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Galapagos Cruises, Galapagos Islands Cruise Tours

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Ecuador Galapagos Islands

Metropolitan Touring takes great pleasure in introducing you to the ever-changing ecological paradise comprised of the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, one of the world's greatest natural history destinations.

The Galapagos Islands were named after the giant galapagos tortoises.  The archipelago, 1000 Km. (600 miles) off Ecuador's Pacific Coast, originated from undersea volcanic activity, six million years ago.  The archipelago's 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and scores of islets are all part of Ecuador's National Park system.

In 1835, the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited the islands and discovered this "living laboratory" which inspired his writings on the Theory of Evolution.  Many of the animals on the Galapagos Islands have developed into different species from their continental relatives, and because they have never experienced man as a predator, they show no fear of humans.

The world's most wondrous group of islands is yours to discover.  Guests are taken to shore in small groups by a multilingual naturalist guide, who will explain the fascinating geology, history and natural phenomena of the archipelago.  There is ample opportunity to walk along nature trails, swim, snorkel, photograph, and observe the abundant variety of wildlife on each island.  You can swim with sea lions, walk among black marine iguanas basking in the sun and observe the elaborate mating rituals of boobies, albatrosses, or male frigate birds displaying their red pouches.

Our Galapagos cruises have flexible itineraries of four, five and seven nights (or more!) offering a variety of options for trekkers and swimmers, writers and readers, painters and photographers, bird watchers and stargazers, visionaries and dreamers...

Metropolitan Touring is the pioneer in Galapagos island cruises, our experience going back to the 1960s. We continue to be the benchmark in environmental sustainability, service, facilities and safety. We operate a trio of vessels - the 90-guest M/V Santa Cruz, the 48-guest Yacht La Pinta, the 40-guest Yacht Isabela II - as well as owning the beach-front Finch Bay Eco Hotel. 

 

General Facts

LUGGAGE

No more than 20 Kilos (44 pounds) of luggage (one suitcase) may be checked on flights to or from the Galapagos Islands.

Additional luggage may be stored at your hotel. These restrictions do not include small carry-on flight bags or camera cases.

CRUISE ATTIRE

For travel in the Galapagos, clothing ranges from informal to very informal. Essentials include sneakers, shorts, long- and short-sleeve lightweight shirts, bathing suit, a wide-brimmed hat, long pants, and a wind breaker or light jacket for evenings. Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and lots of film.

SHOES

Most walking ashore is over rocky lava terrain. Therefore tennis shoes, sneakers or walking shoes with rubber soles must be worn.

CLIMATE

The Galapagos Islands are located on the equator. The tropical heat, however, is tempered by Pacific breezes.

There are two seasons in the islands: the rainy, 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, but the days are generally hot and sunny.

From June to November, you can expect cool winds, ocassionally 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.

PASSPORTS

Passengers must travel to the Galapagos with their passports.

Passport numbers must be furnished one month prior to arrival.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK ENTRANCE FEE

US$100 per person. It must be paid upon arrival at the airport in Galapagos (rate is subject to change without notice).

ELECTRIC CURRENT

110/AC. Electric shavers and hair dryers can be accommodated.

LOCAL TIME

GMT minus 6 hours in the Galapagos Islands. GMT minus 5 hours on mainland Ecuador.

PURCHASES ON BOARD

US dollars or travelers cheques may be used on board. Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) are also accepted aboard M/V SANTA CRUZ, YACHT ISABELA II AND YACHT LA PINTA.

SAFETY FIRST WITH METROPOLITAN TOURING

For Metropolitan Touring, the health and safety of our guests and crew is a top priority in all aspects of our operations. Our vessels undergo a number of strict internal and external control inspections. They comply with both international and Ecuadorian regulations, ranging from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS 74), Smart Voyager best environmental and social practices, the Ecuadorian Merchant Marine Office (DIRNEA), among others.

On all of Metropolitan Touring's operations, the competence of crew members is verified, the quality and state of vessels' equipment and materials checked, periodic maintenance and training performed, and safety procedures and equipment constantly monitored. 

MEALS

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Wine, beer and soft drinks are extra. Bottled water is supplied in each cabin free of charge.

BOOKING, PAYMENT AND CANCELLATIONS POLICIES

A deposit of US$200 per person is required at time of booking, refundable on cancellation with at least 60 days' notice. Full payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Special policies apply for groups.

 

About the Galapagos Islands

The islands emerged about five million years ago, give or take a million, as a result of violent volcanic action. In geological terms, this should be considered a recent event.

As the young islands were cooling off, say, two million years later, some species gradually arrived. They were live organisms riding on "rafts of vegetation" from the shores of Central and South America. Unusual climatic events, like flooding, can take lots of vegetation rafts eventually to the ocean. Therefore, it is pure chance that allows a raft to eventually reach Galápagos. These early immigrants had to adapt to a peculiar new environment, and simply evolved -- slowly -- in a different direction from their continental ancestors. And, wonders of nature, they developed into species unique to the islands, with features not seen in their past ancestors.

History

The islands emerged about five million years ago, give or take a million, as a result of violent volcanic action. In geological terms, this should be considered a recent event.

As the young islands were cooling off, say, two million years later, some species gradually arrived. They were live organisms riding on "rafts of vegetation" from the shores of Central and South America. Unusual climatic events, like flooding, can take lots of vegetation rafts eventually to the ocean. Therefore, it is pure chance that allows a raft to eventually reach Galápagos. These early immigrants had to adapt to a peculiar new environment, and simply evolved -- slowly -- in a different direction from their continental ancestors. And, wonders of nature, they developed into species unique to the islands, with features not seen in their past ancestors.

In fact, when Darwin published his book On The Origin Of The Species, the nineteenth-century thinkers confirmed long held suspicions that species were not immutable, and praised the archipelago as a living laboratory has become the greatest observatory and laboratory of evolution.

GALAPAGOS: OFFICIAL DISCOVERY

How many times? You choose...

1. When the first human being put a firm foot on an island;

2. Centuries later, in 1832, when Ecuador took possession of the archipelago and gave official names to the islands;

3. More than a century after that, when Metropolitan Touring developed the concept of responsible tourism, and designed thoughtfully planned itineraries to show the islands' fragile beauty without harming the natural process of local ecosystems. This is why your travel choice does make a difference.

The first human being in Galapagos was Tomás de Berlanga, a Spanish bishop who was navigating close to the shores of Central America on an apostolic mission in February of 1535. His boat had been stilled by calm winds, and the Panamá Current pushed it southward only to know that the arrival was to some mysterious islands, which had no evident charms. "Birds are so silly," he wrote the King of Spain, Charles V, "they know not how to flee". The islands had been officially discovered. It was March 1535.

Eventually, the bishop's party sailed back to the continent with the first encouraging breeze. The islands were reported to Spain, but no effort was made to colonize them based on the somewhat uninviting descriptions from Berlanga.

Anyway, having arrived less that 500 years ago, humans are some of the newest "living organisms" inhabiting the Galapagos.

ISOLATED AND REMOTE

Sometimes the Galapagos become invisible, almost illusory at short distances, particularly in the dense veil of early morning. Remember the waters surrounding the islands are a bit cold for tropical standards. This produces a fine mist (aka, garúa) as cool air invades warmer patches of air. Thus, an early fog can be quite deceiving at telling what's ahead. This is how the islands picked up the name of Las Encantadas; islands that suddenly appeared, as the mist evaporated, and islands that disappeared as the mist engulfed them.

Then, in 1570, a map of the Spanish New World drawn by a Flemish cartographer circulated in the Caribbean, showing the elusive islands, for the first time, with the unpoetic name of Islas de los Galapagos (Islands of the Giant Tortoises). This map, in buccaneer's hands, was used to maraud up and down the Pacific in the 1600's.
During the 17th century and a good art of the 18th, the astute pirates found in the Galapagos a safe place to hide, repair their vessels, map future raids and stock up on fresh meat, killing some tortoises by the thousands. But they apparently left no buried treasures and eventually decided that the Caribbean was more challenging after all.

Late in the 18th century came the whaler fleets that made the archipelago a center of operations, but after a number of years the whalers, too, left when the profits weren't worth the costly, lengthy routes. The whalers are, indeed, the human group that leaves the first devastating impact on the islands: thousands of giant tortoises are killed, and the introduction of domestic animals. These events will prove later the reasons for having a strong conservation campaign in today's Galápagos.

In sum, nobody really wanted the Galapagos -- until 1832. On February 12th, Colonel Ignacio Hernandez, of Ecuador, with instructions from General Jose de Villamil, planted the Ecuadorian flag on Floreana Island, and took possession of what he named officially Las Islas Galápagos on behalf of his government. Some sixty years later, in 1892, most of the islands received a Spanish name, all related to the Discovery of America.

Metropolitan Touring takes great pleasure in introducing you to the ever-changing ecological paradise comprised in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

The Galapagos Islands have been named after the giant galapagos tortoises.  The archipelago, 1000 Km. (600 miles) off Ecuador's Pacific Coast originated from undersea volcanic activity, six million years ago.  The archipelago's 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and scores of islets are all part of Ecuador's National Park system.

In 1835, the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited the islands and discovered this "living laboratory" which inspired his writings on the Theory of Evolution.  Many of the animals on the Galapagos Islands have developed into different species from their continental relatives, and because they have never experienced man as a predator, they show no fear of humans.

The world's most wondrous group of islands is yours for unhurried exploration.  Follow the nature trails; enjoy the amazing sights, wade and even dive among the animals of land and sea.

Guests are taken to shore in small groups by a multilingual naturalist guide, who will explain the fascinating geology and history of an eco-world that takes you back millions of years.  There is ample opportunity to walk, swim, snorkel, photograph, and observe the abundant variety of wildlife on each island.  You can swim with sea lions, walk among black marine iguanas basking in the sun and observe the elaborate mating rituals of boobies, albatrosses, or male frigate birds displaying their red pouches.

Flexible itineraries of three, four and seven nights offer a variety of options for trekkers and swimmers, writers and readers, painters and photographers, bird watchers and stargazers, visionaries and dreamers...

Metropolitan Touring offers environmentally friendly programs aboard its recently refurbished vessels, the 90 guest(s) M/V SANTA CRUZ and the 40 guest(s) Yacht ISABELA II, to provide you with unforgettable experience that quite possibly may well be the most fascinating journey of your lifetime.

 

Packing Check List

  • 1 Small backpack (waterproof)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sneakers with rubber soles
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • T-shirts
  • Long and Short sleeved shirts
  • Wind breaker
  • Bathing suit -wetsuit for snorkeling in cold months
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Hat or cap
  • Toilette kit (biodegradable shampoo please)
  • Sun block
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Camera & camcorder
  • Any medicine you may be taking
  • Book/ Notebook 

 

Open Video The Eyes of the Seas Open Video The Galapagos Experience Open Video Santiago Island, Galapagos 6pm Open Video Scuba Diving in the Galapagos, Seymour island Open Video Scuba Diving in the Galapagos, Wolf Island Open Video Scuba Diving in the Galapagos, Cousins Bartolomé Islands Open Video Scuba Diving in the Galapagos, Marshall Albany Islands Open Video Galapagos Islands Expedition
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Fundación Galápagos and Coca Cola in “Every bottle has a story”

Fundación Galápagos has been chosen by Coca Cola to participate in the campaign “Every bottle has a story” for its commitment to making a positive difference to the Islands

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Metropolitan Touring is one of South America’s most known and respected travel companies, providing unrivalled service to our guests for nearly 60 years. Along with our operations in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, we also own and operate the finest ships for Galapagos Island cruises - the M/V Santa Cruz, Yacht Isabella II and Yacht La Pinta - as well as the Finch Bay Eco Hotel. Come explore with us!
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