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Galapagos Travel Guide | All details that you need to know
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Galapagos Travel Guide

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Your Galapagos Travel Guide

The question that intrigues travelers the most is how and when to travel to the Galapagos Islands. Even though, everybody agrees that the any time of year is perfect for visiting the Enchanted Islands, the decision depends on the interests that encourage passengers to travel to this archipelago as well as the time frame going.

This guide is prepared to help you to identify each season and interest available for a trip to the Galapagos along with the highlights of each.

Galapagos Tours

Hotel Stay combined with Daily Excursions (Island Hopping)

For travelers who prefer the comfort of a hotel along with the most flexibility in their itinerary, an Island Hopping Tour may be the best fit. Travelers or their agent can design their tour to include time on the water as well as interactio with the local communities and their way of life. The Galapagos Archipelago is the perfect destination for offering these things as well as flexible dates of travel and more control of what to do on their visit.

It´s important to mention that meals and tours for this type of travel are priced separately and are not all-inclusive.

Is this a cheaper way to Travel to the Galapagos Islands?

It is completely relative because it depends on the type of accommodation and the category chosen, or the season and activities included. In general, it is a bit cheaper than a cruise trip, yet on certain occasions, it may be more expensive.

Can I visit the same sightseeing than on the cruise?

This is a completely different experience than a cruise. On an Island-Hopping Itinerary, it is only possible to visit sites that are nearby the main islands (Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Floreana). The main limitation is the time of navigation during daylight, so the yachts for daily excursions must return before sunset to the main island. Here are some examples of the sites that travelers can visit only by cruising the Galapagos Islands: Genovesa Island, Fernandina Island, North and West side of Isabela Island, Rabida Island, Santiago Island, Chinese Hat, among others.

Which type of transportation do passenger take between Islands?

There are inter-islands flights and boat shuttles. It’s difficult to depend on the flights because they can be cancelled at the last minute because of weather concerns. The best way to travel inter-islands is by taking small boats. This option has set schedules, and the costs are $30-$40 per person. The journey takes approximately 2-3 hours, and Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) is the hub for boat travel. If someone needs to travel from Isabela to San Cristobal Island, it has to stop first in Puerto Ayora and then take the next boat to San Cristobal.

Can I book the hotel accommodation and the sightseeing visits myself?

Yes, you can! Please remember to consider that certain sites are restricted and require the company of a naturalist guide certified by the National Park to be able to visit them. For that reason, we recommend that travelers book tours in advance and guarantee everything, especially in high season. It is important to all visitors to learn the history, wildlife, flowers and geography of each site from a trained, local guide.

Galapagos Tours
Galapagos Tours
Galapagos Tours
Importance of the Galapagos Guide

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Naturalist / Expeditionary Cruises

Many visitors to Galapagos choose naturalist or expeditionary cruises for discovering the wonders of the archipelago. Cruise boats offer onboard guests the service of multilingual naturalist guides, mainly Spanish-English, but other languages are also available. Additionally, Galapagos cruises offer inclusive food services with a mixture of Ecuadorian and international cuisine. In the case of small yacht and category, vessels offer personalized service led by cruise directors. This option offers the best relative cost-benefits by letting passengers maximize their investment regarding time, money, and sites visited.

Is the navigation onboard a cruise yacht too rough and bumpy?

The stability during the cruise along the Galapagos Islands depend a lot on the season of the year, but in general, it is very stable. The period of the rough sea is between July and September, mainly due to the cold currents of Humboldt that comes from the south. However, there are some vessels such as the Galapagos Sea Star Journey that have stabilizers, so the navigation is smoother for onboard guests.

Can I visit the whole archipelago?

Visiting most of the sightseeing places authorized for tourism is possible. Nonetheless, it may depend on the length of the trip that ranges from four to 15 days when it is combined more than two cruise´s itineraries. You have to be aware that yachts sail the archipelago by zones. Hence, some journeys visit the western islands while others the central or northern islands, for example.

Are Cruise trips in the Galapagos Islands all inclusive?

In the Galapagos Islands, this concept is partially true. The most important services are included such as the meals with an all-inclusive plan, the snacks and refreshments, the accommodation, the guidance, ground transportation, and some equipment for doing snorkeling and kayaking as well as constant hydration.

In the Galapagos, some services must be paid, in cash, at the end of the cruise. This includes beverages (alcoholic and soft drinks), wetsuits for snorkeling, and gratuities for the cruise´s staff.

Which is the best itinerary for the Galapagos Islands?

This answer varies based on the needs and interests of each traveler. Even though, everybody confirms that the Galapagos Islands are mesmerizing and astonishing, not only for the rareness of their landscapes and geography but also for the evolution of Galapagos´ wildlife to the harsh conditions. As a result, many people know about or have seen pictures of Galapagos species like the blue-footed boobies, playful sea lions, or frigate birds with its inflated red pouch that catches the attention of both female frigate birds as well as visitors.

Each island has a series of endemic fauna that travelers can see only in those places. For instance, there are species that visitors can see along the Galapagos Islands like the giant tortoise and sea lions. The blue-footed boobies can be seen in most of the islands, there is only one place where you can watch the three type of boobies inhabiting the same place, and that´s Punta Pitt in San Cristobal. The Flightless Cormorant is located only at the west side of Isabela and Fernandina Islands.

We strongly recommend you download the following eBooks that Latin Trails has prepared thinking to help travelers to answer some of their questions regarding wildlife, seasonality, and so on:

Galapagos Birdwatching: https://latintrails.com/galapagos-birdwatching-ebook/

Galapagos Snorkeling Site: https://latintrails.com/snorkeling-in-galapagos-ebook/

Galapagos Tours
Galapagos Tours
Galapagos Tours
Galapagos Tours

How to cruise the Galapagos Islands?

Solo Traveler

In this case, the small cruise yachts are ideals because they facilitate the interaction between cruise mates and the crew aboard.
Tip: some small yachts like the Galapagos Sea Star and Seaman Journey, it is possible to share cabins with other travelers (same gender), and help solo travelers to avoid paying single supplements that range between 50-100%. This option depends on the seasonality, date of the trip, and any other condition that yacht´s companies set.

Sierra Negra Volcano

Couple´s Trips

The Galapagos Islands is one of the most preferred destinations for couples – newlyweds, young and old celebrating anniversaries or just getting away from their daily lives and allowing the staff to pamper them while they revel in the beautiful scenery, luxury surrounding and fine food. The bonus of fun in the sun also attracts couples who like water sports – kayaking, snorkeling and swimming are all available. What a perfect getaway!

Isabela Island Galapagos tour

Family´s Trips

Many families – from grandparents to grandchildren – love traveling to the Galapagos Islands. The trend is growing mainly because of the availability of both a beach destination with the adventure and unique sites and wildlife that only Galapagos can offer to families. The whole family will have the opportunity to widen their knowledge of geography, geology, biology, while enjoying the destination. The minimum age recommended for kids is six years for the yacht voyages. Families can also take advantage of chartering small yachts for a fun and private family getaway.

galapagos-with-kids6

Friend´s Trips

The Galapagos Islands are ideal for friends and colleague´s groups that are looking to experience the adventure, comfort, and exclusivity while they discover the Enchanted Islands. As in the case of family groups, this types of travelers are chartering small yachts as a way to have a bit of more freedom aboard but also to reduce costs to everybody.

Galapagos Experiences Latin Trails

When to Travel to the Galapagos Islands?

After travelers make their decision to visit the Enchanted Islands, the next question to be answered is when is the best time to visit the archipelago. For that reason, we have prepared the following outline of the main activities by month in the Galapagos Islands.

galapagos islands iguana

Activities and traveling conditions in the Galapagos Islands by month

galapagos islands iguana

January

  • Water and air temperature start to rise
  • Land iguanas begin their mating season at Isabela Island
  • Sea turtles arrive at the Galapagos beaches to spawn
  • Male marine iguanas get a shiny skin color at Española Island
Galapagos dove

February

  • Marine iguanas begin their mating season at Santa Cruz Island
  • Nazca boobies (masked boobies) are finishing their mating season at Española Island
  • Nesting of the Galapagos Dove reaches its highest seasonal peak
  • The water temperature continues rising to 25°C (77°F)
galapagos iguana

March

  • Marine iguanas begin their mating season at Fernandina Island
  • Waved albatrosses begin the return to Española Island
  • Short tropical rains begin to appear along with strong sun
  • Short tropical rains, the sun is strong, and the temperature rises to 30 ° C (86F).
Albatross Española island Galapagos

April

  • Albatrosses arrive in massive numbers to Española Island to start their mating season.
  • Giant tortoises and sea turtles´ eggs start to hatch
  • Land iguanas´ eggs hatch at Isabela Island
Galapagos marine tortoise - Galapagos Islands

May

  • Sea turtles start to nest their eggs at Gardner Bay and Puerto Egas
  • Palo Santo trees start to get green leaves
  • Albatrosses start to nest their eggs
  • Marine iguanas´ eggs hatch in Santa Cruz Island
Galapagos Islands Giant Tortoirse

June

  • Giant tortoises in Santa Cruz island migrate from the highlands to the lowland
  • It is possible to watch migrating birds flying from the south to the north side of the continent
flightless-cormorants-galapagos

July

  • Seabird chicks begin to grow and learn how to survive
  • Flightless cormorants begin to nest at Fernandina Island
  • The probability to see whales and dolphins’ increases considerably
  • Lava lizards begin their mating ritual
Galapagos-hawk

August

  • Galapagos hawks begin their mating court in Española and Santiago Islands
  • Migratory birds begin to land at the archipelago
  • Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island
Penguins in Galapagos

September

  • Galapagos Penguins start their courtship in Bartholome Island
  • Most of the seabirds continue their nesting period
lava-lizards-galapagos

October

  • Lava lizards begin their nesting
  • Sea lions begin their mating season
  • Boobies raise their chicks at Española island
  • Sea turtles continue putting their eggs
Galapagos Islands Sea Lion

November

  • Sea lions begin to have active sexual activity at the eastern islands
  • Sea lions are giving birth all around the archipelago islands
Mandatory Insurance for Incoming Travelers to Galapagos Latin Trails

December

  • Giant tortoises´ eggs begin to hatch
  • Green sea turtles show mating behavior
  • The first albatross pups are born
  • View migratory birds from the north on their way to the south.

All these questions are a selection of the what, how, when and where that many travelers have when they want to visit the Galapagos Islands.

Do you need additional information about Galapagos or the cruises options? Don´t hesitate to contact us at travel@latintrails.com or by phone to the local number +593-2-286-7832 / 1-800-747-0567 (free for US / Canada)

We invite you to read this free guide Preparing your Trip to Galapagos

ebook preparing for your trip