The Galapagos Islands were discovered in the sixteenth century by Tomas de Berlanga who named the named the islands as the ‘’Enchanted Islands’’.
The Galapagos archipelago, whose official name is the Columbus Archipelago is part of the system of national parks in Ecuador since 1936.
About 90% of the territory is Natural Park, the preciousness of the natural territory is due to the numerous endemic species that is found on the territory.

The naturalist and scientist Charles Darwin studied these species in 1835 during his second voyage on the HMS Beagle.
The Galapagos were included for the first, in 1979, on the list of UNESCO world heritage.
The archipelago consists of volcanic islands where the climate is mild almost to the point of favoring a peculiar fauna and flora of the islands.
The archipelago has its very own, special climate. You cannot compare it with nowhere else in the world, it has just its own micro-climate. This is because of the different ocean currents.

Pros and Cons of cruises

Galapagos cruises are the most popular way to enjoy the Galapagos islands, one of the advantages of taking a cruise in the islands, is the boat ability to cover most of the long navigations during the night which allows you to encounter a whole new wonderful view as soon as you wake up in the morning, there is also many visitor sites that can only be reached with a cruise, an aspect that could lessen your travel experience during a cruise is the proneness to seasickness as you will be exposed to the wavy movement of the boats for extended periods, due its stability catamarans are the best choice for those who suffer of seasickness, in terms of price cruise tend to be more budget demanding than the island hopping programs.

Pros and Cons of Land tours

The Galapagos land tours or Galapagos Island hopping is the best alternative for those who want to enjoy the enchanted islands with the comfort of lodging in a hotel and do daily navigations to different islands, one of advantage of this kind of tour is the date flexibility as you are able to choose the exact dates you want to have your program on, this differs with cruises which only have set up departures. The main disadvantages of the Island Hopping have to be with the sites you can reach as there is less options that when you are in a cruise and there will also be more day time used to get from one point to another, the navigations take approximately 2 hours (It could vary depending on sea conditions).

The Galapagos National Park has four levels of guide: level I, level II, level III and Marine Reserve guides. level I guides are those who have simply concluded high school and taken the guide course. level II guides have spent four years as a guide and passed an additional test. Level III guides have a degree in Biology, Tourism or something similar and speak at least two additional languages in addition to Spanish. They also must meet all level two criteria. Marine Reserve guides are class one, two or three guides who are also certified to guide underwater SCUBA trips in the Marine Reserve.

More in depth:

Galapagos Naturalist Guide I

Level I guide is a person who is native to the islands or who has been resident in them for many years. He or she must have a high school diploma and a lot of knowledge about the region and a good command of the English language. In addition, they must pass the course of Naturalist Guide I and can direct a group of 10 people maximum. These types of guides are usually found on the most economical cruises on the islands.

Galapagos Naturalist Guide II

To have level of guide “II” it is necessary to be Ecuadorian by birth or naturalization. These guides must have a high school diploma or university preparation in biology, related areas, or tourism, as well as a good command of English, French or German, and pass the Naturalist Guide II course. These guides can carry groups of up to 16 visitors. All tourist class cruises have a type II guide.

Galapagos Naturalist Guide III

Ecuadorians of birth or naturalization, and in case of being a foreigner, must have legal permission to work. These guides must demonstrate to have completed the degree or equivalent in biology, related areas, or in tourism. They must speak fluent Spanish and English, as well as French or German. In addition, they must pass the course of Naturalist Guide III, and can direct groups of up to 20 visitors. All Superior, First Class and Luxury class cruises have Type III guides.

The guides in Galapagos are responsible for:

  1. Educate visitors about the natural history, geology, flora and fauna of the island.
  2. Supervise and control the places that visitors go to.
  3. Make the rules of the park
  4. Bring your license and identification papers with you at all times
  5. Wear uniform.
  6. Participate in observation activities, such as collecting data on the ecological impact of the islands.
  7. Inform and report to island authorities when necessary
  8. Keep you and your group safe and informed.

Due to their remoteness and location on the equator the Galapagos can be visited all year round. There are two main seasons: The ‘dry season’ June to December and the ‘warm season’ December to May.

The dry season is characterized by blue skies and midday showers whereas the warm season is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies

Sea mammals and land birds are most active during the dry season and there are many sea bird courtship displays

Key items to pack for your Galapagos Adventure

The unique Galapagos islands are suitable and ready to be discovered at any time during the year, However, unlike countries with 4 different seasons, there are only two seasons in the Galapagos. the warmest season which takes place from December to May when the skies are most likely to be observed and the sun shines radiantly. If you prefer most cool temperatures the ideal time to visit the islands is between June and November because the temperatures fall a bit and you will also have a better chance to admire the Galapagos’ famous and unique marine life.

Warmest season

  • Average water temperature: 77°F
  • Average maximum temperature: 87°F

Cooler season

  • Average water temperature: 71°F
  • Average maximum temperature: 79°F

Taking this weather information in consideration, you can see that either season you choose to discover the Galapagos islands, you will enjoy of a nice tropical weather which invites you to just relax and enjoy the moment, to ensure you will love even more your fantastic journey here is a list of Key items to pack for your Galapagos Adventure

For the daytime in the Galapagos, you will most likely prefer to be in shorts and a loose comfortable t-shirt, there is no dress code set but also it could be a good idea to bring a couple light pants.

Teva-style sandals are essential items you should bring to the island. They can be used during dry or wet landing and will guard your feet from the hot and volcanic landscape plus your feet will keep cool. You might also want to have available the protection of tennis shoes if you feel you will be more comfortable using them in saltwater, volcanic rock, and sand.

Because its location the sun hits the equator directly and you can get sunburn very easily, don’t forget to take with you the sunscreen suggested for you type of skin, the protection of the sunscreen should last even when you get wet on the snorkel sessions, don’t forget your hat also, you will highly appreciate it on your land expeditions to the islands if it is a hat with neck protection would be even better. 

You will normally have to be in the water twice a day, especially if you are in a cruise, therefore is highly advisable to pack a couple of swimsuits for your journey, and don’t worry about getting them dry, the sun will dry them quickly.

This will be essential to capture the endless magical landscapes and the unique wildlife you will encounter in your adventure, underwater pictures will also give you a neat conversation subject back home.

If you are on board of a cruise they will carry on board a basic kit of medications, but if you require prescribed medication don’t forget to have bring enough for you trip. 

The official currency on mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos is the US Dollar, it is advisable to have some cash on you while you are on board as some cruises only accept cash to pay for additional onboard expenses, if you arrive from a country where the currency is different than the US dollar you will find in Quito and Guayaquil airports, as well as the mayor hotels, money exchange facilities. There are also banks and ATM machines is Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the main towns of the Galapagos Islands.

These are some of the main items that are advisable to make sure packing for you next unforgettable Galapagos adventure, however, remember that you will be on an isolated group of islands. So if you need any additional items you can’t pass many days without, make sure and bring them.