A Guide to See the Biodiversity of the Galapagos When On Vacation

The Galapagos is widely known for having many unique species, and this adds to the incredible biodiversity of Ecuador. It is worth noting that while the number of species is not similar to a rain forest, the uniqueness of the Galapagos endemic species is what stands out. Think about penguins and tropical fish together. How can that happen? You’ll love learning more about the wildlife in the area while on holiday. These great ideas will help you plan the trip of a lifetime as you immerse yourself in the native environment of different species.

Explore the Galapagos Islands with expert naturalist guides!

Helpful Tips for Exploring the Biodiversity of the Galapagos

Galapagos Animals: Sea Lion And Birds
The Galapagos Islands Are Home To Several Species, Many Of Which Are Endemic To The Islands.

When Charles Darwin first visited the Galapagos Islands, he was amazed at the diverse range of life found here, and this was the basis for his conclusions while polishing his masterpiece Origin of Species. So much was to be analyzed, that the writing was completed nearly 25 years after the voyage of the HMS Beagle.

There are numerous species of land and marine life that are found here, including species like the Galapagos penguin, sea lions, giant tortoises, sharks, marine iguanas, tropical fish, gulls, boobies and many others. For many of the world explorers who visit the Galapagos Islands each year, learning more about the biodiversity and unique animals in the area is a top travel goal. There are some helpful tips that you can follow to help you immerse yourself in the environments of these creatures more successfully.

Galapagos Islands: Isabela Island
Isabela Island Is The Biggest Island In The Galapagos Archipelago

Consider the Time of the Year

Contrary to much popular wildlife and nature-oriented destinations, there is no bad time to visit the Galapagos. Places like the US Virgin Islands, Alaska, Patagonia, Falkland Islands, etc, are outstanding in the type of experience they provide, but there are times of the year when such places are not hospitable enough for tourist activities to occur. Fortunately, the Galapagos Islands do not have weather-related events or wildlife migration patterns that could detour you from a particular time of the year. The only bad time there is when you are not there.  Now, there are certain times of the year where certain conditions could enhance the overall experience of our explorers.

For example, from December through May, people love to experience the true tropical side of the islands which matches the warmest waters; this is great for snorkeling and scuba diving since the highest visibility will be expected. This doesn’t mean that from June through November visibility is bad. The tradeoff then is to find more plankton in the water and having marine species more active than usual as they search for blooming feeding grounds.  When it comes to wildlife, the most representative species of the Galapagos will be there all year round, just doing different things throughout the year. For example, blue-footed boobies in April are busy looking for potential mates, but then in July, the result of such quest will be rewarded by seeing plenty of nests with fluffy-looking chicks.  Sea lions are seen all year round too, but between August and October is when the vast majority of pups are born.  These youngsters are the most playful water creatures you can possibly imagine by November.

These are only a few of the many examples of peak times to travel to Galapagos, so you may consider learning more about the activities of the wildlife in the Galapagos for the time of the year that you’re thinking about traveling. This will help ensure that you have the experience you’re hoping for while visiting the area.

Be an Observer

Galapagos Islands Activities: Animal Encounters
Animals Can Be Seen All Around The Galapagos Islands But Should Never Be Touched Nor Fed.

Much has been written and said about tourism causing damage to the fragile ecosystems in the Galapagos, and this damage usually stems from tourists who are overly eager to have personal experiences with the wildlife. The lack of common sense sometimes can be the biggest source of impact in fragile places. What is usually not mentioned is that tourism is the most effective awareness voice when it comes to understanding how pristine the islands are. No more than 210,000 visitors per year explore the islands (Yellowstone National Park receives over 700,000 in just the summer month of July!).

With such high levels of exclusivity, planning a trip requires time and patience. Since all activities are controlled and managed by the National Park authority, it is best to take a guided tour where you will be requested to always follow the instructions of your Naturalist Guide. Keep in mind that the goal is to observe rather than to interact with the animals you encounter. For example, a guided outing to see them.

Look for Guided Tours

If you are part of an organized trip, like onboard an expedition vessel, then all activities will be guided and some leisure time will be assigned daily for beachcombing, swimming, etc.  If that option is your choice, then you are all set.  However, there are many activities that you can do on your own, such as renting a sea kayak and touring the coastline at your leisure, renting mountain bikes for recreational biking, walking and strolling on your own at certain locations, and more.

These excursions can be fun, offering you the opportunity to view the wildlife on your own. However, if you want to see specific things on your trip, such as flamingos in salt-water ponds, the many types of beaks on finches, fur seals in grottos, etc, it is best to be part of an organized trip as mentioned earlier. Of course, as in all wildlife-rich destinations, there are never any guarantees that you’ll see all the wildlife you want or right up front, but here again, is when local Naturalist Guides are the best sources since they pay close attention to the wildlife behavior. They know where they were yesterday, and they may have years of experience monitoring their actions according to the weather and more.

Updated:May 10, 2023

Published:May 10, 2016


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person




Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

We have what you are looking for!