In the meantime, if you have arrived on this page and are thinking of organize a trip to the Galapagos, let me congratulate you on your choice: this small group of volcanic islands, lost in the Pacific Ocean about 1000 km off the coast of Ecuador, are one of the most extraordinary destinations you can imagine, one of those still magical places that you are privileged to be able to visit at least once in your life.
Do not forget, however, that this is a world as well as magical too very fragile, in which we humans are guests in the presence of animals and it is our duty to protect it by behaving with respect and responsibility.
- How to visit them: do it yourself Galapagos, low cost or cruise?
- How to get there
- When to go
- Hidden costs
- Park rules and responsibilities
- Packing list: what to pack
How to visit them: DIY Galapagos, cruises or land-based?
What is the "best" way to visit the Galapagos? is it possible to make a low-cost trip or do it yourself?
Let's make one premise, or rather two. The first is that However, traveling to the Galapagos is expensive, it is not possible to do it in an economic way (at least low cost in the sense in which I mean), but if you want a little something can be saved. Second premise, it is not possible travel between the islands in a do-it-yourself way: in fact, of the whole park only a very small part can be visited (3%) and it is only and exclusively accompanied by a guide (apart from a few exceptions on the island of Santa Cruz).
The islands can therefore be visited in two ways: either with cruise or land-based, that is, sleeping on some islands and taking organized and accompanied daily excursions.
Most travelers choose the cruise to visit the archipelago (I also did so). Surely compared to land-based this mode is more expensive even if saving a little bit is still possible. Cruises can be from 3 days to one or two weeks and the price varies according to the boat and the itinerary you choose.
The price of a cruise is defined by many factors: the type of boat and the comforts it has (size of the cabins, quality of the food), the experience of the guide, the itinerary and length of the cruise, the time of year , and range from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand. You can actually save a little on the price by waiting for a few last-minute cruise, that is, those that are "sold out" to fill the vacant positions. If you have time to wait, you can try to book your cruise this way and thus save a lot of money.
How to get there
Daily flights of the companies Aerogal e TAME connect the main cities of Ecuador, Quito e Guayaquil with the Galapagos archipelago. If you book the cruise at any agency, it is the agency itself that takes care of booking and purchasing the flights.
If, on the other hand, you want to reach the islands independently, booking the flight could be more difficult because the agencies and crews of the boats "block" the seats on the planes in order to guarantee the flight to their customers.
Flights from the mainland to the Galapagos depart early in the morning in order to guarantee arrival before lunch time and generally the same plane that leaves from Quito makes a stop in Guayaquil to collect other passengers.
The duration of the flight from Guayaquil to Baltra is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Aerogal connects Ecuador with the Galapagos on a daily basis
When to go
There is no better or worse time to visit the Galapagos and although the whole year is a good time to go there, each season still has its pros and cons.
However, it should be borne in mind that, even if the number of visitors is regulated, during the high season the islands can sometimes get crowded, as well as having to book in advance of course.
Choose when to go to the Galapagos also depending on the animals you would like to see
From December to May the water is warmer and the sea is calmer so it is a good time for snorkelling enthusiasts.
The days are characterized by heavy downpours that last however a few hours, then leaving the scene to a warm sun.
In this period the birds mate and the turtles make their nests on the beaches.
From June to November the Humbolt current brings colder waters to the islands, but richer in nutrients that attract fish and consequently birds, so it is easier to see some species such as Espagnola albatross and penguins.
Often the days are made darker by the clouds, but it hardly ever rains, it's a great time for diving.
I was saying that traveling to the Galapagos is expensive. When you book a trip here, in addition to the cost of the flight to Ecuador and the cruise, you must also take into account some hidden expenses which in the end, added to each other, will affect the price.
1) The air flight is excluded from that of the cruise. At the price you pay you will therefore have to add some more money. The flights have an almost fixed price, I paid $ 475 return flight from Quito
2) Tips: The tip for the crew and the guide is practically mandatory and is not exactly a small thing. How much they expect to tip is suggested on the "regulation" hanging inside the booths. For a cheap cruise expect them to be asked for about 15-20 USD per day.
3) 100 USD that you will have to pay as Galapagos park entrance fee.
4) 10 USD which are requested at the airport before leaving for the islands
5) Soft drinks and spirits on board. Water is generally included in the price of the cruise, obviously alcohol and soft drinks are not. On some cheap cruises, water is also charged outside meals so when you book the cruise make sure with your agency that at least that is included.
6) Snorkelling equipment. In case you haven't brought your wetsuit and other snorkelling equipment, expect to pay about 40 euros for the rent.
Park rules and responsibilities
If these islands are still practically uncontaminated today it is thanks to the fact that the rules to be followed are very strict: sometimes a small gesture that may seem harmless has instead devastating effects on the surrounding environment and especially on those who live there and who makes these islands truly special: the animals
Traveling responsibly is a duty of all of us
Just follow the rules and, in addition to the fact that our holiday in the Galapagos will still be an extraordinary experience, we will protect our animal friends and continue to guarantee them that delicate habitat that has always been their home.
Let's see some general rules:
- Don't touch the animals: it is true they are very tender and sometimes the urge to caress one of those soft little heads is almost irresistible, but always think that doing so would hurt them. Many sea lion cubs die for this very reason, because after being touched by people, their mothers abandon them. So watch them from due distance and, in addition to living this meeting intensely, you will avoid hurting them
- Do not feed the animals: this is another very important thing because if they are fed by tourists the animals lose their ability to get food by themselves. Do not give anything to any animal, if after hundreds of years they are still alive it is because they are very capable of procuring them by themselves, without our intervention.
- Do not leave the marked paths: another very important rule always follow the paths. In this way it will still be possible to maintain the surrounding environment unaltered and to preserve the habitat in which the animals live.
Packing list: what to pack
Le Galapagos they have their own climate, so despite being a tropical region you need to bring a variety of clothing. In fact, if the sun is very hot during the day, in the evening the temperatures can drop a lot and it is therefore necessary to have adequate clothing. In addition to t-shirts and shorts, I highly recommend a suit or long pants, a sweatshirt or pullover for the evening as well as a very useful windbreaker.
Here is a list of useful things to bring with him:
- Swimsuit and towel for sunbathing
- Rain jacket or kway
- Hiking shoes
- a pair of normal shoes
- Things for the personal toilet
- Insect repellent
- Sun cream and after sun
- Camera or video camera with spare batteries (memory cards can be found in Porto Ayora, but they are prohibitively expensive
- snorkelling equipment (can be rented on board, but if you have your own it's better)
- a printed guide to the islands and the animals that inhabit them
- Passport, documents and money