Trip to Galapagos and Wildlife Tour

What to Do and Expect in the Galapagos Islands

Rich History

Embrace a true connection to nature on tiny, exotic islands left nearly untouched by man through pioneers that practice environmental stewardship. The Galapagos Islands are an extraordinary hidden treasure in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a captivating and rich history filled with scandalous pirates, pioneering explorers, and brilliant scientists. It all began when the Spanish sailor and Bishop of Panamá, Fray Tomás de Berlanga, accidentally discovered the archipelago during a voyage to Peru in 1535. He called the islands galápago (the old Spanish word for saddle) after discovering the enormous abundance of tortoises. When he returned home, he documented the condition of the islands and the vast amounts of rare animals that he encountered, which opened the doors for many others wanting to observe the wondrous species and stark beauty.

Landscape

Tiny jewels nestled into the sea; the Galapagos are the birthplace for rare, wondrous creatures and exotic plant life thriving on a blackened coastline. The idyllic blue seas and almost barren landscapes make up one of the most stimulating biodiverse sanctuaries in the world. The Galapagos Islands consist of 13 major volcanic islands, 7 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets, all of which are teeming with one-of-a kind wildlife and incomparable geography. These islands emerged from the hot fury of the bubbling core under the Earth’s waistline and slowly formed over years of turbulent volcanic action.

Located about 973 km (605 mi) off the coast of Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the islands are in an unusual position at the crossing point of the Galapagos Triple Junction (three important tectonic plates: Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific), as well as being above the Galápagos hotspot full of volcanic activity.  Although every island is made from similar volcanic eruptions, each has its own particular climate and landscape that hosts strikingly different sets of flora and fauna. Some islands have black lava fields and active volcanoes, while others have tropical, picturesque beaches and rare wildlife. The amazing diversity of life on the Galapagos Islands is largely due to the confluence of three major oceanic currents that affect the climate and wildlife dramatically. One of the currents, the Humboldt Current, begins in the Antarctic waters and brings cool water with rich nutrients that support the diverse marine life in the Galapagos. All 20 of the islands and their waterways form the Galápagos Province of Ecuador, which includes the Galápagos National Park and the Galápagos Marine Reserve.

Tasty Cuisine

Transform your senses as you savor some of the finest international gourmet foods with nutrients from one of the best-preserved islands on Earth, and enjoy world-class, farm-to-table cuisine with a simplistic, yet creative flair. Culinary experiences in the Galapagos include everything from outstanding restaurants to delicious street and market food, all of which offer flavorful, local recipes prepared daily from fresh seafood and local meats—as well as organic, hand-picked vegetables and fruits. Enjoy freshly caught seafood and wild pig with a touch of local spices, as well as various other indigenous dishes that are sure to tantalize the tongue.

You can also dine with locals in their own homes, which provides a truly authentic experience where you feel the real Galapagos!

Ceviche is perhaps the most famous of the Galapagos dishes, yet there are other seafood dishes that are sure to delight. Delectable sashimi, shrimp scampi, and fish tacos are local favorites, as well as the many other extraordinary seafood choices including everything from fish and shellfish to shrimp, tuna, oysters, lobster, squid, and octopus.

If you are not a seafood fan, other culinary favorites include vegetarian options, pizza, steak, or typical Ecuadorian highland dishes with locally-raised chicken, beef, pork, potatoes, yucca, and grains. A large portion of the side dishes in the Galapagos involve some type of green plantain, variations of soup, local vegetables, or fresh fruit. The freshly squeezed juices, local, organic coffee, and hand-crafted cocktails are simply a must-have.

Culture

Take the time on your journey to immerse yourself in the rich community of people who live on an island surrounded by some of the most serene natural settings in the world. You’ll become enchanted by the vibrant local markets, savor decadent cuisine, and explore the vast reserves of diverse landscapes alive with wildlife. The people of Galapagos have adopted the customs from Ecuador mainland, mostly from the people in the pacific coast, and the locals are more than willing to help visitors.

The human population on the islands is formed from a whole range of international cultures mingled together. The predominant religion is Catholicism, but other Christian faiths are scattered around the island, as well. You'll also mainly hear the Spanish language spoken in the Galapagos.

Tourism is the largest form of business on the islands, and sustainability and eco-practices are very important due to the protection of their immense natural resources and endemic species.

Wildlife

Transport yourself into a nature-lover’s paradise teeming with vibrant sea life, exotic birds, and one-of-a kind land animals. Immerse yourself in a world of giant, tranquil tortoises chewing on tall blades of grass, marine iguanas swimming through the shimmering blue waters, sea lions sleeping on the beaches, and magnificent frigate birds soaring through the air. The abundant endemic species populating the islands are influenced by the natural isolation of the islands and uncommon terrain, which allows for up-close wildlife encounters due to the absence of natural predators. The incomparable creatures of the Galapagos have no fear of humans, and visitors will get the chance to see living evolution up-close as the wildlife is often in touching distance.

Internationally known as a “Living Laboratory,” the Galapagos flaunts an extraordinary amount of diverse endemic species of flora and fauna, and hosts the only ecosystem where herbivore reptiles are at the top of the food chain. Those searching for exhilarating encounters in the wild will be rewarded with views of the only equatorial penguin in existence, as well as brilliant flamingos wading through lagoons. Blue and red-footed boobies, massive frigate birds, and flightless cormorants populate the coastlines of the shore, while the world’s largest concentration of sharks and over 400 species of fish swim through the diving wonderland under the pristine surface of the sea.

Weather

The Galapagos is a place that can be visited year round and is divided into two seasons. The warm season is between December to May, and the cool season is from June to November.

The Cool Season: June to November – The Dry Season

  • Best time to observe the famous marine life
  • Plenty of sun, calm waves, and light winds with little to no precipitation on the coastline
  • Cool and dry with temperatures between 64/66 °F (18/19 °C) and 75/77 °F (24/25 °C)
  • Cooler water

The Warm Season: December to May – The Wet Season

  • Best time to visit for swimming and snorkeling
  • No wind, hot sunny mornings, and cloudy skies with rain in the afternoons
  • More tropical weather with temperatures between 72/73°F (22/23°C) and 84/86 °F (29/30 °C)
  • Warmer waters

Birds and sea mammals are most active during this time of year

Adventure

Immerse yourself in an adventure on the enchanted Galapagos Islands that is sure to light fire to your soul. Hike and bike along deserted coastlines past giant tortoises in their natural habitat and indigenous vegetation, and walk over lava trails to view active volcano calderas. Race marine iguanas in your kayak, or simply cruise along craggy cliffs teeming with marine life. Come face to face with manta rays, penguins, and fur seals nestled into hidden coves as you stand up paddle board (SUP), or snorkel amongst sea lions frolicking through the waves. Swim with tropical fish and sea turtles cruising through the waters, or go deep-sea fishing with the locals. And after a long day of activity, relax on the pristine, isolated beaches filled with natural wonders.

How to Get to the Galapagos Islands
You must travel to Ecuador to reach the islands…

There are no direct flights to Galapagos. You should book an international flight to Guayaquil or Quito in Ecuador, and then take one of the daily flights to the Galapagos Islands. 

Required fees on top of your plane ticket include:
  • The National Park entrance fee of $100 (Subject to change)
  • The INGALA Transit Control Card (TCT) for $20, which may be purchased in the airport
Vaccinations

If you intend to only travel to Quito or Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, there are no vaccinations required

Health Insurance Requirements

All tourists will be required to have proof of a valid international health insurance policy, which must be valid during your whole stay.

What to Bring with You to the Galapagos:
  • Shorts, t-shirts, or tank tops, and light hiking pants.
  • One or two pairs of light pants
  • A dress shirt or a simple sun dress
  • A light sweater or sweatshirt
  • A waterproof, light jacket that can double as a raincoat
  • A swimsuit
  • A wetsuit for cooler water (rentals are available)
  • An absorbent travel towel
  • A long-billed or wide-brimmed hat
  • Sunglasses are essential
  • A daypack for daily treks
  • Teva-style sandals, Keen hiking shoes, and tennis shoes with good soles or light hiking boots
  • Water shoes
  • Flip flops or light footwear
Photography
  • A camera, extra memory cards, and extra camera batteries
  • An underwater camera
Visa requirements for Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands:
  • Citizens of the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia are not required to have a visa for tourism, business, or student purposes for vacations less than 90 days
  • All passports must have 6 months left of validity left upon exit of country
  • You must also provide proof of travel off the islands (either by land, air, or sea) and proof of sufficient funds (ATM cards, credit cards, bank statements)
Accessories
  • Binoculars
  • A flashlight or headlight
Money
  • The official currency on mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos is the US Dollar. 
    1. Bring some money in cash with you. Make sure to have small bills as change can be an issue
    2. The airports in Quito and Guayaquil, as well as the major hotels have money exchange facilities
    3. Many smaller islands do not have money exchange or ATM capabilities
Medical and Toiletries
  • Be sure to bring and USE lots of sunscreen due to our equatorial location
    1. We recommend at least SPF 45 waterproof sunscreen (however, be sure to order eco-friendly organic sunscreen, which protects you and the water)
  • Aloe-vera gel
  • Basic first aid kits are provided on all boats
  • Always travel with all prescription medicines
  • Special medicines: motion sickness medication and altitude medication if flying into Quito (9,500 feet)
    1. DIAMOX is readily available in Quito pharmacies

Explore the Galapagos Islands by Land and Sea

You might feel that you have to choose a land-based adventure or explore by cruise. In an ideal world, you would get to do both in order to experience all that the Galapagos has to offer. Our land-based explorations offer you more flexibility without losing the incredible experience of exploring the ocean by water activities. 

Service Standards

We believe everyone should experience the passion of adventure, nature, and cultural travel. With that in mind, we have designed three different service standards for our Neotropic itineraries, ranging from highly personalized and high-end to scheduled and affordable—each one with experiences and accommodations hand-picked by our team of specialists.

Signature

Personal. Privileged. Tailored. Neotropic’s Signature Standard pampers you with exclusive, premium options that only a few will ever encounter. Our expeditions are combined with top hotels, specially curated activities, and a personal bilingual guide to ensure your every moment is meaningful.

Premium

You won’t sacrifice comfort for adventure on our Premium Journeys. Neotropic’s curated experiences are accompanied by a highly-trained tour leader and top-of-the-line equipment to help make your journey a perfect experience. Enjoy the independence to do things at your own pace, and choose from our luxurious accommodations: Opuntia Premium and Comfort hotels.

Essential

Our Essential Journeys includes the fundamentals of a life-enriching Galapagos adventure. You will enjoy hand-picked adventures by our qualified travel designers, a group experience with other adventure-lovers, leisure time, and freedom to choose where, when, and what to eat. Our Neotropic Essential Standard provides the best value for money, as well as reassurance due to our professional planning, safety expertise and liability insurance.

Accommodations

When you travel to Galapagos, you’ll stay in our Opuntia Hotels network of leading oceanfront properties committed to personalized service and warm hospitality. Each hotel has its own charm, and all subscribe to the highest standards of quality, comfort, and sustainability. We manage each property personally to ensure that our guests receive superior care.

You can choose from two service standards:
  • Our Premium Class hotels offer a high-end experience, including spas, restaurants, swimming pools, and ample space for relaxation.
  • Our Comfort Class hotels offer great value accommodations with a boutique touch. Breakfast included.
  • *Please note, we will try our best to accommodate your first choice of hotel depending on availability.
NEED HELP PLANNING?

Contact us to get started on planning the adventure of your life:

Contact Us

NEOTROPIC EXPEDITIONS

Manuel Sotomayor E17-105 y Flores Jijón
Quito – Ecuador
Office Hours: 9h00 – 17h00 (GMT-5)

Toll Free Number
+1 888 234.3413 U.S. & Canada

International Number:
+593.2.604.6800

Email:
info@neotropicexpeditions.com