Trip to the Galapagos Islands

Trip to the Galapagos Islands – Myths to dispel and travel advice

During the long backpacking trip around the world, you can download the free guide here! In fact, there was a place that caught my attention and stimulated my interest more than others, I’m talking about the Galapagos Islands. The fact that I stayed there for a long period makes this clear.

A trip to the Galapagos is a journey into a unique reality in the world, a paradise for lovers of photography, animals, environmentalists and all those who want to discover a little piece of the world out of the ordinary in a small handkerchief delimited in the heart of the Ocean Pacific.

The archipelago of the Galapagos Islands is characterized by a biosystem that has continued to run its course, limiting human intervention to a minimum. 
On the occasions in which man intervened, he did so to safeguard a square of sea dotted with 17 islands and 117 islets and rocks which, however small, have unique characteristics.

After having spent 2 months in Santa Cruz , one of the main islands of the Galapagos, having been lucky enough to travel the archipelago far and wide, and having therefore reached every (accessible) corner of the islands, my interest and curiosity instead of decrease has gradually increased.

If you are planning a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands read the posts – Travel itinerary in Ecuador and the Galapagos, Guide to the Galapagos Islands and When to travel to the Galapagos Islands 

Have you found plane tickets? See also on Traveljourn
Read also: Why travel to Ecuador – 10 good reasons to travel to Ecuador

The thing that amazes me most about this place is seeing a theory in practice, which is that of evolution , which until a few months ago I only knew on paper, which wasn’t even that clear to me and to which I honestly had never paid much attention. Attention.

The beauty of this place is that each island is a small world apart , where the vegetation and animal life are different from another island that is a few kilometers away, there are no tours that are the same as those of the day before, the only animal whose presence is more or less constant is the sea lion.

Every single island, no matter the size, has its own ecosystem , its own vegetation and its own fauna.
It is difficult to choose where to go, unless you are clear, for example, which animals you want to see and obviously photograph.

In fact, the first time I came to the islands, when I took part in a 5-day cruise , I hadn’t seen even one land iguana because these are only found on Isla Saymour and Plaza, I hadn’t seen a single frigate bird because these only nest in the sla Seymour while I had a feast of sea lions and giant tortoises.

I therefore understood that to travel to the Galapagos the best thing to do is to be clear about what you want to see and organize your trip in this sense. Whether you want to snorkel or scuba dive, whether you want to take photographs, whether you are interested in birds or landscapes, the Galapagos offer everything, the problem and the difficult thing is to organize everything before arriving and without knowledge of the facts.

But other than that, I think information about the archipelago is scarce, even online.
Even today, information on the islands, where I lived and which I know very well, is scarce and not always correct. 
I therefore thought of writing this post which I hope will provide useful information for anyone who wants to go to the islands, I will mention some false myths and help you understand if they can really be the right destination for you.

To travel to the Galapagos Islands you don’t necessarily have to take a cruise 

I have written about this on other occasions but it is worth remembering. A trip to the Galapagos does not automatically mean a cruise but also Island Hopping (i.e. land tours sleeping on land) which have undoubted advantages over cruises but also their cons.

An Islands Hopping is organized in such a way as to allow you to stay overnight on the islands and take part in daily tours, being able to take advantage of your free time (which generally lasts from 5pm until the next morning) as you want without being locked up on a boat and having freedom of action that does not is already budgeted in the travel itinerary.

The advantages of land tours are numerous:

  • Lower environmental impact caused by cruise ships
  • Ability to experience the night in local towns instead of staying locked in the cabin sailing
  • Opportunity to get to know local communities
  • Free afternoons and evenings without the obligation to spend your time with groups of strangers with whom you are forced to spend 5/8 days on a boat
  • Slightly lower costs than cruises of the same category
  • Ability to visit a greater number of islands than a cruise plan
  • The itineraries can be modified to your liking and do not necessarily have to follow an invariable pre-established itinerary

However, there is no one way that is better than the other. Cruises to the Galapagos in fact have undoubted advantages, including living immersed in the national park and the possibility of reaching otherwise unreachable islands.

blue footed

Flight offers to the Galapagos from Ecuador

Purchasing a flight online to the Galapagos destination rather than separate flights (Italy-Ecuador and then Ecuador-Galapagos) is worthwhile, if the trip is only and exclusively to the islands.
Rates are between €1000 and €1700 per person, depending on whether you book for high season periods or shortly in advance.
It’s very difficult to find last minute deals, so it’s best to book your flight well in advance.

However, if you are already in Ecuador, I discovered by talking to an Aerogal operator, which is the cheapest company to fly to the islands from Ecuador, that the flight offers, particularly from Guayaquil, can only be found online.

The Aerogal site does not allow online booking but there are other sites that allow purchasing so you are free to search for the offer. Be careful NOT to book with Lan with the cheapest rate which is for residents of the islands. We tourists have to pay the most expensive otherwise we risk paying a fine of $168 at the airport.

Galapagos albatross

Do you really have to take a cruise otherwise you’ll miss out on the best of the best?

I believed this too the first time I came. That’s what they made me believe and that’s what I had read on the internet so I relied on the comments of those who had already been here.
After some time and after a long stay on the islands I can affirm the opposite. The Galapagos can be discovered in a more comfortable and fun way without necessarily having to embark.

When taking part in land tours, be aware that not all operators offer good boats and good guides on board so make sure you rely on serious operators, you can build your own trip taking into account the wishes and interests of travellers.
So if you suffer from seasickness, for example, or you also want to have some free time, this is an absolutely valid alternative.

The Galapagos without tours are not as you imagine

Most of the islands, the most beautiful, most interesting and important ones in the archipelago, cannot be visited alone but must take part in tours. Truth. Going to the Galapagos in the hope of living in contact with animals every day is a lie.

The 3 inhabited islands (Santa Cruz, Isabela and Cristobal) are populated by 19,000 people and there are 3 main towns with hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, apart from San Cristobal where there are sea lions in the streets, in the other towns there are no there is none of this.

It’s not a survivors style trip. For this reason it is important to go to the islands considering a budget to be allocated to excursions and tours (the more you do, the better), and not with the hope of living in close contact with animals because this will not happen.

The idea of ​​organizing a land tour rather than a cruise is therefore back, for those who are also interested in understanding how to live on the islands.
The work of these local agencies is to coordinate tours and reserve hotels (impossible to find on the internet but I assure you that there are options for all budgets) so as to be sure of being able to visit what you want without having to stay in the town. waiting for the right day.

In theory you can come to the islands without having booked anything and do everything on site, the only limit is the availability of the boats , which being regulated by the Galapagos National Park do not leave every day and above all have few places available.
Sometimes places sell out even 3 months in advance (so places for December tours are already sold out in September). You therefore risk going to the islands and not knowing what to do and wasting days, and in my personal opinion staying on the three inhabited islands and that’s it doesn’t explain the Galapagos one bit, I wouldn’t be surprised if you went away disappointed.

It is important to organize your stay on the islands to take 100% advantage of what they offer and not go away disappointed.

Red legged boobies

The Galapagos are not made for sunbathing on the beach

This is perhaps the biggest mistake, if you are looking for the sea and Caribbean islands I highly recommend the Caribbean, for example San Blas is phenomenal, where the beaches are beautiful and accessible, everything is also much cheaper than the islands.
If the idea is to take a seaside holiday and stay on the beach, I fear that this extension risks being an expensive disappointment. 

During the cold season from May to December, which is the ideal one to see the animals in full swing, the sky is often overcast and to enter the water you need a wetsuit, a very different situation from that of a hut on the beach and drinks in coconut.

frigate Galapagos Islands

Why are islands so expensive?

A trip to the Galapagos would be best organized in advance, especially if you have little time and a few days available so you can take full advantage of this place.

It is not a cheap destination, nor for adventurous backpackers (you can do very little alone and independently), it is not a place of sea and sun, nor one where you can carry out extreme sporting activities (except for some trekking on the volcano and obviously lots of snorkeling and diving for enthusiasts).

The high costs are not unfair, on the contrary they are motivated and justified.
This is in fact the only way that the National Park has to protect an all too delicate biosystem that mass access could only destroy, and which I feel like supporting.

The Galapagos are one of the few paradises left on earth and as such must be protected.

High prices (which is why 98% of backpackers in Latin America don’t go) are the most effective and efficient tool to reduce the number of daily accesses (which are in any case limited to uninhabited islands), as are the strict rules of the National Park , which literally force the tourist to follow a well-defined route without wandering, obviously limiting the freedom of travel and discovery within it, are, I believe, good management choices for the archipelago which, if it became a destination for everyone in a short time, would risk reduced to mere volcanic islands where the last dinosaurs lived and where little remained of what still makes them the most fascinating islands on earth.

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