Plan the trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos with our well-traveled team of experts. Work closely with your Southern Explorations' travel specialist to build a first class tailor-made tour over the dates of your choice. The Galapagos are one of the most fascinating destinations on the planet - renowned for sparking Darwin’s theory of evolution - and travelers looking for more time on the islands and longer excursions each day can spend their nights in local hotels and become fully immersed in the local communities.
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Where else can you swim with sea turtles, lounge on the beach among sea lions or come upon thousands of huge marine iguanas napping next to a hiking trail? The government of Ecuador established the Galapagos National Park Service in 1959 and began implementing conservation measures and limits on visitor travel. It was none too soon. By 1970, the Galapagos had been discovered, and tourists began coming to the islands in large numbers. Thanks to these stringent safeguards, Galapagos species have not learned to fear humans, so many encounters are at close range. Today the number of visitors allowed on the islands at any one time is determined by the Park Service as are the specific Galapagos wildlife viewing spots on land and water.
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WILDLIFE ALL DAY EVERY DAY
The Galapagos is a year-round destination, with sights that vary according to rhythm of its wildlife. Some locations are all about the birds. Genovesa Island, on the north end of the archipelago, is home to the world’s largest colony of red-footed boobies, over 100,000 pairs, and hundreds of thousands of Galapagos storm petrels come here to nest. As elsewhere, many other species do too. Though the giant tortoise, referred to as Lonesome George, died in 2012, the last of his kind, visitors will encounter many other tortoises and learn about steps being taken to prevent their extinction.
Until recently, if you wanted to travel to the Galapagos, off-shore vessels were your only option for overnight accommodations. Granted, sailing by yacht or cruise ship is a blissful way to go, but now, visitors seeking a more active Galapagos trip of a lifetime may stay on the islands. Of the eighteen main islands of the Galapagos, only a few are inhabited. Santa Cruz is the island many visitors explore first, located in the center of the archipelago and a bridge away from where most everyone lands on tiny Baltra Island. San Cristobal is located on the far east of the Galapagos; the largest of the islands; Isabela, is on the west side of the archipelago; and Floreana is a centrally-located southerly island. The towns of Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Puerto Villamil and Puerto Velasco Ibarra have tourist services including lodgings, a range of eateries, and unlike the official wildlife viewing sites, here visitors may explore a bit on their own. By land or by sea, most all visitors on the Galapagos Islands stop in at the Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Though it is considered one of the islands’ official visitor sites, passengers on land tours may also visit this fascinating institution on their own to learn more about its important work of preserving and perpetuating Galapagos wildlife.
EXOTIC ODYSSEY MADE MORE SO
These active Galapagos tours allow you to explore four islands on foot, by mountain bike and kayak with plenty of time for snorkeling, plus diving at certain locations if you wish. We give our land-based tours a “moderate” physical rating, though the better your condition, the greater your enjoyment. Passengers are always free to sit out an excursion. You return to your island accommodations at the conclusion of each action-packed day to enjoy dinner on your own or with fellow passengers. To stay on the islands themselves instead of off-shore adds a unique dimension to this bucket list destination.