Enchanting Expedition Galápagos Islands

July 31 – August 7, 2023  

Price listed below the daily itinerary

REGISTER NOW

Come commune with nature in its purest form to a place like no other on earth – where Darwin’s discoveries lead you to new understandings of life on the planet. The stunning Galapagos Islands lie 600 miles off Ecuador. The blue boobies, silly sea lions and curious penguins are just some of the draw for countless travelers.  Our past 7 AFS groups loved it. Our new 9-day luxury expedition is filled with experiences that you could ever dream about with Glamping in luxury safari–style tents, a deluxe beachside resort, voyages by private AFS yacht and inter-island flights included!  After extensive research, we designed this with the best way to experience all by both land and sea. On land, you’ll get eye-to-eye encounters with wildlife found nowhere else on earth. Walk among hundred-year-old tortoises and watch the courtship dance of blue-footed boobies. Hike lava flows, climb volcanoes, kayak mangrove forests and enjoy stargazing at night. At sea, our deluxe Sea Lion yacht will navigate us into hidden channels the big boats can’t reach. Only here can you snorkel among penguins, swim with sea lion pups and have curious sea turtles come check you out.

This extraordinary archipelago is a “living laboratory of evolution” to make your heart leap in awe. It’s the only place where animals wander freely and fearlessly. Mind your step among prehistoric iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, flamingos, and giant albatross. At sea, there are seahorses, fur seals, whales, sea turtles, reef sharks, huge rays, dolphins and more. In the sky look for cormorants, pelicans, and countless species of rare frigate birds.

We visit Baltra, Isabella, Bartolome, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal islands and Charles Darwin Research Station and more by our small charter planes and yacht. Our first base is the stunning Scalesia Tented Resort set in a 40-acre forest of unique flora with spectacular tree-top views. Then we move to the fabulous boutique resort of Finch Bay right on the beachfront with a world-class spa! Activities and tours are included throughout with expert naturalist guides to lead you to the “Big 15,” Galapagos’ most iconic wildlife and marine life. We negotiated hard to get the best discounts at these amazing properties and it’s a great value with our inter-island flights and the $130 national park fees included. 

There are a few places left on earth that live up to their hyperbole. These enchanting isles will both gratify and nourish your soul – as one of the planet’s last peaceful kingdoms. Each day will leave you spellbound with your best photos ever. Yes, this is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in the world’s last true wildlife sanctuary. This exclusive offering is tailor-made for a small group so we’re limiting this to just 18 guests. Galapagos is now one of 2023’s sought-after destinations so it will fill fast. Come join us and live a dream. This could be your best vacation ever! 

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

REGISTER NOW

Click for printable PDF itinerary (Galapagos)

July 30 or 31 – Depart USA. Fly round-trip USA to Quito Ecuador. More on air later in trip tips. (Latam has great rates around $490 from Miami.)

Aug 1 – Arrive Quito

Hola, Quito! We arrive in Ecuador’s gorgeous capital city of Quito. Arrive anytime you like with shuttles available to our nearby four-star hotel. You may choose to fly in a few days early to explore this fabulous colonial capital.  Settle in for the evening to prepare for our Galapagos adventure.

Overnight at Windham Hotel Airport

Aug 2 –    Quito – Galapagos Islands (flight) to Baltra     

We’ll fly after breakfast to the Island of Baltra in the Galapagos archipelago and make a transfer to go further via a very scenic inter-island flight directly to Isabela. This is the island with colonies of penguins and active volcanoes!

(We’ll need to travel light. These inter-island flights limit passengers’ check-in luggage to 10 kg (22 lbs). If needed, it is possible to send excess luggage directly on to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, where you will arrive on DAY 3. )

On Isabela, we head into the forest to the hilltop Scalesia Lodge and enjoy lunch before heading out on our first afternoon of discovery. We’ll get to know the youngest side of the archipelago while exploring the iconic National Park, wetland lagoons, and the giant tortoise-breeding center. We wrap up our day at the stunning white beach of Puerto Villamil before returning to the Lodge for dinner. Our cool tented lodge provides you with rubber boots, rain gear and snorkeling equipment, sea kayaks and bikes to explore on your own.

Overnight at Scalesia Lodge. B,L,D (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner). You will love your luxurious safari – style tents at this resort perched on the slopes of a volcano with spectacular views.

Aug 3 – Isabela Island & its Environs

There are three different programs that we can choose from today. The first begins with a walk along the rim of Galapagos’ largest caldera – one of the largest in the world – where we’ll see the fascinating lava formations from recent volcanic activity (the last eruption in 2005). A light snack will be provided along the way while lunch is served back at the lodge. The Galapagos’ unique wildlife is focused in the afternoon as we seek out Darwin finches, flycatchers, mockingbirds, and occasionally the Galapagos hawk and rail. We’ll stroll the beach at Puerto Villamil or rest in the afternoon.

 The next option is the Tintoreras Islets. After breakfast, we will drive down to the wharf of Puerto Villamil and board the bay cruiser to explore the maze of reefs and islets off the shores of Isabela. The visit includes a dry landing and a short walk over volcanic terrain (about a half mile in total distance). Here, we should see boobies, herons, penguins, marine iguanas and the white-tipped reef sharks in the nearby lava crevasses. Bring your bathing suit as you will enjoy snorkeling in the shallow reefs.

Lunch at Scalesia and later in the day, we can explore the wetlands of coastal Isabela. Sunsets at Puerto Villamil are spectacular!

 The third option is the Wall of Tears hike. A rare combination of human and natural history. A splendid coastal trail combines two segments, wending through mangroves and brackish lagoons (0.8 mile) as well as the arid palo santo forest until we reach the Wall of Tears (an additional 1.4 mi each way). This trail is mostly a flat dirt road (pedestrians and bikes only). The wildlife we can expect to see includes coastal Darwin finches, doves, stilts, ducks, flamingos, herons and giant tortoises.

Afternoons include magical sunsets from the beach of Puerto Villamil.

Overnight at Scalesia Lodge  B/L/D

Aug 4 – Santa Cruz, Volcanoes & Turtles

After breakfast, we head back to Puerto Villamil’s airport for a quick flight back to Baltra where we’ll take a boat across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island with its wonderful beaches!

The day’s visit includes a brief exploration of Los Gemelos, a natural volcanic formation in the upper end of the windward side of the island. Surrounded by a forest of high growing endemic daisies, this area is home to some of the most elusive land birds of Galapagos. Then we will visit the Tortoise Reserve and see impressive lava tunnels while enroute to a delicious lunch at a restaurant in the highlands.
In the afternoon, we will reach Puerto Ayora’s only pedestrian neighborhood Punta Estrada a lively place to explore filled with cafés and souvenir shops. Continua to spectacular Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and Spa. After we check in, we have free time to enjoy the hotel’s beachfront facilities.

In the evenings, dine where you like but the food here is true gourmet signature cuisines by top chefs.

Overnight at the Finch Bay. (3 nights). B/L

Aug 5 – Full Day Yacht Exploration  

Today, we’ll have a full day of exploration of the island of Bartolome via yacht. This is the youngest island and most photographed of all islands for its spectacular views and for most, everyone’s favorite! Our route will be determined by National Park Regulations visit is subject to change.

The day begins with the Finch Bay’s tempting breakfast buffet before setting out for 26-mile drive to Itabaca Channel on the north shore of Santa Cruz, where we board the Sea Lion yacht.

Our 21-nautical mile sailing stretch is great for sightings of dolphins or whales. We have a dry landing followed by a mile walk with much of the trail on this desolate island over a wooden boardwalk. We’ll climb a staircase of 366 steps to one of Galapagos’ most famous views: the tilted pinnacle rock, the golden beach of Bartolome and the impressive lava fields of Santiago Island. There are several observation platforms on the way up to the summit of Bartolome (492 ft above sea level), but it’s well worth the effort. Depending on the seas, stops will be added for swimming and snorkeling.

After descending back to the coast, we will have a chance to scan the volcanic shore, in search of flashy Sally Lightfoot crabs and Galapagos penguins, before enjoying a soothing dip at the beach. We’ll enjoy lunch on board the Sea Lion and a brief exploration of nearby Sullivan Bay before sailing back to the Itabaca Channel for the drive back to the hotel where dinner is at your leisure in the 5-star restaurant.

Overnight at the Finch Bay  B/L

Aug 6 –  Full Day Exploration!

We have a full day ahead of us, but which program we do for the start of our day will depend on the tides. Your expert naturalist guides will brief you each night on all options to best enjoy your days.

Option 1 – Santa Cruz Coastal Exploration & Charles Darwin Research Station and Tortoise Breeding Facilities:

After breakfast, we leave for Tortuga Bay, voted Ecuador’s best beach. We walk from Puerto
Ayora’s western border, 1.3 mi along a fairly flat and straight paved path, where we explore and learn more about the arid zone’s deciduous forest and its inhabitants. The first stop is Playa Brava, a stunning 0.6 mi long snow-white beach, a seasonal nesting site for the green sea turtles. A few minutes further, we reach Playa Mansa, a secluded natural mangrove cove, with clear and tranquil waters, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, paddling on tandem kayaks, or simply enjoying the landscape from the shade of a mangrove. We will board a small yacht to sail back to the hotel’s dock at Academy Bay where we’ll have lunch at the Finch Bay. For the afternoon, the grand finale includes strolling around the Charles Darwin Research Station where the highlight is the conservation program for the iconic giant tortoises. The headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service and The Charles Darwin Research Station are located side by side on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. There is an interpretation center open to the public and also one may view the tortoise rearing program. Unfortunately, the number of tortoises is so reduced in the wild that this is the only place where many visitors to Galápagos have the chance to see tortoises.

Option 2 – Divine Bay and Charles Darwin Research Station

Just a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands’ first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other, and by cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife. Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on seaweed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature. A refreshing short walk (0.3 miles) takes us to “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach) for a view of marine iguanas in their nesting sites and white tipped reef sharks. We will also explore the coast on the pangas and for those who like to snorkel, there is a chance to explore a calm, but active, sector of the cove. Lunch at the Finch Bay before heading out on an afternoon excursion to the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station where we will have the opportunity to learn about the giant tortoise rearing program and visit the tortoises in person.

Overnight at the Finch Bay B/L

Aug 7 – Departure Baltra Island to Quito

We’ll enjoy our final scrumptious breakfast at the hotel before heading to Baltra Island airport where we fly to Quito and connect to our flights home. All USA flights depart in the evening.

(We may offer you an optional 3-day trip extension at the end to explore Quito. If a minimum of 10 are interested, we can arrange all.)

Land Price $ 4275 + $680 estimated for internal domestic flights round-trip from Quito to Baltra $95 added to cover pre-paid gratuities for guides and drivers

REGISTER NOW

Deposit $600

Based upon 18 participants.      (Single supplement is expensive at $1876 extra for a private room throughout so above price is based on per person occupancy in a twin room.)

 Includes:

  • $130 in Galapagos National Park entry fee!
  • 1 Night at Quito on twin sharing basis on bed and breakfast
  • 2 Nights at Scalesia Lodge on twin sharing basis
  • 3 Nights ay Finch Bay Lodge on twin sharing basis
  • Inter-island flights and local Galapagos transfers
  • Guided excursions and all meals described in itinerary
  • Municipal tax Quito
  • Snorkeling gear at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and on the Sea Lion yacht
  • Rubber boots and rain ponchos at Scalesia Lodge
  • Wi-Fi (limited and intermittent broadband only due to Galapagos’ poor satellite

Not included – International round-trip fare USA to Quito, gratuities of around $95, optional multi-sport activities, travel insurance

Click here to read the Trip Tips for all info needed

Prepare to be thrilled by Ecuador and our best Galapagos vacation creation ever. We’ve sent dozens of groups here over the years, mainly on a big old boat, but this is extra special. There’s such diversity both on land and water for your best photos ever and you’ll be in the lap of luxury. We have a wonderful group of 22 travel lovers. You were fortunate to get on the small group adventure. I know most of you and can guarantee this will be large fun. Our small group will be split in two for the sea lion yacht sailing’s. Start connecting now on your private Facebook group page. More details, departure, New Year’s.

First, we thank you for your trust in booking this AFS trip. Together we will adapt to any new travel norms for the privilege of travel.  Our vetted local teams in each city are fully trained in the latest health and safety protocols and are happy to assist you.  Things are constantly monitored.

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.

  • FINAL PAYMENT DUE APRIL 25.    Wetravel is our new data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.   If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS or Adventures For Solo Travelers, 1907 Daniel Green Ct., Smyrna GA 30080

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.). Deanna Purdie.  You’ll love her.  She’s amazing!

Based in Atlanta, making her way around the globe with over 60 countries visited…mostly solo until finding out about AFS in 2017.  With degrees in Photography and Graphic Design from SCAD, she enjoys helping others capture and create interesting posts for Social Media that your friends are sure to envy. Also, with a background in IT/Communications, she is able to help solve any tech issues you may have with your devices or apps.  She enjoys a healthy active lifestyle of working out, skiing, snorkeling and hiking.  Always researching and learning…she has been studying and speaking French for the past 8+ years and will be sure to have at least 2-3 new Travel Hacks and tips for you each trip!

Deanna is a great asset to AFS, not just because of her capable skills in leadership and her wisdom, but it’s her joyous enthusiasm in guiding others in exploration!

=======================================================

Trip Prep:

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.  Also good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Vaccines – Bring your vaccine card.  Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it.  You can take photo of both sides and store on phone.
  • All airline rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure!  Airlines are in the process of making routing and scheduling changes now. Always check your flight before departure.

Fitness level – 2   (No trouble walking.)

Air dates July 30 to August 7 for main trip. (Land August 1-7)   there is easy round-trip USA to Quito. You all will be ticketed together on the same internal flights round-trip Quito to Baltra to Quito at $680 (this may lower or increase slightly– will advise with final payment.)

Extending trip at end – you return home August 9. We will present 3-day post trip itinerary as we must await for domestic air times now.

Air challenges today – Many route changes now on domestic flights to get to your international flights. Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.  (Watch for new DOT rules to protect you. Soon airlines will be required to refund or issue a credit good forever if there’s a significant change to your flight).   They are required to notify you of changes.  Ask airline to rebook you and cover expenses or get full refund even on non-refundable ticket.  Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number.  Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at www.tpg.com for best cards.

Group Air – Airlines require a minimum of 12 to 14 people. With a small group, we won’t reach this.

Doing Own Air– We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.   We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed.  (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free. Guides greet you on airport arrival and if any flight changes, we had your back.  Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.)  We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan. If you can afford to splurge on business class, contact our guy: ali@business-class.com   Phone is 305-676-2314.  For economy seats call our friend Raj who’s an air expert at (281) 912-9173 raj8travel@gmail.com  Give him your exact airdates, destination, passport name and details with birthdate.

Airport Transfers-  Wyndham hotel in Quito is connected to the airport, so no transfers are needed in. Details later.

(With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-up or drop-offs without group air.  Unfortunately now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each persons air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. 2022 groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.)

Meet Up With Group- On AUG 1 around 6 PM in the lobby bar of hotel Hotel Wyndham for a quick breifing.

Baggage– Flights from Quito to Baltra Galapagos limit 23kg or 50 pounds and 8kg for 17 pounds on carry-on. Then interisland flights limits 9kg or 20 pounds for your checked bag! On arrival at Scalesia Kodge, staff will collect excess baggage for transfer to Finch Bay resort. Then on day 3 check in there, you’ll find luggage in your room.

Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.  If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. Apple AirTags works great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.    The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.

Packing – Check Google Weather a week prior to departure.  Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Bring a small daypack or backpack, shorts, long pants, short sleeve and long-sleeve shirts, light windbreaker rain, jacket, comfortable sneakers or walking shoes whet shoes, sandals, swimsuit, wide brim, hat, and cap, sun protection, sunglasses. Optional – binoculars.

Electric– Plugs same as USA.  Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.

————————————————————————————–

Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 to $500 cash should suffice.    Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.  Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.  Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.  Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees. (Some countries in Africa and Asia require new bills dated after 2016. Older bills not accepted when changing money.)

Gratuities – ($95 Prepaid)  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, boat crew, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally, but around $10 to $15 per day should cover all for the trip. For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip.  For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!

—————————————————————————————-

Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide iPods or laptops to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.
  • Travel health – Drink bottled water. Avoid street foods. Bring Imodium. Need meds or shots? Book a Tele-chat with a travel doctor for shots and meds at runwayhealth.com.  Load up on antioxidants like vitamin C to zinc.

Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Retail Therapy – Ecuador is a shopper’s paradise at the markets.. Look for Ecuadorian chocolates, coffee, fine textiles, alpaca scarves, paintings, silver and beaded jewelry, and endless handicrafts. Bargain all.

Websites of Interest:

Great things can be found at www.ecuador.com and www.discovergalapagos.com.

National park rules – listen to your guides. Huge fine if you handle or feed animals. Stay on marked trails. Walk quietly not to disturb nesting spots.

Accommodations –Our itinerary has links to each hotel.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare.

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   (The best option is to invite a friend.  We be able to give you a $100 discount.). Note, kindness begets kindness.  How many of our season travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.  If AFS room list ends up with unbalance gender, and forces a single room we will offer it to all in group or share in the added cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.   Arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/    More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions   Briefly, on land packages we’ll refund your deposit less 50% until 5 weeks prior trip’s final payment due date.   Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!

AFS Galapagos Solo travel