Painting Holiday in Galapagos

Darwin’s Islands

With Mary-Anne Bartlett

13 – 25 May 2020

Price Per Person Sharing from: £6,880

‘Darwin’s Islands’ is an unforgettable Art Safari painting holiday to the Galapagos Islands, with 2 nights in Quito, 3 nights on Santa Cruz and taking an 8day cruise around the eastern islands, the most wildlife-rich and oldest islands of the archipelago. 

When Darwin took this voyage, it shaped his theories of evolution through natural selection. Rugged and beautiful, these islands shaped the world as we know it. We will see and sketch many of the species Darwin studied, which survive in wonderful and diverse profusion.

We make the most of our time in these enchanting Islands on land and at sea, sketching and painting every day – with fascinating nature walks as well as swimming and snorkelling.

En route we rest in Quito for one night before beginning our Galapagos adventure with three nights on the Island of Santa Cruz, staying on the pretty waterfront in Puerto Ayora with wonderful views, a short walk from the centre of the town and Playa de la Estacion beach for snorkelling. From the hotel decking, we can sketch basking iguana, turtles and sea lions as they glide past in crystal-clear water (or laze in on their own dedicated sun loungers!).

During our days on land, we ease into the rhythm of the Galapagos, sketching and painting local wildlife on the shores and at the Puerto Ayora fish market. The market is a hive of activity, ladies work at the counter cutting up huge fish surrounded by cool boxes and patiently queuing pelicans and sea lions waiting to be tossed scraps. Men weigh piles of lobsters, and sky pirate frigate birds occasionally swoop in.

After exploring Santa Cruz with our paints and relaxing, we board our private charter luxury motor yacht the Coral II, shared with photographers and nature people from a company we work closely within the UK.

The Coral II is a super comfortable boat, small enough to anchor close to shore in interesting places, and with spacy cabins for us all.

Our Captain and friendly crew of 10 look after us and make each day special, and two English-speaking naturalist guides accompany all our shore excursions.

Galapagos cruise itinerary at a glance:

1Baltra IslandSanta Cruz Island: Charles Darwin Station
2Mosquera IslandNorth Seymour Island
3Santa Fe IslandSouth Plaza Island
4San Cristobal Island: Leon Dormido, Cerro ColoradoSan Cristobal Island
5San Cristobal Island: Cerro BrujoSan Cristobal Island: Pitt Point
6Espanola Island: Suarez PointEspanola Island: Gardner Bay
7Floreana: Cormorant Point, Devil’s Crown, Champion IsletFloreana Island: Post Office Bay
8Santa Cruz Island: HighlandsBaltra Island

Itinerary is subject to change considering weather conditions or other circumstances/force major

Mary-Anne will take you through field sketching techniques and exercises for Island excursions. You can sketch and paint thanks to the strict conservation regulations Galapagos wildlife is not disturbed by human visitors, allowing us to study shapes, textures, colours and behaviour of wildlife at close quarters. Colourful red and yellow land iguanas and tropic birds will exercise our colour pallets.

We visit the Charles Darwin Station on Santa Cruz and explore North Seymour Island, painting blue-footed boobies, colonies of magnificent frigate birds, fork-tailed seagulls, marine iguanas and sea lions. Beautiful scenery comes into focus as we approach our landfalls.

On Espanola Island, a lava blow-hole spurts water high into the air. Gardner Bay is the breeding site of nearly all the Worlds 12,00 pairs of incredible Waved Albatross.

On Floreana Island we visit Cormorant Point; Green Beach is made of Olivine crystals.

Coral formations, multi-coloured fish and turtles make for dazzling underwater scenery.  The crew will find safe places for swimming and snorkelling with playful Galapagos sea lions, and glimmering shoals of fish, it is magical to watch turtles grazing on the ocean floor.

In 2018 we took ‘turtle boards’ to the Galapagos (1750 gsm board made especially by Two Rivers Paper), Art Safari tutor Karen Pearson experimented with sketching underwater with her snorkel.  Ask us for details for this tour!

The Coral II

With sunbathing and shaded areas, our boat is ideal for painting onboard between our adventures on land. There’s an observatory, a lounge with panoramic windows and comfy sofas, restaurant and bar serving delicious cocktails (ask the friendly barman for a ‘sea sour’!), a library and a jacuzzi which is lovely to relax in with a drink after snorkelling.

The Coral II has capacity for 18 guests in 9 cabins with portholes or windows, plenty of storage, air conditioning and private bathrooms with a hairdryer.

Shore excursions and some snorkelling excursions are via RIB (rigid inflatable boat) tenders. There’s a boarding platform at the stern of the yacht for easy access (or sunbed for the occasional sea lion!). Landings vary according to the tide/wind/waves and are a combination of wet (stepping into the water) and dry, the crew and our guides are wonderfully attentive and always assist us.

The Coral II carries snorkelling equipment for guests to use, with a selection of wetsuits, scuba gear and sea kayaks available to hire.

The Coral II Chef and team in the galley produce delicious cuisine which is presented buffet style, with Ecuadorian and vegetarian options.

Some evenings we enjoy BBQ’s served on the moon deck at sunset. A tea/coffee, naughty snack station and drinking water are available 24 hours a day.

The on-board library is stocked with books about flora, fauna and Galapagos history.

After our supper every evening our nature guides discuss the following day with pre-supper briefings; to include wildlife and conservation, landing, terrain and hikes with short films to prepare us.

We say a reluctant farewell to the Coral II and return to the Ecuadorian mainland for one night in Quito before our flights home. On our last morning, we visit the Plaza Grande in the historic heart of the city for the dazzling spectacle of the changing of the guard at 11 am (on Monday only).

Ecuadorian elders gather to chat in the leafy shade, hawkers weave through the crowd with Panama hats, colourful ice cream and trays of fruit. There are cafes, shoe shines and craft stalls dotted around the square.

The soldiers and marching band look resplendent in their brilliant blue dress coats with gold braid and red cuffs, cavalry horses’ manes are adorned with coloured pom-poms. It feels like you have stepped into a Nutcracker Ballet wonderland – grand finale for this Art Safari!

Tour costs per person sharing, from: £6,880

Single room supplement: £150

Please note that solo travellers would usually be required to share a twin berth cabin aboard the Coral II

Ask us about the Single Supplement for land/hotel days only

Our Price Includes:  All land transfers, accommodation, meals as stated on the itinerary, excursions, Galapagos Ingala card, art tuition and safari guiding.

Our Price Excludes: International flights London/Quito return, flights Quito/Galapagos/Quito, Visas if required, Galapagos Entrance fee of $120 USD pp to be paid in cash on arrival, lunches for land-based days, first night and last night supper in Quito, travel insurance, drinks and gratuities, items of a personal nature

Book now using the form below. Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)1394 382235