When is the best time of year to visit the Galapagos?
There's never a bad time to visit the Galapagos. January to May in the Galapagos is considered the warm season with an average afternoon temperature of 86F/30C. The seas are calmer and warmer although this is the wetter of the two seasons The warm water is nice for snorkeling and diving although there is less marine life to observe and underwater visibility is best in January through March. This is the mating season for land birds and sea lions, and the nesting season for turtles. Flowers begin blossoming in February through April. Around March and April, you'll see the newborn pups crawling around the islands.
June to December is considered the cool season although the average daily afternoon temperature is only 5 degrees less than during the hot season. It is typically more overcast at this time of year but it rarely rains. The seas are definitely rougher, especially from July through September, when the Humboldt current brings cold water rich in plankton and other nutrients. This attracts fish and birds, making it what many consider to be the best time of the year to snorkel and to spot an albatross or a penguin. Blue-footed boobies also mate during this time of year, so it won't be difficult to witness their beautiful mating ritual known as the "sky point."
What is each island known for?
The Galapagos island group consists of 13 main islands, 6 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. We have grouped the islands of the Galapagos in 5 groupings that are reflected in the names of each of the trips. Details on the groupings and the highlights of each group can be found at: www.gadventures.com/travel-styles/cruising/galapagos/island-information/
The Galapagos is full of wildlife and amazing sights to see and no itinerary will leave you at all disappointed by your visit. Our guides will conduct a presentation on the wide variety of flora and fauna you will encounter on each island you visit.
What is the difference between your Land and Sea Trips, 7, and 10-day Voyage Galapagos tours?
All of G Adventures trips to the Galapagos include pre and post nights in Quito and flights to and from the islands. The longer the adventure the more islands you visit. Land and Sea trip have 3 nights onboard the yacht and 1 night on shore in either Puerto Ayora or San Cristobel. 7 day trips spend 4 nights on board the ship and 10 day trips spend a full 7 nights onboard. The choice is yours on how much time you want to spend in this wildlife wonderland.
How are the itineraries determined?
For 2012, the Galapagos Park Service has instituted new 2-week itineraries. Not only are they better for the islands, these new itineraries provide several advantages for travellers too. With longer cycles, visitors will be able to select from a variety of cruise options that suit them best. Travellers who wish to experience the entire archipelago can book two 10-day trips back-to-back and not explore the same island twice! (save for port stops, of course). We've divided these cycles into two or three shorter itineraries for those who prefer a different schedule.
How good are your guides?
All of our guides are certified Naturalist Guides by the Galapagos National Park. They are also trained G Adventures Chief Experience Officers (CEOs) focused on giving you the best possible trip experience. Each evening your guide will hold an information meeting in the ship's lounge to go over the itinerary for the next day and to discuss the flora and fauna you may encounter. Our guides encourage questions concerning the biological, geological and human history of the islands. Your guide will also provide you with tips and instructions on how to tread lightly in this highly sensitive environment and will accompany you on all shore excursions.
How do we get to the Galapagos Islands?
All tours that visit the Galapagos Islands depart from Quito. The flight from Quito to the Galapagos takes approximately two and a half hours. The flight times to the islands depend on the day of the week and that start point. Generally you will fly from Quito between 7 and 11am arriving into the islands between 12noon and 2 pm on Day 2 of your trip.
The last day of your trip you will disembark the vessel right after breakfast and depart from the islands between 9am and 12noon arriving back in Quito in the early afternoon.
Do you cruise between the islands during the day or at night?
We spend most of the day anchored off one of the islands, allowing us to make the best use of our time observing the wildlife and unique geology. Occasionally we will sail short distances during the day but most of our sailing is done at night.
Can we snorkel?
There will opportunities to snorkel during the voyage. Masks, snorkels and fins are available on board (free of charge). We encourage you to bring your own to ensure the perfect fit and therefore the most enjoyable time snorkeling.
What is the "National Park fee" and “transit control card”?
The USD$100 per person National Park fee is levied by the Galapagos National Park authorities and must be paid in cash upon arrival at the airport in the Galapagos. The fee is used to help protect and preserve the Galapagos Islands for future generations. The transit control card is paid in cash prior to your flight to the Galapagos, your local rep will collect the money from you and assist you in getting the card.
The beneficiaries are as follows: Galapagos National Park Service (40%), Municipal Governments (20%), The Galapagos Provincial Board (10%), Galapagos Marine Reserve (5%), the National System for Protected Areas (5%), the National Galapagos Institute (10%), the Quarantine and Inspection System (5%) and the Ecuadorian Navy (5%).
Will I get seasick?
The water around the Galapagos is generally calm however it can get rough when the cold Humboldt Current arrives in July through September. If you are prone to seasickness we suggest you contact your physician prior to departure and ask whether medication, patches or wristbands would work best for you.
Are there medical facilities aboard?
There is a basic first aid kit onboard for minor ailments however the boat is not equipped to handle serious medical conditions. Passengers are required to obtain medical insurance that covers medical emergency evacuation.
What are meals like onboard ship (are you able to accommodate special requests)?
Meals are nutritious and plentiful and you will be served breakfast, lunch and dinner for the duration of the sailing portion of the tour. The menu generally includes a good variety of seafood, fish, beef, fresh salads and soups, as well as dessert and hot drinks. All meals on board ship are served in the dining room. If you require a special diet (ie, vegetarian, diabetic, etc.) we ask that you inform us at the time of booking.
Is drinking water available onboard?
Purified drinking water is available on board and a refillable water bottle is provided.
How much are drinks on board the boat?
Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and bottled water are provided free of charge. There is a bar on board where juice, soft drinks, wine, beer and a basic selection of liquor can be purchased. You may run a tab at the bar using the "chit" system. Prior to disembarking a tally of your chits will be presented to you for settlement in CASH. Beer and alcoholic beverages are approximately USD$3.00 , a bottle of wine is USD$30.00 to $40.00, and soft drinks/juices USD$1.00 to $2.00.
What voltage is used on board ship?
There are 110V electrical outlets in the cabins using the North American style plugs, with two flat blade prongs. If you are planning on taking a video or digital camera we suggest you take an extra set of charged batteries.
How much should I tip the guide and crew?
Onboard Galapagos and throughout Latin America, tipping is customary. At the end of the cruise, an envelope will be provided to travellers should they wish to tip the crew onboard. Whatever amount is given is split up between all crew members evenly. Should you wish to tip your CEO, you should do this separately. The recommended amount is 10-12 USD per day for the crew and 3-5 USD per day for your CEO. This is only a suggestion and we understand tipping is a personal choice.
Is there a weight restriction on the luggage I bring to the Galapagos?
Due to the cabin sizes on the yachts and the weight restrictions that airlines enforce, the amount of luggage you can bring on the boat is limited. You can leave unnecessary items in your joining hotel storage room in Quito. Your local rep in Quito will assist you to make sure you have everything you need for your trip to the islands.
How much time will we spend on the islands during the landings?
Aside from your arrival and departure day into the Galapagos, there are approximately 2 island landings per day; each taking around 4 hours.
Can we Scuba Dive?
We do not offer diving from our boats due to operating permit regulations as dictated by the Galapagos National Park.
Are towels supplied on the boats, or do I have to bring my own?
We provide towels in the room for indoor and as well for snorkeling and swimming.
Do you provide wetsuits or would we need to bring our own? Are they necessary?
Wetsuits can be rented onboard each of our vessels for approximately $5 per day. The wet suits are owned by the crew of the ship who maintain the wetsuits for our guests to use. While we strive for optimal quality and availability on any boat offering these wetsuits, if you want to guarantee size and comfort we would recommend bringing your own.
Wetsuits are not needed all year round but can make your time in the water more enjoyable from July to September when there is a cold current that makes it way up to the Galapagos from the southern end of South America.