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Galapagos Island Tour and Travel Guide

(Last Updated On: May 16, 2020)

Galapagos Island is the definition of a bucket-list vacation spot. It is, in fact, a group of islands, like no different place on Earth, and also you’re mainly vacationing in an open zoo with a number of the world’s rarest and most fascinating animals.

Galapagos Island facts

This article will give an overview of Galapagos Island travel and tour

However attending to the Galapagos Island is usually a problem, and the tour choices are overwhelming—so, how do you intend this dream journey?

You’ll discover different helpful info, together with easy methods to get to the Galapagos Island, what to anticipate, easy methods to choose a tour and different recommendations that can allow you to take advantage of out of your Galapagos journey.

When to Go to the Galapagos Island

The very best time to go to Galapagos Island is while you determine to go. There actually is not any dangerous time to go, as a result of the islands’ place on the equator results in gentle local weather of sunshine and excessive temps.

The nice and cozy(er) and moist(ish) season lasts from January to June, with December and January seeing the best variety of vacationers.

The “chilly” (by that I imply 80 levels Fahrenheit and sunny) and the dry season is from July to December. The largest distinction between the 2 seasons is the water temperature, with the cooler ocean within the dry season.

You’ll nonetheless have the ability to snorkel, swim, and dive, however, you would possibly need to carry or lease a moist swimsuit in case you’re going throughout these months and need to be within the water for longer durations.

Selecting a Galapagos Tour

When you can technically go to the Galapagos Island without being on a tour group, I like to recommend going by means of a tour operator.

It’s important to be accompanied by a piece of naturalist information licensed by the Galapagos National Park Division to enter any space designated as a nationwide park.

Information is often included on all Galapagos Island excursions, however, be sure your tour choice specifies it earlier than your book.

In selecting a tour, have a look at the corporate’s sustainability practices. That is notably vital when touring to the Galapagos Island, the place the ecosystems and communities are fragile.

National park guidelines restrict the variety of passengers on a cruise ship to 100 (though most boats maintain underneath 20 individuals) and on-land excursions to 16 individuals per group, so be sure your tour matches these tips.

Most tour firms supply marine-based journeys as a result of most of the islands are uninhabited and require snorkel periods and offshore excursions to go to.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to go on an island-hopping tour the place you keep at a resort or visitor home on land and focus extra on hikes and guided land excursions.

Each tour choices have their professionals and cons. Cruises help you journey to extra islands in a shorter time period, however, while you keep on land you’re contributing more cash to the local people. In case you’re trying to spend extra time in and on the water, a marine tour is a way in which to go.

However, if you wish to do extra mountain climbing, wildlife observing, and expertise Ecuadorian tradition, it’s best to go along with an island-hopping tour choice.

It may be robust to slender down each the tour firm and kind of tour—G Adventures alone gives greater than 40 totally different excursions that go to the archipelago—nevertheless, it’s definitely worth the analysis and energy to decide on the one that most closely fits your journey preferences and expectations.

Getting to the Galapagos Island

The Galapagos Island is situated on each side of the equator about 600 miles from mainland Ecuador. You may fly into Baltra or San Cristobal Island from Guayaquil or Quito.

The flight is about 1.5 hours from Guayaquil and two hours from Quito. Until you intend on touring Quito, it makes essentially the most sense to fly instantly into Guayaquil. There are direct worldwide flights from each New York and Miami.

In case you’re flying into Baltra, you board a public bus to the ferry terminal the place you are taking a brief journey throughout a channel to Santa Cruz Island.

There you get on both a bus, personal bus, or automotive, and head to the primary city, Puerto Ayora, which is about 45 minutes away.

What to Anticipate within the Galapagos Island

Entry Necessities for the Galapagos

As a way to enter the Galapagos, you have to a transit card that you simply buy at both the Quito or Guayaquil airport.

This price $20 USD. You additionally want $100 in money to pay the national park entrance price when you arrive at the islands.

This price goes to the Ecuadorian authorities and the safety of the nationwide park. As a U.S. citizen, you do not want any particular visas to go to Ecuador or the islands.

Money within the Galapagos Island

The Galapagos are costly compared to mainland Ecuador, so you have to finances. Many excursions embrace meals, however since ATMs are solely discovered on three of the islands, you’ll need to ensure you maintain sufficient money readily available for snacks or souvenirs.

If all of your meals aren’t included in your tour, plan on spending $15 to $20 per meal, and extra if you need an alcoholic beverage.

Breakfast is included at most lodges or visitor homes, and there are some markets and grocery shops that promote meals for much less. Most souvenirs vary from $15 to $30.

Environmental Policies in the Galapagos Island

Because the Galapagos Island is each a UNESCO World Heritage web site and a nationwide park, you might be anticipated to observe environmental insurance policies and “depart no hint.”

This implies utilizing biodegradable toiletries, not flushing rest room paper down the bathroom, decreasing waste by carrying a water bottle, and never taking any type of pure factor (i.e. sand, coral, rocks) from any of the islands.

Your bag is checked upon entry and exit of each island, and bigger baggage is zip-tied closed so park rangers know they’ve been checked. You may learn extra concerning the nationwide park guidelines right here.

It is strongly recommended that you simply don’t drink the faucet water on the islands, however, you can find filtered water tanks at most lodges and eating places on the inhabited islands in addition to aboard your ship.

The islands have restricted sources of freshwater so that you’ll be anticipated to make use of water correctly.

galapagos island

Santa Cruz

Solely 4 of the 13 main islands have full-time residents, so most of the smaller islands are solely accessible through cruise excursions or as a day journey from one of many inhabited islands. Right here’s an outline of 9 of the most well-liked islands.

Santa Cruz is the primary island within the archipelago, with the most important inhabitants at around 12,000 individuals.

It has a number of ATMs, tremendous markets, dozens of eating places, and a purchasing space all in the primary city of Puerto Ayora.

Puerto Ayora is the place all guests journey as soon as they land at Baltra. Folks both keep in a single day and discover the island or proceed onto a cruise ship docked within the harbor.

Santa Cruz is residence to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station, in addition to stunning pure landscapes like Las Grietas, a pure swimming gap situated between two lava rock formations; and Tortuga Bay, a stunning white sand seashore.

Additionally, take a look at the lava tunnels, Bachas Seashore for snorkeling and swimming, Black Turtle Cove for sea life sightings, Cerro Dragon for fowl watching, and Los Gemelos—the island’s twin volcanic craters.

Santa Cruz is the primary island within the archipelago, with the most important inhabitants at around 12,000 individuals.

It has a number of ATMs, tremendous markets, dozens of eating places, and a purchasing space all in the primary city of Puerto Ayora.

Puerto Ayora is the place all guests journey as soon as they land at Baltra. Folks both keep in a single day and discover the island or proceed onto a cruise ship docked within the harbor.

Santa Cruz is residence to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station, in addition to stunning pure landscapes like Las Grietas, a pure swimming gap situated between two lava rock formations; and Tortuga Bay, a stunning white sand seashore.

Additionally, take a look at the lava tunnels, Bachas Seashore for snorkeling and swimming, Black Turtle Cove for sea life sightings, Cerro Dragon for fowl watching, and Los Gemelos—the island’s twin volcanic craters.

Floreana

Floreana is sort of the other of Santa Cruz, with solely 150 inhabitants and some visitor homes and eating places.

To remain in a single day on the island, you need to journey with G Adventures or Tropic Ecuador, as they’re the one-two teams that coordinate with the island’s group tourism program.

On Floreana, you will expertise wonderful panorama, wildlife, snorkeling spots, swimming, a black sand seashore, and be taught concerning the island’s mysterious historical past and pirate caves up within the highlands.

Floreana has a novel custom with its “Put up Workplace,” a barrel situated in the primary port the place guests can depart a submit card addressed to themselves or another person.

The concept is that if one other customer is touring to or lives near the addressed particular person, they may hand ship your submit card to them.

In case you’re on a cruise ship, you possibly will not go to the primary city on the island, however, you’ll snorkel at Devil’s Crown and Champion Islet, and discover Cormorant Level’s two seashores—one is inexperienced sand and the opposite is manufactured from coral.

Isabela

Whereas Isabela is the most important of the islands within the Galapagos, it would not have as huge of inhabitants as Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. At near 2,000 individuals, the island remains to be growing.

Isabela has a distinct really feel than Santa Cruz in that lots of the primary city remains to be underneath development.

Total, it has a beachy vibe with a protracted stretch of seashore proper off the primary city. Isabela additionally has unimaginable snorkeling, and it’s price exploring the lava tunnel subject (Tintoreras) off its coast—you’ll be able to usually do these each in a single tour.

Isabela is residence to Sierra Negra, one of many lively volcanoes—it finally erupted in 2005—the place you’ll be able to hike to the crater. Additionally go to Tagus Cove, an anchorage web site the place you’ll be able to hike for views of Darwin Lake, the bay, and Darwin and Wolf volcanoes.

And, be sure to go to the Big Tortoise Breeding Middle and the flamingo feeding lagoon for some fascinating wildlife. In case you’re thinking about the historical past, the Wall of Tears was constructed by the prisoners on the island when it was a penal colony from 1944 to 1959.

You may discover a respectable quantity of eating places, a market, some outlets, and some ATMs right here, so it is also a great place to replenish any wanted provides.

Other attractions

The principal city in San Cristobal, Puerto Baquerizo, is the capital of the island chain and residential to authorities workplaces and a college. It is also the second-largest island primarily based on inhabitants, so you will discover eating places, ATMs, outlets, and markets.

Get pleasure from sea lion sightings alongside the coast at Cerro Brujo, go to the close by the freshwater lagoon for flamingo sightings, and cease on the tortoise breeding space within the highlands. San Cristobal has the one supply of everlasting contemporary water discovered within the Galapagos–El Junco, situated within the highlands.

You should definitely take a look at the Interpretation Middle, which presents the pure and cultural historical past of the islands.

There are additionally many different seashore websites and coves together with Isla Lobos, Ochoa Seashore, Punta Pitt, Kicker Rock, Puerto Chino, and, after all, Sapho Bay, the place you will discover massive holes within the sand from individuals looking for the treasure rumored to be buried there.

This is likely one of the oldest islands within the archipelago and is situated far south of San Cristobal. It has a white sand seashore at Backyard Bay, which is residence to varsities of enormous tropical fish.

The distant island has nice snorkeling spots at Tortuga Rock and Backyard Island, the place you’ll be able to spot white-tip reef sharks.

Do not miss a go to to the numerous fowl colonies at Punta Suarez, one of many richest wildlife touchdown websites within the archipelago.

Hugging the west coast of Isabela, Fernandina is the youngest of the islands. Most notably, it is residence to the uncommon land iguanas.

You may need to go to Urbina Bay, the place you will discover dried coral in a raised marine reef that was uplifted from the water greater than 50 years in the past.

Additionally, go to Punta Espinoza—whereas it is one of many least visited areas within the Galapagos, it is wealthy in marine iguana colonies and sea birds, and has as a gorgeous seashore and lava flows.

This small uninhabited island is situated within the northern part of the archipelago. You may discover a number of the rarest Galapagos birds right here, like Crimson-footed Boobies, Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels, and Brief-eared Owls on the Value Phillip’s Steps customer web site.

There’s additionally a small white coral sand seashore in Darwin Bay that has a brief path to a tidal lagoon that is residence to nesting birds.

Right here you will spot Lava and Swallow-tailed Gulls as you proceed by means of Palo Santo timber—recognized for the mosquito-repelling aroma they offer off when burned. Be sure you get to snorkel at both of those spots, as quite a few shark species linger right here, particularly hammerheads.

Uninhabited Bartolome is likely one of the smaller islands, situated to the east of Santiago and north of Santa Cruz and Baltra.

Right here you will discover one of the crucial iconic rock formations within the islands—Pinnacle Rock—the place you’ll be able to swim and snorkel with penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles. Be sure to hike to the island’s summit for panoramic views, too.

Santiago is residence to one of many Galapagos’ most picturesque seashores, Playa Espumilla. Right here you can find thick mangroves, together with flamingo and sea turtle nesting websites.

The uninhabited island additionally has a salt crater, darkish sand seashore, snorkel spots, and tidal swimming pools at James Bay.

There’s additionally nice snorkeling at Sullivan Bay, the place you will discover big lava formations. And, do not depart without seeing the towering cliff wall rock formations at Buccaneer Cove.

There are additionally two tiny islands to the south of Santiago price exploring—Chinese language Hat and Rabida.

Chinese language Hat is thought for the snorkeling off its white-coral sand seashore and Rabida has a pink sand seashore, pelican nesting web site, and saltwater lagoon crammed with Palo Santo timber.

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