Multi-guided Expeditions in the Galapagos: Consider This Before Your Trip

Why Consider Multi-Guided Expeditions?

If you had to be guided in an exotic place, or anywhere in the world for that matter, would you want to share a guide with a big group of people or feel the advantages of having multiple guides?
Imagine long lines at the checkout lane in the supermarket. We’ve all been there. Even more baffling is when we’re stuck in one line waiting to pay and dozens of registers around us are empty and without cashiers. This is what it feels like to have just one guide in the Galapagos.
Now, consider the possibilities of multi-guided expeditions.

It’s a Small World After All

While this analogy might not be the best way to picture it, bear with us: what many people don’t know about the enchanted isles is that the Galapagos National Park only allows up to 16 people per guide. Now, you might think this is a manageable number and might decide to take a smaller ship with just one guide, but stop and consider this: what if in your group there’s a couple coming from France (who might not speak English); there’s a family from Australia (with an unruly couple of kids); and a small group of retired couples from Germany. How do you think activities and languages would be managed by just a single naturalist guide?

What’s just been described is actually the norm in the Galapagos Islands, and it leads to some rather unfortunate scenarios. By the time the guide finishes speaking in one language, the albatross a little further down the trail will have finished courting its lady. Believe us when we say that you don’t want to miss the albatrosses mating ritual and having it explained to you! So, is the guide going to have to explain things in three different languages, back to back, every time? Only small boats this is definitely the case.

What About Activities?

Kayaking In The Galapagos Islands
Discover Galapagos By Kayaking Through Its Pristine Waters.

What if the youngest of the group feel like kayaking, but others feel a little tired and would rather just take a leisurely swim, or don’t really want to get wet at all? What if the older group just feels like hanging out at the beach? It would sound like an option, but in the Galapagos different rules apply.

In the archipelago, groups can’t do anything at visitor sites without being accompanied by a naturalist guide. So you can’t just go snorkeling or walking on your own — you all have to do the same thing at the same time. Especially on smaller boats.

Watch this video about some important Galapagos travel tips that will help you out in planning your expedition!

Size Matters

Now let’s look at it from another angle: at first glance, a slightly bigger ship might sound impersonal but remember that in the Galapagos there is a limited number of visitors allowed per year. This means that ship sizes are very constrained. Even the biggest ship is still pretty small compared to your stereotypical cruise. This is why they are called expedition vessels more often than cruise ships. Consequently, the size of groups aboard these “larger” ships still remains pretty small.

And the best part? A bigger boat has a smaller ratio of guides to guests, which means that different age groups and different language groups will be adequately divided (thanks to the various options of activities available) and thus, better-taken care of. With an activity, if one group wants to go kayaking while another wants to go hang out on the beach, there will be enough guides to offer these as options.

Time is Precious

Family Exploring Genovesa Island Aboard Santa Cruz Ii Cruise
A Happy Family Enjoying The Wonders Of Genovesa Island.

Your time here is precious and you want to get your money’s worth. The Galapagos Islands are an amazing place. Don’t waste time waiting for the tour guides’ explanation to evolve into another language! Satisfy your curiosity in one fell swoop, and move onto the next magical discovery with multi-guided expeditions! You never know when a blue-footed booby will have spread its wings and flown off or scurried under a rock.

Here’s a list of all the activities you have available on the Santa Cruz II:

  • On-land excursions
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Glass bottom boat
  • Star-gazing

Want to go swimming? Your grandparents don’t want to get wet? Why don’t you go snorkeling, while your grandparents observe the beauties of the amazing life underwater from the comfort of a glass bottom boat? Why be limited to doing just one thing – which might not be the most convenient for everyone- if you have the opportunity to do it all? Follow your heart’s desires!
Don’t think twice. Choose wisely.

Updated:May 8, 2023

Published:April 28, 2017


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



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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.

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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.

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