600 miles of the coast of Ecuador, with the Equator running through them is a group of 19 volcanic islands which offers the traveller an amazing up close experience with some of the planets most unusual species of wildlife! The islands are the peaks of giant volcanoes, submerged in the Pacific Ocean and have never been part of the mainland. As such the wildlife has evolved in it’s own special environment.
As these islands were untouched for so long, the animals appear fearless and enable you to take the most amazing photographs. Marine Iguanas, Blue and Red-footed Boobys, Sealions and Giant Tortoises can easily be seen. If you are a keen diver, then SCUBA in the Galapagos is a must do – note that strong currents and surges and cold waters make diving here a challenge, you will need at least 30 open water dives in your log book.
The islands are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and your time on land is sensibly limited, with boat cruises offering a range of very comfortable on board facilities and a variety of trips varying in length around different islands, using zodiacs to get to shore. There are a few hotels available now, if you prefer a land based Galapagos experience. For walking, mountain biking , horse riding and a variety of water activities such as sea kayaking and snorkelling, there are some great places to stay, such as Finch Bay on Santa Cruz island (with no paved roads or motor cars) or the Galapagos Safari Camp which is under canvas with the main lodge built from lava rock.
Please note that it is advisable to have a few nights in Quito on the Ecuador mainland before flying out to the Galapagos to join a cruise, in case your international flight is delayed or there are any problems with connections. There is a one hour time difference between the islands and the mainland. Galapagos cruises do get booked up a long way in advance, and operators have to lodge their itineraries with port authorities months ahead, so please do enquire about 12 months before departure if you can. The islands tend to be hot with showers from December to May and cooler and more cloudy June to November. Most popular are the early months of the year which is the main wildlife breeding season.
The Cachalote Yacht offers different itineraries, with a variety of incredible wildlife experiences around the Galapagos Islands. This itinerary is for a 7 night cruise.