What time is it in Galápagos?
UCT (GMT) – 6 hours. One hour more than the Ecuadorian mainland.
How do I get to the Galápagos?
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. There have also been a couple of visits by cruise ships, but they are also rare.
What's all the fuss about Galápagos?
- Endemism = species are found here and nowhere else
- virtually unchanged, pristine natural environments
- haunting volcanic landscapes
- disconnect from the world!
What's the Galápagos National Park fee and the other fee?
The entrance fee to the Galápagos National Park is currently $100, and the migration control card (to help regulate immigration to the islands) is $10. 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.
How strong is the sun?
How warm is it?
It depends on the time of year. There are two pronounced 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, 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.
Can I fish in the Islands?
No, sports fishing is prohibited inside the Marine Reserve. Local fishermen can practice fishing however.
Should I go swimming in the Galápagos?
Of course! 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 Galápagos experience.
When should I go?
There is no best month to aim for in Galápagos, but you can view our Calendar to get a better idea of what is going on climactically and with wildlife.
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.
What is the main difference between boats in the Galápagos?
This depends on personal taste. Some people like traveling on a larger ship with more people, others on small sailing boats of only 16 passengers. There are a range of yachts between these two extremes.
Metropolitan Touring has three vessels: two 'medium' yachts of 40 and 48 guests, and the Santa Cruz for 90. The smaller are more intimate; La Pinta offers inter-connecting cabins. The Santa Cruz, on the other hand, has larger and more varied social areas, and a more family-friendly infrastructure and feel.
Should I choose a bigger or smaller vessel?
Things to consider when deciding the size of your Galápagos cruise vessels:
- What rank and experience does the Captain and first officers have?
- Only larger vessels have Captains and First Officers who are either Ecuadorian Navy or Merchant Navy qualified, with at least 12 years' experience.
- Is there a doctor on board?
- 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. Our boats visit all the islands that smaller vessels visit!
- Does the vessel treat its sewage waters?
- Only larger boats can and 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!
- 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.
- Does the vessel have added extras like a glass-bottom boat and kayaks?
- All our vessels have glass-bottom boats. La Pinta and Isabela II have kayaks.
What's the best footwear for Galápagos?
You should have good walking shoes/trainers, and a pair of Teva-type sandals.
What's with the wetsuits?
We recommend using 'shorty' wetsuits from May to December, when the waters in Galápagos are colder and it's more comfortable for snorkelers to remain longer in the water.
How far is the Galápagos 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 Galápagos 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 Galápagos is also part of a huge Marine Reserve, which ranks among the largest in the world.
Are the animals in Galápagos 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 perceive humans as a threat, so nor do they.
Are all the animals on Galápagos giant like the tortoises?
No, although marine iguanas can get surprisingly big! Nor are giant tortoises endemic to the Galápagos. The elephantine sub-species developed in other parts of the planet, too. In Galápagos, 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.
Where does the name Galápagos 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 Galápagos 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 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. 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!