Galapagos Islands Travel Guide
The volcanic archipelago of the Galapagos Islands has long been luring visitors who come to enjoy its many treasures from the exotic and bountiful supply of animals and plants to the sublime scenic views that encompass and enchant the islands.
'Galapagos' original music by Cart (video from BBC)
The Galapagos Islands have an excellent climate all year round which can be roughly split into two main seasons, the warm and tropical shower season and the dry and windy season.
- The Warm and Wet Season
The warm and wet season runs from December through to May and sees temperatures often between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with March receiving the most amount of tropical showers. The water temperature during theses months usually averages between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and are very calm during this time.
The weather during these months allows the Galapagos Islands to become lush and green with plenty of colour from both flora and fauna who will also be reproducing during this time.
- The Dry and Windy Season
The dry and windy season runs from June to November and averages temperatures between 65 and 75
degrees Fahrenheit. The average water temperature is around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a wet suit is recommended for snorkeling.
During the dry season there is very little precipitation with more wind present than at other times, causing the islands to become slightly more barren than at other times.
Travel to The Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands can be reached by plane from either Guayaquil or Quito airports in Ecuador and you will arrive at either Baltra or San Cristobal airport. You will need send your passport number one month ahead of travelling to the islands and there is also a $100 National Park entry fee (subject to change) which has to be paid upon arrival on the islands.
- Travel Around The Galapagos Islands
Travelling around the islands is largely achieved through walking and hiking. In some areas mountain biking and horse riding are permitted and there are plenty of boats to transport you in between islands or simply explore in a kayak with a registered guide.
Galapagos Tours and Cruises
There are plenty of tour and cruise options available that include land based tours such as island and adventure tours, as well diving and island cruise options. The tours itinerary is set by the national park to allow visitors the opportunity to experience a wide range of the islands diverse landscapes and abundant supply of rare and in some cases endangered species flora and fauna.
- Galapagos Tours
Galapagos tours often include several of the islands main visitor sites such as those found on Floreana and Santa Cruz. The uninhabited areas of the Galapagos Islands can only be visited from dawn until dusk with an official Galapagos naturalist tour guide. During these informative tours you will follow specific trails that help to limit the damage caused by human presence to both flora and fauna ... more about Galapagos Tours
- Galapagos Cruises
There are several cruises available that range from scuba diving cruises to island cruises, offering the perfect way to enjoy both the marine life, wildlife and scenery... more about Galapagos Cruises
The Galapagos Islands can be found lying on the equator within the Pacific Ocean approximately 600 miles to the west of the coast of Ecuador, South America
to which they also belong.
There are 18 main islands and several other smaller rock islands and rock formations that are surrounded by over 50,000 square miles of protected marine reserve.
The islands were formed from volcano's which remain active to the west of the island, volcanic remains are still visible today with craters, crater lakes, lava tubes and sulphur fields offering some spectacular scenery, both on land and under sea.
The islands are positioned in such a way that they benefit from several ocean currents which includes the Humboldt and South Equatorial Current, bringing in a diverse range of nutrients and sea life.
Galapagos Islands Inhabitants
Four of the islands known as Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal and Floreana are inhabited with a total population of well over 30,000 people, although none are indigenous.
Where To Stay
There are a wide range of hotels available on the inhabited islands that vary from basic accommodation through to 5 star luxury depending on your budget, with some hotels offering spectacular water front views while others are nestled away in the tranquility of the highlands.
Safety and Park Guidelines
Due to the ongoing conservation and preservation of these unique island there are certain guidelines which should be adhered to that will help ensure the preservation of the islands flora and fauna for the future:
- Only visit uninhabited islands with a official national park trail guide.
- Respect your tour guides advice or requests.
- No smoking or lighting of fires on the islands.
- You must remain on the marked paths at all times.
- Do not disturb any of the animals.
- Do not feed or interfere with any of the animals.
- No graffiti is permitted, anywhere.
- Do not leave any litter behind when visiting the islands or throw anything overboard.
- Camping is not permitted unless with prior national park authorisation.
- Do not remove any flora or fauna from the islands.
- Do not bring any animals onto the islands.
Preservation and conservation of these beautiful islands and the plants and animals that they support is an ongoing process. The human impact caused to the islands such as through over fishing, increasing numbers of human population on the islands, the effect from tourism
and the devastation that introduced animals have caused to some of the islands are of course all at the forefront of conservation efforts. The Charles Darwin Research Station works alongside the Galapagos National Park Service to study and help preserve the islands and marine reserve.
The islands have a history with pirates and whalers who took advantage of the rich supply of animals especially tortoises which they used for food as well as using the islands to replenish their depleted fresh water supplies.
The well known 'Post Office Bay' is a historic reminder of when whalers would leave mail in a barrel for a homeward bound vessel to carry home and deliver, a tradition which is still going on today.
The visit of naturalist Charles Darwin to the islands and his subsequent scientific findings led him to his theory of natural selection which were published in his well known book called 'The Origin of Species'.
Observation of the animals of the Galapagos Islands by Charles Darwin led to one of the most significant books ever written on behalf of science. Their obvious isolation makes them
both sometimes colourful and somewhat bizarre, and hence therefore they are the Galapagos' greatest attraction... more about Galapagos Animals
Galapagos Adventure Travel Guide
From walking up rocky cliffs and along stunning coastlines to diving with Sharks, snorkeling with Sea Lions and Marine Iguanas or kayaking to the coves and islets that surround many of the islands there is plenty to keep you entertained... more about Galapagos Islands Adventure Travel Guide
Due to the incredible diversity of altitude and terrain there is a wide range of flora to be found on the island that varies from coastal vegetation where you will come across shrubs and herbs, to salt water lagoons and mangrove swamps. There are also plenty of dry arid areas where several species of cacti plants, shrubs and trees such as Palo Santo trees can be found. Across the highlands of the islands you can enjoy green fern locations while taking in some spectacular views.
Islands Travel Guide
This unique archipelago of volcanic islands offers both spectacular scenery combined with an abundant supply of wildlife, each island is totally unique and can but capture your imagination:
- Floreana Island
The beautiful island of Floreana has been a popular island to visit for many centuries and is well known for Devil's Crown a superb snorkeling site and the historic Post Office Bay... more about Floreana Island
- Santa Cruz
The island of Santa Cruz is where you will find some fascinating Lava Tunnels, impressive volcanic craters, a tranquil mangrove estuary, the town of Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station... more about Santa Cruz Island
- Isabella Island
The island of Isabela has several sites of interest, which includes some superb views from the islands highest volcano containing a large volcanic crater as well as various coves, lagoons and bays where birds such as the Flightless Cormorant and Flamingo can be observed. The island also offers a carefully positioned
nature trail that winds its way through various ecosystems towards the fascinating Tortoise Breeding Center... more about Isabela Island
- San Cristobal Island
The capital of the Galapagos islands
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is located here on San Cristobal which also offers some superb dive and snorkeling sites, a fresh water lagoon and Frigate bird Hill which commands superb views of the island and is one of the few areas in the Galapagos where you can walk without a guide... more about San Cristobal Island
- Santiago Island
Also known as Isla San Salvador, Santiago Island is the fourth largest of the Galapagos islands and features some superb volcanic rock formations, hidden coves, lagoons and has a history with pirates. The wildlife is also abundant in this area with regular sighting's of Iguanas, Sea Turtles, Crabs, Hawks and Fur Seals... more about Santiago Island
- Daphne Island
A relatively small cone shaped island that offers excellent bird watching opportunities with Frigate Birds, Finches and
nests of Blue Footed Boobies amongst the islands inhabitants... more about Daphne Island
- Fernandina Island
Fernandina Island has an active volcano
and several areas of volcanic rock along its shores where large colonies of Marine Iguanas can be found basking in the sun along with countless Flightless Cormorants who are often seen trying to cool down with their wings held out away from their body... more about Fernandina Island
- North Seymour Island
A fascinating island that offers superb bird watching of species such as the
Blue Booby and Frigate Birds which can both be found here in large numbers... more about North Seymour Island
- Bartolome Island
This small islet offers some of the most spectacular scenic views of the Galapagos as well as having its own abundant selection of wildlife and has one of the most unique and photographed volcanic rock formations within the Galapagos... more about Bartolome Island
- South Plaza Island
This small islet has
rocky shores that are loved by Sea Lions and contains steep cliffs where Frigate birds and Boobies can be easily spotted. Inland during the dry season colourful red vegetation covers the island along with plenty of cactus plants and several Land Iguanas... more about South Plaza Island
- Rabida Island
The small island has striking red sandy beaches and is well known for its Sea Lion colony as well as for birds such as Flamingos, White Cheeked Pintail Ducks, Finches, Brown Pelicans and Booby Birds... more about Rabida Island
- Darwin and Wolf Island
Situated to the north of Isabela Island both Darwin and Wolf islands offer superb marine and bird life and are exceptionally popular with experienced divers. The islands do not permit visitors however the abundant selection of wildlife offers excellent viewing and it is here that you will come across Darwins Arch a unique volcanic rock formation.
- Espanola Island
Espanola Island, which is also known as Hood, has soft sandy beaches where Sea Lions like to hang out, along with one of the most impressive colonies of Waved Albatross and some superb areas of rocky coast where Red Iguanas can be found basking on the rocky shores.. more about Espanola Island
- Genovesa Island
This superb island is also known as 'Bird Island'
and for very good reason as it has several large colonies of birds such as Red Footed Boobies, Frigate Birds and Galapagos Doves to name but a few!... more about Genovesa Island
- Pinta and Pinzon Islands
Pinta Island was the original home of Lonesome George, who has since been moved to the Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz. Both Pinta and Pinzon require a special permit to visit.
- Lobos Island
This island which means 'Sea Lion Island' will certainly give you ample opportunity to view these magnificent creatures as well as other wildlife such as Blue Footed Boobies and Frigate birds... more about Lobos Island
- Santa Fe Island
There are plenty of Sea Lions to be found along the sandy beaches of Santa Fe and
snorkeling with them can be a very playful experience... more about Santa Fe Island
- Baltra Island
This uninhabited island contains Baltra Airport which is the main airport used by visitors to the Galapagos Islands. From the airport you will often be met by your tour guide who will transport you off the island to your hotel or cruise ship.