How To Prepare For A Trip To The Galapagos Islands | The Viking Abroad
It is important to be prepared for a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Here are my top tips on How To Prepare For A Trip To The Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos Islands planning
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09 Aug How To Prepare For A Trip To The Galapagos Islands

How To Prepare For A Trip To The Galapagos Islands

Travelling to the Galapagos Islands is on many people’s bucket list. It is a trip of a lifetime and you want it to be perfect!

The Galapagos Islands are one of those unique places on the planet, with creatures you won’t see any other place. It is important to plan early and be fully prepared to get the most out of your trip to the Galapagos Islands. Here are my top tips on how to prepare for a trip to The Galapagos Islands with some secrets from locals.

This post contains affiliate links

 

How To Prepare For A Trip To The Galapagos Islands

When to go?

Anytime is a good time to go to The Galapagos Islands, however, there are warmer and colder seasons. It is drier from June to December, this time you can see humpback whales as well. The temperature is warmer from December to May. It is more crowded You can read more here and here. Under you see a graph by Intrepid Travel were it shows when to see certain animal activities and behaviour.

 

Picture: Interpintravel.com.au

What to see?

 

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands 30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

Blue-Footed-Boobies

Galapagos Sea Lions

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands 30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

Frigatebird

Penguins

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands 30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

Flamingoes 

Land Iguana

 

Related: 30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags And Visit The Galapagos Islands

 

How to get the best deals on flight tickets

We saved over $200 by buying Avianca tickets as an Ecuadorian. So if you can, get help from an Ecuadorian citizen to buy the tickets for you. If not you can use my favourite websites: Skyscanner or Kiwi.

There are two airlines that fly to Puerto Ayora in Galapagos it is LaTam and Avianca. They fly from Quito, Guayaquil and Lima. I recommend flying into Baltra Airport because it is a perfect location for easy access to many islands.



 

Entry Fee

Foreigners need to pay a $100 entry fee and Ecuadorians pay $6. It is a lot but it needs to be paid to enter.

Be aware that you can’t bring anything organic in or out of The Galapagos. You can’t even bring rocks. They will scan your bags for this. You should also have a travel insurance when you travel to the Galapagos. They probably will not check it when you enter. But it is better to be seduced if something happens.

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

 

Travel by cruise or by land?

Cruise

You will live on the cruise and visit different islands. By choosing a cruise you will get the opportunity to visit islands that are further away and see a larger range of species. 

There are so many different kinds of cruises to choose from and the prices and sizes can vary a lot. Last minutes cruises can cost from $800 to $1800. Pre-booked cruises can cost from $2000 and up to over $10.000.

You can choose between a sailing yacht, motor yacht and bigger cruise ships. If you want to travel on a budget, I recommend finding a cruise when you are already in the Galapagos as you will get better prices there than by ordering online. You can book last minutes cruises in Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. You can also book it in Quito and Guayaquil before you travel to the Galapagos. If you decide to book a last minute cruise, make sure you do your research properly, figure out what is included and not and read reviews and also see if they cover the islands you want to see.

If you want a specific date on a specific cruise you have found, book as early as possible. Some people book even a year before they travel.

To find cruises you can check out these websites: Lonely Planet Ecoventura  ,Viator and  Happy Gringo.

Hotel packages

I did this when I travelled to the Galapagos. Our hotel in Puerto Ayora was called Galapagos Dreams and they had so many day tours to the islands that I thought it was easiest to do that.

The negative side with that is that you can’t go to the islands that are far away, but it is the best choice to keep a low budget. The hotel packages will cost roughly $100 to $500 for a day trip.

There are also opportunities for PADI divers to do a specific diving package.

And no, you can not go to the different islands by yourself and without a naturalist guide. Galapagos Islands is a very protected national park so please respect the rules. 

 

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

Where to stay?

As mentioned earlier I recommend flying into Baltra and stay in Puerto Ayora, as it is a good spot for easy access to the different islands. This especially if you are not going to take a cruise. If you take a cruise, you should see what they recommend and where you depart from.

We stayed at Galapagos Dreams Hotel which is in a very nice location in Puerto Ayora. They also have hotel tours packages. There are mostly Hotels in Puerto Ayora, not hostels. So I would book through Hotels.com or Booking.com or directly to the hotel. It is recommended to book as soon as you know you are going there. They fill up fast! 

 

How long should I stay?  

This really depends on your budget. I was there for 5 days and felt I got to see what I wanted to see in terms of the wildlife. Most people stay from around 5-10 days but you can certainly stay up to 15 days to get an in-depth experience of the Islands.

 

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

What Islands should I visit?

There are 13 major islands in the Galapagos and 6 smaller ones. If you want to see them all, it will be very expensive. It is not necessary to see all because the unique wildlife can be seen on multiple islands. I think one of the most important things you should do before Galapagos is to figure what Islands and animals you want to see.

 

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

Baltra Island  

This is the island you will most likely arrive to, and apart from that, it is not much to do there. When you arrive you will first take a free bus, then a ferry to Puerto Ayora unless you are getting a private boat to a different island. Baltra used to be a US Army Air Force base during world war 2. You can see land iguanas and Galapagos Finches.

 

North Seymour Island

A Large population of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions and Land Iguanas. It is also good for snorkelling. 

Read more: North Seymour Island – A Must See In The Galapagos Islands.

 

Isabela Island Is the biggest island. I recommend staying at least two days there. You can see volcanoes, flamingoes, penguins, Giant Tortoises, Sea turtles, Iguanas, reef sharks etc. Read more of everything you can see on Isabela island here.

 

Bartholomew Island

Famous for the Pineapple Rock and beautiful landscape. Good for snorkelling. You can see penguins, lava cactus, reef sharks, rays and many different plants.

 

Floreana Island

One of the best islands to snorkel. Famous for Post office bay, Baroness viewpoint, cormorant point, Champion islet, Devils crown, Asilo de la Paz. You can read more about it here.

 

Fernandina Island 

Is a favourite by many, where you can find unique species that are not on the other islands among marine Iguanas, lava lizards, cormorants, sea lions and penguins.

 

Española Island

Is located far south-west and you can see waved albatross, lava lizards and Marine Iguanas. You can see Suarez point, Gardner Bay and Osborn Islet.

 

Santa Fe

This island has two visitors trail one with a beautiful viewpoint and one leading to a small beach in a cactus forest. Santa Fe is also a good location for snorkelling and diving.

 

San Cristobal 

San Cristobal is a small town. From here you can see Kicker Rock, Tortoise breeding centre, Ochoa Beach, Lobos Island, Pitt Point, El Junco Lagoon, Puerto Chino beach, Punta Carola beach, Cerro Brujo and Tijeretas hill. You can see animals such as Blue-footed Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Nazca and Frigatebirds. Read more about the places to see at San Cristobal here. 

 

Santa Cruz 

Here you will find the largest town in the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. A good place to stay if you are not taking a cruise. Here you can see the Darwin Research centre, Tortuga Bay, Lava Tunnels, highlands, Whale Bay, Gordons Rock, Eden Islet, Dragon Hill, Garrapatero beach, Black turtle cove, Carrion point and Bachas beach. Read more here. 

 

Daphne Minor Island 

Most tourists are restricted to visit this island. It has been a popular island for scientists for researching finches. Daphne was also a target practice during world war 2. You can see Galapagos sharks and white-tipped sharks.

 

Genovesa Island

Is located close to Darwin bay and you can see unique frigatebirds and seabirds. You can see Red-footed Boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and El Barranco. 

 

Darwin Island

Known as the best dive site in the world. You can see whale sharks, hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, dolphins, tiger sharks and killer whales. Famous sites are Darwin`s arch and El Arenal.

Wolf Island

This island is only for professional divers and it is often heavy currents there. However, you can see hammerheads, dolphins and whale sharks.

 

South Plaza Island

South Plaza was formed by rising lava and is now covered by Opuntia Cacti. The best place to see a lot of sea lions. You can also see land Iguanas and the colourful plant Sesuvium.

 

Pinta Island

Was the home of Lonesome George and the native Tortoises were wiped out because of introduced goats. There are no visits to this islands but nearby dive sites for experienced divers. 

 

Rabida Piñson

Located west for Santa Cruz. You can see red-lipped batfish, horn sharks and seahorses. A dive site nearby called Dumb islet. 

You can read more about all of the islands on this link. 

Source: www.discovergalapagos.com and www.galapagosislands.com

Respect the wildlife!

I read on a pin on Pinterest that a person had “ride on a Giant Tortoises back” on his/her bucket list. Sorry to disappoint you but you can’t-do that. Same as riding on kangaroos back or a moose. The wildlife in the Galapagos is incredibly unique and it needs to be protected and respected.

When I was snorkelling in the Galapagos Islands I saw tourists touching the Sea Turtles underwater, I saw people littering, and going too close to the Tortoises when taking selfies. Please don’t do this, respect the rules and what the guides say. The rules are to not get closer than 2 meters and even though the guides can’t watch over you all the time doesn’t mean you can break the rules. 

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

 

Galapagos Islands on a budget

  • Book the hotel room before you go through websites like hotels.com or hostelbookers.com 
  • Purchase flight tickets through an Ecuadorian resident
  • Buy the cruise or day tours in Puerto Ayora when you arrive

 

30 Photos That Will Make You Pack Your Bags For And Visit The Galapagos Islands

 

What to pack?

It is not only important to plan what to do in The Galapagos, but also what to bring.  Here is my top list on what not to forget: You can click on it to see related products. 

 

Read more about the products: click here.

My best tips are to figure out what wildlife you want to see and islands. If you want to see the Galapagos on a low budget you should book flight tickets through an Ecuadorian citizen and book the hotel before you go, but book tours when you arrive Galapagos. If you want a specific cruise, book as early as possible. Don’t forget to bring underwater camera and snorkel set as well as good sun protection. Apart from that, you will have a wonderful time in the Galapagos Islands and it is completely safe!

 

Have you been to the Galapagos or do you want to go? Let me know in the comments below. 

 


40 Comments
  • Candy
    Posted at 12:12h, 25 April Reply

    I need to bookmark this for my sister. She really wants to visit the Galapagos islands. I would love to visit myself, but am worried about all the sea sickness….I wish I didn’t get motion sickness so easily. But this really does look like an amazing experience!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 12:36h, 25 April Reply

      Thank you 😀 You will be fine, if you go around March it is not so rough as in September. You can get motion tablets 😀

  • Rebecca
    Posted at 15:05h, 25 April Reply

    Wow! Some great information here! Hopefully I’ll be able to use it ‘someday’.

  • Bruce Schinkel
    Posted at 17:15h, 25 April Reply

    Love this post! Galapagos Islands are a place I’ve wanted to visit for years, and plan to finally do so very soon. I’ll definitely be taking advantage of your recommendations!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 17:16h, 25 April Reply

      That is awesome. You should definitely go. Thank you for stopping by 😀

  • Megan Jerrard
    Posted at 18:05h, 25 April Reply

    Really great overview! We loved our time in the Galapagos islands – did our trip by land and stayed on Santa Cruz, so I would love to get back and explore some of the other islands 🙂

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 20:04h, 25 April Reply

      that is awesome 😀 Thank you for stopping by and commenting 😀

  • Peter Korchnak
    Posted at 21:16h, 25 April Reply

    Bookmakrking this for that “someday” trip… Thanks for the tips.

  • Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    Posted at 04:36h, 26 April Reply

    Wow, I have just heard about this Island and that’s a great thing when you read other blogs cause you get to know more interesting place to visit. I’ll surely pen this Island on my bucket list and will surely visit if I get the chance. Thank you so much for providing such a detailed blog post.

    LaiAriel R. Samangka

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 10:29h, 26 April Reply

      That is awesome. hope you get to visit one day 😀

  • Allison
    Posted at 16:25h, 26 April Reply

    This is a great guide. Very detailed. Really opens my mind up to what traveling to the Galapagos is really like in terms of island hoping, security, and planning tips according to what animals I want to see. Thanks for sharing.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 16:27h, 26 April Reply

      Awesome that you liked it 😀 Hope you get to visit one day. Thank you for stopping by 😀

  • Paige W
    Posted at 19:57h, 26 April Reply

    That infographic is so awesome! There aren’t many places in the world that have highlights every month of the year. My preference would be for the humpback whales second, and the penguins first! I do love the blue-footed-boobies too! You got a great shot of them!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 20:40h, 26 April Reply

      Yeah it is so useful. 😀 I would love to see the humpback whales too 😀 Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 20:36h, 26 April Reply

    I always find the Galapagos islands to be enigmatic and at the same time beautiful. The biodiversity is what appeals to me the most. Would love to visit here someday. In the interim enjoyed reading about the place in this post. You have brought the place alive in front of me through your words and pictures.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 20:39h, 26 April Reply

      You definitely should visit. Thank you so much 😀

  • Hallie
    Posted at 21:30h, 26 April Reply

    So many islands to see! Wowza! I have to say ever since I was in high school and read Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, it has also been on my bucket list. I still need to get there and this info is awesome!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 09:51h, 27 April Reply

      That is awesome, you should totally go 😀 Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  • Janna
    Posted at 02:10h, 27 April Reply

    Wow this place is so surreal! It’s a must for every animal lover out there. So many unique and beautiful creatures to see. I’d love to take a trip here and experience it for myself.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 09:48h, 27 April Reply

      Yeah you totally should. It is so unique. Thank you for stopping by and commenting 😀

  • Brian
    Posted at 21:17h, 27 April Reply

    Galapagos should make for an interesting trip! This is truly a unique destination with these special wildlife creatures. By the way, nice pics.

  • Nina
    Posted at 13:22h, 29 April Reply

    I’d LOVE to go to the Galapagos islands. It’s not in the plans for the next few years, but if I manage to go eventually I’ll be able to make good use of this post. Thank you!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 13:27h, 29 April Reply

      That is awesome, I hope you get to go 😀 Thank you for stopping by 😀

  • Kat
    Posted at 23:41h, 29 April Reply

    Thanks for this detailed guide! I really want to go to the Galapagos and see all the wildlife. I like the “When to Go?” graphic and map you included.

  • Alina
    Posted at 01:53h, 30 April Reply

    I did not know you need to pay $100 to enter! Almost like a visa! Thank you for the tip about cruise, if I decide to visit some day, most probably I would choose that or maybe a liveboard, if they have those, so I can dive.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:20h, 30 April Reply

      Yeah everyone needs to pay the fee to get in :/ There are plenty of cruises with good diving opportunities. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  • Alex Peters
    Posted at 11:53h, 30 April Reply

    This was insanely helpful! I’m looking into planning a year of travel and really wanted to include the Galapagos in it but wasn’t sure how much to spend here. After seeing your breakdown of the islands (which is absolutely great!) I think 5 days like you did would be perfect.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:19h, 30 April Reply

      Thank you so much 😀 You would love it there 😀

  • Kim | thosewhowandr.com
    Posted at 13:25h, 30 April Reply

    As a bio major the Galapagos islands have always been on my bucketlist! Hoping to go one day. Great guide!

  • Madi | Restless Worker
    Posted at 15:22h, 30 April Reply

    This was a really informative post. I find the Galapagos islands one of those weird destinations where there isn’t a lot of information around. We didn’t end up booking this for our honeymoon because of timing but I wish we had have it looks amazing.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 15:46h, 30 April Reply

      It really is. You should definitely go there another time if you get the chance 😀

  • Sarah Kim
    Posted at 12:13h, 01 May Reply

    I didn’t know there were so many islands in the Galapagos. I just thought it was one big thing. Thanks for breaking it down. I really like the graphic on when to go so I pinned it!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 12:59h, 01 May Reply

      Yeah, it is not easy to know that actually. Good you learnt something new and thank you for stopping by 😀

  • Bee Appel
    Posted at 22:47h, 07 May Reply

    Really cool! Wish I had had time to visit there when I lived in Peru!

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