Complete Travel Guide To The Galapagos Islands

Travel Guide To The Galapagos Islands: What You Should Know

The Galapagos Islands are the preferred destination for good reasons: the lack of natural predators, and friendly wildlife such as playful sea lions and giant sea turtles, which allow tourists to get close to each other. This archipelago composed of approximately 19 islands and many small islands, distributed in the Pacific Ocean 620 miles from the coast of Ecuador, is a dual World Heritage Site (both land and sea are protected) and the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Each island has its own unique landscape, from barren black volcanic rocks to stretches of white sandy beaches that melt into gem blue waters.

When You Should Leave For Galapagos Island?

It depends on what you want to try. The busiest months to travel are often June, July, and August, and mid-December to mid-January (the prices are usually the highest at these times). The hot rainy season from December to May is when the ocean is at its calmest, with daily rainfall giving way to mostly sunny days and temperatures above 80 degrees.

 

The driest and coldest season lasts from June to November, thanks to the cool water and cool temperature brought by the Humboldt Current (in the 1970s). Although the water is more rugged, experienced divers think this is the best time to visit, because cooler water will attract more wonderful marine life (such as swarms of hammerhead sharks). This is also the time when tourists have a better chance to spot the legendary whale sharks of wolves and Darwin Islands.

Adventurous Travel 

Without a licensed guide in the Galapagos National Park, visits to most islands are not allowed. You can book a day trip to some islands from Puerto Ayora, the main tourist center of Santa Cruz, but a small yacht cruise is the best way to see the remote islands and wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. The national park limits the size of the boat to 100 passengers, but as many as 100 passengers can overload the coast at one time of disembarkation. The ideal cruise ship can only take small groups, such as 16 to 32 passengers. Adventure Life is a sustainable travel company that can book additional services such as small cruises, land excursions, eco-hotels, multi-sport tours, and snorkeling excursions.

 

It is best to book at least a few months in advance, as the boat is often full during peak seasons. You may find last-minute deals at very low discounts at travel agencies along the Charles Darwin Avenue in the Mariscal area of ​​Quito or Puerto Ayora, but even if you have the opportunity, you are serious about taking the risk, or you may have to wait at the same time Or quit to travel on a low-quality ship.

How to get there?

First, you must fly to mainland Ecuador and fly to the capital Quito or Guayaquil. These islands are closer to Guayaquil. If you have a choice, come here to save time, as most flights from Quito stop here on their way to the Galapagos. American Airlines, Continental Airlines/Cuban Airlines, and Delta Air Lines fly from the United States to Ecuador. Most Galapagos cruise ships are either early in the morning or at night, so you may need to spend the night on the mainland.

The best option to travel to the Galapagos Islands is to Baltra, and then take a bus and ferry to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, the most popular tourist center. Another option is to fly to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the capital island of San Cristobal, but most cruises start from Santa Cruz. You can book through local airlines such as TAME, LAN, or Aerogal.

Many tours do not include flights in the package price, but you can ask to book a cruise through the cruise company you are considering. Some companies charge a fee to book these domestic flights on their own, because they may pre-arrange group flight bookings with airlines to ensure the best price and everyone arrives on the same flight.

Where to live? 

If you are traveling to Quito, head to Mansion Del Angel, a boutique hotel with 14 rooms, a peaceful garden, and a delicious breakfast buffet, just a 10-minute walk from the main tourist area. Please note that the new Quito Airport is a long drive from Quito itself, so if you fly late and leave early for the Galapagos Islands, please sleep closer.

 

When going to Guayaquil, Oro Verde Guayaquil is a convenient choice because they provide a free shuttle to the hotel (only about a 10-minute drive from the hotel) and good service.

Most trips to the Galapagos Islands begin and end in Santa Cruz. You may want to stay one more night and enjoy your stay at Finch Bay Eco Hotel. You can take a quick ferry ride from Puerto Ayora Pier, which has its own secluded beach where you can snorkel, kayak, and swim.

What should be done?

 

  • Witness wild animals. Blue-footed boobies, albatross, and penguins, my goodness! Many species are unique to the Galapagos because of their isolation and remoteness. Tip: Please ask your cruise operator to land before 5:50 in the morning. So you can overcome the heat and crowds.

 

  • Diving. The liveaboard will take you to the best diving spots in Wolfe and Darwin, where you can see hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, eagle rays, schools of catfish, and more.

 

  • Snorkeling. No matter which island you dive into, you may swim with sea lions and Pacific turtles. Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock in San Cristobal are great places.

 

  • Travel. Hike through the dry lava pools along the edge of one of the active volcanoes or highlands of the archipelago and admire various plants. A good option is to walk around Sierra Negra, the world’s second-largest crater on Isabela, the largest island with 6 volcanoes.

 

  • Kayaking. You can rent a self-service kayak in Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz.

 

  • Skim. Charter boats in port cities such as Santa Cruz and San Cristobal.

 

  • Volunteers. Through EcuadorVolunteers.org and Ubelong.org, you will find opportunities that may include working on a farm or helping to restore habitat.

 

Animals and Areas

 

  • Giant tortoise breeding center. Most tour groups will stop on the islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, and you can see these prehistoric ones at the Charles Darwin Research Center in Santa Cruz or the Galapagos Interpretation Center in San Cristobal biology. However, the least crowded and most interesting breeding center is in Port Vilamoura in Isabella. Here, you can hold small turtle eggs and learn about different types of turtles related to different volcanic areas on the island. Each type of turtle has different-shaped shells.

 

  • Penguin. You will find the largest penguin population in the Galapagos Islands (plus approximately 35% of the island’s giant tortoises) around Tagus Cove in Isabella. Most cruises are concentrated in the southern and central islands, but please try to include this western island in your itinerary to see some wildlife treasures. You will also see the Wall of Tears here. This is a stone wall, the remains of a former penal settlement built by prisoners, whose sole purpose is to punish.

 

  • Marine iguana. Fernandina has the largest colony of marine iguanas in the archipelago, as well as a large number of sea lions and flightless cormorants at the tourist spot of Punta Suarez. It is also the smallest island among the islands with the highest volcanic activity.

 

  • Albatross. Punta Espinosa in Spain is the place to watch the largest seabird with a wingspan of 2.5 meters. From April to November, almost the entire albatross nests on this island.

 

What to pack for your Galapagos island Tour?

 

  • Waterproof drying bag for cameras or electronic products
  • Telescope
  • Swimwear
  • Swimming mask and fins. Excursions usually provide them with snorkeling, but you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see marine life because you are using the right equipment. The best we found is Aqua Lung’s Linea mask (advanced fitting technology means better sealing) and Shot FX fins (spring-loaded foot straps do not require adjustment).
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • UPF long sleeve shirt. Wear it when hiking or even diving to provide extra sun protection.
  • Refillable water bottles to reduce plastic waste.
  • Motion sickness medicine for boat trips.
  • Dry clothes quickly. Try using breathable and odor-resistant merino wool materials such as snow pants, socks, and T-shirts.
  • Raincoat. Consider a waterproof jacket and umbrella (sun protection and rain protection!)
  • Trekking shoes are suitable for rugged terrain and dry lava.
  • Cash: The $100 park fee must be paid in cash and is usually not included in the tour package. There is no need to exchange currency because Ecuador’s currency is the U.S. dollar.
Saba Ghani
Saba Ghani

Since 2017, Saba Ghani has been the chief content writer for Pakistan Tour and Travel & EMHI Solutions. You can catch her at sabaghani80@gmail.com or Twitter

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