Herping Neo tropical (Galapagos)

Technical characteristics

Description of the circuit : A 100% "Herping" trip off the beaten track, through the whole country, guided by a bilingual "herpeto" guide.

Travel Theme : Herpetological and naturalist journey

Group : 2 to 8 people

Duration : 19 days

Arrival city : Quito

Departure city : Quito (or Guayaquil, according to the available flights)

Physical Level : Intermediate, some excursions may require a more sustained physical effort due to the remoteness of the sites and the topography of the terrain.

Accommodation : Standard hotels and lodges. Some accommodations are basic; here we privilege the remoteness and the richness of the ecosystems.

Transport : private transportation.

Climate zones crossed :

We will cross different altitudinal levels and therefore a diversity of temperatures and climates (see the section at the bottom of the itinerary).


Formalities :

Passport valid 6 months after your return date. No visa is required at this time for European citizens. Up to date yellow fever vaccination is recommended. Covid-19 please consult us.


Day 1: Arrival to Ecuador-Quito

After your arrival at Quito International Airport, transfer and check-in at your hotel. Your guide will give you a briefing on the upcoming trip. The rest of the day will be free so that you can either rest from the long flight or organize a first visit to the city or some places of interest.

Dinner at your own expense and overnight stay in a hotel in the north of Quito city. (Hotel El Arupo - link).

Included: Transfer to the airport.

Day 2: Quito – Pachijal

This morning we will head northwest through the Pacific road, to reach the cloud forest areas of Ecuador's Upper Chocó.  We will cross a great diversity of landscapes before reaching the Pachijal reserve. After settling into this pleasant lodge, we will take a moment to observe the different species of hummingbirds that come to feed at the watering troughs. A first outing along the various trails will be an excellent opportunity to get a preview of these neo-tropical ecosystems in search of our first species. After dinner a night exploration will take us to some water points where a large number of Anuras, Pristimantis latidiscus, Agalychnis spurelli, Hypsoboas pellucens as well as a large number of Centroneles are active.

Overnight at Standard Lodge (Pachijal Lodge).

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 3: Rio Pachijal – Mindo Loma

After a good breakfast, we will take the time for a photo session and the identification of certain species deserving confirmation. After having reintroduced the species collected the day before into their environment, departure in a private vehicle to the main road or other important sites await us. Along this subtropical ecosystem we will look for certain species such as: Pristimantis walkeri, Leptophis ahaetulla bocourti, Gonatodes caudiscutatus, as well as the amazing Pristimantis mutabilis and the superb Western Basilisk, along the watercourses descending towards the Pacific. Return to the Lodge in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in our next accommodation. We will take time to settle into our new Lodge (2050m) where we will spend the next two nights. (Standard lodge Mindo loma).

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 4: Mindo Loma

Along the vegetation leading us into the different streams, including the mini hydrographic basin of the Santa Rosa River, we will look for certain species of Anoles, the most widespread Polychrotidae of the region, but also Pristimantis appendiculatus, a Leptodactylidae endemic to the Chocó and the superb Nymphargus grandiosonae. A first night outing in the lower part of the reserve will allow us to observe new species of Anuras such as Centronele prosoplepon, Rhaebo haematiticus, the imposing Hypsiboas boans (Hylidae) but also some of their predators such as Mastigodryas pulchriceps. Night at the same Lodge. (Mindo Loma)

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 5: CENTROLENIDES AND OTHER ANURANS

After a very early breakfast, we will take the time for a photo session and to identify some species deserving confirmation. After reintroducing the species collected the day before in their environment, we will go down to the hot spot of the reserve to discover an impressive number of Centrolenids, including Centrolene heloderma, Centrolene ballux, Centrolene peristi, Centrolene lynchictum but especially the recently described Nymphargus lasgralarias, a Centrolenid micro endemic to the area. We will of course also linger on other more common Anuran species such as Pristimantis eugeniae and Dendropsophus carnifex, Pristimantis walkeri and the superb Leptophis ahaetulla bocourti snake, as well as some Gekkonidae such as the colourful Gonatodes caudiscutatus, and with a bit of luck the superb Western Basilisk (Basiliscus galeritus), along the tumultuous rivers. Return to the Lodge in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at Mindo Loma.

Complementary night excursions.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 6: Around Mindo

After our morning photo session and a traditional breakfast, we will head back west in search of new species from lower altitudes. Along the road leading us to our next stop we will look for Hyloxalus toachi and the highly variable Oophaga sylvatica. The rest of the day and the evening will be dedicated to the observation of tropical species in the heart of a rich private reserve, where we will look for Enyalioides heterolepis, Micrurus dumerilii as well as a large number of Anoles and Colubridae. After dinner, we will be granted an exceptional permit to enter a reserve to observe some special and rare nocturnal species, including the surprising Anole Pinocchio (Anolis proboscis).

Night in standard accommodation in the Mindo Valley. (Hotel el abrazo del arbol)

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 7: Silanche

We will continue throughout the day to explore the different altitudinal zones leading us further down towards the Chocó rainforests. Once we arrive in Silanche (550m), we will leave without delay to explore the different trails of the reserve in search of new species of viperidae very well adapted to this environment such as Bothrocophias campbelli, the superb Bothriechis chlegelli as well as the respected "Verrugosa" (Lachesis acrochorda). After dinner a night exploration will take us to a waterhole where a large number of Anuras, Pristimantis latidiscus, Agalychnis spurelli, Hypsiboas pellucens and a large number of Centronele are active.

Overnight in a charming Lodge in the Silanche valley. (Quinta de Goulaine).

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 8: Silanche

After breakfast and an early morning photo session, departure for the Rio's bird reserve in search of new species. Research of some Dendrobatidae such as Hyloxalus toachi and the very variable Oophaga sylvatica, but also Hypsiboas picturatus. The rest of the day and the evening: observation of species of tropical environment, research of some reptiles such as Enyalioides heterolepis, Micrurus dumerilii as well as a great number of Anoles and Colubridae. Return to our Lodge in the late afternoon to rest a little before our last night out, in the Chocó. Dinner and night at the same Lodge (Quinta de Goulaine).

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 9: FROM CHOCO TO THE HIGHLANDS

Morning wake-up and a last photographic session of the individuals collected before heading back to the Inter-Andean valley and the Ecuadorian highlands. Along the climb, several stops in high altitude ecosystems will allow us to observe certain species particularly well adapted to these abnormal conditions for ectothermic beings. Along the forests of Gynoxys and Polylepis we will look for, Centronele buckleyi, Osornophrine bufoniformis, Pristimantis unistrigatus, as well as the remarkable Gastrotheca or marsupial frog (photo). A stop at the thermal baths of Papallacta will allow us to bask for a moment in these waters of thermo-volcanic origin. In the afternoon we will head down to the village of Baeza. Night excursion into the adjacent subtropical forests, Pristimantis quaquaversus, Strabomantis cornutus among others. Dinner and overnight in a rustic lodge. (Cabañas Kopal)

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 10: COSANGA - COCA - SHRIRIPUNO RIVER

We will continue on our way to the lower parts of the Amazon basin to the city of Coca. Arrival at the main port on the Napo River around 11:00am. Immediate transfer by local bus (Chivas) to the Tiguino river bridge. From there we will enter the territory of the natives called Huaorani. After lunch we will start our descent to our huts. Throughout the journey we will start our observations, looking for species such as Dracaena guianensis, as well as a very colourful local birdlife, Caurale soleil, Purple Jay, Blue Ara, Blue-throated Penelope, Great Ani, Black Caracara, and the dense vegetation of the Amazonian forest, where a large number of primates live. Arrival at the Lodge in the late afternoon. Welcome cocktail and briefing on our stay. After dinner, night hike to look for new species, Leptodactylus pentadactylus, the imposing and rare Cerathophrys cornuta and a large number of tree frogs (Hylidae).

Overnight at Standard Lodge. (Shiripuno Amazon River Lodge)

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 11: Shiripuno Amazon Lodge

Early in the morning we will embark on our motor canoe, downriver to the confluence of the Cononaco. All along the descent, if the sun is with us, some aquatic turtles will flatter us with their presence, such as Podocnemis expansa, Platemis platicephala and the hydrodynamic Kinosternon scorpioides. After setting up our camp on one of the beaches of the Cononaco, we will go in search of diurnal species of undergrowth, Ameeraga bilinguis, allobates zaparo, the common Dendrophryniscus minutus and the magnificent Ranitomeya duellmani. In the late afternoon return to the Lodge. Afterwards we will return to our motor canoe in search of the largest of the Ecuadorian Crocodilidae, the Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger), but also the most common Paleosuchus trigonatus, with a bit of luck we will also be able to observe the famous night turtle "Matamata" (Chelus fimbriatus). Return to the base camp. Overnight at the same lodge.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 12: Shiripuno Amazon Lodge

During our breakfast, we will scan the lagoon for the Amazonian Giant Otter. An excursion in the forest will take us along small streams where we will search under the decomposing leaves for the rare Pipa pipa. A new pirogue trip, during which, if the sun accompanies us, we will look for the emblematic Anaconda along these rivers, as well as the Clelia clelia among others species. During the hike we will look for several diurnal species of Aromobatidae and Dendrobatidae. After dinner we will set off in a rowing dugout canoe on the "Oxbow" lagoon in search of Centronelidae, nocturnal frogs. Overnight at the Lodge.

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 13: Shiripuno Amazon Lodge – Coca – Quito - Wikiri

Before breakfast we will make a last outing in search of complementary species of Gymnophthalmidae, Cercosauras argula and Potamites ecpleoplus and others. Then we will leave for the city of Coca where we will take our flight to the capital around noon. Arrival in Quito in mid-afternoon. We will spend the rest of the day visiting one of the leading herpetological research projects of great interest in the problem of the loss of the world's herpetofauna.  A team of researchers is trying to isolate and reproduce the most endangered anuran species in the country in order to keep the genotypes intact. A private visit to the laboratories will allow us to better understand the urgency of the research carried out on these species as well as the stakes of their conservation and reintroduction through bio-trade. Overnight in Hotel Standard in Quito. (Hostal el Arupo).

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - Specialized bilingual guide.

Day 14: Quito – Santa Cruz Island / Los Gemelos

After breakfast, transfer to Quito airport for our flight to the Galapagos. On arrival at the airport, inspection of quarantines, no plants and animals are allowed to enter the archipelago, the site is too fragile. The bus from the Baltra airport will take you to the Itabaca canal for a short crossing to Santa cruz island. This crossing will allow us to make our first observations of the avifauna of the archipelago, blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, as well as a large number of brown Noddi. On the other side of the channel, our transport will wait for us to go to the main port of Santa Cruz to settle down in our hotel. Along the road, in the highlands, the geological past of the island will offer us its vulcanological relief. Around these collapsed magmatic rock ceilings you will be able to observe the exuberant vegetation of Scalesia pendiculata, in which 7 of the 14 species of Darwin's legendary finches grow. Descend towards the main port of the island in mid afternoon.

Free dinner and overnight in Puerto Ayora (Hotel La Peregrina).

Included : Breakfast

Day 15: Santa Cruz Island / Highlands / Tortuga Bay

After breakfast, our private transport will take us up the main road to the upper part of the island. Its mixed landscapes, between arid and green, contrast with those of the other islands. We will continue our road to the village of Bellavista, then to the Hacienda Santa Rosa for the observation of about ten individuals of Santa Cruz land turtle, (Chelonoidis porteri) and their very particular forms of carapaces. Then light walk towards the lava tunnels. During the walk we will look for Tropidurus albemarlensis, one of the 7 species of lava lizard of the archipelago. During the decent we will try to observe some endemic birds such as the Galapagos Rail and the Galapagos Buzzard but also the subspecies of Alsophis steindachneri, from the central islands. In the afternoon we will go down to the main port of Santa Cruz. If the weather allows it, we will go to the Turtle Bay, where we will enjoy the rest of the afternoon facing the Pacific (possibility of snorkeling), Brown Pelicans, Sea Iguanas, Galapagos Herons, Purple Night-Herons, American Oystercatcher...

Free dinner and overnight in Puerto Ayora. (Hotel La Peregrina).

Included : Breakfast

Day 16: Floreana Island

After breakfast (8:00am) we leave Santa Cruz to head towards the southernmost island of the archipelago, Floreana, taking our fast yacht for a crossing of about 2 hours to Puerto Velasco Ibarra, the capital of the island. Along the crossing we will try to observe Oceanites, Mad and, Albatrosses (From May to September). On the volcanic rocks of the landing stage, a large colony of marine iguanas is thermo-regulating in the sun. This subspecies endemic to the island is the most colorful of the archipelago. Climb to the heights of the island to learn more about its eventful history and especially to observe several species of land turtles (C. chathamensis, C. nigra, C. porteriréunis). Around the breeding center, we will look for the modest endemic Geospize. The main port of the island and a small peaceful village, crushed by the sun and its past, we will have lunch there. In the free afternoon we will go along the black sand beaches and the lava flows "pahoehoe" until La Loberia a sea lion resting place from where we will have the possibility of snorkeling (Green Turtle, Sea Lion, Skate). On the way back we will look for the endemic Lizard species of lava lizards of the island, Microlophus grayi but also the Alsophis biseralis biserali and the endemic Gecko Phyllodactylus bauri. Return to Santa Cruz in the middle of the afternoon. Free dinner and night at the same hotel. (Hotel La Peregrina).

Included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 17: Seymour island

Back to the north of Santa Cruz Island for a second daily trip to North Seymour Island. From the Itabaca channel we will head to the North Seymour Island, where we will be received by a colony of sea lions, masters of the place. It is possible, here, to observe the two species of frigate birds present on the archipelago. Crossing the deciduous forests of "Palo Santo", we will be able to observe a great concentration of Blue-footed Boobies and Nasca Boobies and with luck some individuals of the rare and isolated Red-footed Booby, which nests only on the island of Genovesa. Lunch on board, then we will sail south to the Itabaca Channel to reach Puerto Ayora by private vehicle. Dinner and overnight in Puerto Ayora. (Hotel La Peregrina).

Included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 18: Plaza Sur Island

Located east of Santa Cruz, the island of Plaza (South and North) is of tectonic origin. We will land this morning on Plaza Sud, the only one of the two islands open to the public, the second being reserved for scientific research. Succulent, cacti and other plants have colonized this island for several million years. The terrestrial iguana is here more vividly colored than the Santa Fe species, it cohabits here with a huge colony of sea lions. The main path of the island will lead you to the cliffs from where dovetailed gulls, shearwaters, lunatics, frigate birds and phaetons take off. Lunch on board, then we will sail due south to the Itabaca Canal to resume our transportation to Puerto Ayora where we will arrive in the late afternoon. Free dinner and overnight in Puerto Ayora. (Hotel La Peregrina).

Included: Breakfast and lunch.

Day 19: Santa Cruz - Baltra - Quito – International Airport

In the morning we will climb to the highlands of Santa Cruz to reach the island of Baltra from where we take off to Quito in the middle of the day. According to the international flight schedule it will be possible to visit the vivarium of Quito. This private visit will allow us to take a last contact with the local herpetofauna and the last pictures, in private, of these unknown animals, Hylids, Boïdés, Centrolenids among others. One of the biologists of the Gustavo Orces Foundation will present the different projects in place, as well as the collection of ophidians. Transfer to Quito International Airport for your international flight.

Included: Breakfast.

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Herping Neo tropical (Galapagos)

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Net price per person depending on group size

Choose Number of people: Price Per Person: $7316 $5035 $4433 $4424 $4155 $3947 $3976 $3864

Our prices include
  • Private transportation (gasoline, road taxes, parking, insurance of the vehicle and its passengers).
  • All transfers as mentioned.
  • Flight Coca-Quito
  • Flight Quito-Baltra-Quito
  • Bilingual herpetologist guide for the mainland except in the Amazon (local English-speaking naturalist guide) and except in the Galapagos (English-speaking naturalist guides).
  • All entries to the site of the visit
  • 24 hour assistance
  • Accommodation in double room, private bathroom (Hotels, haciendas and lodge of charm or standard category / Standard cabins in Amazonia)
  • Meals as mentioned in the program. Picnic for some hikes.
  • Complementary technical equipment for night outings and photographic sessions.
Our prices not include
  • International flight. (You can consult our list of tour operators offering flights).
  • Single room supplement.
  • Excursions and activities indicated as optional in the program.
  • Luggage weight supplements for flights (23 kg allowed on domestic flights).
  • Some meals (Count between 8 and 15.00usd/pers/meal)
  • Entrance to the site of island visits.
  • Entrance to the Galapagos National Park (100.00usd/pers)
  • The INGALA transit card (20.00usd)
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks for all meals.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Gratuities.
  • Personal insurance.
  • Bank commissions for payments.