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13 Issues To Know Earlier than You Guide a Galapagos Islands Vacation


Generally I feel I’ve seen all of it on the subject of journey…after which I’m going to a vacation spot that blows my thoughts and makes me notice that I’ve so much but to see! My Galapagos Islands vacation was filled with studying alternatives, however most of all it was filled with awe and pleasure. How might it not be – the Islands and wildlife are beautiful. It’s like being inside an episode of Planet Earth.

I can’t consider I waited so lengthy to go to the Galapagos Islands! After years of individuals telling me I ought to go there, I lastly pulled the set off on the Galapagos in November of 2021 – a time when the world was slowly beginning to transfer round once more. It was an ideal time for me to go to these particular islands for the primary time.

Throughout my 5 days there, I discovered a lot. My conceited long-time-traveler aspect thought I knew what to anticipate…in spite of everything…I had seen all of it earlier than. However each day I discovered one thing new that stunned and delighted me.

Galapagos Islands Cruises and Resorts

There are numerous, many Galapagos cruises (and even resorts!) to select from. Along with the kind of tour, size of the tour, and sort of boat – you’ll even have to decide on which islands and wildlife you need to see. And eventually, you’ll have to determine what time of 12 months you need to come as it’s a year-round vacation spot!

la pinta galapagos cruise
Metropolitan Touring’s La Pinta Yacht

For reference, I went with Metropolitan Touring on their Jap Islands Cruise, an Ecuadorian-owned firm that has been important to Galapagos tourism and conservation for many years.

Metropolitan Touring even has a resort, Finch Bay Galapagos, on Santa Cruz Island. That is nice for individuals who may not need to spend per week on a ship however nonetheless need to discover the islands or possibly simply follow land-based experiences round Santa Cruz Island.

Metropolitan Touring was precisely what I used to be searching for – the match was good for me. Nevertheless – you need to make your selection primarily based in your journey fashion and funds. And right here are some things I discovered that can assist you with that selection.

13 Issues You Ought to Know Earlier than You Go to the Galapagos

I usually discovered myself pondering – ‘I want I had identified this earlier than I bought right here’.

That’s why I made a decision to place collectively this listing of issues concerning the Galapagos that I type of want I knew beforehand. A few of these issues are quirky, some are important to know, and a few will assist you determine what sort of tour it would be best to e-book for a Galapagos Islands vacation.

galapagos islands vacation

1. It’s in Ecuador – the Galapagos Islands just isn’t its personal nation

Truly – I did know this earlier than my journey – nevertheless, I used to be stunned to search out out that most individuals don’t know that the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador. They’re situated 605 miles off the coast of Ecuador and are a part of the nation similar to Hawaii is part of the USA.

Where is the Galapagos islands
The place are the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador?

To go to you’ll have to observe the Ecuador visa guidelines, in addition to pay a park entrance charge.

The Galapagos Nationwide Park Entrance charge is levied on all guests to the islands. The Galapagos entry charge is at present 100 USD per individual (diminished to 50 USD for youngsters below 12 years previous). This charge should be paid, in money, on the airport on arrival. Funds from the entry tax for vacationers are used to finance the conservation of biodiversity of natural world, terrestrial and marine, and profit the local people by bettering fundamental companies, schooling tasks, sports activities, well being, environmental sanitation, environmental companies, and companies straight associated to vacationers.

2. The Distinction Between a Tortoise and a Turtle

All tortoises are turtles, however all turtles will not be tortoises. You’ll see each within the Galapagos Islands – and sure, there’s a distinction! Actually – earlier than I went, I didn’t know what the distinction was.

galapagos giant tortoise
Galapagos Big Tortoise

A tortoise is a land animal; they typically steer clear of water besides to drink it. Their shell is a little more rounded/domed they usually nest and reside on land. Within the Galapagos, you’ll see the endemic Galapagos Big Tortoise. These creatures are unimaginable to see. They lumber round slowly and reside for a whole lot of years. You’ll be able to view them at varied sanctuaries they’ve on the islands and be taught extra about their lengthy lives, and the conservation effort on the islands to maintain this uncommon, previous, species alive. A go to to certainly one of these sanctuaries is a should! You will discover sanctuaries on Santa Cruz Island, San Cristobal, and Isabella Islands.

Sea Turtle
Sea Turtle

A turtle usually lives within the sea and has a extra streamlined skinny shell to be extra aerodynamic within the water. Sea turtles will actually solely come on land to put eggs. And sure – you’ll additionally see loads of sea turtles if you happen to take to the water within the Galapagos. I used to be in a position to snorkel together with the modern sea turtles and it was a spotlight of my Galapagos trip!

Things To Know Before You Book a Galapagos Islands Vacation

3. Charles Darwin Solely Spent a Few Weeks within the Galapagos

Charles Darwin might be the very first thing that involves thoughts whenever you hear concerning the Galapagos Islands. Due to his well-known e-book, The Origin of Species, he type of put the Galapagos on the map. Nevertheless, you could be stunned to be taught he was truly solely there for five weeks and visited simply 4 of the 13 islands! As well as, of the 5 weeks there, he was solely onshore for two of the weeks.

Galapagos islands vacation
It’s nice to spend time onshore within the Galapagos

It’s loopy to suppose that he might have such a profound journey with solely two weeks on land! The wildlife he encountered impressed him to develop his Idea of Evolution; which solidified him in historical past. Simply suppose how a lot you’ll be able to accomplish if you happen to go on a week-long Galapagos Islands vacation!

4. There’s a Dance Occasion on Espanola Island

You’ve heard of full moon events in Thailand…properly the Galapagos has a particular dance occasion of its personal on Espanola Island. I used to be enthralled as I discovered concerning the Waved Albatross mating dance. And I used to be much more delighted once I bought to see it!

The dance is likely one of the most extraordinary courtship rituals amongst seabirds – you can be mesmerized.

They mate for all times – a dedication that all the time begins with this hilarious courtship show – a dance of affection. The dance features a exact sequence of strikes: quickly circling and bowing, clacking beaks, mouth gaping (my favourite), stopping/beginning at precisely the identical time, and at last elevating their beaks skyward while letting out a “whoo-ooo” name as a ‘climax’. As soon as mated, a pair will lay only one egg per 12 months, which they may guard vigilantly for 2 months.

Can’t think about it? Then watch it for your self!

That’s why that is one dance occasion you don’t need to miss in individual!

Finest Time to See Waved Albatross Performing the Mating Dance

It’s thought that some 20,000 pairs breed and nest on Espanola Island every year.
Courtship dances of newly-paired albatross and well-established pairs could be seen solely between April and December. The nearer to the top of that interval you’ll see the courtship of pairs who didn’t breed that 12 months, however are nonetheless working towards, usually peaking in October.

5. The Islands Had been Initially Colonized for ‘Massive Enterprise’

The islands have an in depth human historical past that’s usually missed. They could have been one of many final locations on Earth to be colonized by people, however sailors, whalers, and adventurers have been stopping there for not less than the previous 5 centuries. Within the 1860s the islands have been colonized with the hope of massive enterprise and the manufacturing of a well-liked purple dye. The islands are crammed with a lichen, orchil, which produces a purple dye that had ‘financial potential’.

Colonizing the Galapagos Islands
Colonizing the Galapagos Islands

It’s fascinating {that a} enterprise cause, is the one which moved Ecuador to colonize the Galapagos as a result of previous to this enterprise, Galapagos Islands had no possession, they have been no man’s land. It was solely due to the orchil enterprise potential that Ecuador determined to place the flag on these distant islands on February 12 of 1832. Nevertheless, by 1879, the worldwide marketplace for plant-based orchil dye had crashed, and the enterprise enterprise crashed together with it. Tourism on the island didn’t actually begin till 1934.

6. A Galapagos Island Trip just isn’t Tropical

Regardless of its equatorial location, the Galapagos local weather just isn’t as tropical as you may think. The islands are made up of lowland and highland zones. The lowland areas are fairly desolate and extra like a dry, arid desert. There are few bushes; primarily cactus-like my favourite Prickly Pear Cacti discovered on lots of the island’s lowlands.

The highlands are extra humid and greener. You’ll discover bushes/forests there and totally different animals additionally reside there. Right here’s a map of the totally different islands and their highlands/lowlands areas.

Galapagos Islands highlands lowlands
Highlands and Lowlands on Galapagos Islands

Nevertheless, what you gained’t discover are palm bushes, cabanas, umbrella drinks, and tropical seashores. Sure – there are seashores – and they’re stunning – however they’re additionally occupied by sea lions, iguanas, birds, and cacti.

Things To Know Before You Book a Galapagos Islands Vacation

7. Galapagos Wet Season Solely Consists of Quick Showers and is the Finest Time to Go to

I do know many people who find themselves involved about touring throughout wet seasons – however actually, the new season (or occasions when it rains) is a superb time to go to the Galapagos. In actual fact, it could be the perfect time to go to!

I really like visiting areas in sizzling, wet seasons as a result of the typical traveler doesn’t know that the islands truly solely get quick showers that final solely 20 to half-hour. Individuals suppose that the wet season is a continuing downpour, raining all day, ruining their trip. Properly – right here’s the key – it’s not like that in any respect within the Galapagos! You see, there are two distinct seasons within the Galapagos Islands – a dry season and a sizzling season.

Galapagos Sizzling Season

Runs from December to Could with common temperatures of 88 to 70 F
and water temperatures are 74 to 76 F

Ocean circumstances are clear and heat; glorious for snorkeling and diving. Transient tropical showers that final 30 or 40 minutes interrupt vibrant sunny days preserving vegetation inexperienced and wildlife energetic. What’s actually fascinating is that if you happen to take a look at the entire 12 months, and see the variety of hours of precise solar all year long, it’s within the sizzling season that you simply get probably the most solar though it’s the time of the 12 months when it rains.

Galapagos Dry Season

Runs from June to November with common temperatures of 78 to 62 F
and water temperatures are 74 to 66 F

Count on a bit extra wind and water choppiness, however this is a superb time for climbing and viewing energetic marine life. There’s additionally loads of snorkeling to be carried out – however you’ll most likely be dawning a wetsuit to maintain you a bit hotter. I went in November, the dry season, and I undoubtedly used a wetsuit for snorkeling!

8. Galapagos Animals Aren’t Afraid of People

You could have most likely learn this earlier than – nevertheless it’s onerous to actually grasp till you might be there, and a sea lion wobbles proper previous you, or a Blue Footed Boobie has a nest proper on the path and simply seems to be at you as you stroll inches away from it and doesn’t even flinch. The rule is to remain 6 toes away from the wildlife, however the wildlife doesn’t have a rule- they arrive as near you as they like.

Our guides defined that the animal’s lack of worry of people on the Galapagos Islands has to do with the truth that they don’t have any predators. And so they don’t have any predators as a result of they’re on an archipelago 600 miles away from the closest landmass; that’s when isolation is available in. Giant carnivores would have by no means been in a position to attain the islands as a result of they’re so distant. Giant mammals can’t float there or swim there. Archipelagos behave very in another way than continental islands the place there’s a steady migration motion of animals within the space.

As well as, the species on the island have discovered over time that people will not be a menace to them. That is partly due to all the conservation efforts put in place by Ecuador and the tourism trade. A whole bunch of years in the past earlier than it was a protected space, sailors did come and take/kill animals on these islands. However via years of safety, now the generations of animals solely know people as no menace, so they won’t be phased by you strolling inside a couple of toes of their nest!

This is identical type of factor that occurs in Antarctica and the Subantarctic Islands. Penguins will encompass you with no worry and I personally suppose that’s one of many issues that makes locations like this so magical. You’ll by no means expertise getting so near wild animals besides on actually distant islands. Perhaps that’s why I really like distant locations and excessive journey a lot!

9. Galapagos Sea Lions Suppose Every little thing is Theirs

Don’t be stunned if when you find yourself in port cities like Puerto Baquerizo Moreno you’ll discover the Sea Lions simply hanging round city. And so they aren’t simply contained to the seashores or port. You’ll discover them at bus stops, on prime of picnic tables (severely – how did they get on prime of a desk?!!), they are going to be all over the place. I determine they type of do personal the place…they have been right here on the islands first in spite of everything. Simply beware – they could look domesticated as they lay on a bench on the bus cease, however they’re nonetheless wild. Don’t method them or feed them and even suppose that they’re ‘pets’.

Sea Lion at bus stop Galapagos
Simply ready for a bus…

10. When in Doubt Put ‘Galapagos’ in Entrance of It

The islands have endemic species that had developed and tailored to the distant islands abandoning their unique traits. It’s onerous to truly get an actual variety of endemic animals, nevertheless it’s over 30 for certain. Since these Endemic species are restricted to a geographical space and don’t happen naturally in some other a part of the world, they bought the classification title ‘Galapagos’ after they have been recorded. That’s why practically each animal you level to and ask your information, “What’s that?” will likely be answered with the phrase Galapagos ‘fill within the clean’.

I discovered it a bit humorous after some time; Galapagos sea lion, Galapagos Big Tortoise, Galapagos Albatross, Galapagos Hawk, Galapagos Penguin, Galapagos Pink Iguana, Galapagos Buzzing Fowl, Galapagos Finch, Galapagos Fur Seal…the listing can go on and on. Though I discovered it entertaining – it’s additionally fairly cool when you consider it; making the islands much more particular.

11. Ship Measurement Issues in your Galapagos Trip

Whereas at first thought a small, single-guided ship could seem probably the most interesting approach to go to your Galapagos Islands vacation, don’t select too quick. Bigger, multiple-guided ships truly provide distinct benefits for vacationers.

A lot of the cruise ships within the Galapagos are sized for 16 friends, which usually discover the islands as a gaggle. Nevertheless, bigger expedition ships have a number of guides and friends can stay up for visiting the islands in smaller-sized teams: simply 11-12 friends per information on common. With the potential for additional divisions primarily based on curiosity (birding, for example), language (English, Spanish, German, to call a couple of), and exercise degree (easy-going to strenuous), group sizes usually run even smaller. Plus – in case you are susceptible to seasickness – or nervous about it, the larger the ship the much less the jostling. Your abdomen will thanks!

Galapagos Hiking
I used to be so completely happy there was a gaggle that loved onerous hikes!

I’m usually a proponent of ‘the smaller ship the higher in expedition cruising’ – nevertheless on this occasion, I used to be SO THANKFUL that we have been in a position to break up into totally different teams with totally different pursuits. We had a gaggle that cherished strenuous hikes and due to that I used to be in a position to see rather more of the islands – and I used to be simply happier total. The opposite simpler hikes wouldn’t have glad me. As well as, I wasn’t all the time into hard-core birding so I most well-liked to deal with climbing and snorkeling. I most well-liked having extra time within the water with the ocean lions than checking birds off a listing.

Things To Know Before You Book a Galapagos Islands Vacation

12. No Matter What, Go Snorkeling within the Galapagos

Galapagos Diving is meant to be very good – nevertheless I’m not a diver, however I do wish to snorkel. It was my large shock and spotlight of the entire Galapagos trip. I usually choose climbing to snorkeling – however the sheer pleasure of snorkeling and taking part in with sea lions, sea turtles, and the dazzling fish was a once-in-a-lifetime expertise.

Reef sharks whizz by, not far out of your flippers, Sea Lions twist and switch zooming previous you in a loopy ‘sport of rooster’, and Sea Turtles swim previous languidly because the rays mix into the sand beneath. The Galapagos Islands are one of many world’s best snorkeling locations, the place these legends of the ocean could be noticed near the floor.

I used to be actually screaming and guffawing in pleasure as the ocean lions swam round me. It appeared just like the extra twisting, turning, and bubbles I made, they have been extra pondering that I used to be only a pal taking part in with them.

So, in case you are the kind of one who is like…uh…I don’t know…the water seems to be chilly…it’s cloudy…possibly I’ll simply sit on the seashore as a substitute, I can see sufficient from right here…


13. Each Island is a Separate World of Its Personal – Your Itinerary Issues

As a result of there are totally different species and vegetation on every island, it’s vital to choose your route rigorously if there are particular animals you need to see. I did the Jap Islands and there are not any Galapagos Penguins on these islands. Nevertheless, my favourite dancing Waved Albatross solely exists on Espanola Island, and my itinerary went there!

The Galapagos is uncommon as a result of the islands don’t behave equally inside the archipelago. Every island of the archipelago group behaves in another way. You might suppose it doesn’t matter which islands you select to go to – nevertheless it does matter. The extra islands you see, the extra you perceive why the Galapagos is so totally different and vital.

Galapagos Islands holiday

To assist guests tailor their itineraries and take in the perfect stability of Galapagos wildlife, The BIG 15 was created. Constructed from consensus amongst students, Naturalist Guides, and island connoisseurs to decide on the archipelago’s most original and interesting wildlife – these 15 animals are probably the most iconic Galapagos wildlife. To take it a step additional – you’ll be able to see precisely on which Galapagos Island every of those 15 animals resides. Hopefully, this helps your planning of precisely what islands you need to go to.

Methods to Get to the Galapagos Islands

The one approach to get there’s to fly. Nevertheless, direct worldwide flights don’t exist; you can not fly on to the Galapagos. Vacationers should first arrive at mainland Ecuador previous to their flight to the Galapagos Islands.

You’ll fly into Quito airport (UIO) or Guayaquil airport (GYE) for starters. You’ll possible keep in a single day in a kind of cities as a result of most worldwide flights get in late at night time. Nevertheless – that is excellent news as there are a few stunning inns I like to recommend if you happen to keep in these cities! And each of those inns are posh…they’re each part of the luxurious Relais Chateaux Assortment. A group of resort properties which are five-star-quality providing a refined expertise in rooms, service, and superlative delicacies.

I flew JetBlue which has some nice offers to get to Quito (direct from Fort Lauderdale) and Quayaquil (direct from/to Fort Lauderdale or JFK)– you’ll want to examine them out!

The place to Keep on Your Galapagos Layovers

Get a switch into Outdated City Quito and keep at historic Casa Gangotena. This resort is such a deal with to remain in – it not solely affords an exquisite place to remain in coronary heart of the historic heart, nevertheless it additionally will lead you thru the perfect components of the town instructing you about Ecuador’s historical past, tradition, and traditions. I stayed there for a couple of days and fell in love with the historic attraction, distinctive issues to do, and unimaginable cocktails!

Learn Casa Gangotena opinions on Journey Advisor / Guide a Room right here / Extra inns in Quito

In case you are in Guayaquil – a brief switch from the airport is Lodge del Parque. That is pure colonial luxurious surrounded by a lush park. I can’t think about a extra stunning place to spend your switch. I stayed there on my method house from the Galapagos Islands as I had one in a single day earlier than I might get a flight out. Not solely was the historic constructing stunning, the rooms giant (with a toilet concerning the measurement of a kitchen), however the restaurant and the tasting menu have been beautiful – it was an ideal finish to a magical Galapagos trip for me!

Learn Lodge del Parque Evaluations on Journey Advisor / Guide a Room Right here / Extra inns in Quito

Galapagos Islands Vacation

Hopefully, this helped you hone in on the place you need to go within the Galapagos, in addition to what sort of ship you’d wish to take! And it additionally most likely refreshed your reminiscence on turtle vs. tortoise! When you’ve got any questions concerning the islands or how to decide on, be at liberty to go away me questions within the feedback and I’m completely happy to assist primarily based on my experiences or put you in contact with some tour suppliers who can reply your whole questions.




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