Peru Luxury Travel
Peru Luxury Travel

Frequently asked questions to travel to Galapagos

Frequently asked questions to travel to Galapagos

When is the best time to go to the Galapagos?

The Galapagos Islands are located at the Equator so there is not a lot of seasonal variation. Air temperatures tend to run in the 70s-80s year round, slightly warmer from January-April. The climate is relatively dry, though the majority of precipitation falls from January-April as well. Water temperatures tend to vary significantly as the cold Humboldt current comes up from Antarctica from approximately May- November. Expect water temperatures in the 60s to low 70s during this season and in the 70s the rest of the year. Keep in mind that this also means that snorkeling is coldest during this season so the opposite months (December – April) are best for travelers snorkeling without a wet suit. The Humboldt current is strongest in September and October, so the water will be a little choppier during these months.

In general, you can visit the Galapagos year round and have a wonderful experience! TIP: Avoid the school holidays (especially August and Christmas) if you want to avoid the crowds and take advantage of special rates. Booking in advance is always highly recommended for the largest selection of available yachts.

What itinerary length should I choose?

All of the cruises provide a wonderful taste of Galapagos wildlife, geology, and natural history. The 8-15 day cruises are generally recommended for travelers that want to make the Galapagos a focus of their trip and don’t want to miss any of the details. These longer cruises typically visit twice or three times as many islands and sites than the shorter cruises that are 5 days or less in length. Since each visitor site has something unique to offer, travelers with a special interest in biology, ecology, etc., may feel short-changed on the shorter cruises. For instance, there are two different species of sea lions and three species of Galapagos boobies. On the shorter cruises, travelers may only see a few of these species, while travelers on the longer cruises are likely to see nearly all of them. The 8-day cruise is the most common option, so travelers will have a wider selection of yachts available to them if they opt for an 8-day cruise.

Travelers that aren’t worried about seeing everything and instead want to fit in other destinations such as the Amazon or the Highlands may prefer the 4, 5 or 6-day cruises. These options provide a great introduction to the magic of the Galapagos. It can be particularly nice for families with younger children whose attention spans are likely to dwindle after five or six days on a small yacht or for anyone short on travel time.

One other thing to consider is that you pay the same amount for your internal flights to the Galapagos as well as the $100 Galapagos National Park entrance fee whether you are doing the shortest 4 or longest 15-day cruise.

Are these trips suitable for kids?

Absolutely! The Galapagos Islands offer access to unique wildlife like almost no other place on earth. Activities such as snorkeling with sea lions, observing playful dolphins leaping in front of the boat, and nearly tripping over massive land iguanas straddled across the paths are sure to delight the senses of kids and adults alike.

Most yachts suggest a minimum age of 6-7 years old. Safety is a concern for younger children as deck handrails are not low enough to adequately protect young children. Entertainment onboard is also limited, especially on the smaller yachts.

Families may want to consider joining one of the larger vessels (50 passengers plus) as these are more likely to offer suite accommodations, onboard swimming pools, games rooms, and other facilities for children. Most do not have television or video games.

Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?

Absolutely! Most yachts have special single rates or can arrange a shared room at no additional cost. The relatively small groups and shared interests in wildlife and nature allow travelers to easily meet others. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive solo travel departures.

How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?

We can arrange an airport transfer for you or you can take a local taxi. Taxis are usually less expensive, though many travelers prefer the convenience of having our Adventure Life staff waiting for them at the airport when they arrive, especially after an exhausting flight. Please let us know your preference!

If you purchase a hospitality package for Quito or Guayaquil, your transfers to and from the airport for your Galapagos flights are included in this package cost. If you would prefer to arrange your own hotels, but still want us to arrange your transfer to the airport we would be happy to do so at an additional cost.

How much should I budget for tips?

Tips are not required on the Galapagos cruises, but they are customary. Tipping amounts vary widely, but recommended tips generally run ~$10-15/ day per traveler. Some yachts will include envelopes for tipping the guide and crew, others have a box for each, and still others make no mention of tips at all (although they are still much appreciated!)

How far in advance should I book?

Although you can book your Galapagos cruise anytime, we generally recommend at least 3-4 months’ notice. Some yachts fill up well before that, especially high-end vessels. Christmas, Spring break, and summer departures are also likely to fill up 6 months in advance or more. Travelers that book early will have a range of yachts from which to select.

Last minute travelers can also be accommodated (sometimes even one week before departure) but may have limited options. For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice yacht may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip coordinator can recommend some other similar options that would be equally enjoyable. You may be asked to send your registration form and trip payment in right away to secure your spaces, as yachts will usually not place holds for last minute departures.

What are the meals like onboard?

All of the Galapagos yachts offer Ecuadorian and international dishes onboard. Meals are a mix of buffet and table service. More affordable yachts tend to have simpler menus while the luxury yachts offer a wider selection and fancier cuisine. Fresh seafood is served on all vessels. Vegetarian and other special dietary requests can also be accommodated with enough notice. Beverages such as coffee, tea, water, and juice are usually included with every meal. Alcohol and soft drinks are available for purchase.

Is snorkeling available on every yacht? Is snorkeling equipment included?

Snorkeling is available on every yacht. Most itineraries have free time for snorkeling, swimming, or just relaxing on the beach nearly every day. Most vessels also have snorkeling equipment available for a small rental fee. Travelers are welcome to bring their own equipment if they prefer. Wet suits are not available on most yachts. We recommend that travelers visiting from May to October consider bringing a light wet suit, as water temperatures can dip into the low 60s during this season.

What are wet/dry landings?

The majority of islands in the Galapagos are uninhabited. They have no structures of any kind including docks for landings. Yachts will typically anchor offshore and then travelers will take smaller motorized zodiacs (pangas) to reach the islands.

On a dry landing, the panga will motor next to a cement or natural rock outcropping and travelers can step out of the panga directly onto the dry land. On a wet landing, the panga will approach a sandy beach and travelers will step out of the panga into ankle deep (or possibly knee deep) water and walk to shore. As all yachts will have both wet and dry landings in the course of an itinerary, it is important that travelers bring shoes/sandals that they don’t mind getting wet. It’s a good idea to bring a towel along for wet landings so that you can dry your feet and change into socks and hiking shoes.

What should I pack?

After you book your tour, you will receive a detailed packing list with your departure packet. Most yachts do not have a dress code so casual clothes are fine. Bring shorts, swimwear, sunscreen, and a sun hat for the days. A long sleeve fleece or sweater and long pants are advisable for the cool evenings on the water.

Bring comfortable walking shoes and sandals, or other shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. Make sure to bring plenty of film, batteries, and personal toiletries, as it’s impossible to get these items on the uninhabited islands. Most itineraries will include a stop at the small town of Puerto Ayora on the 10-day tour where travelers can access an ATM, souvenir shops, etc.

Travelers may also want to bring their own snorkeling gear (if they have odd sizes, prescription masks, or prefer their own equipment, etc.) and a light wet suit for the colder water season.

What immunizations are required?

No immunizations are required for entry into the Galapagos. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers who extend their Galapagos trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon. This vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in Ecuador. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. The vaccine is required for any travelers entering Ecuador from a country with a perceived risk.

Please note that some countries, such as Costa Rica, require a yellow fever vaccination if traveling directly from Ecuador. Please check with the Center for Disease Control for information for your onward travel from Ecuador.

Hepatitis A and Typhoid are generally recommended for any travel into Ecuador. Talk to your doctor or visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control for the latest information.

Is the water safe to drink?

Yes. Bottled water that has been boiled and/or filtered is available onboard all of the yachts.

What is the local currency?

Ecuador has adopted the US dollar as its national currency.

Do I need a visa/passport?

Travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Most travelers do not need a visa for Ecuador. To date, visas are required only for travelers from the following countries: Costa Rica, Cuba, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, Vietnam, and most Middle-Eastern countries. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler’s responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.

What time zone are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos are six hours behind GMT (same as CST). They do not observe daylight-savings time so during these months (April-October), they are on MST. The Galapagos Islands are one hour behind mainland Ecuador.

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