The Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago paradise, known for their incredibly diverse and rare collection of endemic species. These islands, teeming with wildlife, birds, fish and reptiles, are where Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution by natural selection.
A nature lover’s paradise, the Galapagos Islands are a fascinating adventure. During a visit here you will have a chance of seeing many rare and beautiful creatures – including albatrosses, marine iguanas, giant tortoises, fur seals, frigate birds, sea lions and much more.
How Do You Get There?
The islands are not easy or cheap to get to – they are remote and situated far from the coast of Ecuador. The only way to reach them is by plane from Quito or Guayaquil. The flights from Guayaquil are slightly cheaper, but you will have more availability and choice of flights when departing from Quito.
You will arrive in Isla Baltra Airport and then travel two hours to Puerto Ayora – the main settlement on the Galapagos. It is also possible to fly to San Cristobal, where the airport is 20 minutes walk from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Once you arrive on the islands, the best way to get around and see the sights is to take a boat tour.
Tips for Seeing Wildlife
- There are strict controls placed on tourist access to wildlife areas in the Galapagos, in an effort to protect the unspoiled natural habitats. All visitors to the islands must be accompanies by a naturalist tour guide certified by the national park.
- Do not walk off the marked paths, as you can destroy the delicate ecosystem.
- For the best experience and the highest chances of seeing wildlife, it is recommended that you look for a tour with no more than 10 tourists per guide.
- Ask your boat tour operator if you can do shore landings as early as possible. If you are out at 5-6am you can beat the crowds and the afternoon heat.
- To see the incredible prehistoric looking giant tortoises – visit the Galapagos Interpretation Center in San Cristobal or the Charles Darwin Research Center in Santa Cruz.
- The best place to see penguins is Tagus Cove on Isla Isabela.
- If you would like to spot Marine Iguanas, the best place is Fernandina, which also has a large colony of sea lions at Punta Suarez.
When is the Best Time to Visit?
There is no bad time to visit the Galapagos – every season provides unique experiences for seeing different types of wildlife. The seas will be calmest and the weather will be warm from December to May, however the animals will be more active in July and August.
The best time to visit for divers is from June to November, as the water is cooler and attracts more interesting marine life such as hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. It is important to book at least a few months in advance, as the tours will fill up – especially during the high season.