Galapagos Holidays

by Kshaunish Jaini

A place which led to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution - Galapagos Islands . Galapagos Islands where human population is scarce and distinctive flora and fauna takes center stage. Galapagos Islands are formed of mainly 19 islands and several smaller islets due to a number of volcanic eruptions. The landscape of these islands help the wildlife like sea lions, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, penguins, flightless cormorants and the blue-footed and red-footed boobies as well as plants like black mangroves, lava cactus, candelabra cactus and cutleaf daisy exclusive to this region to thrive. Each island has a different experience to offer in terms of the flora and fauna. You can opt to explore these islands via a cruise holiday or by land based holiday. Whichever type of holiday you choose, you would be able to admire and soak up all the beautiful wonders of these islands. The islands also offer great sites for snorkeling and diving along with other water sports.

To help you start planning your itinerary, we have listed out all the possible ways you can enjoy your holiday in Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Cruises

Galapagos cruises is one of the most popular way opted by the tourist to explore these one in a kind islands. Cruises are also the only way to get to some of the remote islands of Galapagos. All the cruise liners have to follow the 15 days route established by the Galapagos National Park to manage the crowd and the environment. This means that a vessel cannot come to the same island more than once in this 15 days timeline, except for the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz. The tours are generally segmented into 8 days, 5 days and 4 days in luxury as well as economy cruise liners or yachts. If you would like to cover more islands, you can opt to combine these segments to make your tour up to 11 days, 12 days or 15 days.

A Galapagos islands holiday is perfect for a cruise

A Galapagos islands holiday is perfect for a cruise

A typical day on a cruise would include two activities during the day with a guide who would also share more information about the history of that particular island and interesting facts about the species you would be able to spot. Activities could be a hike on a island, snorkeling, kayaking or just a boat ride along the mangroves where you can spot different type of species. The evenings would be relaxed and great time to admire the surrounding areas while the cruise sails to its next destination. All the meals are served onboard. You may get an opportunity to relish some Ecuadorian food too.

Depending on what you want to see, you can select your cruise duration, your travel dates and the operator. As the cruise has to follow the 15 days route, it’s possible your preferred operator is not going to cover the place you want to see during your planned dates of travel. Another thing to be mindful of while planning your trip is the time of the year you would be visiting as some of the species can be seen only during a particular season and some activities would be more rewarding if done in the right season. So do make sure to research all these areas before you make any bookings. There are several books on Galapagos Islands which you can refer to to research and plan your trip.

Galapagos Day Tours

If you prefer staying on the land and want a more flexible itinerary then you can opt for day tours to selected islands depending on your interest and the time you have in hand. This would also work out to be more economical. You can set your base at one of the inhabited islands. Most popular is Santa Cruz where you can find number of hotels from all price range. From here you can depart on a small yacht everyday to explore one of the nearby islands like South Plaza Island, North Seymour Island, Floreana Island, Santa Fe Island and Bartholomew Island. Santa Cruz itself has a lot of places to see, like the lava tunnels, Tortuga bay, Puerto Ayora, Cerro Mesa, Twin Craters and Charles Darwin Station (Tortoise Breeding Center). You can also opt to stay in hotels located in other islands like San Cristobal, Floreana and Isabela.

The wildlife on Galapagos islands

The wildlife on Galapagos islands

Galapagos Island Hopping Tours

Island hopping tours are also famous and apt for people who are not too comfortable spending too much time on a vessel. This tour too gives you the flexibility to pick and visit only the islands you want to see. Here unlike the day tours, you spend the night at the closed available hotel or guesthouse from the island you visit during the day. This gives you an opportunity to explore more islands as you save time commuting between islands. This also lets you experience the culture and heritage of the islands apart from just visiting the tourist destinations and admiring the flora and fauna.

Galapagos Adventure Tours

If you want to take your holiday to the next level, adventure tours offered by multiple operators is definitely for you. You can indulge in multiple activities like snorkeling, biking, kayaking, hiking and horseback riding while you explore the Galapagos islands. These are some of the best ways to get up close to the wildlife, both on land as well as the sea and also enjoy the diverse landscape.

The highlight activity being scuba diving at some of the locations. It's considered one of the top 10 locations for diving for experienced divers. Beginners can also dive here but only in the shallow sheltered areas as the currents are strong and water is cooler with low visibility. You can plan your diving tour while you are exploring the islands on a cruise or on a land based tour. Cruise gives you an opportunity to dive in more remote sites near the islands of Darwin and Wolf where you can see the hammerhead sharks. Other great diving sites in Galapagos islands are Roca Redonda - Isabela Island, Cape Douglas - Fernandina Island, Kicker Rock - San Cristobal Island and Gordon Rocks - near South Plaza Island, Camaño Islet - Santa Cruz Island. The best time to plan your diving vacation is from January to May as the water is warmer compared to the other months. You can sight almost all creatures during this period other than the whale sharks. Although the peak tourist season for diving is considered from July through December.

Some of the other species that you can spot in these waters are unique marine iguanas, yellow-bellied sea snakes, sea lions, fur seals, huge sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays and giant schools of pelagic fish. These waters are also home to 28 different shark species. You are likely to encounter them on every dive. Massive whale sharks can be seen only during the dry season i.e. from June to December. Other sharks that you are likely to see are Blacktip sharks, White-tip reef sharks, Scalloped hammerhead sharks and Galapagos sharks.

If nature and adventure is your thing, Galapagos Islands are just the right place for you. You will be amazed how friendly and curious the wildlife is in these islands. As most of Galapagos is protected and are preserved as a national park, the wildlife here has evolved without the sense of fear for humans. This helps you get really up close with them instead of frightening them away. So plan your holiday today for this one of a kind experience. Happy Travelling!

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