The first time I went to the Galápagos Islands, I was underwhelmed. It seemed a lot like Hawaii, only further away and a lot more expensive. Maybe it was because I took a cruise and we spent most of our time on the boat. Sure we had twice daily excursions. But, the process of getting ready for and traveling to and from our excursion location seemed to take almost as long as the actual excursions themselves.
Plus, it wasn’t so much fun to follow our guide like a group of eager school children, straining to hear his explanations and worrying about getting in trouble for wandering off.
Thinking about visiting the Galápagos Islands. Here are 5 things you should know before you go!
The water temperature can be wetsuit-worthy. I was expecting the water to be balmy. The Galápagos Islands are near the equator right? Well, in South America, the Humboldt Current comes up the coast from Antarctica. That’s right, Antarctica! This means that the further north you go in the southern hemisphere, the warmer the water gets. But, it is still pretty chilly around the Galápagos Islands. (more…)
The Galápagos Islands are one of the must unique places on the planet. You experience close encounters with animals and explore spectacular settings that tell the story of evolution.
Here are 9 really cool things you can do during your trip to the Galápagos Islands.
1) See giant tortoises up close in the wild. Look for them in patches of tall grass or partially submerged in mud ponds. (more…)
When I traveled to the Galápagos Islands, I was accompanied by a tour leader and a series of Galápagos Naturalist Guides.
My tour leader, Andres, was amazing. He lives in Quito, but has worked as a guide in the Galápagos Islands for years. His knowledge and patience really made the trip for me.
He taught me the difference between native and endemic species. He spotted birds that I would never have seen without his precision finger pointing. He shared interesting facts about some of the strangest creatures on the planet. And, he was an overall good companion as I dove, kayaked, swam, hiked, and snorkeled my way through the islands. (more…)
How far in advance you should book your Galápagos Island tour depends on the answer to three questions.
1) When do you want to go?
2) How many people are you traveling with?
3) How particular are you about the cruise or island hopping tour you want to do?
If you want to go during high season, over the Christmas break and during our summer months of June, July, and August, you’ll need to book well in advance. Likewise, you’ll need to book well in advance if you are traveling with a large group of people. (more…)
The pristine paradise of the Galápagos Islands has been under siege since pirates first arrived in the 1700’s. Along with the pirates, came goats, pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats, and rats. They trampled the delicate native plants, gobbled up turtle eggs, staged inexplicable attacks on land iguana colonies, snacked on baby chicks, and tore through cactus tree trunks.
Now, tourism is the latest threat to one of the most unique places on the planet. (more…)
Ask anyone what the best time is to visit the Galápagos Islands and they will tell you there is no bad time to go. There are definitely preferred times, though. And, then there is my little known secret best time to go!
First, let’s start with conventional wisdom. The most popular times to go are over the Christmas holidays and during our summer months of June, July, and August.
If you plan to go during one of these popular times, definitely make your reservation well in advance. For Christmas, well in advance can mean up to a year ahead. For the summer vacation, well in advance can mean up to six to eight months ahead. (more…)
Take a few species, put them in the middle of nowhere for a few million years and you get one of the coolest science experiments ever dreamed of.
Here are just a few of the interesting, and sometimes downright weird, animals, reptiles, and birds you might encounter on a trip to the Galápagos Islands.
1) Blue-footed Boobies. The bluer their feet, the more attractive they are to the opposite sex. In fact, the male performs a courtship dance that is designed to show off his blue feet. When blue-footed boobies become exhausted from raising chicks, the blue of their feet fades. Once they kick those chicks out of the nest though, watch out because the blue returns in all its original vibrancy. (more…)
I was floating face down scouring the ocean floor for sea urchins when I heard an excited shout from our guide, Martin. As I lifted my head, I saw a Disney-adorable penguin about the size of a large shoebox submarine into the murky water less than a foot from my snorkel mask. I felt like I had been instantly transported into a scene from Happy Feet.
One of the really special things about the Galápagos Islands is how close wild animals will get to you. As per park rules, you can’t approach them. And, for safety reasons – yours and theirs – you shouldn’t anyway. But, they can and do definitely approach you as curiosity wins out over fear. (more…)
When I scouted the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador to add to Llama Expeditions’ guided trip offerings, I went twice. The first time I took a cruise. The second time I did a land-based, island-hopping tour. I greatly preferred the island hopping. Here’s why.
On the cruise:
1) I got seasick. The Galápagos Islands are in the middle of the ocean and that ocean moves around – a lot!
2) I spent a lot of time motoring to and from land for our twice daily excursions. In fact, it seemed like we spent as much time in the panga (small rubber dingy) going back and forth than we did on some of the excursions. (more…)