How to Visit the Galapagos

by Ship

For those that don’t get seasick easily, cruising the Galapagos Islands is the most effective way to explore the natural treasures given the large distances between the key sites. Quite different from your typical Caribbean cruise, the Galapagos cruises are expedition style featuring 2 excursions a day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon, except for arrival and departure days in which there is only time for one excursion) and naturalist discussions in the evenings to brief on the activities the following day. According to limits imposed by the national park service, cruise boat occupancy cannot exceed 100 passengers, so even the “large” cruise ships like the Legend permit a quality experience, but if availability prevails the ideal way to experience the Galapagos Islands is via a luxury yacht. With normally around 16 passengers, yachts like the Grand Odyssey provide an exclusive experience for discovering the islands.

by Land

If availability is limited or seasickness is a concern, land-based options utilizing lodges on select islands can be a good alternative. Whereas the cruise itineraries attempt to introduce a greater variety of islands (as many as 8 different islands on a 6-day cruise), since man-made constructions are limited to the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and San Cristobal, and in order to maintain a solid ratio of excursion to travel time, land-based tours usually strive for more of an in-depth exploration of the islands highlighted in the itinerary. For travelers interested in diving, of the 116 visitor sites in the Galapagos, 62 are for scuba diving or snorkeling. Lodges are a great way to put together a custom itinerary enabling a mix of land-based and dive excursions.

Galapagos Islands and Quito

8 Day Galapagos Tour

3 nights in Quito, 4 nights on a Galapagos cruise.

Experience the cultural treasures of Quito and its surroundings before embarking on a Galapagos Odyssey cruise to witness the wonderful wildlife of the Galapagos Islands.

combining with other South America destinations

South America is a very large continent and visiting multiple destinations and countries requires careful logistical planning. We see a few prudent and efficient ways to connect a visit to the Galapagos with other main sites in South America. Here are two of our recommended itineraries:

Galapagos and Machu Picchu

11 Day Machu Picchu Tour

1 night in Guayaquil/Quito, 4 nights on a Galapagos cruise, 1 night in Lima, 3 nights in Cuzco, 1 night in Machu Picchu town.

Visit two of the most important sites in South America. Begin with an exploration of the unique island wildlife and then experience the grandeur of the Incan citadel during this Machu Picchu and Galapagos tour.

Galapagos and the Amazon

10 Day Amazon Tour

2 nights in Quito, 4 nights in the Galapagos Islands, 3 nights in an Amazon jungle lodge.

Discover the wildlife diversity of South America on this Galapagos and Amazon tour. Start with a Galapagos cruise to visit islands full of endemic species. Continue on to a lodge in Ecuador’s Amazon, part of the largest rainforest in the world.

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