Lying some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador on the equator, the Galapagos Islands offer visitors a very special experience. With their unique ecosystem, the archipelago has some of the world’s most spectacular wildlife on both land and water. Darwin formulated his theory of evolution in the Galapagos and you can expect close encounters with many species, including Land and Marine iguanas, Waved albatross, Blue-footed boobies, flamingos, Giant tortoises, Hammerhead sharks, Manta rays and sea lion. You literally come face-to-face with a huge array of inquisitive land and marine mammals and birds, many of which are habituated and seem to simply ignore their human visitors. Galapagos holidays are truly paradise to anyone who loves the thrill of seeing wildlife in its natural habitat.
If you would like to see a particular species at a particular time of year on your Galapagos holiday, then do ask us for advice on when to go and which island to visit. Sea lion are the largest mammals that have reached these volcanic islands and a result, the birdlife here is prolific. Surrounded by thousands of miles of uninterrupted ocean, the islands are a natural breeding ground for seabirds, with many endemic species. The Giant tortoise is one of the most sought after of the reptiles and is native to seven of the islands. See our Galapagos Islands holiday calendar for a summary of what species to see in which month, on each of the islands.
Holidays to Galapagos Islands
The best way to see how species have evolved on different islands is to take a cruise. There are different boat sizes and cruise lengths. We offer the full range of Galapagos cruises as well as specific trips that are tailored for families, people who would prefer not to be with younger children and those who want a more active trip with diving and marine activities.
The boats we feature on our Galapagos holidays range from those with a capacity of 20 passengers to the maximum of 100. The mid-sized to larger boats (carrying between 40 and 100 passengers) will generally have more public facilities such as lounges and Jacuzzis. In general, the larger the boat, the longer it may take for embarking and disembarking for shore excursions. The smaller boats have the advantage of landing at islands such as Tower Island where you can see red-footed boobies for example. They can also sail closer to shore and visit more isolated bays.
On a typical Galapagos cruise holiday, the first excursion might start after an early breakfast and is likely to last for several hours. Passengers then return to the boat before it moves onto the next island or nature site. In the afternoon there is usually another landing and again, several hours spent ashore. At some nature sites there will be a choice of activity such as snorkelling, kayaking or excursions on a glass-bottomed boat. In the evening, dinner is preceded by a talk by one of the boat’s naturalist, reviewing the day, and also previewing the next.
Environmental concerns are paramount on all our Galapagos holidays and cruises. The Galapagos National Park authorities limit the number of visitors to each island to just 100 per day, in groups no larger than 20. Many of the operators we work with have achieved accreditation for their environmental practices. Ask us for details.
Land-based options & walking tours in the Galapagos
Holidays to Galapagos don't have to be cruise based. If you want to visit the islands but don’t want to spend too much time on a boat, there are some very good hotels in the archipelago, such as the Finch Bay Eco Hotel and the Galapagos Safari Camp, which operate day excursions to nearby islands. If you’d prefer to explore on foot, there are also walking tours that operate on Isabela Island.