Around 600 miles and a flight of two hours from the Ecuadorian mainland lie the enigmatic Galapagos Islands. An archipelago of 21 islands and over 100 rocks and islets with only 5 permanently inhabited by human beings. A visit to the Galapagos Islands is a must for anyone who seeks extraordinary encounters with wild mammals, birds, lizards and the underwater marine environment. Couple this with the living and constantly evolving volcanic landscape whilst walking in the footsteps of Charles Darwin.
A visit to the islands is foremostly an educational experience, strict regulations are imposed by the Galapagos National Park whereby only certain sites can be visited on the islands and need always be accompanied by certified National Park Guides. However, there is also room for recreation…swimming, snorkelling, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding offer incredible up-close encounters with sea lions, turtles and a mesmerising collection of colourful fish.
We only recommend a handful of boats for up to 7-8 day cruises, which all offer the above activities with luxury, comfort and excellent food and wine. Also, and most importantly safety is taken very seriously with exceptional crew and naturalist guides. So as not to rush the Galapagos experience, we also highly recommend either a pre or post trip land based stay at one of our personally selected lodges, allowing you to reflect and relax after your journey to the islands.
Whichever way you choose to visit the Galapagos, we are always on hand and have the experience to advise on the best options in order to make the most of this once in a lifetime destination.
Unlike other island archipelagos, 97% of the Galapagos Islands are National Park with strict regulations preventing development. This allows for the wildlife to be closely monitored and protected with only a limited amount of visitor sites. The sites that can be accessed offer incredible encounters with wildlife due to the relative lack of predators.
View the majestic Albatross at close range, kooky Blue Footed Boobies and stunning crimson throated Frigate birds. Marine and Land Iguanas, Giant Tortoise and Sea Lions pose nonchalantly for photographers.
Snorkel in crystal clear water off white sand beaches to spot rays, sea turtles and Galapagos Penguins.
A Galapagos cruise is an active experience and each day is scheduled with excursions to the islands which vary in duration but are usually 2-3 hours of walking, listening and learning. All cruises are also conducted in groups. It is possible to charter boats exclusively for family and friends however.
The archipelago is surrounded by beautiful clear water and white sand beaches; the climate is mainly warm to tropical and so lends itself perfectly to a relaxing post cruise stay before the long flight home.
Either a hotel with pool close to the main archipelago town of Puerto Ayora works extremely well or a luxury tented camp in the Highlands of the island of Santa Cruz.
This is a relatively new experience in the Galapagos due to the relaxing of some regulations. There are now wonderful opportunities to get on the water and closer to nature on kayaks and SUPS. This is only possible on a few selected purpose built expedition boats that are designed specifically to carry and launch the equipment. Snorkelling is usually arranged on a daily basis on active cruises depending on conditions and the itinerary.
Diving is extremely specialist in the islands due to the currents, water temperature and remoteness of dive sites. There are options for live aboard and land based day trips.
Bicycles can be hired on the inhabited islands for independent active exploration.
The Galapagos is a learning experience. Each cruise day includes at least one (usually two) guided land excursions by a certified Galapagos National Park guide. All activities (snorkelling, kayaking, SUPS) are also accompanied at all times.
The guides are generally extremely passionate about the islands. There are strict regulations as to training and working in the islands and the standard of knowledge is very high. All aspects of the Galapagos are covered from the geology, natural and human history, Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, species identification, conservation and future threats and trends. The Galapagos is a destination for all ages, whatever stage in life, the knowledge acquired from such an experience can only be a positive one to be conveyed by all generations for future conservation.
There are many vessels operating in the islands but we are careful to only use a select few. The maximum passenger capacity for a single vessel is 100 passengers, classified as a small cruise ship. The larger boats are more stable; one is of deluxe category (Silversea). The others vessels we recommend are specifically designed for Galapagos cruising for 16-20 guests. The choice is then narrowed down to the activities that are available (snorkelling, kayaking, SUPS), specific family departures and the cruise itinerary.
It is well worth researching and we are here to offer first hand advice on the most suitable boat, itinerary and experience.
Please contact your Destination Specialist for more information on +44 (0) 1993 824198
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