The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of 14 volcanic islands located in the Pacific Ocean, is a magical place for holidays, a paradise on earth that challenges the mind and provokes the senses, where the animals have an appearance and behaviours impossible to find anywhere else in the world, where the crystal clear waters, beaches full of colors will join a dizzying journey to the limits of nature.
Discovered by chance in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the Galapagos Islands were a place of visit for pirates and buccaneers, who nicknamed it the "enchanted islands". A paradise of evolution, it is here that Charles Darwin and Jacques Cousteau have developed theories on evolution.
The Galapagos are 1,000 kilometers from the west coast of South America and are located north and south of the equator, which crosses the northern part of the larger island, Isabela. The archipelago encompasses an incredible variety of plant and animal forms, as well as an incredible wealth of landscapes and environments.
The archipelago is located at the confluence of three tectonic plates: the Pacific plate, the Cocos plate and the Nazca plate. The edge of the islands increases from west to south-east. Española is the oldest island and is about 5 million years old, Fernandina however, is the youngest and is less than 700,000 years old.
The relative isolation due to distance from the mainland and the wide variety of climates and habitats due to currents in the area have led to the evolution of numerous endemic species of animals and plants, from the observation that Charles Darwin was inspired to formulate the theory of evolution.
The Galapagos archipelago is famous worldwide for the fauna that has no equal where you can swim with sea lions, look closely at the blue-footed boobies, iguanas, pelicans, giant tortoises, penguins , albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters, birds of storms, tropic birds, cormorants, frigate birds, herons and egrets, flamingos, ducks, buzzards, moorhens, the ralli, plovers , the oystercatchers, sandpipers, curlews and sandpipers, gulls, owls, cuckoos, swallows, birds mimes, Darwin's finches, sea lions, whales and dolphins.
The Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are an ideal destination for families. Children can interact with wildlife, giant tortoises from 100 years of sea lions and iguanas. Trips to the Charles Darwin Research Center is a training evolution, and the beaches and the islands offer postcard-worthy settings. The trips are offered by a number of reputable, well-known companies and institutions. Designed for families, each provides expert guidance to enhance the experience.
A tour to the Galapagos is synonymous with Cruises and a short trip to the Galapagos in a cruise will be a total trip because it will allow you to live intensely in and out of the water in one of the most extraordinary places of our planet. This formula is a double benefit for the traveller who can then choose to time the favourite and the best cruise cabin available in addition to getting a savings on the price as well as saving on expensive land hotels.
The boats that sail between the Galapagos Islands are divided into different types: small sailing yachts or sailboats, small motor yachts or catamarans (12 to 20 passengers) and the largest cruise ship shipment (40 to 90 passengers). All sailing boats also have the engine, so the distances and routes provided can be observed. There are also three price bands: tourist class, first class and luxury category. Each ship has its own yacht or route, during which tourists explores the different areas of the islands.
Depending on the boat, you can choose only one part of the route and participate in a shorter cruise. Some yachts and ships offer itineraries also reduced by 4-5 days, but once on the long journey to the islands, it is highly advisable to spend a minimum of one week. For families or groups of friends, you can charter a yacht, with the same itinerary, guided hikes and crew included.
To those who are interested in an one-week cruise to the Galapagos, which also includes the more remote islands of Isabela and Fernandina, boarding the yacht driven by professional crew, and few people allows great flexibility and the ability to move quickly which is preferable as the hotels are not always beautiful, and you also miss the opportunity to see animals.
The best way to try to save money is to go to Ecuador and try a cruise once you get there. However, especially if you go during peak season, consider the risk factor: you may not find the cruise or finding just the expensive ones. The choice depends on you, how much you are willing to risk and when you care to go to the Galapagos. If you decide that the risk is not for you then you can contact the Ecuadorian agencies before departure.
Before you decide to book a cruise decide the type of yacht you want. Usually the agencies offer various yachts, each of which belongs to one of the following classes in order from cheapest to most expensive: economic, tourist, tourist superior, first-class luxury cruises.
The Voyagers Travel Company is one of the agencies of Ecuador with a large number of boats to choose from. It is probably for this reason that they can offer prices are sometimes lower than other agencies, and offer an incredible variety of choice. From them you will find all kinds of cruises for all tastes and especially for all budgets. Their website usually provides details of the boats, where they are given the size and speed, in addition to the itinerary of the cruise and the cost. In addition, there are also photos of the yacht. Consider that usually the lower-priced boats are very small so if the sea is rough it is good to have the bigger cruises.
National Geographic Expeditions promises when you are traveling with them, you will travel not as an observer but as an active participant with a team of naturalists. Their family Galapagos Odyssey keeps this promise with tide pooling on Isla Santiago, a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Isla Santa Cruz, caving on Isla Isabela, snorkel among sea lions at Isla Floreana and plenty of opportunities to watch birds and kayaking. The National Geographic Endeavour or Islander cruise ship features a fitness center, swimming pool, lounge and bar, access to health club, a sauna, and internet.
Avalon Waterways sets the standard in cruises and small ship cruising with the latest fleet where you can travel on the youngest armada of vessels with modern design, contemporary and larger cabins with notable comfort and take pleasure in fine food.
There are cruises from 4, 5, 6 and 8 days. Prior to choosing the ideal duration of navigation consider the day of arrival and departure too, Many opt for the cruise of 6 days, because it is considered a good compromise between being not too short or too expensive. The cost, however, depends on the yacht that you choose.
Not all the yachts offer the same path that varies depending on the size of the boat (do not forget that you are in the open ocean and sometimes the boats are small), the conditions of the sea and, of course, the length of the navigation. It could happen that the route that you have been provided by the agency may change during the cruise because of the rough sea.
Discover Ecuador, a unique destination with a bright sun. It is easy to combine the four worlds that start with the enchanted Galapagos Islands, crossing the Andes with its volcanoes, national parks, travel train, and of course, the Amazon region with its mega biodiversity and the Pacific coast, with 600 kilometers of exotic beaches.
A trip to the Galapagos must be arranged in advance but the costs are not as high as one might think. The strict rules of the National Park, literally forces the tourists to follow a well-defined plan without digressing, obviously limiting the freedom of travel and discovery at its core, where they have lived the last dinosaurs. Galapagos is one of the few remaining paradises on earth and as such must be protected.