On the Galapagos Islands you’ll hardly find a single footprint. But on this animal paradise the birds are exhibitionists and the seal cubs want to play.
It’s the place where Charles Darwin first thought up natural selection, a haven for creatures of the sky and sea. Here’s where thousands of species including penguins and turtles come to mate, nest and raise their young.
What people say
For naturalists and lovers of wildlife there is nothing like the Galapagos, and the tours offered by Peregrine, with small groups and well trained local guides and going to as many islands as possible, make the experience unforgettable.
Galapagos Islands travel highlights
Luxuriate on the white sand of Las Bachas
This beach is made from the silky smooth sand of eroded coral. It’s also a place for watching pacific green turtles, marine iguanas and elegant flamingos, among many other colourful creatures.
Trek through the Chinese Hat
This islet has a unique labyrinth of lava tubes, cavernous tunnels formed by ancient volcanic eruptions – and of course, many more turtles, crabs, birds and sea lions.
Go snorkelling at the pristine Gardner Beach
Get lured into the water by the playful sea lion pups and get immersed in a submarine world of reef sharks, turtles and tropical fish.
Devil’s Crown (Isla Floreana)
Snorkel around the crater of this crumbling volcano to spot schools of Galapagos fish, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and spotted eagle rays.
The remote seabird rookeries of Genovesa are where to head if you’re hoping to spy the blue-footed, or elusive red-footed booby.
Isabela has the largest population of giant tortoises in the Galapagos. Plus, head to the aptly named Flamingo Lagoon to find these beautiful pink birds.
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Galapagos Islands travel FAQs
- 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
Galapagos Islands are a part of Ecuador for visa and travel purposes. There is also a $20 transit fee and a $100 national park fee when entering Island.
As Peregrine travellers will be touring the Galapagos Islands by boat, it’s recommended that you tip US$10-15 per day for the crew and about US$7-10 per day for you guide. You may leave the tip in an envelope in your cabin on your last day.
Restaurants usually include a 10% surcharge so there’s no need to tip extra, and for other services you may like to round up your bill or leave a few extra dollars.
You’ll find internet cafes in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Baquerizo on San Cristobal Island. You may also have Wi-Fi at your hotel or at some restaurants, but services can be scarce in the Galapagos Islands.
You’ll have mobile phone service on the large inhabited islands, but not while out at sea. Remember to activate global roaming with your provider if you wish to use your mobile while traveling.
The Galapagos Islands have Western-style toilets in most places but they also have squat toilets in some remote areas. Soap and toilet paper aren’t always provided so you may like to carry some with you.
- Soft drink = US$2
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant = US$5
- Meal at a mid-range restaurant = US$30
Drinking tap water is not considered safe in Galapagos Islands. For environmental reasons, avoid buying bottled water and bring a bottle or canteen with you. Ask your leader where you can access filters to refill your supply, or carry your own purification tablets with you.
Credit cards are not widely accepted except for a few shops on Santa Cruz. You’ll require cash for most transactions on the Galapagos Islands.
Although there are banks on the islands of Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo that have ATMs, these may be out of order so it’s best to withdraw money on mainland Ecuador. The Banco del Pacífico, however, is open 8am to 3.30pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am to 12.30pm Saturdays.
This can be a tricky question for the Galapagos Islands. One of the best things about the region is that it’s a great place to visit all year round, with one of the most temperate climates on the planet. If you’re seeking the warmth, temperatures average around 30C (86F) from January to May, but you’ll encounter some humidity and the occasional downpour. The cooler dry season from June to December sees temperatures closer to the 26C (79F) mark, but this is also when sea mammals and birdlife tend to be easiest to spot.
That being said, there’s something to see all year round, with giant tortoise eggs hatching in January, blue-footed boobies dancing their way through courtship in May, and fur sea lion pups abundant in October.
Average water temperatures vary between seasons. In January to June the water tends to be between 20C–26C (70F–80F), while in July to December temperatures are closer to 18C–23C (65F–75F).
The wildlife in the Galapagos Islands is precisely why most people choose to visit. The sheer diversity and variety of life on land, in the air and under the water is mind-boggling, and it’s difficult to provide an exhaustive list. Here are just a few of the biggest drawcards to the islands:
- Giant Galapagos tortoises
- Darwin’s finches
- Galapagos land iguanas
- Marine iguanas
- Blue-footed boobies
- Red-footed boobies
- Galapagos hawks
- Flightless cormorants
- Galapagos sea lion
- Sally Lightfoot crabs
- Waved albatross
- Galapagos penguins
- Lava lizards
- Galapagos mockingbirds
- Large painted locusts
The weather in the Galapagos is fairly temperate all year round. In most cases you’ll either be in the water snorkelling or on an island walking. Otherwise you’ll be relaxing on the boat as you travel between islands. You should check the Essential Information of your trip for a specific list, but below is a suggested packing guide for the Galapagos:
- Daypack (a smaller backpack that you can take with you on island excursions)
- Comfortable clothing for warmer temperatures (shorts, t-shirts, light long sleeved tops and pants)
- A fleece or warmer jumper for the evenings or early mornings
- A light rain coat or poncho
- Comfortable shoes. Trainers or walking shoes are sufficient for most trips, however, a number of trips include a volcano walk and some travellers may feel more comfortable in hiking shoes or boots.
- Sandals or thongs/flip flops/sandals
- Sunscreen (bio degradable and waterproof if available) and lip balm (to combat the effects of wind burn)
- Sunhat (that can be secured as it can get windy out on the water)
- Swimming costume
- Water bottle (filtered water is available on board the boat)
- Bio-degradable shampoo, conditioner and soap
- Dry bag
- Pegs (so you can hang your swimming costume or towel out to dry)
- Insect repellent (for island visits)
- US adaptor/electrical plug
- Binoculars (for keen birdwatchers)
- Camera (underwater if you have one)
- Any required medications
Some passengers choose to bring their own snorkelling equipment, but this is a personal choice. Diving masks, snorkels and fins are provided on-board the vessel for use by all passengers. Beach towels are also provided. Wetsuits are available for hire at an additional cost.
Though there is no risk of yellow fever in the Galapagos Islands, a vaccination certificate is required for travellers coming from infected areas.
It is always recommended that you visit your doctor or travel clinic for up to date advice and make sure to schedule vaccinations 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective.
Recommended vaccines and precautions
- Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
- Rabies (transmitted through bites of infected mammals)
- Yellow Fever (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
- Diphtheria (transmitted through person-to-person contact or contact with infected objects, such as a cup or tissue)
- Tetanus (transmitted through infections to cuts or puncture wounds)
- Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)
- Malaria (transmitted through bites of infected mosquitoes)
Yes. All peregrine passengers are required to purchase travel insurance prior to their trip. Your insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day.
For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/ecuador/public-holidays