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Galapagos Islands


A Wonderland of Diversity

Perhaps it was a photo depicting an iguana gracefully swimming underwater, tales of a bird with wings so small it can no longer fly, or recollections of Charles Darwin from school lessons that first sparked your intrigue about the Galapagos Islands.

Whatever it may be that draws you to this remote archipelago off Ecuador's coast, the allure of its living displays of natural history and breathtaking beauty are undeniable. It’s one of the few destinations in the world for which the phrase “one of a kind” can be used to describe both the unique wildlife found nowhere else as well as the thrilling excursions to observe the island’s animal residents who are for the most part unafraid of humans.

  • Location Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    The Galapagos Islands are located 620 mi (1,000 km) off the coast of Ecuador. The archipelago consists of 13 large islands and numerous rocky islets.
  • Temperature Year-round averages: 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 30°C)

    Transitions between the warmer and cooler seasons are gradual and dictated by the ocean currents.
  • Warmer Season From December to June
    Sunny skies and pleasant temperatures are the norm. Sometimes there are scattered showers.
  • Cooler Season From July to November
    Overcast conditions are more the norm and daily temperatures are slightly cooler. Sometimes there’s a misty-like drizzle, or garúa.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
The Galapagos National Park is described as a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution.’ It safeguards 97% of all terrestrial area in the archipelago, an enormous marine reserve, and all the wildlife living there.
UNIQUE BIODIVERSITY
Get in Charles Darwin’s headspace during your visit and observe how marvelous endemic wildlife offers us a mind-altering understanding of evolution, biology, and species. Marine Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants are among the species unique to the Galapagos.
WILDLIFE OBSERVATION
The Galapagos Islands stand out among the world’s leading destinations for wildlife. Over millions of years, extreme isolation and a dominantly predator-free habitat in the archipelago have evolved in animal populations that are surprisingly tame and seemingly unbothered by nearby humans.
NATURALIST GUIDES
A naturalist guide licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service always accompanies you on engaging excursions to designated sites throughout the national park.
DARWIN'S RESEARCH STATION
Reflect on the history of conservation in the Galapagos and learn about the groundbreaking scientific efforts in motion that protect native flora and fauna. On a visit, see different species of endemic giant tortoises and other educational exhibits.
VOLCANOES
Volcanoes dot the stunning and diverse landscapes of the archipelago. Hike to the rim of Sierra Negra on Isabela Island for spectacular views over its expansive volcanic caldera.
GALAPAGOS SETTLEMENTS
Only 3 percent of land in the Galapagos is designated for human occupancy. Islands with port towns are Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela.
GALAPAGOS CRUISE
Embark to remote parts of the Galapagos Islands on a premier cruise. Awake to new wildlife encounters and engaging land and ocean going tours everyday.
GALAPAGOS HOTEL-BASED TOUR
Skip the cruise and stay on land. Set out on daily excursions to nearby natural wonders and, at night, return to the comfort of your hotel room.
SNORKELING
Life is teeming in the waters of the Galapagos. Grab a snorkel mask and observe playful sea lions, schools of fish, graceful sea turtles, and even reef sharks.
RELAX
Carve out time during your vacation to lounge in a hammock or spend downtime at the beach.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
Kayaking, biking, nature walks, surfing, swimming, volcano treks, and stand up paddle boarding are among the adventure options in the Galapagos.
SCUBA DIVING
Plunge into the underwater splendor of the Galapagos reef. Schools of snappers, large Galapagos garden eel colonies, sea turtles, moray eels, and multicolored sponges are among the aquatic life you may encounter.
LOCAL CULTURE
Conservation and preservation are instilled into the locally driven tourism. Each town in the Galapagos showcases a charmed variety of souvenir shops, restaurants, and accommodations.
STARGAZING
Away from city lights, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, look up to a star-studded night sky. Conditions are usually clearest between January and May.
Marine Iguana
Marine Iguanas are the only seagoing lizard in the world. A special gland connected to their nostrils lets them spit out excess salt retained by their bodies after consuming algae-heavy meals.
Galapagos Sea Lion
Sea Lions are notoriously curious and show off their underwater acrobatic moves for their nearby audience of snorkelers and scuba divers.
Flightless Cormorant
Unlike other cormorants around the world, the small scruffy wings of Galapagos Cormorants leave them grounded. After centuries of evolution, and with no predators, the bird may have lost its ability to fly but gained remarkable swimming skills all thanks to their stronger legs and webbed feet.
Waved Albatross
Waved Albatross couples mate for life. They perform an elaborate mating dance to make sure they have the correct partner.
Galapagos Penguin
Galapagos Penguins are the only penguin species that live at a destination on the equatorial line.
Boobies
There are three species of Boobies in the Galapagos; Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, and Red-footed Boobies
Land Iguana
Large males can reach 3 ft (0.91 m) in length and weigh up to 30 lbs (13.6 kgs).
Galapagos Flamingo
There is a small population of Galapagos Flamingos in the archipelago. Their striking color is a result of the aqueous bacteria and beta carotene obtained from their diet.
Related Packages


Galapagos Island Hopping
6 Days
Galapagos
Grand Galapagos & Colonial Quito
8 Days
Galapagos, Quito
The Highlights of the Galapagos & Ecuador
11 Days
Cuenca, Galapagos, Guayaquil, Quito


Explore All Packages
Galapagos Travel Tips


  • High season in the Galapagos is typically June, July, and August and during the December to January holiday season.
  • The Galapagos features a very rich nature calendar. Animal activity varies from month to month and even island to island. There’s always something unique to observe, from courtship behaviors, nesting, and birthing for a slew of wildlife.

Advanced planning is the best way to ensure booking your desired travel package and roundtrip airfare. This is particularly true if you visit during high season months as some cruises book 12 to 18 months in advance.

Flights to the Galapagos Islands depart mainland Ecuador from Quito, the country’s capital, and Guayaquil. We recommend our travelers arrive to the airport 3 hours before their outbound flight to the archipelago. Airline weight restriction for checked luggage is 44 lbs (20 kgs).

  • Guayaquil (GYE) - Galapagos | approximately a 1 hr 30 min direct flight
  • Quito (UIO) - Galapagos | approximately a 3 hr 30 min flight (with layover in Guayaquil)

There are 2 airports in the Galapagos.

  • Seymour Airport (GPS) is located on the tiny island of Baltra and serves the town of Puerto Ayora on the larger, nearby island of Santa Cruz.
  • San Cristobal Airport is located on the island of San Cristobal and serves the nearby town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Your travel advisor will advise you of the best airport to fly to during your vacation. Some Galapagos travel packages include airfare.

All travelers are required to pay the national park fee at the beginning of their visit. Payment is made in US cash at the airport in the archipelago. It’s $100 for foreign tourists 12+ years and older and for children 11 and under the fee is $50.

Travel to and from the Galapagos Islands is tightly monitored by the government for both foreigners and Ecuador nationals. At the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, you need to visit the INGALA window in the domestic terminal to get your transit control card before passing though the security checkpoint. The fee is $20 for the card per passenger. At time of purchase you must present your boarding pass and passport. Once you have it, fill it out and keep it as you'll need to show it again when you depart the Galapagos.

Your travel advisor will let you know if it’s possible to receive a pre-issued card with your custom travel package.

  • The US dollar is the official currency of Ecuador and in the Galapagos Islands.
  • Arrive to the Galapagos with US dollars already in your wallet. You need cash to pay the mandatory national park entry fee.
  • ATMs can be found in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island. There is not an ATM on Isabela Island so make sure to bring sufficient cash.
  • Tipping your tour guides, cruise attendants, and hotel staff is a nice way to show your appreciation for their hard work and dedication. Of course, the amount you leave is up to your own discretion. Generally, tipping is done at the end of your stay. Some cruises provide an envelope for you to leave tips for your guides and the staff.
  • To go scuba diving in the Galapagos, you must be certified and many of the designated sites are best suited for experienced divers.
  • Ask your travel advisor what hotel-based travel packages in the Galapagos include amazing scuba excursions. The other option is to consider scuba diving during a cruise. Only designated liveaboard ships are allowed to organize and operate diving outings.
  • The Galapagos Islands gift divers with an ongoing show of amazing underwater life. While it’s important to remember that specific animal sightings and good visibility are not guaranteed, the aquatic region of the archipelago belongs to the national park and are famed around the world.

Daily excursions for cruise itineraries indicate dry or wet landings and determine what footwear and clothing you will suit up in for that day’s adventure.

Here’s what these terms mean:

  • Dry landings are when you disembark on a jetty or rocks and keep your toes dry.
  • Wet landings are when you get off the dingy/small boat on a beach or shoreline where you may get your feet wet and then set out on some island exploration.

Note: Airline weight restriction for checked luggage is 44 lbs (20 kgs) to the Galapagos.

Essentials:

  • Passport
  • Bank cards and US dollars
  • Sunscreen, hat, and glasses
  • Insect repellant and motion sickness remedy (if needed)

Clothing & Footwear

  • Comfortable, lightweight clothing
  • Swim suit
  • Hiking boots or sneakers plus a pair of water shoes or strappy sandals. Amphibious shoes, like Tevas, are perfect for moving from the sand into the ocean and onto dry land and hiking trails in the Galapagos.

Equipment

  • Camera (zoom lens is ideal)
  • Consider packing some binoculars
  • Permits are required for the use of drones
  • Smaller daypack to carry during excursions

Yes, there is Internet in the Galapagos but Wi-Fi connections are notoriously slow. Some cruises offer Wi-Fi for an additional (often pricey) fee.



 
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