8 Days Exploring the Beauty and History of the Galápagos Islands
May 12 – 20, 2024
Join us on this photographic adventure of a lifetime to one of the world’s premier wildlife and landscape destinations, the Galápagos Islands! These islands have been preserved well and offer a unique window into our evolutionary past. It is an ecosystem in which the animals are not afraid of humans—you will find yourself able to get closer portraits of extraordinary wildlife than you ever thought possible! Naturalists will explain the animal behaviors, while our two photography pros will instruct you on the best techniques for capturing memorable and meaningful imagery.
Our boat can go where the larger ships can’t, and we will set our own schedule. This means we can go ashore based on lighting conditions and wildlife sightings, ensuring that mealtimes are scheduled around our shoots, not during! We’ll walk in Charles Darwin’s footsteps and channel his experiences as he formulated his theory of natural selection during his time here in the 1830s.
Some of the wildlife to be photographed are the blue-footed booby birds, red-footed booby birds, masked booby birds, penguins, land iguanas, marine iguanas, lava lizards, sea lions, red-chested frigate birds, flamingos, finches, tropicbirds, lava gulls, and giant tortoises. If you like snorkeling, there is even more marine wildlife to photograph, such as sharks, rays, Galápagos penguins, and countless fish. Snorkel gear will always be available on our yacht!
We’ll maximize our shooting time with the best photo ops—getting up early for sweet light and chasing it to sunset. Each night, we’ll have the option for image reviews and instruction from the pros and interpretive talks by our naturalists. Or, sit back and enjoy a book from the library, watch the dolphins swim, relax in the jacuzzi, or gaze at the equatorial sky from the deck.
Non-photographer spouses, partners, and friends are welcome! This is a perfect workshop to bring them—as long as they love nature and the outdoors, they’ll have a blast!
Everything is all-inclusive, including gratuities, so you only have to worry about making great photographs! With a small group, a luxury yacht, and two experienced pro photographers leading, this trip is sure to fill up fast. Click the “Sign Me Up!” button, and we’ll see you in the Galápagos!
About the wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.
About the itinerary: This is the planned itinerary, but be advised that the Galápagos National Park can change this itinerary anytime they wish. It’s unusual for them to make such changes.
May 12, 2024: Arrive anytime this day in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Take the hotel shuttle or a taxi to our hotel in town. Relax and unwind. We’ll have a welcome dinner at our favorite restaurant this evening.
May 13, 2024: After breakfast, we will head to the airport for our flight to the Galápagos. Our first stop is San Cristobal Island, where we will transfer to our boat and visit the “David Rodriguez” Breeding Center. In the Breeding Center, you can admire the hatchling turtles from their birth until they are 120 days old, when the grown turtles are taken to their natural habitat.
Highlights: Giant tortoises in captivity, snorkeling with sea lions, land and sea birds, blue-footed boobies, and hatchling turtles.
May 14, 2024: This morning we will visit North Seymour Island, formed by a series of submarine lava layers of sediment uplifted by tectonic activity. The island is characterized by its arid vegetation zone. Highlights: Land & marine iguanas, frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, sea lions; snorkeling: rays, reef sharks, fish, garden eels.
In the afternoon, we will head to Black Turtle Cove, situated in the northern part of Santa Cruz. The shallow cove is a haven for young marine life. Black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, baby hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, and various rays are often spotted here.
May 15, 2024: In the morning, we visit Bartholomew Island, home of the famous Pinnacle Rock. Bartholomew consists of an extinct volcano with various red, orange, black, and even green volcanic formations. A trail of stairs leads to the volcano’s summit, boasting one of the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for snorkeling. Highlights: Penguins, pioneer plants, lava cactus, reef sharks, rays, and great colorful fish.
In the afternoon, we visit Egas Port, also known as James Bay. Egas Port is home to the curious Galapagos hawks and quick-footed Galapagos lava lizards. The trail leads to a coastline with gorgeous tide pools and grottos full of fauna. Here the Galapagos fur sea lions bathe in the sun. This is also a great snorkeling site.
May 16, 2024: In the morning, we visit Tagus Cove, located across from Fernandina Island near the Bolivar Channel dividing the two islands. Ships have frequented this spot since the 1800s, using the area as an anchorage site. Trails winding by Lake Darwin up to a ridge display incredible views. Punta Tortuga, just north of Tagus Cove, is another lovely beach surrounded by mangroves. Highlights: Penguins, flightless cormorants, Darwin Volcano & Lake Darwin.
In the afternoon, we visit Urbina Bay, located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay. This area experienced a major uplift in 1954, causing the land to rise over 16 feet. The coast expanded half a mile out, leaving marine life stranded on the new shore. This area is also an excellent place for snorkeling. Highlights: Land iguanas (the biggest in the Galapagos), hawks, coral reef, giant tortoises; snorkeling: turtles, rays, tropical fish
May 17, 2024: In the morning, we visit Espinoza Point on Fernandina Island. No foreign species have ever invaded Fernandina Island; therefore, it is one of the world’s most pristine island ecosystems. The volcano “La Cumbre” dominates the landscape, with lava fields reaching the ocean. The island’s highlight features the flightless cormorant nesting site. This area provides an excellent opportunity to see the Galapagos hawk.
In the afternoon, we visit Vicente Roca Point. Located on the northwestern coast of Isabela Island and comprised of two separate coves, this site is a large bay with spectacular sea life. Seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating Mola mola (sunfish) may be spotted here. This bay is great for diving and snorkeling. Highlights: Penguins, blue-footed boobies, terns, Nazca boobies, sea lions; snorkeling: sea turtles, rays, and puffer fish.
May 18, 2024: In the morning, we visit Buccaneer Cove on Santiago Island, once a refuge for British buccaneers. These pirates would anchor in the protected bay to make repairs and stock up on tortoise meat, among other things. The steep cliffs, where hundreds of seabirds perch in front of the dark red sand beach, are magnificent.
We’ll also visit Espumilla Beach, a popular place for marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract the hunting herons performing the dance of predator and prey. Snorkeling is highly recommended with the abundant marine life, including octopi, moray eels, and sharks.
In the afternoon, we visit Sullivan Bay, where a coral beach landing leads you towards a lava field as far as the eye can see. Hunt and peck over the two distinguished types of lava, pahoehoe and ‘a’a, for signs of plant life that have managed to emerge over the past 100 years since the most recent volcanic explosion. A truly unique volcanic experience—up close and personal!
May 19, 2024: In the morning, we visit Bachas Beach, located on the north shore of Santa Cruz. One of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II presence in the Galapagos, a floating pier, can be seen here. You may see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black-necked stilts, and whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach.
In the afternoon, we visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, home to turtles ranging from 3 inches (new hatchlings) to 4 feet long. Subspecies of turtles interact with one another, and many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans stretching out their heads for a photo opportunity. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own.
May 20, 2024: In the morning, we visit Kicker Rock. This striking rock formation is located a couple of hours off the western shore of San Cristobal. Jutting out of the water, the rocks stand vertically hundreds of feet above the ocean, divided by a small channel. Although there are no landing areas, circumnavigation and dinghy rides allow visitors to spot a variety of marine life. Highlights: Sharks, tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, spectacular rock formations; sea birds: blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies & frigatebirds.
In the afternoon, we’ll disembark our ship and transfer to San Cristobal airport for our flight back to Guayaquil. We should be back in Guayaquil by approximately 2:30 pm. Flights home can be anytime after 5:00 pm. We will arrange a hotel room for you in Guayaquil if you stay over this night.
Aboard the Grand Majestic
The best way to see the Galápagos Islands is on board a luxury yacht, and we are proud to be sailing on the Grand Majestic. This elegantly sporty yacht is the fastest in the islands, offering high-quality service and luxurious social areas.
On the Grand Majestic, we emphasize the remarkable natural history of the Galápagos Islands, and our English-speaking onboard naturalists and guides are incredibly knowledgeable about biology and ecology.
Designed for comfort and stability, she is outfitted with spacious cabins, comfortable beds that can be set up as two twins or one king, a comfortable lounge and dining room with a bar, plus a Jacuzzi and al fresco dining area on the sundeck. All cabins have comfortable beds, air-conditioning, private bathrooms with hot water, and plenty of space for your gear. The crew members are attentive to your needs at all times. Meals on board will be amazing, fresh, and plentiful. Local fare, expertly prepared. Of course, any dietary requirements can be accommodated. Just let us know!
Easy: You are able to walk two hours on smooth or rough trails and can get in and out of zodiacs onto beach, stepping into light surf.
Arrive José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE), Guayaquil, Ecuador anytime on May 12, 2024. Flights out can be made after 5:00 PM on May 20, 2024. Air travel delays are common. Please arrive early, possibly even the day prior, so you don’t miss any of the workshop.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $300 supplement. (Hotel only.)
- All permits and park fees.
- All transportation during the workshop.
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides.
- Meals and lodging onboard the ship.
- Waterproof boots for shore excursions.
- Many hours of basic and advanced Lightroom instruction.
- Multiple image reviews and post-processing sessions.
- Naturalist lectures and presentations on board.
- English-speaking local guide throughout the workshop.
- Photographic guiding and instruction from 3 pros.
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction.
- Your non-refundable deposit will hold your space in this workshop.
- Further non-refundable payment is due by October 1, 2023.
- The non-refundable balance is due not later than February 1, 2024.
- The payment amounts are determined by your cabin choice.
- In addition to our standard Terms and Conditions, for this workshop all payments are non-refundable, and this is why we recommend comprehensive travel insurance including trip cancelation.
- While not expected, we do reserve the right to add a surcharge for possible fuel cost increases. This can happen even right up until the time of the expedition, but we try to get as much notice as possible.
- Need special payment arrangements? No problem, just ask us.
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“All the "above and beyond" effort Muench Workshops puts into making sure every detail is covered and everyone feels special, as well as putting us right in the middle of the action, makes every adventure worth every penny :). ”
“What can I say here. The Galápagos was simply an amazing place to visit and photograph! We would love to go again. ”
“This was a unique workshop. A once in a lifetime opportunity. This is why I sign up for Muench workshops ”