The Trip of a Lifetime
from GALAPAGOS TRAVEL
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the best time of the year to visit the Galápagos?
This is the question prospective passengers ask us the most. Our answer is, "It doesn't matter when you go; what matters is how long you go for!" There's not much rain, and there's never been a tropical storm of any type in the Galápagos. While there are a couple of official "seasons," the differences are slight. Actually, Darwin said it all:
Considering that these islands are placed directly under the equator, the climate is far from being excessively hot; this seems chiefly caused by the singularly low temperature of the surrounding water, brought here by the great southern polar current. Excepting during one short season, very little rain falls, and even then it is irregular.
CHARLES DARWIN, 1845
There are some differences in what you will see in the islands from month to month, but again, the differences in the qualitative experience are small (read more)
Why do I need to spend 11 days in the Galápagos?
Actually, a 2 week tour of the Galápagos Islands is recommended for maximum observation, photographic opportunities, and just plain enjoyment. But 11 days will work.
. . . By far the most remarkable feature in the natural history of this archipelago . . . is, that the different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by a different set of beings. I never dreamed that islands, about fifty or sixty miles apart, and most of them in sight of each other, formed of precisely the same rocks, placed under a quite similar climate, rising to a nearly equal height, would have been differently tenanted. . . .
CHARLES DARWIN, 1845
Basically, each island is different, with its own unique ecosystem and wildlife distribution. Not only are many species endemic to the Galápagos Islands, they are often endemic to a specific island. In other words, each island has plants and animals that you're not going to see on any other island. So, the more islands you visit, the more unique wildlife you're going to see. If you want to see the red-footed booby, you have to go to either Tower (Genovesa) Island or Punta Pitt on San Cristóbal Island. If you want to see the flightless cormorant, you have to go to Fernandina or Isabela Island. If you want to see the waved albatross, you have to go to Hood (Española) Island. And the list goes on.
What is a typical daily schedule like?
Well, first off, there is no "typical" day in nature - our schedule is purposely loose to allow us to take advantage of unusual animal encounters or conditions - flexibility is one of the advantages of a small group size. Some landings might warrant a 2 hour visit, while others are more suited to 4 or more hours. That said, your day on the yacht might look something like this:
5:45am • wake-up call
The one sure thing is that our trips are active. It is your vacation, but we want to provide you with as many options as possible to allow you to see and experience the Galapagos as fully as you wish. On that note, be sure to also take the time to enjoy the stars from the top deck of the yacht - your guide will be happy to point out the Southern Cross or other equatorial constellations.
What are the trails like?
Trail conditions are mixed. Some visitor sites are a walk on the beach, literally - soft sandy beaches that happen to be populated by unique and wonderful creatures. Other trails can however be more challenging, with difficult terrain including rocks to step up, over or around or inclines. With only a couple of exceptions the longest trails in the islands are no more than 1.5 miles in total. We also walk at a leisurely pace allowing you to both watch where you are walking, and stop and take in your surroundings.
What If I'm Traveling Alone?
First, we do not have a Single Supplement Charge. For example, if you are a female and are willing to share a cabin with another female, you pay the standard Trip Cost. If it turns out that there isn't another single female on the trip, you get the cabin to yourself - again at the standard Trip Cost. Second, about half of our passengers are couples and half are singles. What is more important is that almost everyone has a common orientation - a serious interest in natural history. Singles should not be concerned about being "left out."
What if I'm not a photographer?
No problem. Once again, our trips are totally oriented to providing a comprehensive, professionally-led, natural history tour of the Galápagos Islands. Natural History and Photography are actually very compatible activities. For both interests we want to be ashore early in the morning, as well as late in the afternoon - this gives us the peak animal activity, in addition to the best lighting of the day. It is not unusual for us to be the first group ashore in the morning, and the last group to leave shore at the end of the day. Our slower pace (maybe 3 hours on a trail that other groups might do in 2 hours) also allows both more time to observe behavior as well as capture the photos you have dreamed of.
On the trails the Naturalist Guide is physically leading the group and identifying and interpreting the flora and fauna. The Tour Leader will traditionally "bring up the rear" quietly lingering behind a bit with photographers as needed (although by park regulations we do need to remain in one loose group with the guide). The Tour Leader might also offer very brief photo advice on angles, filters or exposure, as well as what are some of the "signature images" of the islands.
Photographers and non-photographers alike will get their get full value and enjoyment from our programs.
What more can you tell me about the GALAPAGOS TRAVEL company history?
Barry Boyce, founder of GALAPAGOS TRAVEL, followed his personal passion for Natural History with a visit the Galapagos Islands in 1988 (read more)