The Galapagos Islands, a picturesque getaway tucked away in the eastern Pacific Ocean some 1000 km (620 miles) from the Western coast of Ecuador. This part of Ecuador contains 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles encompassing a whopping 50,000 km2 (19,500 square miles) of ocean. Those who do commit to visiting the Galapagos Islands are rarely disappointed by their experience, apart from the spectacular wildlife you can find landscapes to make photographers feint, you can find places to hike, go snorkelling or kayaking, horseback riding, learn about the islands natural history and, of course, there are plenty of gems hidden beneath the water just waiting for you to explore.
One of the first things you should consider when planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, as you should with other places in the world, is to check out their entry requirements. In June of 2017, the Ecuadorian government has decided to introduce new rules to those wishing to explore this special corner of the world, however, these rules are not set in stone yet. In order to quench your curiosity you’ll need to be in possession of a return airline ticket, hold a reservation with a hotel or cruise tour that matches the dates of your flight OR obtain an invitation letter from a permanent/temporary resident of the islands. You may retrieve your transit card from the airport, either Quito or Guayaquil before your journey to the island paradise may begin.
With the Galapagos Islands being a group of islands, one would be inclined to think there isn’t much to do there, however, that person couldn’t be more wrong! One of the hardest decisions you will have to make before you even set foot on the shores is how you intend to get around, there are a few options and some are better than others depending on what you want to do while visiting. If you want to do day trips to the different islands, you’ll probably be better off staying in a hotel on the main island of Santa Cruz or San Cristobal, if you are looking to explore beneath the surface you’ll be better off using some type of cruise as your accommodation so you’ll be travelling overnight and exploring the oceans by day. Either option you choose will be heavily influenced by your planned activities during your stay.
As I mentioned, your chosen accommodation will have a huge impact on your activities and there are plenty of options to cure your curiosity. The water surrounding the islands should widen your eyes if you love the ocean and water sports. Above the surface you can try your hand at kayaking and surfing while the most interesting sights can be found beneath the surface while snorkelling or diving. With so many great places to go diving or snorkelling, make sure to bring an underwater camera so you can bring back once in a lifetime memories to show family and friends.
While exploring the Galapagos Islands, make sure to keep an eye out for the exotic wildlife. You can find giant tortoises, sea lions, marine iguanas, albatross, penguins and blue-footed boobies, to name a few, while exploring the remote islands. Simply relaxing while wildlife watching can be exhilarating to see the many species that are unique to the Galapagos due to it’s isolation and remote location. The best times to whiteness the most exotic wildlife and their activities is at sunset or sunrise when the temperatures aren’t so warm and, at sunrise, there should be less crowds.
You can go hiking somewhere in almost everywhere in the world, the Galapagos Islands are no exception. Let your feet take you over dried lava beds along the archipelago, exploring the highlands to see the local produce, plants and, possibly, wildlife in their natural habitat. One of the best places to go hiking is around Sierra Negra on Isabela, the largest island containing six volcanoes. Exploring nature, seeing exotic wildlife and hiking through some of natures best creations sounds like an amazing holiday to me, what do you think?
Anyone interested in history, especially the natural history of the Galapagos Islands should set aside time to delve into the Charles Darwin Research Station. This research station is aimed at both children and adults, it focuses on the islands natural history and the various conservation work being undertaken to protect the nature and wildlife all over the islands. Here you may also have the opportunity to meet baby giant tortoises and learn about their breeding program.
If you’re looking at travelling to the Galapagos Islands and want to help preserve the environment, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and help make the world a better place. A few good places to start are and . I personally don’t have any experience with these organisations but I have heard good things about them from friends, colleagues and other people I’ve met during my travels.
With the prices of flights to the Galapagos Islands being so expensive, from my part of the world, we’re extremely lucky that the climate is quite good year-round. December to June is considered the hot season and June to November are usually cooler with stronger winds, there’s not too much to worry about in terms of weather as it’s typically somewhere in the 20’s Celsius (70/80’s Fahrenheit) all year round. With the high prices for most to get to the Galapagos Islands, it makes sense to be organised in order to make the most of your time and avoid spending unnecessary money. However, there are last minute deals to be had if you’ve got time to spend looking for them on the Islands. This is one of the trips I highly recommend you organize before arriving.
For many people, going on holiday is a way of escaping winter in your home country. What better place to do this than the Galapagos Islands? Great climate, exotic wildlife and plenty of things to keep you entertained. I’d love to hear about your travels in the comment section below!