Galapagos

Spectacular, isolated and populated by some of Mother Nature’s most bizarre creations, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands really do feel like a world apart. One thousand clicks off the South American mainland, this humble archipelago and its fauna – which set the religious world aflame in the 19th century – remain as riveting and rewarding an ecological adventure as it ever was. Inquisitive sea lions and spiky marine iguanas breach and bask between island and shore, while friendly hammerhead sharks patrol the depths and giant tortoises lumber the land. Nowadays, the islands host a steady stream of modern-day explorers; but as far as face-to-face, flipper-to-fin wildlife encounters go, the Galapagos experience truly is in a league of its own.

Galapagos Islands tours & travel

Active Galapagos

10 days from
USD $2,755
CAD $2,985
AUD $2,933
EUR €2,016
GBP £1,637
NZD $3,262
ZAR R29,279
CHF FR2,435

Travel to the Galapagos Islands from Quito, Ecuador. Tour the Galapagos' highlights from Isla San Cristobal to Isla...

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Galapagos Venture

9 days from

Discover the Galapagos Islands on this enchanting adventure visiting the islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz and San...

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Galapagos Venture

9 days from
USD $1,870
CAD $2,025
AUD $1,993
EUR €1,366
GBP £1,112
NZD $2,212
ZAR R19,899
CHF FR1,655

Discover the Galapagos Islands on this enchanting adventure visiting the islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz and San...

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Galapagos Santa Cruz and around

7 days from
USD $2,530
CAD $2,615
AUD $2,566
EUR €1,763
GBP £1,484
NZD $2,855
ZAR R25,663
CHF FR2,135

Travel from Quito out to the gorgeous Galapagos Islands. Sail pristine waters, be awed by the friendly wildlife and...

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Complete Galapagos - (Daphne) Lower Deck Twin

10 days from
USD $4,345
CAD $4,480
AUD $4,395
EUR €3,025
GBP £2,540
NZD $4,895
ZAR R43,995
CHF FR3,660

Travel from Ecuador’s striking capital to the Galapagos Islands. Explore the archipelago’s rich history, dazzling...

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Galapagos at a Glance - Southern Islands - (Daphne) Lower Deck Twin

6 days from
USD $2,465
CAD $2,545
AUD $2,495
EUR €1,720
GBP £1,440
NZD $2,780
ZAR R24,975
CHF FR2,080

Travel to the Galapagos Islands and see the unique Scalesia cloud forest, myriad birdlife of Isla Española and...

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Glimpse of Galapagos - Central Islands - (Nemo III) Twin

6 days from
USD $2,072
CAD $2,138
AUD $2,096
EUR €1,442
GBP £1,211
NZD $2,334
ZAR R20,986
CHF FR1,746

Watch sea lions on Isla Santa Fe, explore the hidden bays and coves of Sombrero Chino and observe the peculiar...

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Galapagos Family Holiday

8 days from
USD $2,985
CAD $3,085
AUD $3,033
EUR €2,081
GBP £1,757
NZD $3,372
ZAR R30,309
CHF FR2,520

Discover the Galapagos’ Isla la Isabela with the family. See the volcano-scarred landscapes, which boasts beautiful...

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Classic Galapagos - Southern Islands (Queen Beatriz) Standard Twin

10 days from
CHF FR4,422
USD $5,245
CAD $5,414
AUD $5,316
EUR €3,655
GBP £3,072
NZD $5,915
ZAR R53,169

Travel to the Galapagos Islands and embark on a sailing adventure around southern islands that serve as a paradise...

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Classic Galapagos - Central Eastern Islands (Queen Beatriz) Standard Twin

10 days from
USD $3,814
CAD $3,944
AUD $3,879
EUR €2,663
GBP £2,245
NZD $4,309
ZAR R38,739
CHF FR3,222

Travel to the Galapagos Islands and sail around the central eastern islands, witnessing amazing wildlife and visiting...

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Classic Galapagos - Central Southern Islands (Queen Beatriz) Standard Twin

10 days from
USD $5,245
CAD $5,414
AUD $5,316
EUR €3,655
GBP £3,072
NZD $5,915
ZAR R53,169
CHF FR4,422

Sail the aquamarine waters of the Galapagos’ central southern islands taking in Mosquera, Cerro Dragon, Isla Rabida,...

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Galapagos Explorer - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz) Standard Twin

7 days from
USD $2,528
CAD $2,614
AUD $2,568
EUR €1,763
GBP £1,486
NZD $2,853
ZAR R25,659
CHF FR2,134

Take to cerulean waters to explore the beautiful Galapagos Islands. See huge populations of animals and experience...

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Galapagos Encounter - Central Islands (Queen Beatriz) Standard Twin

6 days from
CHF FR1,903
USD $2,252
CAD $2,327
AUD $2,288
EUR €1,571
GBP £1,325
NZD $2,541
ZAR R22,855

Explore the central islands of the Galapagos on this startling adventure that highlights the best of the San...

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Galapagos Discovery- Hotel Based

11 days from
USD $4,210
CAD $4,565
AUD $4,475
EUR €3,080
GBP £2,485
NZD $4,985
ZAR R44,795
CHF FR3,725

From Quito to the gorgeous Galapagos Islands, discover dramatic island scenery, thriving wildlife, intriguing...

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Articles on the Galapagos Islands

Walking home from the pub (in the Galapagos Islands)

Posted on Mon, 1 Dec 2014

"The Galapagos, as far as I’m aware, are utterly unique. It’s so rare to be able to use that word and actually mean it."

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Five of our favourite things about Ecuador

Posted on Wed, 19 Nov 2014

Sure, Ecuador doesn’t have the famous ruins of Peru or the culinary draw of Argentina, but it still belongs on your ‘go to’ list for a South American adventure.

Read more

Highglihts

  • Keep an eye out for dolphins breaking the waters around Genovesa
  • Get up close and personal with the fur seals of James Bay
  • Search for nesting sea-turtles on Espumilla Beach
  • Spot storm petrels on the wing off Prince Philip's Steps
  • Snorkel among the manta rays and sharks of Darwin Bay across Bahia Sullivan's 100-year-old lava flow
  • Learn about the islands' history at Puerto Ayora's Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Stroll among the giant tortoise population in the Santa Cruz highlands
  • Splash about in Punta Moreno's beautiful lagoons
  • Pitter-patter with the penguins of Elizabeth Bay
  • Photograph the pink flamingos in Las Bachas lagoon
  • Check out Fernandina Island's marine iguanas
  • Hear tales of the pirates who used to seek shelter in Buccaneer Cove See all Galapagos trips

Transport

Nemo III

  • Nemo III is a luxury Twin Hull Sailing Catamaran so passengers will spend some time sailing without the use of an engine (weather and wind permitting). This is a real selling point as very few sailing boats operate in Galapagos.
  • Twin Hulls means its much sturdier and more comfortable than a single hull boat 8 double and twin cabins all with private bathroom and air-conditioning.
  • Maximum 16 Pax A range of 10, 7 and 6 day itineraries
  • Excellent itinerary that includes all highlights and visits the Northern Islands including Genovesa which is a highly sought after location
  • There’s an indoor AND an outdoor lounge to relax
  • All meals are included on board
  • Tea, coffee & water available round the clock, and a bar for any soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • 7 Friendly crew members and a fully qualified naturalist guide
  • Beautiful sundeck to enjoy the beautiful climate and scenery

Queen Beatrix

  • Luxurious Double Hull Motor Yacht
  • Twin Hulls means its much sturdier and more comfortable than a single hull boat
  • There are four different types of cabins on this ship: 3 x Standard Twin, 2 x Deluxe Twin – with Balcony, 2 x Deluxe Double – with balcony, 2 x Suite – spacious with lounge
  • Max group size 16
  • A range of 17, 10, 7 and 6 day itineraries
  • All meals are included on board
  • Tea, coffee & water available round the clock
  • Bar for any soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Snorkelling gear, towels and wetsuits are all included
  • 7 Friendly crew members and a fully qualified naturalist guide

About 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 Envrionment 

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 is like setting foot on the planet for the very first time. An Eden of flora and fauna that inspired Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, this enchanting paradise is bound to captivate the most adventurous of travellers. 
 

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 Picks

 

Top 5 Wildlife Encounters

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
 
Though dull in colour and nondescript in appearance, the 13 types of finches that Darwin found in the Galapagos gave rise to one of the most controversial and game-changing theories the world has ever known. In short, by studying the anatomical differences between finches from different islands, Darwin hypothesised that the birds’ various adaptations to their different habitats and geographical separation from each other had eventually resulted in their mutation into different species: his Theory of Evolution. In his journal he also reports that the birds were so unaccustomed to human presence that he’d often find them coming in to perch on his shoulder - which made for some very easy specimen collecting on his part.
 
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.
 
 

FAQs on Galapagos Islands

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.


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?
 
From New Zealand?
 
From Canada?
 
From US?
 
From UK?
 
The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information: 
 

Responsible travel

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.
 

Top responsible travel tips for Galapagos Islands

 
  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.

 

Further reading

Recommended reading

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

Handy links