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How To Get There
Travelers can only access the Galapagos Islands from two Ecuadorian cities, Quito and Guayaquil. Quito is the one that you’ve probably heard of before because it’s the country’s capital located at the foothills of the Andes. The city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site so you know there is a lot of history and a lot of pretty buildings to take pictures of.
Your other option is the lesser-known Guayaquil, a port city at the mouth of two rivers. It is often known as the “Gate To The Galapagos”. Although it’s only a small city, it has classic South American attractions including Las Penas, a 444-step hill lush with colorful favelas and bars leading up to the top of a lighthouse with incredible views of the surroundings. It also has the Parque Historico, a natural park full of indigenous wildlife and plants. Located inside the Parque Historico, sits a brand-new fully renovated retirement home turned luxury hotel called the Hotel Del Parque. Rooms are complete with king-sized beds, crown molding and the biggest marble shower I’ve ever seen.
From either of these two cities you can catch a short and relatively affordable flight for around $150 USD to the main Galapagos airport – Baltra.
The Tour With Galapagos Luxury Charters
Rather than taking the backpacker route and hopping from one major island to the next, I highly recommend a private charter or boat tour. When I went to the Galapagos, I went with Galapagos Luxury Charters. They have all different types of yacht options from high-end, celebrity excursions, to more affordable ships for family and friends. Plus, the owners of the company come with you on the cruise to ensure everything goes smoothly, which given the crew language barrier was sometimes helpful. The accommodation was spacious for a boat and the food was tasty and authentic! A mix of traditional Ecuadorian dishes like tres leches cake for dessert and classics like pasta for lunch. They also supply a naturalist, which is required for each tour so they can lead you through the different islands, explain the wildlife and enforce the strict laws of the park, basically don’t ever touch the animals!
When To Go To The Galapagos
The weather in the Galapagos seems like some sort of anomaly, its pretty much never a bad time to go. Like with most South American countries you have your dry and wet seasons. From June- December you may have calmer waters, a little bit more heat and easier underwater visibility. However, there is a greater probability of seeing certain wildlife in some months rather than others. So if there is something you really want to see like penguins or baby turtles hatching, research accordingly.
What To Bring To The Islands
Pack for a tropical vacation but make sure to bring your active wear as well. Not only will you be sunbathing on the deck of your boat, but also you’ll be snorkeling, navigating your way through the brush to spot giant tortoises and walking on volcanoes. So don’t just bring your bathing suits, aloha shirt and sundresses. Pack your sneakers, yoga pants, and shorts. Oh yeah, also bring your biggest, most heavy-duty bottle of sunscreen and bug spray, bug spray and even more bug spray. Also, there is absolutely no Internet or WiFi in the Galapagos so make sure you bring a good book or two or three.
The no Internet thing threw me off at first, but once I learned to embrace the solitude it was nice. Also, be prepared to not see any other boats or people for hours, even days at a time. Early morning wake-ups are common, since those are the best times to catch rare wildlife. We got up at 5:30 to see a flamingo in the wild, but it was worth it. Most of all, as with any new experience, enjoy it and take lots of pictures!
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Trips & Tips
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