Learn more about what to expect on this South America holiday including group size, when to go and how comfortable you can expect to be.
Pura Handmade Holiday
We have designed and deliver this holiday using our own people and carefully selected local suppliers to create a Pura Handmade holiday.
You are looked after by a Pura team on the ground in the Atacama and Patagonia.
We ensure that you see places from off the beaten path in the Atacama desert. In Patagonia we take you on a route through beautiful scenery without your having to completely sacrifice your creature comforts.
The route taken by our boat takes in some of the more outlying islands. Seeing more islands further from the centre gives you the best possible chance to see a wide variety of species.
The hotels and lodges we have chosen very carefully to best reflect the places you are visiting.
Your holiday is carefully paced to allow you time both to stretch yourself and also to relax.
When should I go?
Weather in the Atacama can change at any time. Rains come in January, February and March (Bolivian winter affects this part of Chile). Nights are cold due to the altitude of the area 2,000m – 4,000m.
The best time of year to visit Patagonia is October to April. You are likely to experience cold evenings and mornings but mild daytime temperatures.
In the Galapagos, wildlife viewing is excellent year round. Weather and sea conditions do vary somewhat through the year: September is the coolest and choppiest-sea month. From October onwards the weather warms up and the waters calm down until the hottest, calmest-sea month of February.
Some high altitude walking in the Atacama but these are ‘return to base’ so you can choose not to walk on these days.
Reasonably strenuous walks over five consecutive days in Patagonia but your bags are portaged, you are at sea level and distances are not great.
In the Galapagos, wildlife viewing is the main activity. There is some gentle walking and snorkeling.
Conditions underfoot in the Galapagos can sometimes be rough as the islands are volcanic. You should therefore be prepared for some walking over uneven terrain. You can always opt out of excursions.
First class small hotels with twin/double en suite rooms throughout except four nights in Patagonia’s mixed, communal refuges.
Your luggage is portaged in Torres del Paine making the pace of this walk very relaxed and comfortable.
In the Galapagos you will either join a Pura charter boat departure or a normal public departure. In the case of the latter we can offer you a range of small and medium-sized boats.
Pura generally charters first class motor sail boat for around 16 passengers. In all cases cabins will have with private facilities & A/C.
As a rule, cabins are small and beds are mostly single upper and lower bunks.
Navigation usually happens for an hour or two during the day with the main movement in the evenings to reach a mooring for the night at around 1 or 2 am.
On one night you are sailing all night, on two you do not move at all. The movement of the boat and noise are obviously greater during navigation.
You will be part of a small guided group, 12 maximum in Chile.
In the Galapagos dedicated Pura Aventura charters are for a maximum of 16 people.
If the group is not full then other, non-Pura clients, may join you in the Galapagos.
For tailor made trips then you will be on board with mainly non-Pura clients from across the world. English is always the default language for guiding although on occasion (though in our experience, rarely) you might be guided in multiple languages.
You also be joined by a full time grade II or III naturalist guide as well as a typical crew of six or more.
Who is it for?
In general the Chile part of this holiday attracts people in their 50s/60s, though there’s no barrier to younger and older. There is usually a 60:40 mix of couples and solo travellers.
In the Galapagos, our group departures generally attract people in their 30s to 60s. Broadly speaking, there is usually a 60:40 mix of couples and solo travellers.
Because the Galapagos is a fairly low level of activity it is really suitable from anyone from 8 to 80 years old.
Pura Aventura is passionate about the places it visits. To help preserve the integrity of these destinations we:
• Keep groups small to minimise environmental impact.
• Work directly with local businesses and organisations to directly benefit local economies. We use small, locally owned hotels and restaurants. We know the owners except in the large cities.
• Work with local guides so that our holidays are more interesting for clients and more beneficial locally.
• Make payment to suppliers before our clients arrive.
A year in the Galapagos
Beginning of the rainy season. Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain. On Hood (Española) Island adult marine iguanas become brightly colored (green/red/black). The green sea turtles arrive at beaches to lay eggs. Land iguanas mate on Isabela Island. Both water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June. Ideal time for snorkeling.
On Floreana Island flamingos start nesting in greater numbers. Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island. Peak nesting season for the Galapagos dove. Breeding season begins for black-tailed pintail ducks. End of nesting season for Nazca (masked) boobies on Hood islands. The highest water temperature reaches 25C (77F) temperatures remain high until April. Penguins move from Bartolomé Island to follow the cool waters back to the west.
Height of the rainy season (this does not mean it rains everyday). Sporadic tropical rains, intense sun and hot climate. Air temperature can reach up to 30C (86F) high humidity. Warm waters excellent for snorkelers. Penguins still active in the water next to tropical fish! Deep surge from the northern currents on some shores, wet landings at places like Puerto Egas, Gardner Bay, Bartolomé can sometimes be a challenge. Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina. March 21st, the beginning of the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española. Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) can be an amazing sight.
Massive arrival of waved albatrosses at Española, amazing courtship starts. Eggs of green sea turtles begin to hatch. Eggs of land iguanas hatch on Isabela. End of hatching season for the giant tortoises. While the rains have ended, the islands continue to be quite green. Good visibility in the water for snorkelers.
North Seymour’s blue-footed boobies begin their courtship. Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant and Puerto Egas. Most of marine iguanas’ eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz. Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage. Waved albatross on Española start laying their eggs. Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period.
Beginning of the cold (garúa) season. Giant tortoises migrate to the lowlands on Santa Cruz island for the nesting season. South east trade winds return. Currents become a bit stronger. Seas pick up in surge and wave action. Male frigatebirds show off their red pouches on North Seymour. Southern migrating birds stop in the Galapagos on their journey north. Some groups of Humpback whales migrate up to equatorial
latitudes along the coast of Ecuador reach Galapagos.
Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), specially the Blue footed boobies on Española. Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina. American oystercatchers nest along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island). Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November. Cetaceans (whales & dolphins) are more likely to be observed, specially off the western coast of Isabela. Great month to see the four stages of nesting in Blue footed boobies: eggs, chicks, juveniles and sub-adults. Water temperature around 21C (68F).
Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago.
Nazca (masked) boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island. The temperature of the ocean drops to 18C (64F), this varies according to the geographic zones among the islands. Migrant shore birds start to arrive. Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz. Oceans are quite choppy, currents at the strongest levels, surge can be expected along the shores that face west or south. Pupping season of sea lions has started. Western and central islands are common places for such sightings.
The air temperature reaches its lowest levels (19C-66F). Galapagos Penguins active around Bartolomé. Snorkelers can swim with penguins active at the surface or torpedo-like while underwater. Sea lions are very active. Females have reached estrus stage, and so harem-gathering males are constantly barking and fighting. Shore fighting is common. Most intense sea lion activity on western and central islands. Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites.
Lava herons start nesting until March. The Galapagos Fur Sea lions begin their mating period. Blue footed boobies raise chicks all over Española and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela). Giant tortoises are still laying eggs. Days are not always sunny. Garúa can be expected in most locations, except the western islands where most days have a misty start but after few hours of daylight it burns off. Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful as the garúa covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes. Summits are clear, but low-lying fog covers the shoreline.
Pupping of sea lions continues. Sea lions are sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago. Breeding season for the brown noddies. Some species of jellyfish can be seen around the islands. The Genus Physalia is commonly seen floating around Gardner and Tortuga Islets. Some can also be seen stranded on the shores of Flour Beach (Floreana). Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period. Seas are calm. South east trade winds decrease, generally great weather. Water temperatures rising and good visibility for snorkelers. Sea lion pups (specially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkelers. Most pups here are curious enough to nibble at fins of snorkelers.
Giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch. Green sea turtles display their mating behavior. The rainy season begins, all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves. Galapagos becomes “green”. The first young waved albatrosses fledge. Great weather.
As you already know, Pura Aventura is dedicated to safe and responsible travel. The links below provide useful content and more information about Chile and the Galapagos Islands. Please call us of any special requirements on 01273 676 712.
Official Government website
Prepare for your holiday
In Chile, the currency is the Chilean Peso. You won’t be able to use other currencies when in Chile. ATMs are very widespread and payment by credit and even debit card is the norm in restaurants and many shops.
Trying to get Chilean Pesos ahead of travel is difficult so we suggest that you travel to Chile carrying some US Dollar or Euro cash in case of emergency. In reality what you will do is land in Chile and go straight to the nearest ATM to withdraw some pesos.
For the latest information on the Chilean Peso currency.
In Ecuador, the sole currency is the US dollar.
Pura’s Amazon shop
We help you find the best flights for your holiday. Sometimes we can get the best rates on our contracts with airlines, other times we have a consolidator who helps us get you the best prices. A lot of the time it’s frankly cheaper online. We do the research and help you with routings, timings, etc. no matter which option you choose.
However, to give yourself an idea of what flights are likely to cost you, have a look at these websites.
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