Galapagos for dummies

Galapagos for dummies

Here鈥檚 the scoop about what goes on in the Galapagos Islands, so that you can plan your own trip without any issues. In the following, you鈥檒l learn all about: daily tours, cruises, flights, ferries, weather, accommodation, restaurants and the way to properly behave as a tourist on these islands.

Your main takeaway should be: day tours around the Islands aren鈥檛 as easy to book as you might think. Try to organize your trip and book your day tours as far in advance as possible to make the most of your trip.

1) Galapagos tours

Here are a few considerations as you plan your day tours on the Galapagos Islands:

  • Tour schedules are not flexible. The Galapagos National Park, not the boat operators, manage tour schedules and boat operators must simply comply with these schedules.
  • Departure isn鈥檛 guaranteed. Many tours won鈥檛 depart unless the yacht is full, while some require a minimum of 8 passengers. (This happens mostly on the tours: Espanola, Punta Pitt, Santa Fe with landing, Chinese hat and South Plazas)
  • Schedules may change weekly. On one week, some boats will depart at 7am and others at 11am. (This happens in the tours of Cabo Rosa Tunnels in Isabela)
  • Not all tours will be available. Less popular tours may not depart or may lack an experienced guide.
  • Passenger limits exist. By law, day tours can only take a limited number of passengers.
  • Most children pay entry. Only children under 2 aren鈥檛 charged entry on a tour.
  •  
    Years ago, the Galapagos National Park granted exclusive license to several Island settlers so that they could start experienced-based tourism instead of artisanal fishing.

    One group of families offers daily tours to: Santa Fe, Pinz贸n, Daphne Mayor, 360 Tour, Cabo Rosa Tunnels and outings around the Bay. These tours are easy to find on the Islands and are cheaper than others, the challenge is to find an operator that offers a good service.

    Another group of families organize tours on Bartolome, North Seymour, South Plazas, Sombrero Chino and Santa Fe with landing. However, since there are only 8-12 yachts available, tours are limited and it can be difficult to secure a spot upon arrival to the Islands.

    A few travel bloggers claim to have purchased cheap tour tickets upon arrival but this information is misleading. Cheap tickets are only sold when there are no-shows, which is never guaranteed. If all passengers show up for the tour, you鈥檙e left without many options, potentially wasting a day on the Islands. It鈥檚 especially difficult to get on tours to Bartolom茅 and Seymour Norte because departure days are limited and not flexible. The Galapagos National Park, not the boat operators, manage tour schedules and boat operators must simply comply with these schedules. For instance, on the same day there might be tours to Bartolome, Seymour Norte and Plazas Sur. Since you can only choose one on any given day, it鈥檚 important to plan ahead to secure your spot on the boat!

    Getting on a tour to San Cristobal can also be difficult. Only one yacht departs to Espa帽ola Island on Monday, another on Wednesday, two on Thursday, four on Saturday and one on Sunday.

    To Punta Pitt you鈥檒l find one yacht heading out on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and two on Sunday. To make matters worse, many of the boats won鈥檛 depart unless the yacht is full, while some require a minimum of 8 passengers.

    The best tour is definitely the Kicker Rock combined with Playa brujo, but as in Santa Cruz, the yacht schedule depends entirely on the itinerary determined by the Galapagos National Park.

    On Isla Isabela, the boats take a two day break, though they could head to Islote Tortuga. However, since Islote Tortuga isn鈥檛 a popular tour, boats don鈥檛 plan and promote this tour.

    Schedules may vary on a weekly basis; some boats depart one week at 7am and and others depart at 11am.

    On Isla Isabela, there鈥檚 another issue relating to the T煤neles Cabo Rosa tour which tends to more informal and therefore is lacking in good guides.

    Day tours can only take a limited number of passengers and failure to comply will result with a fine of $3,000, implemented by the Galapagos National Park.

    Visitor limits are: 360 on San Crist贸bal; Santa Fe, Daphne Mayor and Pinz贸n in Santa Cruz; and T煤neles Cabo Rosa in Isabela can take a max of 10 passengers. Operators with access to Espa帽ola Island, Punta Pitt and Kicker Rock can take 12 passengers. And tours to Bartolom茅, Plazas Sur and Seymour Norte have a capacity of 16 people.

    Children under the age of 2 years don鈥檛 pay entry to the majority of tours because the Galapagos National Park doesn鈥檛 count them as passengers. They should still carry an ID or passport that states their age. Children over 2 count as passengers and don鈥檛 generally receive discounts on the tours.

    2) Galapagos cruise

    Most Galapagos cruises depart on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from the Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz, Galapagos Cruises depart from the Itabaca canal that is close to Baltra Airport.

    Cruises in Galapagos are big business and are usually not very accessible for people traveling on a budget. You might鈥檝e read about cheap last minute cruises on TripAdvisor, but these are usually the poorest in service, though they follow the same routes as the more expensive cruises.

    Diving cruises are the only ones allowed to go to the farthest Islands such as the Wolf or Darwin.

    3) Galapagos flights

    Ecuadorians can access promotional tickets year round, but foreigners unfortunately cannot. If you鈥檙e a foreigner, even if you buy a discounted flight online you鈥檒l be charged the added amount, which can vary between $150 to 300 dollars.

    There are no international flights entering or leaving the Galapagos Islands. The only way to fly into the Galapagos Islands is via the airports in Guayaquil and Quito. It is advisable to enter through the San Crist贸bal airport and exit at Baltra airport.

    4) About transfers between islands

    If you want to travel from one inhabited island to another, you can do so on speedboats, also known as ferries or coasters. The marina has established two fixed schedules to travel from one island to another.

    In Santa Cruz and San Crist贸bal these speedboats leave at: 7am and 2pm while on Isabela Island they leave at: 6am and 3pm. You cannot travel from San Cristobal Island to Isabela directly; it isn鈥檛 allowed so you must take 2 ferries instead.

    While there are flights between the islands, departure isn鈥檛 always guaranteed. There have been cancelled flights due to lack of gas and passengers have been turned away without a refund and sent to a ferry to continue their trip.

    5) Guidelines for tourists on the Galapagos

    Below are a few guidelines to follow as you explore the Galapagos Islands.

  • Avoid taking pictures from less than 2 meters from the animals (you do not need to be in the picture with them to show that you were in the Galapagos Islands).
  • Also, do not feed the birds, especially the Darwin Finch birds, which are the most annoying for food.
  • Respect the signs on the trails, many people want to take a picture outside of the trails and that is forbidden.
  • Pay attention to your guide and the signs. Every time I go there they tell me about cases of people who didn鈥檛 follow instructions, get hurt and have even passed away.
  • Purchase travel insurance prior to your trip. You don鈥檛 know when something might happen. Falls are common on day tours due to the volcanic rocks.
  • 6) Galapagos weather

    Sadly, Aquaman does not live in the Islands, so your long-awaited trip can be overshadowed by heavy rains during the months of January and February. However, during these months the seawater will be hot and the weather in general will be warm.

    If you鈥檙e thinking of going in the months of September and October, which is low season (although there isn鈥檛 really a low season on the Galapagos Islands), the weather starts to feel cooler, especially if you鈥檙e coming from tropical weather. (If you鈥檙e from the colder hemispheres, it鈥檒l still feel like a sauna.) During this season, the sea water will be cold and you will need to wear a wetsuit and a coat at night. The good thing is that in those months thanks to the Humboldt current, the sea has more nutrients and therefore more activity under the sea, which makes for better diving and snorkeling than in other months.

    7) About lodging and restaurants on the Galapagos

    You鈥檒l find a wide variety of options for lodging and restaurants on the Galapagos. If you鈥檙e 鈥渃hiro鈥 (broke) like me, you鈥檒l still want a safe, decently priced and comfortable hostel in a good location.

    Everything depends on your budget. Higher quality services and a better location will, for obvious reasons, cost more.

    Do not forget to ask your hostel about Wifi because it鈥檚 generally pretty terribly on the Islands, so forget about uploading videos in your instagram story, hehe.

    In terms of budget, the same applies to hotels and restaurants. I recommend that you go to places where they respect bans on seafood. Lobster fishing is illegal from January to July, yet some restaurants still sell these.

    Also, though the seafood on the Galapagos Islands is almost always fresh, the restaurants qualified by the ARCSA (National Agency for Regulation, Control and Health surveillance) guarantee fresh and high quality seafood, ensuring you won鈥檛 get suck. See list of restaurants.

     

    The video that will make you fall in love with the Galapagos Islands


     

    Where do you want to travel ?

    Galapagos Travel Guide: Cruise, Tours, Last minute deals

    @ChokoEc

    @ChokoEc

    My name is Christian but you came call me Choko. Together with my wife we have created this blog to help all travelers going to Galapagos 馃悽馃馃惂馃惉 馃惁馃 I am from Ecuador, born in Guayaquil. Passionate about traveling and everything related to social media. In my free time I travel the americas. I have given conferences and workshops revolving around my work and tourism 2.0 // WRITE ME USING WHATSAPP: +593978990910 - 馃嚜馃嚚 BLOG IN SPANISH chokotrip.info

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Follow me on my travels on social media: