The Galapagos Islands are one of the most famous wildlife spotting destinations in the entire world and one of the best ways to see them is by boat. Let’s take a look of some of the must see sights that the islands have to offer and how to experience them by boat without blowing your budget!
An Overview of The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are situated right on the equator, approximately 620 miles from Ecuador and were the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The islands are home to a unique ecosystem with landscapes that include lava formations, lush green forests and tropical beaches. The resident wildlife ranges from penguins and sea lions to giant tortoises and hundreds of species of birds.
Why Visit By Boat?
In truth, the only practical way to visit the Galapagos Islands is with a boat that can double up accommodation. This is simply because of how remote the islands are and the need to travel between islands. There are currently around 80 vessels which are licensed to operate within the archipelago which is very strictly controlled to protect the islands and wildlife. The majority of ships will go ashore twice daily and will travel between the islands overnight. This means that on a 10 day cruise you can expect to go ashore up to 20 times on various islands within the archipelago.
It sounds expensive, but if you make the trip within what is known as ‘shoulder season’ you will be able to get as much as 30% off the usual price of a Galapagos cruise. However, some activities may not be available during this time so do research what is included with your discounted cruise. The shoulder season runs between April and June then between September and December.
It is possible to travel to the Galapagos Islands independent of a cruise, but it is a little bit more complex. In the majority of areas visitors are required to be accompanied by a licensed guide. However, there are some activities which you can do on your own and which do not require an admission fee. The extremity of the regulations may shock some visitors but it is necessary to protect the unique eco-system. Visitors can only disembark at designated landing points on the islands and may only walk on the marked trails.
Must See Features of The Galapagos
No matter what time of year you choose to visit you are sure to see some amazing sights courtesy of the local wildlife, but some of the highlight include the following :
January is egg laying season for the green turtles.
May to September is the best time to enjoy swimming among the penguins.
June sees the arrival of the humpback whales.
July to September sees the most activity among the seabirds.
August is pupping season for the sealions.
December is when the giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch.
Where you go will dictate which of the sights you get to see, but without a doubt one of the stars of the Galapagos Islands has to be the giant tortoise which can be seen in the highland areas of Santa Cruz, Alcedo Volcano and Isabela. There are also smaller groups found in San Cristóbal, Santiago, Española and Pinzón. These tortoises have been known to grow to almost 6 feet in length and can live for over 100 years in the wild. The size and shell shape of the tortoises vary between islands depending on their climate.
A trip to the Galapagos Islands is the experience of a lifetime. There is nowhere else lie it in the world. Travelling by boat will give you a perfect combination of life on the open sea coupled with the exploration of this amazing archipelago.
About the Author: Tim Baker has incurable wanderlust. He loves traveling the world and often shares his experiences on a number of websites. He also has a keen interest in boats and is a regular contributor of maritime resources for some online publications.