How difficult are the activities in the Galapagos Islands?
When it comes to the difficulty level of activities in Galapagos, it’s important to always remember that the Galapagos are an expedition destination. This means you’ll be discovering its many features through various activities that will get you incredibly close to its tame wildlife and otherworldly landscapes. Activities – particularly aquatic ones – are approached differently on all vessels in Galapagos. How much and how many of these activities you get to enjoy throughout your Galapagos tour will depend entirely on your boat’s number of naturalist guides.
How easy or difficult they’ll feel will also depend on the number of guides available, but also your boat’s amenities and its attention to detail. If you are wondering how demanding the exploration options offered by hotels and vessels in Galapagos are, then read on! This blog will serve as an excellent guide to learning all about just how difficult the activities in the Galapagos are.
The Metropolitan Touring Difference: Enjoy the Galapagos at Your Own Pace
The activities available in the Galapagos are by no means demanding or strenuous. Regardless of where you come from and how old you are, we assure you that each and every one of our guests will have a variety of choices available, allowing each one to experience the Galapagos in a way that appeals to them best.
What it all comes down to really is each person’s fitness level and how active they are. The more active you are, the more activities you will be able to enjoy for a longer period of time. On the other hand, if you are not a really sporty kind of person, you will also find something that suits you. Getting a bit tired while snorkeling or kayaking? Just raise your hand and our dinghy driver will go and pick you up. If you don’t wish to move much but still want to explore, then try going for a coastal exploration aboard your dinghy or discover the underwater world through our glass-bottom boat.
The night before, all guests will be briefed on the activity options available for the following day, as well as: the difficulty level of these, the visitor site they’ll involve, the wildlife and fauna guests will get to encounter and what kind of clothing and/or equipment guests are recommended to bring them. This way, all guests will know what to expect!
Difficulty Level of Hikes and Land Activities
If you count on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being a hike along mountainous terrain and 1 being a city park, then hikes in the Galapagos range from 3 to 5. They have all been designed to be no longer than a mile and will cover various types of terrain. Some trails are made of gravel, sand, and lava rock. Others have been sustainably modified by man and even come with wooden stairs and asphalt walkways. All-in-all, they are all both welcoming and amazing trails on which guests will be able to get extremely close to the amazing Galapagos wildlife and its famous BIG15 group of iconic species.
Traveler’s Tip: Wear comfortable hiking boots, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses at all times. The sun at the equator can feel a little strong on the skin. Remember to keep hydrated at all times, so don’t forget your refillable water bottle! Keeping all this in mind will make for a more comfortable hike. Note: we provide a refillable water bottle for our guests which they can take back home with them as a gift after their trip.
Difficulty Level of Aquatic Activities in Galapagos
On the other hand, aquatic activities may vary slightly depending on the number of guides available and the size of the vessel. Each company holds different permits that allow them to do one or more aquatic activities in certain locations. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being a swimming race and 1 being a hot tub, the difficulty level of aquatic activities – except for scuba diving, which we don’t offer on our vessels – ranges from 3 to 6. Because snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and swimming are all weather-dependent activities, their availability may be susceptible to the natural elements and force majeure.
Level 6 difficulty basically means that the weather is a little windier than usual and that the ocean is wavier. If there is more wind, the dinghy will have to cover a bit more distance to get the guests out of the water, but don’t worry – no matter what, it will always get to them promptly. Guests might feel the dinghy rocking a little more as they jump in the water, but once inside the water, they won’t feel any rocking at all. In the case of kayaking, it might feel harder to paddle the kayak if you are not used to the activity. Keep in mind that your Expedition Leader and Naturalist Guide will never allow guests to partake in aquatic activities if the weather doesn’t allow for it. But rest assured: a level 6 difficulty means guests can still enjoy the Galapagos water and its wonders to the fullest.
Guests can gain an even greater peace of mind knowing they have a guide with them in the water and one on the dinghy, both of these always making sure that everyone is enjoying the activity. The former will be busy pointing out the sea life and guiding the group along, while the latter supervises and helps out whenever needed. Only multi-guided vessels can offer this kind of experience in the water, which is both safer and more fun.
How you hop back into the dinghy after being in the water is also a pretty big factor when it comes to truly enjoying aquatic activities in the Galapagos. That’s why it’s important to make sure your shuttle boat (often referred to as panga in Spanish) from the main vessel is a.) an inflatable dinghy and b.) comes equipped with a comfortable boarding ladder. The first feature allows for easier and safer jumps into the water, given that wooden shuttle boats are often slippery and trickier to move around in. The second feature means you’ll have a much easier and comfortable experience getting back into the dinghy (as opposed to being dragged back into the dinghy by the well-intentioned hands and arms of your guide or dinghy driver). All of our dinghies on each of our vessels satisfy both these requirements.
What do we do when we are not discovering the Galapagos through exploration activities?
After a long day of exploration, you’ll definitely want to unwind and relax, mainly so that you can take in all that you’ve seen. Trust us, it’ll be a lot! A snack and refreshment will be waiting onboard the moment you get back from each and every excursion on your itinerary! After that, be sure to hop into the hot tub and enjoy the rest of your afternoon as you admire the neverending horizon. Thirsty? Head up to the bar and order an exquisite cocktail designed by our expert Cocktail Connoisseur. Pensive? Find a quiet spot to read a book over on the Panorama Deck, the Sun Deck or the Library. Chatty? Get into lively conversations with other travelers and exchange experiences. Hungry? Expect a gourmet meal that will fill your body with energy and flavors that will surprise even the most demanding of palates. Don’t worry, we know a day full of activities requires a proper amount of relaxation. On the next day, you’ll get to fuel up with a varied and succulent breakfast-buffet. After that: get ready to go exploring again! Every new day is a doorway into the wonderful world of Galapagos that is waiting to be discovered!
Nathalie Moeller is of Ecuadorian and German descent. As a child she spent her summers in the Galapagos Islands, where her mother grew up, and from a very young age learned to love the beauty and uniqueness of the archipelago. She studied Journalism and Humanities in Barcelona, after living in Madrid and Germany for a couple of years. This gave her a culturally broader view of the world, which is reflected in everything she does. Blogging gives her the opportunity to combine her passion for travelling and writing.