The Galapagos Islands
are situated 1000km off the west coast of Ecuador almost
exactly on the equator, there are 13 major islands, 8
smaller islands and 40 islets.
Galapagos Travel Guide
The Galapagos Islands
are a magical and almost mythical isolated archipelago. They
are readily accessible to tourists, many of whom travel as part
of an organized cruise, guided by experts who are a mixture
of seasoned seafarers, and wildlife specialists.
"Although in oceanic
islands the species are few in number, the portion of endemic
kinds is often extremely large." - Charles Darwin,
On the Origin of Species
Visitors to the Galapagos must be accompanied
at all times by guides who have been trained by the Charles Darwin
Station and licensed by the National Park. These guides are
intimately familiar with visitor sites and will share their wealth
of knowledge with you daily. In the evenings, they will give briefings
on the following day's events.
The best way to visit the Galapagos Islands
is as a part of a guided tour aboard a small cruising vessel,
which functions as 'floating home' for the duration of your visit.
Ships anchor aside islands and passengers are ferried ashore on
pangas (small zodiacs) twice a day. Each island offers a different
experience. Trained naturalists help travelers while ashore interpreting
the islands' wildlife. These guides make nature come alive.
Visitors fly into Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador,
and then take a flight from the mainland to the islands.
Explore the environment that amazed Charles Darwin amongst other
ship's naturalists in past centuries with its collection of
exotic and unusual wild-life that wanders as freely and fearlessly
today as it ever has. From cold-water penguins to marine iguana
and blue-footed boobies, this volcanic archipelago continues to
amaze visitors of all ages
Each day of a Galapagos cruise will
take you to new rich and varied sites. You may be Snorkeling among
sea turtles, playful sea lions, or Galapagos penguins. On land you'll
see giant Galapagos tortoises creep slowly through lush green meadows,
or climb to the rim of one of the largest volcano craters in the
How long are trips?
How long should I go for?
Cruises are offered in 4 to 11 day programs,
we recommend at least an 8-day cruise.
7-8 day cruises - Classic - allow
you to visit a number of islands, see a wide range of species and
snorkel several times in different locations. Allow 10-11 days in
total with travel time.
9-12 day cruises - In-depth - will
give you a greater time to see more of the wildlife of the Galapagos,
birdwatchers and other naturalists will appreciate the opportunity
to see more species in more locations. Allow 12-15 days in total
with travel time.
4-6 day cruises - In-brief - will
suit those with a limited time or with young children. This short
time is not recommended alone for a cruise as it seems very brief
after travelling so far to arrive in the Galapagos, it is best combined
with a land programme either in the Galapagos, in Ecuador or other
South American countries.
How much does it cost?
Rates from $1500 per person for a 4 day trip.
For an 8 day trip with plenty of "features"
and variety and a ship with a good level of comfort, expect to pay
around $4000 - $4500 per person, more affordable trips are
available as are more fully featured trips up to 11 days from about
$6000+ per person.
Family trips, some cruises cater
particularly for families, child rates for aged 12 and under, or
discounts for the under 21's - details vary with the specific
Air fares to Ecuador
Flight tickets to Galapagos from Quito
or Guayaquil These can be booked at a rate of around
$450 - $550 per adult. They must be booked at the same time
as the cruise booking, if you wish us to do this for you. These
rates are subject to change.
An Ecuador National Park entrance fee
of $100 per adult and $50 per child (12 years and under
at time of sailing) will be due at time of final payment. The
Islands are part of the National Park system.
Galapagos Transit Card ($10 per person) paid in cash upon arrival
When do trips take
Situated on the equator, the Galapagos
is an excellent year-round destination. There is
no "bad time" to visit. Most of the seabirds and reptiles
nest year-round, so you will likely see courtship, mating,
chicks hatching and rearing at any time of the year. It
is worth bearing in mind that being on the equator, the
sun rises at 0600 and sets at 1800 with very little variation
throughout the year, so it is always worth making an early
start to make the most of the available daylight hours.
Weather - Early mornings
and late evenings can be cool, and mid-day can be very hot.
Overall, the a Islands have a surprisingly cool,
sub-tropical climate caused by the Humboldt and Peruvian
currents, despite their situation on the equator. The Islands
only receive an average of ten inches of rainfall per year.
Coastal areas are dry and arid, while the highlands receive
enough rainfall to support lush vegetation.
Some months are warmer than others
of course. The temperature in the islands ranges
from an average of 19°C / 66°F in September
to 26°C - 32°C / 80° - 90°F (December -
March), and 21°C - 26°C / 70° - 80°F
during other times of the year. In recent years, however,
climate changes have made weather predictions more challenging.
January - May: Warmest time
of year; Slightly more rainfall; Lower elevations tend to
stay arid; Ample blue skies and sunshine; Sea is calmer
and at its warmest.
June - December:
Air temperature slightly lower; Garua season (Garua: a mist
that forms in the highlands, providing moisture); Antarctic
Humboldt coming from the south causes slight drop in the
water temperature; September is typically coolest.
Beginning of rainy season
Ideal time for Snorkeling
Green turtles arrive to the beaches to lay their
Seabird communities are active
Whales are more likely to be found off western side
Lava lizards start mating rituals
Few penguins sighted on Bartholomew
Masked boobies on Espanola are at the end of their
Galapagos Hawks court on Espanola and Santiago
Temperature of the ocean lowers to 18°C - 64°F
Migrant shore birds start to arrive
Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa
Rainy season reaches the highest precipitation
Sun and hot climate; air temperatures can reach
up to 30°C - 86°F
After Mar 21, arrival of waved albatross on Espanola
Air temperature reaches its lowest 19°C - 66°F
Penguins and Sea Lions are very active
Courtship of waved albatross on Espanola beginss
Land iguanas hatch on Isabela
Green sea turtles begin to hatch
Galapagos fur seals begin their mating period
Giant tortoises continue laying their eggs
Boobies raise their young on Espanola
Blue-footed boobies begin their courtship on North
Most of the marine iguanas' eggs hatch from nests
on Santa Cruz
Albatross on Espanola start laying their eggs
Sea lion pups are born
Beginning of the garua season
Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz migrate from the highlands
to the lowlands in search of nesting places
Hatching of giant tortoise's eggs begins & lasts
Rainy season begins and the vegetation starts turning
Max air temp. ˚F
Min air temp. ˚F
Ave. sea temp ˚F
Ave. rainfall (inches)
Are the Galapagos
a good destination for children, families, seniors?
magic of the Galapagos captivates people of all ages, from youngsters
to seniors, and truly brings out the child in everyone. Daily
morning and afternoon activities - whether its hiking, beach combing,
snorkeling, or enjoying a Zodiac trip - give you the opportunity
to spend most of your time "off ship" exploring wildlife and vegetation
of the islands.
However, it is also important to note that these trips have a
great deal of flexibility, meaning you can choose the level of difficulty
of an activity, and you can, of course, opt to not participate in
The Galapagos is a wildlife wonderland for
children! We have had the opportunity to travel through the islands
with children ourselves, and have seen, first-hand their curiosity
and enthusiasm to snorkel two feet away from a sea lion pup, hike
past dancing blue-footed boobies, and admire a 170-year-old tortoise!
The islands give children an opportunity to gain a sense of connectedness
to nature, which for many is a new phenomenon, as well as a chance
to learn without even realizing!
Cruising in such an environment means that it
is the passengers who are "in the cage" and the wildlife
outside free to roam.
The boats and ships move around readily from
island to island making travel very relaxed and comfortable,
always surrounded by full facilities and the freedom to move
around the vessel.
Conversely with many cruises however, shore-trips
are regular and there are not protracted periods of sailing
in open sea.
Activities are on the basis of doing as much
as you want, if you simply don't want to join an excursion,
you don't need to, pick and choose according to ability
Certain cruises are specifically aimed at families
with family oriented facilities and activities and of course
a greater chance that there will be other children on the vessel
for new found friends - always a boon for the parent on holiday!
Note: The National Park System asks
that visitors be at least 7 years old to protect the wildlife, the
nesting habitats, and the welfare of the child.
are four primary categories of vessels - Smaller vessels,
Smaller dive vessels, Mid-sized vessels, and Larger vessels:
Smaller Vessels - 20 passengers
The advantages to sailing on a smaller vessel are many.
A smaller group size feels more expeditionary and less crowded
when you go ashore. These vessels include motor and sailing
vessels and range from basic to luxurious. All offer an
intimate and personal atmosphere. Kayaks are typically available
onboard as another method of exploration. One of the few
drawbacks is that there is little privacy and passengers
have only one guide, and therefore one trained perspective.
Larger Vessels - 80 to 100 passengers
Galapagos cruises aboard larger vessels offer a high level
of comfort, a variety of facilities - lounge, library, snorkeling
equipment, hospital, lecture room, pool, gift shop
- and a wide range of accommodations, from single cabins
to suites. The 'style' of ship varies from expedition
to cruise ship-like, and all have the ability to travel
further distances, thus allowing you to see more in a short
amount of time. There is a wide selection of food,
onboard snorkel gear and wetsuits, and several different
Mid-sized Vessels - 40 passengers
Aboard mid-sized ships, you can enjoy the comfort and
speed of a larger vessel, while travelling with a smaller
group. These vessels are slightly more spacious, allowing
more privacy, and offer more cabin category options.
Additionally, they are generally more luxurious than smaller
vessels, often with added amenities such as Jacuzzi, pool
and more common areas (i.e. lounge, solarium, bar.
Unlike smaller vessels, these ships have 2-4 naturalists
aboard as your guides, which can bring a greater breadth
of knowledge onboard.
Smaller Vessels - 16 passengers
For those who wish to experience diving in the Galapagos,
we offer two types of diving departures:
1) Dive-only programs are for travellers wanting to spend
most of their time exploring the underwater world of the
Galapagos. A diving itinerary typically consists of
two to three dives a day along with land visits to the islands.
At certain dive sites, there may be as many as four dives
a day, and, night dives are also provided if conditions
2) Active departures offer a combo itinerary of both
diving and other activities, such as hiking and snorkeling.
These cruises appeal to both divers and non-divers, as passengers
are not limited to a specific activity.
Diving in the Galapagos Islands
has long been recognized as some of the finest in the world.
Galapagos offers a diversity of endemic marine and plant
life found in no other place on earth. However, Galapagos
divers should understand that the Galapagos is a technical
dive site and should be attempted only
by certified experienced and advanced divers. Cold water
currents and strong up swellings in different parts of the
archipelago can produce sea temperatures as low as 10°C
/ 50°F although the average is nearer 20°C / 67°C
throughout most of the year. During the warmer season, from
December to March, water temperatures rise to about 24°C
Make the effort
to dive or at least snorkel seals and penguins underwater
are a never to be forgotten experience
the Galapagos - The islands in brief
The Galapagos Islands are part of the South
American country of Ecuador. They lie almost exactly on the
equator at latitude: 0° 54' South, longitude: 89°
36' West. They are 1,088 km / 676 miles from the nearest large
city on the mainland - Guayaquil and 1,236 km / 768 miles from the
capital city of Quito.
The Galapagos group
consists of 13 major islands, 8 smaller islands and 40 islets.
There are 3 airstrips on the larger islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz
and San Cristobal, the latter two being international.
The population is growing and numbers over
25,000 people, with an estimate of reaching 40,000 by 2014,
four of the islands Isabela, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and
Floreana have major settlements.
Total sea area is 45,000 square kilometres and total land area
is 7,882 square kilometres. Ecuador declared the Galapagos a wildlife
sanctuary in 1935 and they were named a
World Heritage Site in 1978 by UNESCO.
Groups of scientists and travellers from Ecuador and all over
the world visit Galapagos National Park. To minimize the effects
of tourism on the animals and unique environments, the park has
established strict rules, including no camping on the islands. Visitors
must overnight on ships. About 60,000 people visit the archipelago
Tell me more about a trip to the Galapagos
The following are representative, please use the form above
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Trips leave year round
Galapagos Explorer II Luxury Expedition Ship
Child-Friendly, Hiking, Photography,
Snorkeling, Wildlife Viewing 100 passengers
4 days from $1,780