Travel to the Galapagos Islands

Spectacular, isolated and home to the famed Galapagos giant tortoise, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands - spits of volcanic land made famous by the writings of Charles Darwin - really do feel like another world.

Inquisitive sea lions and spiky marine iguanas breach and bask between island and shore, while friendly hammerhead sharks patrol the depths and blue-footed boobies cut through the sky.

Nowadays, the islands host a steady stream of modern-day explorers. And for good reason - as far as face-to-face wildlife encounters go, the Galapagos wildlife experience rivals even the likes of Africa.

We sent a filmmaker to the Galapagos Islands. We are speechless.


 

Intrepid Galapagos trips

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Look for green turtles nesting on the white beaches of Las Bachas, scan the water for pods of dolphins off Isla...
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Travel from Ecuador’s striking capital to the Galapagos Islands. Explore the archipelago’s rich history, dazzling...
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Travel from Ecuador’s striking capital to the Galapagos Islands. Explore the archipelago’s rich history, dazzling...
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Discover the natural treasures of the Galapagos Islands. Snorkel with sea lions in the waters of Santa Fe, visit the...
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Discover the natural treasures of the Galapagos Islands. Snorkel with sea lions in the waters of Santa Fe, visit the...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and embark on a sailing adventure around southern islands that serve as a paradise...
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Sail the aquamarine waters of the Galapagos’ central southern islands taking in Mosquera, Cerro Dragon, Isla Rabida,...
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Begin this tour with a quick exploration of Quito. Travel to Isla San Cristobal, stop by the Charles Darwin Research...
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Watch sea lions on Isla Santa Fe, explore the hidden bays and coves of Sombrero Chino and observe the peculiar...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands from Quito, Ecuador. Tour the Galapagos' highlights from Isla San Cristobal to Isla...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and see the unique Scalesia cloud forest, myriad birdlife of Isla Española and...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and see the unique Scalesia cloud forest, myriad birdlife of Isla Española and...
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Travel to the Galapagos Islands and sail around the central eastern islands, witnessing amazing wildlife and visiting...
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Visit the Galapagos Islands for the adventure of a lifetime onboard the stylish Nemo III. Discover the history of...
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Take to cerulean waters to explore the beautiful Galapagos Islands. See huge populations of animals and experience...
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Fly to the Galapagos where the Nemo III catamaran is waiting to take you on an amazing adventure. Take in Genovesa,...
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Explore the central islands of the Galapagos on this startling adventure that highlights the best of the San...
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Visit South America and travel to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Visit Quito, San Cristobal, Lima,...
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Travel to Ecuador and the wildlife-rich shores of the Galapagos Islands. Then visit Peru and embark on an Inca Trail...
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Discover the Galapagos Islands on this enchanting adventure visiting the islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz and San...
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Travel from Quito out to the gorgeous Galapagos Islands. Sail pristine waters, be awed by the friendly wildlife and...

Highlights

  • Take daily walks on land and get up-close and personal with the islands' inhabitants - such as the legendary Galapagos giant tortoise, land iguanas, Galapagos penguins, Darwin finches and pink flamingos
  • Spot whales, dolphins and leaping manta rays from the comfort of your boat
  • Snorkel with sea turtles, blacktip reef sharks, sea lions, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins and more
  • Be awed by the sight of boobies, pelicans, frigatebirds and albatross soaring metres from your head
  • Learn about the islands' history at Puerto Ayora's Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Stroll among the Galapagos giant tortoise population in the Santa Cruz highlands
  • Enjoy the benefit of an experienced and friendly naturalist guide with you every step of the adventure
  • Travelling by boat? Tuck in to delicious, wholesome Ecuadorian meals prepared by a professional local chef


The boats we use on Galapagos tours

Daphne - Original style

 Why Daphne?

  • Private rooms with-en suites and air-conditioning
  • Undercover outdoor terrace
  • Safe boarding area
  • Indoor lounge and dining area
  • Top-level sundeck
  • Bar on board
  • Fresh, chef-prepared meals three times a day
  • Tea, coffee and soft drinks available at all times
  • Friendly crew and naturalist guide on board
  • Maximum of 16 passengers

Nemo III - Original/Comfort style

Why Nemo III?

  • Private rooms with en-suites and air conditioning
  • Three large, seated outdoor areas to enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife
  • Undercover outdoor dining area
  • Indoor lounge
  • Bar on board
  • Fresh, chef-prepared meals three times a day
  • Tea, coffee and soft drinks available at all times
  • Friendly crew and naturalist guide on board
  • Maximum of 16 passengers

Queen Beatrix - Comfort style

Why Queen Beatriz?

A selection of spacious, private rooms with en-suite and air-conditioning – some with private balconies

  • 1 x large suite with en-suite, air-conditioning, balcony and private lounge
  • Large indoor dining area
  • Large outdoor dining area
  • On-board bar with comfortable seating
  • Fresh, chef-prepared meals three times a day
  • Tea, coffee and soft drinks available at all times
  • Friendly crew and naturalist guide on board
  • Expansive sundeck on top floor
  • Jacuzzi
  • Maximum of 16 passengers


Wildlife of the Galapagos

 

1. Sea Lions

Whether you're loafing about on the beach or snorkelling offshore, you’ll be hard-pressed not to come face-to-face with these frolicsome critters at some stage. Playful, plentiful, and pretty much fearless, you’re supposed to keep a 2-metre distance from these guys at all times - though their insatiable curiosity can make this hard.

2. Marine Iguanas

The only lizards in the world that can live and forage in the ocean, the marine iguana is found solely in the Galapagos. Fierce and ferocious though these Godzilla-like reptiles may appear (Darwin called them ‘Imps of Darkness’), it’s all bluff – they only feed on algae. And with lung capacities permitting up to half an hour of underwater foraging, you’re just as likely find them gorging on the islands’ surrounding seabeds as scampering about the craggy rocks they inhabit.

3. Hammerhead Sharks

Boasting one of the animal kingdom’s most puzzling physiologies, hammerhead sharks are found in abundance off Wolf, Bartolome, Santa Cruz and Darwin islands. Unlike most sharks, they will often merge into schools of over 100 during the day - making for some incredible and surreal photo opportunities. And with no known human fatalities and a wealth of choice natural prey on offer, diving amongst them isn’t as scary or dangerous as one might think.

4. Finches

Darwin finches gave rise to one of the most game-changing theories of all time. By studying the differences between finches from different islands, Darwin hypothesised that the birds’ adaptations to their habitats resulted in their mutation into different species: his Theory of Evolution.

5. Giant Tortoises

No trip to the islands is complete without a visit to its most famous residents. Weighing up to 400 kg, regularly living for more than 100 years, and able to go for up to 1 year without food, these gentle and slow-moving monsters are an intriguing and humbling spectacle to observe.

6. Sea Turtles

Snorkelling alongside these majestic creatures of the deep (or more accurately, the shallows) is one of those rare, life-affirming moments that makes a trip to the Galapagos immediately worthwhile. Keep your eyes peeled on the beaches for turtle nests too - the Galapagos is a hotbed of activity for these critters. 

7. Blue-Footed Boobies

Despite essentially looking like handsome seagulls with painted toenails, blue-footed boobies, when caught hunting, serve up one of the Galapagos' most thrilling spectacles. Diving from heights of up to 100ft, groups of boobies hit the water at speeds up around 60km per hour. They usually let out a shrill whistle before letting rip, which means you'll usually have warning enough to get your camera out too. How considerate.

8. Flightless Cormorants

Granted, a flightless cormorant spotted on land isn't one of the most invigorating sights you'll see during your time here. But wait until you don your snorkel gear and spot one weaving elegantly through the water - the flightless cormorant will likely become one of your favourite discoveries in the Galapagos Islands for this reason alone.

9. Frigatebird

With its striking wingspan and deeply-forked tail, the magnificent frigate bird is easily one of the most impressive birds in the skies of the Galapagos archipelago. But they don't have such a swell reputation amongst other birds. Whilst they hunt fish on the oceans surface, they also force their winged brethren to regurgitate their food, which then they eat - a process known as kleptoparasitism. Still, they look gorgeous – particularly the males, with their bright-red chin sac.

Experience the Galapagos Islands the Intrepid way

 


About the Galapagos Islands

Ecuador might be smaller than its heavyweight South American neighbours, but this audacious land stakes a legitimate claim as the continent's most complete package. Blessed with a bonanza of perfect beaches and the remarkable Galapagos Islands, Ecuador's wealth of natural riches make it a one-stop shop for incredible real life experiences. Come and indulge in a scoopful of the Amazon rainforest, a generous helping of the Andes and a refreshing glass of colonial Quito - Ecuador makes for a scrumptious serving of South America's best.

Best time to visit 


Simply put, there’s no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands. Good weather is mostly found year round, as are the animals. This being said, November through to June is the preferred time to visit, with clearer skies, calmer seas and decreased winds. Of these, March and April have less rain, while November and December are the warmest. July to November is the best time for divers as whale sharks can often be spotted at Wolf and Darwin islands.

Geography and environment


The main 18 islands of the Galapagos (ranging from 4,588 sq km Isabela to 1.1 sq km Darwin) are lava-formed with mostly rocky shorelines. Some are sparsely vegetated with mountainous interiors and high central craters, while others are comparatively lush with white-sand beaches and mangrove-lined inlets.

A trip to this constellation of islands - an Eden of flora and fauna that inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution - is like setting foot on the planet for the very first time.
 

Stories from the Galapagos Islands

The best (and worst) times to visit the Galapagos Islands – infographic

Posted on Wed, 6 May 2015

When to go and what to see in the Galapagos Islands.

Read more

One week in the Galapagos Islands: a diary of the surreal

Posted on Fri, 10 Apr 2015

‘It feels like I’m not supposed to be here’: my first thought as the Galapagos Islands appeared through the aeroplane window.

Read more

10 of the world’s best island getaways: how to decide which one is for you

Posted on Sun, 1 Mar 2015

It’s the age-old question: if you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you take with you?

Read more

The Galapagos Bowl: Ecuador’s star football line-up

Posted on Mon, 2 Feb 2015

The USA isn't the only one celebrating football's day of days. The animals of the Galapagos are lining up for the Big Game (with some surprising last minute inclusions).

Read more

Traveller reviews

Our Product trips score an average of 4.65 out of 5 based on 173 reviews in the last year.

Active Galapagos, August 2015

Galapagos Venture, August 2015

Galapagos Adventure - Northern Islands (Daphne) , August 2015

FAQs

ECUADOR:
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Not required
 
 
If you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip will be very much appreciated. As a guideline US$10-15 per passenger, per day, is standard for the crew, and US$7-10 per day for your guide. Tips can be left in envelopes in your cabin on the last day of your journey. Some restaurants on the islands may already include a 10% service charge in the bill, in which case an extra tip isn't required. At places that don’t include a service charge, feel free to round up the bill or leave some spare change.
There are reliable internet cafes in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristobal Island). Some hotels and restaurants on other islands will have a Wi-Fi connection, but it is best not to count on it.
There is good mobile phone reception on the larger islands, but don’t expect it when at sea. The best local telephone companies are Porta and Movistar. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.

 

Toilets in the Galapagos towns are generally of the Western-style flushable variety (and always on the boats), though you might have to deal with pit/squat toilets in rural areas. When on land it’s a good idea to carry your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always supplied.

 

Soft drink = US$2
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant = US$5
Meal at a mid-range restaurant = US$30

 

Tap water in the Galapagos Islands isn't safe to drink. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring water purification tablets or ask your leader where filtered water can be found.
No, not widely. There are a handful of shops on Santa Cruz that may accept payments from the major credit cards, but it's preferable to have cash on hand.
The banks in Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo have ATMs. The Banco del Pacífico in both towns is open Monday to Friday - 8am to 3.30pm, Saturdays - 9am to 12.30pm. It's best to withdraw your money on the mainland however, in case these are out of order.
 

 

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey. 
 
For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
 
 
 
The Galapagos Islands celebrate the same National Holidays as the rest of Ecuador.
Isla Santa Fe 
Home to a colony of notoriously tame sea lions, it’s possible to take a dip alongside the friendly population in crystal-clear waters. You’ll also be privy to parades of iguanas progressively prowling the beaches like a scene from a tiny Jurassic Park. 
 

Isla Espanola 

Ornithology spoiler alert: virtually the entire world population of waved albatross can be found here. And it gets better: boobies, mockingbirds, doves - the list of feathered friends you can make here goes on and on.
 

Isla Floreana 

Green beaches? Check. One of the most remote post boxes in the world? Check. Mega-wildlife-watching opportunities? Check. Isla Floreana has long been considered a highlight of the archipelago, where passing ships used to stop to collect mail from the wooden barrel postbox in the 18th century. 
 

Isla Santa Cruz 

Discover the secrets of the Galapagos that inspired the Theory of Evolution at the Charles Darwin Research Station and meet the island’s famous giant tortoises.
 

Isla Rabida 

This patchwork quilt of various volcanic landscapes is home to a brackish lagoon boasting a star-studded shoreline of wildlife: flamingos teeter at the water’s edge, pelicans chatter in the bushes and further out to sea, boobies plummet torpedo-like into the deep.
 

Isla North Seymour 

The rocky coastline of Seymour provides shelter to the region’s largest colony of frigate birds and blue-footed boobies, where treks through the cliffs bring you in close proximity to the nesting areas.
 

Isla San Cristobal 

Brimming with remarkable wildlife and landscapes, this is also a prime spot to view the ‘booby two-step’, the captivating dance performed by blue-footed boobies in the throes of courtship.
 

Isla Isabela

Surrounded by enticing turquoise waters, Isabela is the biggest island in the archipelago, and home to the largest tortoise population in the Galapagos. Here, you can hike volcanic landscapes and view convict-built remnants. 
 

Isla Genovesa 

A twitcher’s paradise, Genovesa is home to the full hat-trick of boobies, with masked, blue-footed and the rare red-footed all inhabiting this remote island.
 

Isla Bartolome 

The youngster of the archipelago, this island boasts an erratic volcanic landscape not matched anywhere else on Earth. A huge draw card is the iconic Pinnacle Rock, with views from the top to rival any you’ve seen before. And lucky snorkellers might even get to spot the Galapagos penguins! 
 

Isla Baltra 

Gateway to the Galapagos, and home to the main airport, Baltra is used as a launching pad when travelling to other islands in the region. This is a great location to spot iguanas strolling along the main street or sometimes even crossing the runway of the local airport.


Top responsible travel trips for Galapagos Islands

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
 
  1. Do not touch the animals.
  2. Stay further than 2 meters from the animals at all times, both for your own safety and theirs.
  3. Do not feed the animals, as it can be detrimental to their health.
  4. Do not take ‘souvenirs’ of rocks or flora off the island.
  5. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water or use water purification tablets.
  6. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
  7. Smoking in the national park areas is prohibited.
  8. Stay within the designated walking trails, both for your own safety and that of the flora and fauna.
  9. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse animals, or that sell endangered animal products.
 


Health and safety 


Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
 
From Australia? Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
 
From New Zealand? Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
 
From Canada? Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
 
From US? Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
From UK? Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
 
 
The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information: 
 

Recommended reading

Galapagos, by Kurt Vonnegut
My Father's Island: A Galapagos Quest, by Johanna Angermeyer
The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin
Marine Life of the Galapagos, by  Pierre Constant
Wildlife of the Galapagos Julian Fitter, by Daniel Fitter and David Hosking