turtles and sharks.

Optional activity: For anyone who is interested in diving, the option to dive at Kicker Rock (instead of snorkeling) may be available. Divers will visit Kicker Rock separately from the snorkelers and re-join the group after lunch. Please inquire in advance.

After lunch on board in a stunning, sandy bay, you'll head back to port and enjoy free photography time in the afternoon.

Photo Presentation: Working with People

Day 4: Visit a Farm in the Highlands, Sunset at La Loberia

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

If you want to get up early today, an optional sunrise kayak can be arranged.

In the morning, you'll head into the highlands of San Cristobal. Stopping at Soledad, you'll be perched high above the coastline, overlooking Leon Dormido / Kicker Rock.

Continuing on, you will visit a highlands farm, to see first-hand how the farmers of the islands live. A surprising variety of fruit and vegetable crops are grown in the lush highland soil on San Cristobal Island, creating an opportunity for capturing colorful images.

After your farm visit, it is free time in the afternoon to review your photos or explore town.

In the evening, we head to La Loberia before sunset. Don't be surprised if your sunset time on the beach is shared with sea lions, marine iguanas and birds such as blue-footed boobies, yellow warblers and finches.

Photo Presentation: Composition

Day 5: Boat to Floreana Island, Visit to Pirate Caves, See Giant Tortoises

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

As you speed away from San Cristobal Island towards Floreana Island, keep your eyes on the ocean as dolphins, jumping rays and whales have frequently spotted during this crossing.

Back on dry land, you'll have time to enjoy lunch and wander around the beach or tiny town of 200 people, looking for subjects to photograph. In the afternoon it is off to the highlands by chiva, the open-air transport vehicles used on the islands. If you're feeling adventurous, you may be able to ride on the roof and get a 360 view of the surrounding countryside.

In the highlands you'll find a lush forest that is home to a giant tortoise sanctuary as well as some interesting historical 'hideouts'. You'll learn a bit about the pirate history of the island and visit some old pirate caves before heading back down to Puerto Velasco Ibarra for some evening photography around town.

Photo Presentation: Point of View

Day 6: Sunrise Photos, Boat to Isabela Island, Visit Giant Tortoise Breeding Center and optional Wall of Tears visit

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

A morning walk to the Loberia brings you to a seaside area that is commonly frequented by marine iguanas and sea lions. It also provides you with a great backdrop for some morning shooting.

As Floreana is easily the 'sleepiest' small town of the Galapagos Islands, be sure to get some final town shots, as you'll be heading to Isabela Island after breakfast.

A visit to the giant tortoise-breeding center is on the schedule this afternoon. The facility on Isabela Island breeds a number of species and is your best opportunity in the Galapagos Islands to see tortoises at all ages and stages of development – from month old babies to 70 year old adults.

Your first day on Isabela will end at the beach in town, where you'll enjoy some sundowners and dinner at Beto's Beach Bar.

Optional activity: Time permitting, you can sneak off in your free time for a visit to the Wall of Tears. Built by convicts in the 1940’s and 1950’s, this landmark is a remnant of Isabella’s penal colony past. Prisoners were forced to build a lava rock wall and what remain today is approximately 100 meters long and 7 meters high. Make sure you watch your step – this is an area where juvenile giant tortoises have been reintroduced to the wild.

The path to the Wall of Tears is a lovely walk or bike ride even if you don’t go all the way. There are several stop offs that look into the brackish lagoons like Poza de las Diablas and tucked away beaches like Playa del Amor.

Photo Presentation: *Tonight there will be no presentation. If you haven’t decided on your final project theme already, tonight’s the night to make a decision! Tomorrow you’ll schedule your one-on-one session with the photography leader.

Day 7: Sierra Negra Volcano Hike and Lava Fields, Afternoon Free Time, Optional Visit to Wall to Tears

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Get your hiking boots / shoes ready today, as you'll be hiking up and around the rim of Sierra Negra Volcano, which last erupted in 2005.

The path can be slippery and muddy as the crater rim is usually shrouded in mist in the mornings. Hiking along the one edge of the crater, you'll stop at various lookout points along the way. On clear days you can see across most of the Sierra Negra crater, which is the second largest volcanic crater in the world (after Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania).

You'll trek onwards to Chico Volcano, where you'll cross fields of lava and small lava tunnels. Both ah-ah and pahoehoe lava flows have occurred here, creating an otherworldly looking landscape. On a clear day, you may catch a glimpse of Elizabeth Bay and the Alcedo Volcano in the distance.

Colorful minerals can be found in some lava rocks here and volcano vents dot the landscape. It's a good trek to get here, as the crater rim trail is roughly 9km in length, so the hike back down is done at a leisurely pace. Watch for birds in the shrub lands and trees on your way down as the Vermillion Flycatcher and other rare species may be spotted here.

After your trek and a filling lunch, you have free time back in town to explore Puerto Villamil. Head to the beach, wander the streets or take a boardwalk trail out past some brackish lagoons, where flamingos, ducks and other bird species live. Your evening is free to explore, photograph and dine where you desire.

Photo Presentation: Portraits

Day 8: Visit Los Tunneles; Snorkel and Walk, Afternoon Free

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

Today you're off to one of the most amazing places in the Galapagos Islands – the Tunnels. Arches, tunnels and other interesting rock formations are found here, remnants of past volcanic activity that formed this island. The water in this area is also usually exceptionally clear, making it an ideal location for water and underwater photography.

Depending on what activities you enjoyed on previous days, your afternoon can be spent enjoying free time at the beach, visiting the Wall of Tears or catching up on photo editing.

Photo Presentation: Editing

Day 9: Sunrise Kayak, Free Photography Time

Breakfast Provided.

Your day will start around sunrise with a pre-breakfast kayak around the sheltered bay area of Puerto Villamil. Galapagos penguins, sea turtles and rays frequent these shallow waters and frigate birds or pelicans may be seen resting in some nearby mangrove trees.

Once you're done kayaking, a well-deserved breakfast will be provided. With your photography lessons and tour more than half over now, this is the day for catching up and re-visiting any assignments you wanted to practice more.

You’ll find that Isabela is the most welcoming island in terms of taking time to get to know the locals, so spend some time taking in a soccer game or wandering around the town square and market. Today’s task is about using your photographic eye and taking photos that your typical “tourist” would never capture.

If you haven’t made it to the Wall of Tears yet, this is your last chance!

Photo Presentation: Think Outside the Box

*Most one-on-one private sessions will be scheduled for today.

Day 10: Boat to Santa Cruz, Visit and Swim at Tortuga Bay

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

In Santa Cruz, the tourist capital and most populated island in the archipelago, your guide will give you a briefing of the town to help you get your bearings, and then you're free to explore the streets and shops. A popular stop that may be of interest is the fish market, which attracts all sorts of wildlife and birdlife as fisherman come in with their daily catch.

The scheduled activity for this afternoon is heading to one of the finest beaches in the Galapagos – Tortuga Bay!

It is a bit of a walk to get to Tortuga Bay from town, yet the reward is well worth it. A leisurely 45-minute path leads to the beach area and along the way you may spot lava lizards and birds in the surrounding trees. Upon arrival at the first soft, white sandy beach, you'll be greeted by some rough surf that is home to marine iguanas and blue-footed booby birds.

Further along, past this beach you can reach Tortuga Bay, a calm bay that is sheltered by mangroves and perfect for swimming or snorkeling.

Photo Presentation: Future of Photography

Day 11: Visit Lava Tunnels and Wild Tortoises in the Santa Cruz Highlands, Optional afternoon visit to CDRS

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

Wake up early to visit the market for some unique photo opportunities, or take it easy and relax before your scheduled visit to the highlands.

The Highlands on Santa Cruz are home to some immense farms where giant tortoises still roam free. This is the only place where you can easily see them soaking in mud pools, munching on grasses and enjoying their natural habitat. Photography options are endless. Nearby are also some huge lava tunnels that you can walk down into to gain a better appreciation of the natural forces that created these islands.

As your evening and sunset hours are free today, you may want to head to the popular Charles Darwin research Station. It is an enjoyable walk to the outskirts of town with some great prickly pear cactus along the way. The CDRS is not only home to Giant Tortoises (this is where Lonesome George lived), there is also a Land Iguana breeding program here.

Optional activity: Saturday mornings is market day in Santa Cruz. You can venture toward the fruit and veggie market for some pre-breakfast photo opportunities if you’re keen to see the locals in action. Located on a small street that’s shut down nightly and turned into open-air dining, Saturday evening is also the most popular night for the street kiosks.

Photo Presentation: *Tonight there will be no presentation. Tomorrow is the final project show and tonight is yours to finish selecting and editing your final project.

Day 12: *Seymour Island Day Tour, Snorkeling and Birding

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Provided.

If you’re keen to get an early start today, you have some time to do a sunrise visit to Tortuga Bay, otherwise enjoy your early morning before we head to Seymour Island for a day trip.

A small island, Seymour Island is a place where frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls and blue-footed boobies are found in great numbers. On your final full day of exploring and photographing the Galapagos Islands, you may also come across a new animal not usually seen on any other islands you've visited -– the Galapagos Land Iguana!

Your time on Seymour will be spent meandering along a pathway about 2km in length, taking you along rocky coastlines and across the island. The plant life here may also be of interest, especially the prickly pear cactus, a favorite food of the land iguanas.

A day of exploring Seymour Island will also have you enjoying a final snorkel in the Galapagos. If lucky, sea lions and sharks may join you in the water. If you're looking for some final images to complete your photography project, Seymour is the perfect place to capture some unique images and round out your Galapagos photography portfolio. 

You’ll return to Santa Cruz late afternoon to enjoy your last night in the Galapagos admiring the images captured by the group and your photography guides, Ivan and Karla.

Photo Presentation: Final Project Presentations by the Group, Show off your Images!


 
Day 13: Transfer to Baltra, Fly to Quito

Breakfast and Lunch Provided.

After spending more than 12-days exploring the Galapagos Islands and gaining a deeper understanding of the art of photography, it is time to head back to Quito. You'll leave the islands with a new network of passionate photographer friends with whom you'll be able to share ideas and photography tips. 

Most flights depart around midday, so you may have an hour or two of free time in the morning to pick up some souvenirs and bid farewell to the people and animals of the Galapagos. Your transfer to the airport will take 60-90 minutes depending on local bus and ferry crossing schedules.

Upon arrival in Quito, you'll be transferred to your hotel and have some time to explore the city before your Farewell Dinner in the evening.

Day 14: Final Day, Depart for Home, or Arrange a Day Tour of the City

Breakfast Provided.

Today is the last day of the photography workshop tour. If your flight home is scheduled in the morning, an included transfer to the airport is provided for your convenience. Alternatively, if you are spending more time in Ecuador, you may want to book a day tour or excursion to see another part of the country.

Includes

  • 13 Nights Accommodation
  • All activity fees
  • All meals, except where indicated
  • Daily photography workshops
  • Drinking water
  • Internal flights to and from Galapagos
  • Tips for local support crew
  • Transportation between and on islands

Does not Include

  • $100 park entry fee - cash only
  • $20 ingala fee - cash only
  • 3 evening meals (budget $5-$15 per person per meal)
  • Drinks other than water
  • Optional Diving (Please inquire in advance)
  • Snacks
  • Tip for tour leader/guide

Highlights

  • Hands-on photography workshop
  • Sunrise and sunset activities
  • Snorkel with sea lions, sea turtles and marine life
  • Daily photography critiquing by expert photographers
  • Visits to San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela, Santa Cruz and Seymour Islands

Meals Included

  • Breakfast Served Daily
  • 13 Dinners
  • 14 Lunches
Tijeretas Colin | San Cristobal Island
Kicker Rock | Santa Cruz Island
+1
Tortuga Bay | Santa Cruz Island
More information about the Galapagos Islands you visit in this itinerary:
Galapagos Photo Tour
14 Days
From $7,999.00 per person


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