GALAPAGOS FREQUENT QUESTIONS
Below is a list of some of the most common questions for travelers to Galapagos; if you have more questions Contact Us for more information.
- What time is it in Galapagos?
UCT (GMT) – 6 hours. The Ecuadorian mainland is -5 UCT (GMT).
- How do I get to the Galapagos?
You fly by plane to one of its two airports (Baltra or San Cristóbal) from either Guayaquil or Quito on mainland Ecuador. There are no flights from any other airport.
Some people take their private yachts into the Marine Reserve and National Park, but it’s extremely rare and very expensive.
- What’s all the fuss about Galapagos?
Endemism = many species are found here and nowhere else
Virtually unchanged, pristine natural environments, haunting volcanic landscapes
Inspiration for modern thinking: the islands’ biota inspired Charles Darwin to form his theories of modern evolutionary thinking.
Disconnect from the world!
- What’s the Galapagos National Park fee and the other fee?
The entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park (www.galapagospark.gov.ec) is currently $100, and the migration control card (to help regulate immigration to the islands) is $20. Per person.
- How long should I go for?
We would always encourage you to spend 7 days in the islands, to get a real feel for each island’s different character and to immerse yourself in their special magic. Four-day expedition cruises will give you an idea of the islands, but much of the first and last days are spent travelling, more so if you are on a small boat.
- How strong is the sun?
Very strong, because of the islands’ equatorial location. Sun protection recommended: SPF15 and above.
- When should I go?
Here is no best month to aim for in Galapagos. You can travel at any time and have a wonderful experience – due to the islands’ location on the Equator. But you can view our Calendar to get a better idea of what is going on climatically and with wildlife.
- How warm is it?
It depends on the time of year. There are two markedly different seasons in the islands, but the islands are visited all year round.
The hot season from December to June when humidity is high and average temperatures are in the 80s F (26°-30° C). There may be occasional showers (downpours), but days are generally hot and sunny.
From June to November, you can expect cool winds, occasionally bringing with them a light misty-type drizzle called “garúa”. Temperatures average in the 70s F (20°-24° C) during the day and lower at night. The islands may resemble a subtropical weather pattern.
GALAPAGOS FREQUENT QUESTIONS
- Can I fish in the Islands?
No, sports fishing is prohibited inside the Marine Reserve. Local fishermen can practice fishing however.
- Are there internet connections on board your vessels?
Yes, but due to the Galapagos’ remote location, internet connections are intermittent and low-bandwidth.
- Should I go swimming in the Galapagos?
It’s part of the second-largest Marine Reserve in the world. It’s an amazing place to discover all that lives beneath the waves. Snorkeling and swimming make up an important part of the Galapagos experience. There are many beaches that offer plenty of swimming opportunities.
- I’ve heard of ‘island-hopping’ tours. Should I consider them over a live-aboard expedition?
There is a quite a debate regarding this theme, and as the operator of three vessels in the islands, you would expect us to answer that live-aboards are best. Much depends on your personal tastes and predilections. But, we would say that most people will get the most out of the islands by taking a live-aboard expedition cruise, experiencing the islands as Charles Darwin did in the 19th century (albeit more comfortably!) and spending more of your time relaxing and enjoying the landscapes rather than travelling by boat, bus or car from one place to the next.
Many people now combine time on a live-aboard and time at one of the Islands’ towns, such as Puerto Ayora (staying at the Finch Bay Eco Hotel afterwards, for example), or Puerto Villamil. Island hopping trips offer very little access to the visitor sites within the National Park, since most activities are arranged in the populated islands.
- What is the main difference between boats in the Galapagos?
This depends on personal taste and boating experience. Some people like traveling on a larger ship with more people, others on small sailing boats of only 16 passengers. Larger vessels ultimately can deliver more of an experience due to variables such as staff numbers, personal space, food creativity, internet connectivity, environmental impact, and more amenities. There are a range of yachts between these two extremes.
- Should I choose a bigger or smaller vessel?
Things to consider when deciding the size of your Galapagos cruise vessels
- What rank and experience does the Captain and first officers have?
Larger vessels have Captains and First Officers who are either Ecuadorian Navy or Merchant Navy qualified.
* Only larger vessels have the space for a medical officer. All our ships have them, and consultations are free of charge.
It’s a myth that only smaller boats can visit certain islands or that smaller boats offer more private visits to the islands. All itineraries are designed by the Galapagos National Park, and given to operators. Our boats visit all the islands that smaller vessels visit!
- Does the vessel treat its sewage waters?
* Only larger boats can do.
Due to the organization of the visitor sites by the National Park, coupled with the size of our boats, our vessels are often the ONLY boats at most sites – we have the place to ourselves! GALAPAGOS FREQUENT QUESTIONS
If you have different physical abilities from the average guest, a larger boat will be able to assign a guide more suited to you. On a smaller boat, all guests must stay with their one guide at all times. There is no flexibility.
On larger vessels, language division is the first criteria for creating small groups for exploration. Thus, the advantage of having several guides is that they can interpret the destination in one language at a time, eliminating the chance of multi-lingual guiding (which affects the overall experience).
- What’s the best footwear for Galapagos?
You should have good walking shoes/trainers, and a pair of Teva-type sandals for beach walks.
- What’s with the wet-suits?
We recommend using ‘shorty’ wet-suits from May to December, when the waters in Galapagos are cooler and it’s more comfortable for snorkelers to remain longer in the water. Our boats supply wet-suits (some charge for rental).
- How far is the Galapagos from the mainland?
600 miles/1,000 km. About an hour-and-a-half flight from Guayaquil, 2 hours from Quito.
- Is all of the Galapagos Islands a national park?
Very nearly. 97% of the archipelago’s islands is designated a national park. Human settlements are concentrated on the remaining 3%. There are strict rules about visiting the areas on islands that have been designated as visitor sites by the national park authorities. The Galapagos is also part of a huge Marine Reserve, which ranks among the largest in the world.
- Are the animals in Galapagos tame?
No, since this would imply that they had been tamed by humans, or domesticated, if you will. They are simply fearless because their ancestors did not have to face large carnivores because of the islands’ isolation from the mainland. Over time, the instinct of fear is lost. Also, wildlife does not perceive humans as a threat because the islands have remained protected since early in the 20th century.
- Are all the animals on Galapagos giant like the tortoises?
No, although marine iguanas can get surprisingly big! Nor are giant tortoises endemic to the Galapagos. The elephantine sub-species developed in other parts of the planet, too. In Galapagos, the interesting aspect to note is the speciation of the tortoises once they arrived on the islands, evolving in time into different species – unable to reproduce between island species. Some plants up in the highlands, however, have developed gigantic proportions such as the Scalesia – a member of the sunflower family with of gigantic proportions.
- Where does the name Galapagos come from?
From the medieval/Renaissance Spanish term for a type of saddle that was raised up at its front. The Spanish sailors who came across giant tortoises – of whom various subspecies have ‘saddle back’ shells – named them “galápago” after these saddles.
- Why are the finches so important?
The finches on Galapagos are special because they are the bird species that has been used to illustrate Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. The work of the Grants on Daphne Major (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beak_of_the_Finch) is an excellent case study of finch populations and their variations over a short period of time clearly proves that – Darwin argued, “species are not immutable”, and that adaptations can occur rapidly in populations in order to exploit ecological niches. The contrasting annual weather pattern of the islands, and unique events such as El Niño or La Niña are great platforms to understand natural selection even better. There are 13 species of finch in all in Galapagos, some very similar in size and coloration: anyone who can identify all of them in the wild at a glance is a liar!