5 Reasons to Travel to the Galápagos Islands

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The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Its isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s greatest wonders and an incredibly magical destination to visit.

The Galapagos Islands were claimed by the country of Ecuador in 1832 and today have been named a province (Galapagos).

What are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are part of the country of Ecuador and are located in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 kilometers west of northern South America. The archipelago consists of 19 islands and dozens of islets and rocks that dot a vast area of 17,000 square miles (45,000 square kilometers) of the ocean.

Some of the Galapagos National Park Rules

  •  Stay on the designated trails at all times.
  •  Do not disturb the animals or remove any native plants or rocks.
  •  Do not transport any organic material into the islands, or from island to island.
  •  Follow your naturalist guide when exploring the national park.
  •  Do not feed the animals.
  •  Do not carry food and/or foreign elements into visitor sites.
  •  Do not approach animals that are resting or their nesting sites.
  •  Cellular and satellite phone use is prohibited in visitor sites.
  •  Do not buy goods that are made from native Galapagos species (except for wooden carvings).

Learn more about the Galapagos National Park rules in our blog and experience the islands in an environmentally conscious way.

What You Need for Your Galapagos Packing List

  •  1 Small backpack (waterproof)
  •  Comfortable walking shoes
  •  Sneakers with rubber soles and/or “Teva” type sandals
  •  Shorts
  •  Long pants
  •  T-shirts
  •  Long- and short-sleeve shirts
  •  Windbreaker
  •  Bathing suits + a wetsuit for snorkeling in cold months is recommended (these are available for rent aboard our boats)
  •  Socks
  •  Hat or cap
  •  Toiletry kit (biodegradable products, please)
  •  Plenty of strong sunblock (SPF50 or higher)
  •  Sunglasses
  •  Binoculars
  •  Camera & video recorder
  •  Any important medication you may be taking
  •  Book/Notebook
  •  Chargers for electrical equipment
  •  Emergency contact information
  •  Plug adaptor
  •  Passport

How to get to the Galapagos

First, when traveling to Galapagos, is important to know that they are 600 miles off the coast of South America. You have to fly into Baltra Island before taking a bus and ferry ride to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.

There are no direct international flights to the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos Islands is one of the most pristine and isolated places in the world. The archipelago provides the perfect environment for the unique wildlife and the magnificent flora that lives here.

Daily flights to the Galapagos Islands depart from the cities of Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador. You can fly to Quito or Guayaquil cities with international flights. Guayaquil’s Jose Joaquin de Olmedo “International Airport” and Quito’s “Mariscal Sucre” International Airport receives daily flights from Miami, New York, Amsterdam and Madrid, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and some of the major cities of Central and South America.

When is the Best Time to Go to the Galapagos?

The year-round temperatures are quite warm, however, there are two seasons. The two seasons in the Galapagos are hot: January through May and dry – June through November.
The best time to see wildlife is during the hot season if you want to explore the marine and land iguanas or Galapagos giant tortoise. If you are open to exploring the sea then it is better to visit it during the dry season when there is much more marine activity.

The peak months of the year are June, July, and December when there are more tourists.

What is the best way to book a trip?

Some travelers prefer to organize their own trips to the Galapagos, book flights, lodging, and activities on their own. One of the best places to stay is the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. If you are not one of those you may want to join group tours or book a cruise aboard the Santa Cruz II, Isabela II, and La Pinta comes with luxury accommodations, healthy and delicious dining options, and expert naturalist guides.

The best way to plan your trip is to do it well in advance.

Hiking

The islands offer some truly remarkable hiking excursions. We recommend booking a designated Galapagos hiking tour for travelers if you are interested in hiking.

Some of the best hiking opportunities in the islands can be found in the highlands of Santa Cruz and the Sierra Negra Volcano, where you can see tortoises and a variety of birdlife or the opportunity to explore the depths of one of the world’s greatest volcanic calderas.

Birdwatching

The islands are home to 56 native bird species, 45 of these can be found only in the Galapagos. You can see different sea birds, land birds, and shorebirds, including migratory birds.

On the islands, due to no natural predators, the birds are approachable and are not scare easily. You can observe them from close distances and for long periods of time.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling gives you the opportunity to explore life under the surface. You will be able to bear witness to all sorts of enchanting wildlife. You can see marine iguanas, sea turtles, sea lions, white-tip reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, starfish, colorful fish, rainbow coral.

Galapagos Islands is one of the best places on earth to do snorkeling.

Kayaking

This is a one-of-a-kind active adventure in the world’s most unique wildlife destination. You’ll have an amazing experience, enjoying the beauty of the islands from a distance and have closer encounters with marine life. The sun at the equator is really strong and burns the skin faster. Remember to wear reef-friendly sunscreen lotion and your personal life jacket.

Other activities

You can enjoy some other activities like mountain biking or paddleboarding that gives you the chance to cover a lot of area for a shorter time. You can enjoy all the activities all year-round.

Galapagos video from Unesco

Main photo credit: Diego Delso / Wikipedia

Want to learn more about other sustainable destination? Check out out section sustainable travel destinations.

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