The Galapagos Islands is one of those destinations placed in almost everyone’s bucket list. Perhaps, what stands out the most is that it is a holiday that will transform your life…and there are many reasons for it. The natural beauty, the landscapes, the intimate contact with wildlife and the educational value of visiting a destination found nowhere else on Earth and explored exclusively by few thousands of visitors a year. Read more about Life-Changing vacation in Galapagos Islands.
Why the Galapagos Islands is a Life-Changing Vacation Without Compare
There is no destination quite like the Galapagos Islands, which are located off the coast of Ecuador in South America. These islands are a protected national park and contain some of the world’s most distinctive wildlife. Over the years, scientists have generated hundreds of studies on different fields, all inspired by Charles Darwin’s own theory of evolution. This same inspiration can be taken in as a powerful and influential message for appreciation of one of Earth’s last wild places. It’s a place where you can enjoy a being part of a totally revealing life-changing vacation.
And what’s so Special About the Galapagos Islands?
There are many places in the world where you can find beaches, view wildlife and find eco-tours. The Galapagos Islands, however, are an isolated volcanic archipelago in the tropics surrounded by cool ocean currents at one time, and warm balmy currents at another time. This basic concept has created unique habitats for the ongoing process of natural selection. Over thousands of years, this has resulted in unique life forms, plants, vertebrates, invertebrates and more found nowhere else on Earth. Some of these unique species include iconic species such as the Galapagos giant tortoises, for sure the islands’ natural emblem. But, there are also unique types of iguanas and birds such as the flightless cormorant, Darwin’s finches, the Galapagos penguin, blue-footed boobies, just to name a few.
It’s not only the uniqueness of the animals that make these islands special. It’s also the fact that you can see plants and wildlife in a protected and pristine environment. The Galapagos Islands are among the most remote and protected places on earth. While tourism to the islands is popular, numbers of visitors are limited here. This is one of the reasons that it’s important to book your trip well in advance. Altogether, about 200,00 people explore the Galapagos in a year, but only a little over 78,000 people actively participate in live-aboard cruises around the islands of the national park and marine reserve.
Best Places for Wildlife Viewing
There are numerous places on the Galapagos Islands to observe the amazing wildlife. You will certainly want to see some of the giant tortoises, which can be seen at Reserva El Chato, a large tortoise reserve in Puerto Ayora. Another of the many places to see tortoises is the Charles Darwin Research Station, which also has land iguanas as part of their breeding-in-captivity programs, as well as a variety of exhibits.
Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado, in San Cristobal, is a tortoise breeding center where you can see specimens of all ages and sizes. At the Santa Cruz Fish Market, you can enjoy the antics of sea lions and pelicans while you browse the fresh fish on display. Other stunning locations for wildlife are the islands of Española, North Seymour, Genovesa, Floreana and Fernandina. Check our itineraries to visit these amazing places!
Top Beaches for Relaxing, Snorkeling and Observing Animals
You’ll want to spend some time relaxing on the beach or perhaps doing some snorkeling, diving or swimming. Some of the most popular beaches include Tortuga Bay near Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, but it is the variety of marine species in this underwater realm that complements well the many colored beaches here. How about a green olivine crystals beach or an oxidized red beach?.
Another nice beach to visit is Las Loberias in San Cristobal, which is good for snorkeling as well as observing creatures such as birds, iguanas and sea lions. There are also some stunning beaches on some of the smaller islands in the Galapagos. Many don’t realize how much there is to see here below the water’s surface. No wonder the islands are the largest marine reserve in all of the Americas, and the third largest in the planet. North Seymour Island, for example, which is close to Baltra, is a great place for snorkeling, wildlife viewing and enjoying spectacular views. Places not to be missed underwater: Bartolome, Gardner Islet, Champion Islet, Punta Vicente Roca, Rabida, and the always awesome cliffs of Genovesa.
The Best Way to See the Galapagos
The easiest way to take in everything that the Galapagos Islands have to offer is to book a cruise. Metropolitan Touring, which has been offering cruises to the Galapagos since the early 1960s, offers several tours that introduce you to the most outstanding attractions on the islands. Some people opt to go island-to-island while staying at hotels on the islands. A cruise, however, gives you all of the comfort and amenities of a live-aboard expedition. This is the way explorers have traditionally seen the islands. Also, it is the way to geographically explore the vastness of the archipelago which covers about 138,000 Km2 (52,000 mi2) in the east tropical pacific.
Whatever type of vacation you decide upon, you’ll first need to take a flight to the mainland of Ecuador. You can find flights from Quito and Guayaquil that will take you to one of the airports on the islands of San Cristobal and Baltra. If you want to book a cruise, it’s best to do so far in advance as spaces tend to fill up quickly. Keep in mind that only about 78,000 people a year get a chance to explore the islands on a live-aboard, while other options include day tripping from one of the populated islands. Each traveling option is mighty fine for seeing the islands, but your decision should be solely made by understating well all the options out there, their features, services, what they can deliver and what they won’t be able to deliver. Detailed research is highly recommended for making the right choices.
When Should You Visit the Galapagos?
When planning a cruise to the Galapagos, you have to consider factors like the weather during different seasons. There are advantages to visiting during any season. There are, however, certain differences but there is no bad time of the year for exploring the islands (unlike places like the Caribbean, Patagonia, etc). The islands are close to the equator, so it’s generally warm and comfortable throughout the year. December through May brings slightly warmer temperatures, less winds and calmer seas. During this time of year, you’ll see flowers coming into bloom, green foliage almost everywhere, nesting sea turtles and land birds engaged in mating rituals. Temperatures cool off between June and November. This is the season when marine life and sea birds are more abundant due to more food in the water. It’s also the time of year favored by divers as there’s more opportunity to view the incredible sea creatures. The islands are not excessively hot at this time of the year, an observation made by Charles Darwin himself around September & October 1835.
When planning your trip, you have to consider what’s convenient for you, the climate you prefer and how busy it will be. The peak tourist seasons in the Galapagos are the winter months for the northern hemisphere, June, July, and during the holiday season in December.
Visiting the Galapagos is a Life-Changing Vacation
If you’re interested in wildlife and the environment, there’s no destination more fascinating than the Galapagos Islands where you can take an eco-tour that’s equally fun, educational, adventurous and relaxing. You’ll come away with a greater appreciation of the many diverse species with whom you share the planet. Plus, the fact that so few visitors a year get a chance to explore these islands, makes it still a very exclusive destination. Few weeks after any Galapagos voyage, memories gradually resurface due to their powerful message. We believe that’s good….actually, that’s very good.
Blog Reviewed & Edited by: Francisco Dousdebés
Image Credits: Francisco Dousdebés