April 16, 2018

A Beginner's Guide To The Galapagos

Visiting the Galapagos islands in Ecuador is the trip of a lifetime for the hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers who visit there every year. Each island has its own unique personality and can offer a totally different travel experience - and there are too many of them to list here! With a variety of flora, fauna, amazing wildlife and a range of amazing features such as cactus forests and clear turquoise waters, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Galapagos islands. It has all of the scenery and activities you could possibly want.

This beginner’s guide is going to help you to plan the most incredible trip if you’re a first timer:

How Long Do You Need On The Island?
When you’re planning your trip to the Galapagos, you need to bear in mind that it consists of 13 bigger islands and more than 40 smaller islets. Each island is unique and has its own features. As there’s quite a distance to the mainland, it’s a good idea if you plan to stay as long as your budget will let you so you can enjoy the full diversity of the islands. The tours available can take anywhere between 4-12 days, but it’s a good idea to make sure there for at least a week. This is the minimum amount of time it’ll take you to fully enjoy the Galapagos to the max, especially if you’re an animal lover and want to take in all of that beautiful wildlife!

When Should You Visit The Islands?
One of the most common questions surrounding the Galapagos islands is ‘what time of year should I visit?’

There are a few different times you can visit depending on what it is you’re looking for. There’s no best or worst time to visit the island as the weather is pretty great all year round, so that’s a huge bonus! However, the most popular time to visit is from June to August and Mid December to Mid January. It’s also the most expensive time, so if you don’t have an unlimited budget, it’s a good idea to make sure you visit when it’s going to be a bit cheaper. December to May is the hot rainy season. At this time, the sea is quiet and the daily rain showers make room for a cloudless sky. Temperatures are usually above 25°C, so you're guaranteed some great weather. This is the best time to visit if you are looking for snorkeling, colorful fauna and hatching sea turtles.

June and November offer temperatures of 20-25°C. The sea is a little choppy at this time of year, but it’s a great period to visit for divers with experience, as the cold water means a bigger variety of marine life. You could see various sharks, albatrosses, and penguins too.

However, visiting the Galapagos at any time of year will still give you a fantastic trip providing you do your research to know what weather you’re getting and how much you should expect to spend.

Group Touring The Galapagos
The Galapagos has two airports, however, it’s best to fly to Baltra, as most tours start on the neighboring island of Santa Cruz. Then you have choices; do you want to explore the islands by Island hopping, by boat, or a group trip? All of the options available are fun, it can just depend on who you’re traveling with and whether you want to meet new people.

Taking A Cruise

You may never have considered going on a cruise before, but visiting the Galapagos on one is a popular choice. Just bear in mind that depending on the cruise you go for, experiences can differ greatly from one another. The ship sizes can be totally different, and you could be traveling in a luxury cabin or something plain and comfortable. To get an idea of cruises available, you can see this page. If you don’t want to feel like tourists, traveling on a smaller cruise ship could be a good idea. A full cruise will involve as many as 20 voyages, 20 snorkel trips, and multiple trips on motorboats to various islands. It’ll be a full trip with plenty to see and do, so prepare yourself and keep your camera charged up!

Whatever sort of travel and tour you choose, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid the sea life on the islands. You can see the Turtles at Darwin Research Station, the Sea lions at San Cristobal, the bird lovers on North Seymour, and those visiting Isabela, San Cristobal and Bartolome will be able to enjoy snorkeling and marine life. Just some of the wildlife you can see while exploring include:

Sea lions
Lightfoot crabs
Marine Iguanas

As there’s so much wildlife on the island, making sure your guide is experienced and approved is one of the most important things you can do.

Alternative Trip Ideas
Now, if you have time on your hands and a decent sized budget, you could consider this option; going on a shorter cruise ship, maybe 5 nights, and then doing a few hotel stays on a few of the different islands. Just make sure you look for approved travel guides whether you plan on exploring mainly by sea or land. Do this a few months in advance so you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re ready to enjoy your trip. At the busiest time of year, these trips book up fast, and you certainly don’t want to end up disappointed.

The Galapagos islands are the ideal place for you to live it up snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, wildlife spotting, and more. You could easily fill up a whole memory card with gorgeous images of your trip, and they will become special memories that you won’t forget in a hurry.

This could be the trip of your lifetime, so use the information here to plan your break and have an incredible time! Have you been to the Galapagos islands before? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

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