QUESTIONS? CALL US TODAY - 877-784-5400As humans, we arrive in the Galapagos as second class citizens, the way we hope it will always remain. This status is perhaps felt most strongly on Galapagos cruises, kept at bay from the living museum of the archipelago. In the Galapagos, wildlife rule. Some vessels travel to the central islands, some to the most remote islands to the north and longer itineraries travel to both. Itineraries differ by vessel and class. Species vary by location. All travel is strictly controlled in the Galapagos, confined to official land and marine visitor sites, aboard sanctioned vessels with credentialed naturalist guides. Cruise ships, the largest vessels that visit the islands, may not book more than 100 passengers.
NATURE ADVENTURE FOR THE MINDObserving wildlife that you’ve only seen in zoos or perhaps never heard of makes the Galapagos a nature lover’s paradise. It is also a stimulating intellectual adventure, given how Charles Darwin’s Galapagos discoveries have shaped human thought in the modern world. Akin to gazing at Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel instead of a book, seeing the Galapagos as Darwin did is an experience of a lifetime, a destination like no other. Darwin first traveled to the Galapagos in 1835 aboard the HMS Beagle during a trip around the world by a group of scientists at the start of his career. Knowing that the theories he developed on his return to London would likely turn the ecclesiastical and scientific worlds upside down, he waited until 1858 to publish them in The Origin of Species, and he was right. The debate among scientists, theologians and the rest of us continues today.
LEARNING FROM PARADISETravel between islands aboard Galapagos cruises happens mostly at night when passengers are asleep so everyone awakens refreshed and ready for different wildlife excursions than the day before. Most days during a Galapagos cruise include two excursions. Landings from the small, flat-bottomed panga boats that bring passengers ashore are either “wet,” that requires wading to shore from a few feet out, or “dry,” when a dock is available or the beach is rocky, depending on the site. You return to your vessel sometimes for lunch and at day’s end, in time for a shipboard sunset, cocktails and dinner on the deck, perhaps a wildlife lecture and an opportunity to share photos with fellow passengers. Guides brief passengers on what wildlife they will be seeing before each excursion.
The period of North American holidays and summer continue to be the busiest travel times in the Galapagos when cruises sell out or at least reduce your vessel options. All passengers may fly to the islands from the capital, Quito, or Ecuador’s western port city of Guayaquil. Most flights land on Baltra and transfer to another island on arrival. If like Darwin, you are prone to seasickness you may be better off with a land-based tour, although if you are set on a cruise, there are locations on boats where passengers feel the pitch less than others. There are always pills and wrist bands to help.
The countless options for vessels and itineraries can make planning a Galapagos island cruise a challenge. Wildlife tends to keep to the same schedule every year which helps travelers to plan their trips. Tell us your timeframe, any specific wildlife interests and desired activities you have in mind, and we’ll help you pick out the perfect Galapagos tour.