It’s no surprise that visiting a destination as unique as the Galapagos Islands would also entail a unique travel experience in order to experience them. Yet that very prospect awaits erstwhile travelers who come to this remote archipelago looking to immerse themselves in the varied natural wonders on display. To best appreciate the destination, let’s take a look at the overall experience. Only then can the full appeal of this bucket-list locale be truly understood.

Make The Most of Your Gateways

The only commercial flights in and out of the Galapagos Islands are from the mainland Ecuadorian cities of Quito and Guayaquil. Even on a short trip, taking a few days to explore these vibrant cities before and/or after your stay in the Galapagos will add a very enjoyable dimension to your itinerary. You can either bask in the historic charm of UNESCO World Heritage Quito, with its colonial era churches and architecture, or have some fun in the modern metropolis of Guayaquil, with its resplendent Malecon 2000 and colorful Las Penas neighborhood. For a taste of both old and new, why not try a combination of both?

Touring the Islands

Arriving at the island of Baltra, visitors to the Galapagos have essentially two options: board a cruise ship or yacht to explore the archipelago, or concentrate your time on a select few destinations. For budget-conscious travelers, the latter is by far the most practical option—one that will still allow for meaningful experiences that encapsulate the characteristic sights and activities that make the Galapagos a world-class destination.

Santa Cruz

Practically adjacent to the gateway airport on Baltra Island, the island of Santa Cruz is host to some wonderful volcanic scenery and nature-focused activities. Most visitors will at some point either stay in or pass through the town of Puerto Ayora, situated on Academy Bay along the southern coast of the island. Nearby is the Charles Darwin Research Station, a must-see attraction where visitors can gain greater insights on the unique flora and fauna found only in the Galapagos, along with up to date information on current conservation programs.

Day Trips

From Puerto Ayora, guests can embark on a variety of day trips to visit surrounding islands—each with their own appeal. A popular trip is out to tiny Bartolomé Island, with its signature feature—Pinnacle Rock. Surrounded by beaches suitable for swimming and snorkeling, you might see turtles, sea lions, several types of sharks and rays, and even a small penguin colony in the shadow of this spire of lava rock jutting up from the shoreline. Another popular day trip is a visit to North Seymour Island. This low-lying land-mass is teeming with wildlife—boasting large colonies of frigate birds, iguanas, and blue-footed boobies.

Practical Details

As was mentioned before, visiting the Galapagos is not your everyday adventure. With that in mind, some practical tips will help you enjoy your trip to the fullest.

One of the most appealing aspects of the Galapagos Islands is their remote, unspoiled and undeveloped nature. In practical terms that means that at times getting to these amazing locations will require a measure of stamina, often crossing through uneven terrain. Those prone to seasickness would do well to bring medicine with them (and take it before getting on a boat) and be sure to have your camera equipment fully charged and ready for wildlife encounters that can arise at any given time.

The Galapagos Islands lie along the Equator, so air and water temperatures are relatively stable all year long, with the coolest months being June through November. As a national park, there are associated fees specific to the islands, though when traveling with a reputable tour operator such details are generally included in the price. And while on the subject, having at least some of your activities led by a knowledgeable guide who speaks your language will greatly enhance your overall experience.

The Galapagos is a bucket-list destination for those who love nature, animals, diving and anything related to ecology. With some forethought, dedication and the assistance of a knowledgeable tour operator, you can experience this natural wonderland with minimal hassle and make your experience the ultimate trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Posted by Gate 1 Travel

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