Planning a Trip to Galapagos
Where are the Galapagos Islands?
The Galapagos Islands (or Archipelago de Colon) are located in South America anda are part of Ecuador territorial sea. These are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (575 mi) west of continental Ecuador. They lie directly on the equator.
When is it best to visit the Galapagos Islands?
Every month of the year is a good time to discover Galapagos. The Galapagos Islands have a subtropical climate that is determined by sea currents. There is really not a best time to visit. In part this is because the Galapagos Islands are right on the equator so that air and water temperatures do not vary much. Species like the Galapagos penguin, flightless cormorant, marine iguana, land iguana, blue footed booby, Galapagos hawk, fur sea lion, California sea lion and others spend the entire year in the Galapagos and do not migrate. The waved albatross is one of the few migratory exceptions and is best seen in spring and summer. It depends on your interests. Birdwatchers, divers, sun worshippers all have different requirements and ideas about when is the best month to visit the islands.
- Galapagos high season is usually considered to be June to August, summer holidays for Europe and the USA, and December to mid-January (Christmas vacations).
- Low season in the Galapagos Islands is springtime (May to June) and September. Galapagos flights get particularly busy in high season and the prices for accommodation and cruises are higher too in this season.
How do I get there?
Your first destination is continental Ecuador. Whether you’re traveling from the Americas, Europe or the Pacific region, you should book an international flight to Guayaquil or Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil (GYE) receives flights from U.S. cities of Miami and New York, European cities of Amsterdam and Madrid, and major cities of Central and South America. Mariscal Sucre International Airport of Quito (UIO) receives flights from the U.S. via Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and New York; from Europe via Madrid and Amsterdam; and from many major cities in Central and Southern America. It is reccommended to arrive in Ecuador at least two days before your Galapagos Trip begins and catch your international flight home at least two days after your stay in the Galapagos (although one day prior departure also works). Once you have your flight to mainland Ecuador, getting to the Galapagos Islands is easy. Located nearly 1,000 km (600 miles) off of Ecuador’s coast, you can only travel by plane. There are several daily flights that take passengers to the archipelagovfrom Quito or Guayaquil. You can land on Baltra Island or in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno-San Cristobal Island. TAME and AEROGAL and LAN are the only airlines that operate these routes. If you are flying from Quito, you will most likely have a short stop in Guayaquil on your way to the islands.
What's the weather like in Galapagos?
Climate: The islands are isolated from the continent, so the climate is determined almost entirely by the ocean currents, which in turn are influenced by trade winds that push the currents.
- The dry and cold season goes from July to December.
- The warm season goes from January to June.
On this chart you may find the average temperature in Galapagos based on the past 5 years, this should be used as reference: Traveling to Galapagos Islands is always an excellent idea, you will enjoy it
What to pack for a Galapagos trip?
The dress code is very casual and comfortable. There is really no need to wear anything other than shorts and T-shirts once you arrive in the Galapagos. You will be doing a lot walking and touring, so pack comfortable shoes and light clothes and of course, a swimming suit, as some activities involve snorkeling. Take in mind that you will probably spend a day or two in Quito, which in the other hand, is at a higher elevation and you will need long pants, sweaters, and coats if you go out at night. Here’s a useful and complete guide to what to pack for the Galapagos taken from our Travel Blog.
Which is better, a cruise tour or a land tour?
There is not really a righ answer, it mostly depends on what you expext for your trip and the expereince you are looking forward to. Both, land tours and cruises offer different possibilities and budget is also a point to consider. While a cruise offers the possibility to discover more islands and reach further places, you might want to consider if you are okay with sleeping and staying on the boat during your whole trip. It also requires a higher budget. A land tour is certainly limited to the inhabited islands in Galapagos, which undoubtedly lovely, but you won’t’ reach places like Wolf or Rabida. Transportation from island to island takes place in motor yachts. However, if you are more into staying inland and customizing your trip to your interests, a hotel-base tour might be your best bet. It is also cost-effective. You can read a complete guide on how to choose the right option for you on this blog: Galapagos, cruise of land tour. You might find some useful points to consider before going for one or the other. Read it thoroughly, and contact us for further advice 🙂
Do I need an specific vaccine to go to the Galapagos?
Vaccine recommendations for travel to Ecuador:
- Routine: Verify that you are up-to-date on all routine vaccinations such as measles, tetanus, etc.
- Hepatitis A: Exposure to the virus Hepatitis A can occur through consumption of contaminated food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can occur in travelers to developing countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.
- Hepatitis B: Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).
- Typhoid: Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in Tropical South America, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.
- Yellow Fever: This vaccination is not mandatory. Recommended: Recommended for all travelers 9 months of age and older traveling to areas less than 2,300 m (7545 ft) in elevation in the following provinces east of the Andes Mountains: Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbios, and Zamora-Chinchipe. Generally not recommended for travelers whose itinerary is limited to areas less than 2,300 m (7545 ft) in elevation in the following provinces west of the Andes Mountains: Esmeraldas, Guayas, Los Rios, Manabi, and designated areas of Azuay, Bolivar, Canar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Imbabura, Loja, Pichincha, and Tungurahua. Yellow Fever vaccination should be given 10 days before travel.
- Malaria in Ecuador: Although the relative risk of tourists contracting Malaria in Ecuador is low, anti-malaria precautions are recommended for all areas less than 1,500 meters (4,921 ft.) in elevation. Malaria is not present in the cities of Guayaquil and Quito or the Galapagos Islands. Travelers who are only going to these cities or the Galapagos do not need to take anti-malarial precautions. To determine which precautions are most effective, its best to visit a travel medicine clinic at least 4 weeks prior to your visit (in order for the anti malarials to take effect).
Are there cash machines in Galapagos?
Cash and banks * There are cash machines and banks in Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal Islands. * Isabela Island has NO cash machines or banks. * We highly recommend bringing cash in small denominations from the continent
FAQS on our Trips and Tours
What are the differences between the first class, tourist superior, tourist and economy class for Galapagos Land Tours?
The difference are the hotels and food (not the tours). The pricing for our Galapagos Tours depends on the hotel class you choos to lodge in: First Class Hotel, Tourist Superior Class Hotel, Tourist Class Hotel, or Economy Class Hotel. However, the tour activities and day trips, the transportation means and the guides will not vary; these will be the same for all classes. Frist class Hotels, of course, refers to high end accomodations and gourmet like meals. Economy or Budget hotels are hostel-like accommodations, you will still have a private bathroom in any of the budget hotels.
What is the difference between our Galapagos Land Tour programs?
Our Galapgos Land Tours have a different focus and trip styles. They are designed to fit different travelers and experiences. This is generaly how they are classified.
- Standard-Classic tours include our Magic of Isabela and Oceano Galapagos. These include moderate physical activities and are meant for all ages.
- Specialized Tours include Multi-sport Adventure Tour and Galapagos Diving Experience. These are tours meant for travelers seeking for a more active experience. They will involve specialized activties such as bike tours, kayaking, snorkeling and diving (a diving certificate will be required)
- Other Modality Tours include Galapagos Navigations Experience & Galapagos Los Tuneles Tour. These programs also fit in our standard tours however they will focus on specific landmarks in Galapagos, such as Los Tuneles a.k.a Cabo Rosa. Navigable land tours will involve day-tour navigations to different spots in the Galápagos such us Bartolomé, Santa Fe, North Seymour and Plazas Islands.
You may find a chart with the major diffrences bewtween our land tours here
What airport should I land-in in Galapagos?
This will depend on the land tour program chosen. Generaly, for all our 4, 5, and 6-day tours, Baltra Airport (GPS) is the place for pick-up and drop-off. For our 8-day tours, the pick-up would be from San Cristobal Airpot (SCY) and the drop-off will be at Baltra Airpot (GPS). However, we recommend that you speak with the travel agent in charge of your trip first before booking the flight and ask what the departure and arrival locations would be for your tour.
Payments & Booking Process
How does the booking process work?
For ONLINE BOOKING:
- Our online payment system requires the full amount of the tour. The payment is done with a credit card via Pay Pal account. However not all our programs are available for online booking, in whih case you should fill an availability form to start the booking process.
For STANDARD BOOKINGS via EMAIL
- The reservation process via email depends on the trip being booked. For our Galapagos Land Tours for example a first paymente of 30% of the total amount is required. If booking a cruise, the paymente process will depend on the cruise being booked. We shall inform you via email how thr Booking Process will work.
What are my payment options?
We have two different payment options:
- – By credit card (Via Pay Pal): This applys for both, ONLINE BOOKINGS and to STANDARDBOOKINGS via EMAIL.
- – Bank Transfer or Deposit:
- Banco del Pichincha (Quito-Ecuador) or
- Bank of America in USANOTE: Please talk to your bank so that we get the value on the invoice. Bank charges are not borne by Nature Galapagos & Ecuador
Are all your prices in US dollars?
Yes, all of our prices are quoted in US dollars. (Official Currency in Ecuador)
What information is required for the reservation and invoice?
Please, provide the following information:
- Last names
- First names
- Passport numbers
- Date of Birth
- Allergies or illnesses
- Food restrictions
- Contact phone number
- Type of room
- Dates of trip/ # of days and nights
- Hotel class:
- Economy (Budget)
- Tourist Superior
- First Class
Note: The specificate datums about tours or cruises that you are interested in it´s very important too, so we can send you a few options that satisfied your needs.
Is a medical insurance inlcuded in the cost of the trip?
No. Your should make use of a private medical insurance in case of emergency.
Should I book my flights to Galapagos before booking the tour?
We highly recommend that you speak with one of our travel agents before purchasing your Galapagos flights. In the case of Land Tours, the pick-up and drop-off airport may vary depending on the tour chosen, and the same goes with the timings. It would be better to set the appropriate time for your flight with one of our travel agents before you book them. Regardign Galapagos cuises, some of these requiere travelers to book the flights along with the cruise in order to fit the timings of the cruise itineraries. Hence, we reccommend that you speak to us first in order to set an appropriate timing for the flights so that they fit with your chosen trip.
How to buy our tours online?
Buying our tours online is super easy, safe and time saving. Please do note that not all of our tours are available for online booking. Tours which are available for online boooking will have a BUY ONLINE badge on them. Here’s a quick video explaining the process for online booking.