Sam’s tips for a Galapagos holiday:
When to go – The Galapagos is a year-round destination. There is always something unique to see and in terms of weather, being slap-bang on the Equator means it is warm year-round.
Which cruise is for you – All of the Galapagos cruises follow the same route set by the national park, so the decision is really about how long you want to cruise for and the size of boat you would prefer. I would recommend the smaller yachts which take about 16 people. The service is more personal and being smaller the boats can tuck themselves into the bays getting you closer to the islands, unlike the big 90-100 person cruise ships.
Be flexible – Each of the cruises depart on set dates, so the more flexible your dates are, the better!
Not a fan of boats? – Don’t worry, there is an option for you! We would recommend staying at the Galapagos Safari Camp which offers a variety of activities with top guides.
Great for all – Whether you are a family, honeymooners, or solo traveller, there is something for all both in terms of accommodation but also activities!
What will you do each day? – Every boat offers snorkelling which you can do twice daily. My tip is to avoid travelling in May and August if you are really keen on snorkelling, because the water is much merkier at that time! In addition to snorkelling you shall take walking trips on the islands, twice daily – in the morning and evening to avoid the heat of the day. If you are a keen diver, there are select boats that offer diving but bear in mind, this will take the price up.
What are you likely to see snorkelling? – Snorkelling is a great way to see the incredible marine life that lies beneath… I saw sea turtles, whalesharks, rays, plus more fish than I can shake a fish at!
Which island do I recommend? – My personal favourite would have to be Genovesa as that’s where you can see the Red-footed Booby. However, each island has something exciting to discover and I would recommend taking a look at our Galapagos Calendar for an idea of what’s good and when.
Read on to find out about Sam’s own Galapagos trip or contact us: 020 3141 2840
Time stood still as I froze in awe of this majestic creature, twisting its body past me, a picture perfect moment now forever ingrained in my memory. I was snorkeling just off Genovesa island, and this was my first encounter with a shark. Yet I cannot even say for sure that this was the highlight of my Galapagos experience, it´s hard to pick when there are so many in just a few short days!
There are few places on earth that fire the imagine like the Galapagos. A classic once-in-a-lifetime, ‘Bucket List’ destination, in 1978 it was included as one of the inaugural World Heritage sights. Consisting of 19 major islands located 1000km off the coast of Ecuador. It is this remoteness that is the key to the extraordinary wildlife that gives these islands their wonder, where time and isolation have allowed the evolution of new species.
The first iconic animal we encounter as we step ashore North Seymour from our Panga is a male Blue Footed Booby. It takes less then 60 seconds for a second icon to appear. A Land Iguana. What strikes you is how unconcerned these animals are at the presence of a dozen tourists as they both wander towards us, and we are instructed by our charismatic Galapoganian guide Geoffrey to part and create a path for them. “This is their land” Geoffrey insists, “they have the right of way”. Sure enough they pass within a foot of us, showing no fear of us humans.
Straddling the equator, the Galapagos sun rises around 6am and sets around 6pm every day. As such our days start with a break of dawn breakfast, followed by walking excursions ashore. Snorkeling, Panga rides, lunch and relaxation would be the name of the game in the hotter hours of the day, with a second shore visit before sunset.
In the evenings, I stole some time away to go above deck and take in the uninterrupted star lit sky, the bracing wind, and the sound of the seas at night. I had never slept aboard a boat before, never experienced the vastness of the open sea under the cover of darkness, and have to say I liked the strangely warm feeling of isolation.
It was also up on this same deck that perhaps my most outright joyous Galapagos moment occurred. We were sailing from Plaza to San Cristobal when I mention to my new friends that the Captain had said we might spot some Dolphins on this stretch of water. Sure enough, barely had I finished the sentence and I spotted a dolphin off to the left of the boat. Within 2 minutes what seemed like an army of Dolphins was descending upon the boat from all sides. The captain opened the normally “crew only” front section of the catamaran and we raced down (no running on deck mind you, ahem!) to witness scores of dolphins swimming at an incredible pace alongside us and criss-crossing the front of the boat, leaping out to almost our head height along the way. I couldn’t tell you for how long this incredible spectacle lasted, but I know the adrenaline was still pumping around my veins by the time I headed to bed in my cabin that night.
The wonders of the Galapagos seas had captured my own personal imagination. Alongside the turtles, sharks and sea lions I snorkeled amongst countless fish including most memorably King Angels, Parrots, Puffers, Damsels, Cornets, plus Rays and Eels.
My top tip: get yourself over there!
Written by Sam Gough
Latin America specialist
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