Galapagos Photo Safari Adventure
At last! A Galapagos Islands adventure without the confines of a ship cabin and rigid excursion schedule. For you the adventure traveler and photographer, we have created a Galapagos Adventure that immerses you in this magical destination, designed with the freedom that allows you to venture off in search of the money shot.
You will visit 5 different islands in the Galapagos archipelago on this unique photo safari. Your safari guide is acclaimed Sports Illustrated Photographer, Ron Modra, who will lead you to his favorite spots for photographing the abundant wildlife and local color found at each selected destination. Along the way, Ron’s there to offer instruction and advice on creating professional quality images, and each night will conclude with a session where he will help you edit images to the standards of a Sports Illustrated photo editor! Without question, you will go home with memories of a lifetime and compelling images that will forever remind you of this adventure.
- Escape the confines of a typical cruise through the Galapagos Islands with a land based expedition led by acclaimed Sports Illustrated Photographer Ron Modra.
- Spend a night under the stars with the Galapagos Tortoise’s at the most authentic “Glamping” camp in the Galapagos.
- Snorkel or swim with penguins, sea turtles, sea lions, iguanas and more.
- Photograph the remarkable bird life including the Blue and Red Footed Boobies, Frigate Birds and the magnificent Albatross of Espanola Island.
- For the Anglers in the group, take on optional fishing days for Marlin, Tuna, or Wahoo.
|Standard Safari Adventure||$3800|
|Standard Safari 1 Day Fishing||$4350|
|Standard Safari 2 Day Fishing||$4600|
|Luxury Safari Adventure||$4400|
|Luxury Safari 1 Day Fishing||$4900|
|Luxury Safari 2 Day Fishing||$5200|
May 4th – 12th, 2017 – Sold Out
Oct 26th – Nov 3rd, 2017
Upon arrival to the modern, new Baltra airport Ron Modra will meet you and the safari begins with a shuttle into the Highlands of Santa Cruz where giant Galapagos tortoises roam wild. We have arranged the most authentic and unique glamping experience in the Galapagos. Modeled after an African Safari Camp, but with the dramatic backdrop of the Pacific Ocean and nearby Floreana Island, you’ll be immersed directly into a thrilling setting for photographing the giant Galapagos tortoises as they move from one watering hole to another across the camp grounds. During the months of June to February you will be able to see dozens of tortoises roaming throughout the Camp. March to May the tortoises tend to migrate to lower elevations nearby, but there is always some tortoises who have made the place home.
In the evening, we will shuttle to the harborfront of Puerto Ayora, the island’s main town and largest in the Galapagos. Here we will tour the famed Charles Darwin Research Station, a must stop when visiting Santa Cruz.
The Darwin Station operates in concert with Galapagos National Park and here you can learn about the conservation efforts of scientists, guides, rangers and park managers of the Galapagos. It’s a daunting job, considering the park is spread across 17,000 sq. miles of ocean! After the Darwin Station, there’s a visit the nearby Chocolapagos for a taste of the Ecuadorian Cocoa, known as some of the best chocolate in the world. Dinner is enjoyed at the town’s festive nightly outdoor street market where locals and visitors gather to negotiate a fresh seafood dinner or typical Ecuadorian meal, complemented with fresh roasted organic Galapagos coffee or your choice of Ecuador’s Pilsener or Club beer.
Exploration starts early! Bartolome is home to some of the most breathtaking panorama landscapes in the Galapagos. It is located NW of Santa Cruz Island, so the first order of business is an early morning boat ride on a Galapagos fast taxi boat. During the two hour ride, breakfast and lunch is served along with plenty of opportunity to shoot the shoreline scenery. Highlights of your Bartolome visit include volcanic rock formations with colors of black, red, and green and the iconic Pinnacle Rock, which is an impressive lava structure that towers high above the water. Bartolome wildlife includes sea lions, sea turtles and a huge variety of fish, and the ever playful Galapagos Penguin, unique for its species in living at the Equator. It all makes for fantastic photography while hiking and snorkeling. With a full day of photographs in the can, so to speak, after touring Bartolome Island, we will transit back to Santa Cruz Highlands for a unique starlight dinner at the Safari Camp, with tortoises as our dining companions.
In the morning we break camp and head back to Puerto Ayora for the ferry to San Cristobal. Along the way, we will stop at Floreana Island, one of the oldest settlements in the Galapagos. Since early in the 19th century it has attracted pirates, whalers and infamous settlers long before tourism became its biggest draw. Famous for its wooden “Post Barrel”, visitors can still carry out the long-held tradition of dropping off and picking up letters from a wooden barrel placed along the shoreline to be mailed or carried to remote destinations. Wildlife viewing is abundant throughout the island, as well. Punta Cormorant features two diverse beaches—the landing beach, with green-tinted sand from its olivine crystals, and carbonate beach, a popular nesting site for green sea turtles. Between both beaches is the salt lagoon, a popular spot to see flamingos, pintails, stilts and other birds. Lunch will be served on Floreana prior to continuing our boat ride to San Cristobal. On arrival you will check into your chosen base for the balance of the safari, either the budget friendly Galapagos Planet Hotel or newly completed and luxurious Golden Bay Hotel, situated directly on the harborfront.
We start the day off with a tour of the Interpretation Center where you will learn about the Galapagos Island amazing ecosystem including why the archipelago has such a special fauna, how the islands were formed, and how people came to live in Galapagos. After the tour, we will hike up nearby Frigate Bird Hill, with its massive bronze statue of Charles Darwin overlooking his namesake bay. From here you can observe and photograph the frigate birds from above with the backdrop views of Charles Darwin Bay. In the afternoon, we will head to Loberia Beach where you can spot sea lions resting on the beach and marine iguanas camouflaged with the lava rocks. Throughout the hike, you can spot blue footed boobies, frigate birds, swallowtail gulls and shearwaters petrels. For those interested in snorkeling we will have mask and fins ready for you as you cool off in the clear waters spotting sea turtles, sea lions, and starfish. Loberia is known as a top surf destination so when the swells start rolling in, it is a perfect venue for capturing images of locals catching some waves.
Option: This is an optional fishing day. Those interested can do a one day trip to Rosa Blanca or the NW Bank to fish for Marlin, or a two-day overnight charter to Floreana where you will fish for Marlin along with Tuna, Wahoo.
Espanola Island (Optional Fishing Day)
Española is on the southernmost and is one of the oldest Islands in the archipelago. Because of its geography, Española has a very dry climate, and despite this, the island is the only known nesting site for the majestic Waved Albatross (Galapagos Albatross) from April to December. From the cliff top of Espanola, at the so called “Albatros Airport”, the Albatross line up single file, march to the edge, spread their wings and take flight. It’s a truly remarkable scene. Blue-Footed and Nazca Boobies mingle with the Albatross, sharing the island with numerous other bird species. You will also find many marine iguanas around Española. For the snorkel portion of the tour you will visit Gardner Bay where you will see many marine species endemic to the Galapagos. Whales are also known to visit these waters while on your voyage to and from Española. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on the boat.
Option: This is an optional fishing day. Those interested in charter can travel to Rosa Blanca or the NW Bank to fish for Marlin. Or charter a two-day overnight charter to Floreana where you will fish for Marlin, Tuna, and Wahoo.
Isla Lobos / Kicker Rock
Grab your GoPro or underwater camera, it is time to explore the underwater world of the Galapagos. Lobos Island (Isla Lobos) is an Island that is inhabited by a large colony of sea lions. On this outing, you’ll hike and snorkel around the island, spotting blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and frigate birds. Often you can see the marine iguanas eating, as well as rays and sea turtles on the sandy bottom. After Isla Lobos we will return to town for lunch and prepare for the expedition Kicker Rock.
Kicker Rock and Leon Dormido, taken together, are a truly spectacular Galapagos landmark; two volcanic rock uplifts towering some 450 feet above the sea. When viewed from the south, the formation looks like a sleeping lion, hence the Spanish name, Leon Dormido. The 19 meter deep channel that separate the two towers makes for one of the best snorkel sites of the Galapagos. You have a good chance of spotting the native Galapagos Shark, hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, eagle rays, sea turtles and many species of fish. You will snorkel two areas of Kicker Rock and snorkel gear will be provided. With the late afternoon sun during the return to town, the colors and shadows of Kicker Rock and Leon Dormido offer endless photo opportunities.
At the northernmost end of San Cristobal, far beyond the end of the island’s limited road system you will find Punta Pitt, home to all three types of boobies: red, blue, and nazca. It is also the nesting and breeding grounds of the Galapagos tortoise native to San Cristobal. Only accessible by boat, we’ll journey here riding alongside the shoreline. On arrival, we’ll beach the boat and set off on a hike around Cerro Brujo, the natural Galapaguera. We will provide mask and fins in case you would like to snorkel around nearby Pitt Island, teeming with marine life that in turn draws schools of tuna and wahoo. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on the boat.
Highlands / Otoy Farm
Explore the highlands of San Cristobal first visiting the Junco lagoon, an extinct volcano that sealed naturally and collects rain water in its crater basin. This fresh water lake is a natural bird bath for frigate birds, who use to pool to clean off their wings from the salt that they collect while out at sea. And curiously, it is also home to the Bahamas ducks. After Junco Lagoon, you will visit the National Park’s Galapaguera (tortoise breeding center) where park naturalists breed endemic tortoises to release them back into the wild at Punta Pitt, helping to expand the San Cristobal tortoise population. Next you will visit Puerto Chino one of the nicest beaches in San Cristobal with its white sand and crystal clear water. Puerto Chino is an ideal place to frolic with sea lions, sea turtles, and the occasional schools of juvenile bonito that show up. The surrounding rock cliffs are home to colonies of Blue Footed Boobies.
Backtracking up into the highlands towards Junco Lagoon, lunch will be served at one of the islands newest and most scenic restaurants, Otoy, set on the grounds of its sprawling organic farm. Here, every imaginable fruit and vegetable is grown, giving true meaning to a “farm to fork” experience, enjoyed dining al-fresco overlooking the farmland and Pacific Ocean beyond. Otoy also offers showers for those looking to change out of their shorties and swimsuits, and for a quick siesta, plenty of hammocks to slumber in. For others, Otoy has a hiking trail that meanders through its farm and bamboo jungle, with its colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Enjoy breakfast, gather the gear and break camp. It’s time to depart the Galapagos and return to either Guayaquil or Quito.
- Daily photography workshops
- Accommodations in Galapagos
- Meals as listed on itinerary
- Transfers in Galapagos
- Activities as listed in itinerary
- Guide Services
- Snorkel and mask on snorkeling excursions
- Guy Harvey Outpost Expedition Shirt
- Galapagos Transfer Card of $20 when leaving either Quito or Guayaquil to Galapagos.
- Galapagos National Park entry of $100 per person (cash only and paid at Galapagos Airport)
- Meals not listed on the itinerary
- Personal Items
Tips from Ron
Ronald C. Modra was a staff and contract photographer at Sports Illustrated for 25 years with 70 magazine covers to his credit and countless images you’d almost certainly recognize, capturing his unique bond with players forged though his love of sports, especially baseball. Several of his photographs appear in Sports Illustrated’s 40 Best of All Time and The Century’s Best Sports Photo’s. He is also a two-time winner of Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Photo of the Year” award, and has authored two books on the game – “Reflections of the Game” and “A Baseball Life” each showcases his best images from a spectacular career. Of late, from his home in Nashville, Ron has enjoyed shooting album covers for country and western artists. As he says, “Singers are all pretty good looking – it’s hard to screw up when your subject is Martina McBride. When it comes to athletes, hey, we’re not miracle workers!” When not behind a camera, Ron is an avid outdoorsmen and angler, often fishing down in the Florida Keys, Bahamas or other tropical fishing hot spots.
If you’re serious about your photography, you’re going to agonize about gear for this trip, that’s understandable! I can make it easy. You’ll of course need two cameras (in case of failure).
You will be VERY close to many animals, and then of course there are some you’ll need “reach” for. My recommended kit is as follows:
- High megapixel, fast focusing and responsive DSLR: Full-frame Canon or Nikon recommended – sure, a 1Dx or a D4 is going to help with birds in flight but most subjects in Galapagos (even some birds in flight) are quite cooperative and the superfast frame rate of the 1Dx or D4 isn’t necessary. And yes, you can do just fine with a crop body such as the Canon 7D or Nikon D7100 etc.
- Lenses for your DSLR: Nikon, 80-400 (the new version); Canon, 100-400; For both systems, the 70-200 f/2.8. They are expensive. Or consider the excellent Nikkor 28-300. I also like something in the 24-120mm range.
- If you carry the mirrorless with 24-70 equivalent and the DSLR with 80 or 100 to 400mm equivalent, you’ll never miss a shot.
Keep in mind, the island visits are all supervised by a Naturalist Guide provided by the Parks Department, hence they are sort of “scripted” and you’ll have to be able to keep up with your guide’s pace.
It is most noteworthy that on Guy Harvey Outpost Galapagos Photo Safari, we’re all classified as photographers, so we get on shore first in the morning, stay as long as possible at great sightings, and we’re the last to leave in the evenings. This is an important factor to consider when planning your Galapagos photography trip – you can’t do this when you’re part of a general “tour”.
There’s one more important piece of lens kit: for the mirrorless system, bring along a 600mm equivalent. Panasonic makes one (the 100-300) that is 200-600mm equivalent! It’s extremely useful for small lizards, Sally Lightfoot Crabs and also birds. Remember, in The Galapagos, you can’t venture off the park trails so sometimes the extra reach comes in super handy. Some of you are thinking: why not a 200-400mm Nikkor or the new 200-400 Canon? Simply put: they are way too ungainly to handle and use while trekking in the Galapagos. One needs to be light, nimble and quick – and so that’s why I recommend the 70-200 for both Canon and Nikon, and the 80-400 Nikkor and 100-400 Canon. And for far-off wildlife, that 600 reach on the mirrorless system is pretty handy to have!
To be clear: I’m not saying that you can’t use the super long Canon or Nikon Teles – I am saying that there are really good alternatives and you’ll be happier with something easier to handle.
So there you have it, as far as camera systems. Focals from 24mm to 400mm (even 600) in two bodies. And backup! Oh, you’re asking about other lenses, eh? Let me tell you: I did not use a macro lens. A fast prime (like 35mm f/1.4) could come in handy for fun shots but isn’t totally necessary when
you can shoot f/2.8 on your mirrorless system or DSLR at ISO 1600 or 3200. Other lens options I would consider, but not say are critical, would be something really, really wide – like a fisheye, or the Canon 16-35, 17-40, or Nikkor 17-35. Or, you can get the equivalent super wide for your mirrorless system.
Final word on bodies and lenses: it is totally fine to bring two Canon or Nikon DSLRs, and do it that way. I mention the mirrorless systems because they are so light and the quality is so good!
First, the obvious: plenty of batteries (at least two for each camera) and chargers; lots of SD/CF cards (I like to travel with enough SD/CF so that I don’t have to format any cards while traveling); laptop with current software; external hard drive to back up your images (or enough disk space on the laptop); Lens cleaning cloths, and a rocket blower.
Next, Filters: you’ll need Circular Polarizers for your main lenses, and contrary to my general beliefs, a UV filter for protection (water, sand and the big bugger is sea mist). ND filters if you intend to try for some slow shutter work on the waves.
Finally, a TRIPOD.. they are difficult to deal with because of the lack of time at each sighting, but can be used at first landing or last light on some shore landings, and there will be some opportunities to do slow shutter work for beachscapes. But remember, you can create amazing images in Galapagos without a tripod, especially with the high-ISO performance of today’s cameras. If you bring one, make sure it is super light!
What to wear
Do not bring much cotton clothing to the Galapagos. Have quick-dry sport t-shirts and shorts, and maybe one pair of quick-dry longs … you’ll be glad you have them, the panga seats can be damp! Also, you can easily wash these items in your shower and hang them out to dry. Footwear? You do NOT need hiking boots! Recommended: 1 pair of Merrill/Keen water shoes with closed toe area and heel strap, and a pair of Teva or similar sandals. That’s really all you need, trust me. Bring a light rain jacket in case of foul weather.
Don’t forget your bathing suit, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a fleece pullover for cool nights. With that, you’re done!
The Daily Routine
Expect a good workout, every day. There’s a good amount of hiking. For the most part, trails on the islands are fairly gentle and most anyone can handle them – there are walking sticks for those that might want a little more stability, especially on the iron-shore formations that line many of the inlets. And then there are the many opportunities for snorkeling and sea kayaking – don’t miss out on these chances!
We always plan some downtime midday, even if it’s just for a relaxing lunch, then it’s off to another island excursion. You’re always free to bail on any scheduled outing, and sometimes that’s the best opportunity to come across that rare candid look into local island life. I’ve captured some of my best Galapagos shots just that way.
The days wrap up with dinner and stories of the day, after which we settle into our photo editing workshops where I’ll help you develop techniques and a critical eye for award winning photos. Of course, there’s always nearby some wonderful coffee grown in the Galapagos highlands or cold cerveza and bebidas to make the work even more enjoyable! For the night owls, in San Cristobal there’s always a stroll along the malecon – the harborfront – for a late night sea lion serenade and a café to watch the night slip by.
There are hundreds of circumstances that could cause you to cancel your trip, return home early or force you to seek emergency medical treatment while traveling. We at Guy Harvey Outpost always recommend being prepared.
If you are interested in purchasing travel insurance call us at 800-513-5257 and we can help coordinate.