Read up on some of the popular favourites
A showcase of man's ongoing struggle to right his wrongs in the Galapagos Islands, highlights of visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station include the adorable miniscule Giant Tortoise hatchlings and Lonesome George, the famed bachelor for whom all efforts to find a suitable mate are being made to assure the survival of his species. Life expectancy for Giant Tortoises can surpass 150 years of age, and Lonesome George is thought to be between 60 and 90 years old. So there is time!
Lava tubes offer fascinating visits into the geological history of the Islands. They are the remnants of molten lava that due the relationship between the rapid flow of the liquid mass and the cooling at the surface, created perfectly formed tunnels. On Santa Cruz you can visit the cavernous formations that tell a story of volcanic upheaval that lead to the formation of this unique archipelago. The Tunnel of Endless Love is 800-metres long and is so named because of the heart-shaped formation on top of it.
A great surfing destination, the beaches of Tortuga Bay also offer the perfect opportunity for sunbathing on pure white sand, or swimming and snorkelling with sea lions, pelicans and sea turtles in paradisiacal turquoise waters. Located in Santa Cruz Island, it is accessible from the town.
Another beautiful Santa Cruz beach fringed with red mangroves and stoic pioneer cacti, El Garrapatero is a wonderful site to swim amongst diving pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies, sea lions and perhaps even white-tipped sharks; a short walk away you also have a salt-water lagoon where sleek long-legged flamingos, herons, and stilts wade peacefully as they feed.
Pinnacle Rock has become an emblem of the Galapagos; resembling a jagged shark's fang, it jets out from the water in the most particular way. Penguins and sea lions kick back on the rocky base of this natural monument, and offer a spectacular snorkelling experience when they take to the water!
Isabela's unique Sierra Negra Volcano, which has the largest crater of the Galapagos Islands, and the second largest in the world, is geologically likened to the volcanoes of Hawaii. Views once you've reached the summit are spellbinding and are well worth the trek. The endangered Sierra Negra Giant Tortoise is a prime example of the National Park's efforts to breed and reintroduce this species.
Post Office Bay tells the most interesting of stories. It was a self-managed postal service in which travellers would drop off their mail so that other passing travellers could hand-deliver them. How the "Post Office" has come to survive to this very point in time since it was first set on the shores of Floreana in the 1790s is still a mystery. At that point it was merely a barrel lying in the sand. It has since been remade and secured in its original location and travellers continue to use it as they did hundreds of years ago.
This island is considered one of the best-preserved islands in the world, and the youngest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Alone it could very well compete as a wonder of the world, with its colossal slabs of cracked jet-black lava, the spectacular view of its continually active volcano (the last eruption dates back to 2007) and pioneer cacti, the first organisms to colonize any territory. No traveller is immune to the feeling of having experienced time travel in Fernandina. Yet what makes the experience is just how populated it is: cormorants, sea lions, several turtle species, crabs, thousands of marine iguanas, snakes, Galapagos hawks, Great Blue Herons, not to mention the marine wildlife that comes to feed on the nutrients that surge from current upwelling in this particular point of the Galapagos; a spectacle to behold!
One of the four major Galapagos towns, Puerto Villamil is a quaint white-sand beach town on the southern tip of Isabela, the largest island of the Galapagos Islands. Trekking, horseback-riding, walkways skirting mangrove, and sunbathing and snorkelling with sea lions or observing brackish lagoon wildlife such as flamingos and pintails are all highlights of this precious tropical hideaway.
1. Angermeyer Point's apple struddle
2. Constelations on a clear Galapagos night
3. Playing in the water with sea lion pups
4. Sunbathing with the iguanas
5. A Darwin's Finch eating from your plate
6. Snorkelling with sleeping reef sharks
7. Crossing the equator on a sailboat
8. Playing ship captain
9. Learning to make a traditional Galapagos ceviche
10. Stepping on Mars-red sand
Make sure you're as ready as you want to be for your Ecuador expedition
What to pack depends on where you are going, since one can experience all types of weather in Ecuador's different regions. We have prepared a list of things that you should pack according to the region:
General Packing List: Passport, travellers checks, medical prescriptions if needed, your usual health and toiletry supplies, sun hat with brim, sunglasses, plenty of high-factor waterproof sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-bacterial gel for hands, clothing for warm and cool weather if travelling between regions, sandals, raincoat, small backpack, money belt, watch with alarm, flashlight, cameras, extra batteries, and light comfortable, easy-to-wash clothing.
Check with your local Ecuadorian Embassy or Consulate. However, most visitors are allowed to stay up to 90 days, renewable for an additional 90 days. You do need a valid passport and it should be carried with you at all times.
Spanish is the official and main spoken language in Ecuador. However, the vast majority of people involved in tourism speak English.
You can use credit cards (with an additional 10% service processing charge), cash and travellers checks.
US dollars are used both in mainland Ecuador and on the Galápagos. Travellers- checks are accepted under special conditions. You can check with the captain or your guide onboard. You can also withdraw cash from ATMs located in Puerto Ayora, but only with VISA or MASTERCARD. Banking hours are: Mon - Fri 9:00am -16:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 12:00 noon.
It is wise to watch your belongings at all times. Never leave your camera or other personal items unattended. Ecuador is considered one of the safest countries in the Andean region; however, it is always a good idea to be cautious during your visit.
• If you are not visiting the city with a guided tour, find out which sectors are unsafe and avoid them. Also, try to visit the touristic sites at normal hours.
• Avoid people who are too friendly or eager to help you, or who offer to show you around.
• Don-t wear expensive jewellery or wristwatches when walking around the city.
• It is recommended that you carry shoulder bags and purses in front of you (on your chest) when entering a crowded place.
It is recommended you make two photocopies of your passport, airline tickets, tour documents, travellers check's numbers and airline itinerary, so you can leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one with you separately from the originals. It is essential that you carry your passport at all times in Ecuador. However, you can leave the original in the safe box at your hotel and carry copies when on a day trip. While you are in Galápagos you can leave all your belongings in your cabin. However, if you plan to use travellers checks in Puerto Ayora you will need your passport.
If you are satisfied with the service, it is customary to leave a tip for the crew with the captain, and one for the naturalist guide. On the mainland it is also customary to tip the guide, driver or person serving you.
There are no vaccination requirements to enter Ecuador. However, in some specific regions there are mosquitoes that can transmit diseases. If you are visiting the rainforest please contact your local health centre for more information on preventive measures.
Onboard accommodation and meals, visits to the islands with a qualified naturalist guide, bus fares on the Galápagos.
The airfare to the Islands, National Park entrance fee ($100 cash), the INGALA transit control card ($10 cash) to be paid at the airport when you depart for the Galápagos, beverages, and gratuities for the crew and guide are not included in the cost.
The water on board is safe to drink and complies with all health regulations and international standards. For your convenience, there is a hot and cold dispenser on board for you to use at any time. Here you can refill your water bottle to take onshore or have with you in your cabin. In addition, a fresh bottle of water is placed in the bathroom of your cabin every day.
The food on board is completely safe and meets all international standards. However on mainland Ecuador and in Puerto Ayora, avoid eating uncooked food like salads and unpeeled fruits.
One piece of luggage (40 lbs or 20Kg) and a small carry-on bag that fits under your seat or in the overhead compartment in the airplane.
110V AC-60 cycles and 220V in certain social areas of the yachts (If visiting from Europe, bring adaptors.)
You don't need to buy anything, but all individual bar consumptions should be paid in cash or credit card at the end of each cruise.
• Children under 6 years are accepted under certain conditions. • Children under 12 have a discount (ask your travel agency) • Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Informally! Shorts and a T-shirt are recommended, but we ask you to remove shoes on board and place them in the shoe box. If you have tender feet you can bring some kind of comfortable sandals or slippers, to be used on board only; otherwise bare feet are totally fine. From June to October, you might want to bring a light sweatshirt or windbreaker and light pants for the evening.
There are two main seasons on the islands: wet and hot, and dry and cool. December to May (inclusive) are hot and humid (28°C / 82.4°F average temperature); although it is warm during the day there might be heavy rain showers that can last for 20 minutes or more. That is why the islands can be very lush and green at this time of the year. Consider using insect repellent while visiting the islands. The water temperature is perfect for swimming and/or snorkelling. It is wise to use a T- shirt or dive top while in the water to prevent sunburn. Between June and November, it is cooler and windy (24° C/ 75.2°F average although at noon it can reach 33°C / 91.4?F). It is also the garua season (local term for occasional light drizzle) especially around the southern islands. You might want to consider bringing a light rainproof windbreaker. The water temperature is also cooler (20°C / 68?F) at this time of the year. This means it is the best time for snorkelling, since the cold waters are rich in nutrients for the marine ecosystem, but you might want to have a wetsuit to keep warm.
Sun hat with brim, sun glasses, good walking shoes, Teva-style sandals (for wet landings), swimsuits, plenty of high-factor waterproof sunscreen, snorkel and mask, windbreaker, light sweater or sweatshirt (especially from June to December), shorts and T-shirts, extra film, memory cards, batteries for cameras, underwater camera, binoculars, motion-sickness pills or bands, anti-histamine tablets or cream.
Again shorts, zip-off leg pants and T- shirts are fine for most visits on land. Sunglasses, hat with a brim and sun block are a must year round! Good walking shoes with a good grip are recommended; again if you have tender feet consider bringing sandals or Tevas for the wet landings. From June to October, you might want to consider a light waterproof windbreaker for afternoon visits. From December to April, long-sleeved, light cotton T-shirts might be a good idea if you have fair or sensitive skin.
01. ...For us this Galápagos trip aboard the Mary Anne was really the outstanding experience of our life and it will be very hard if not impossible to see anything what will come close to this.
02. ...Let me reiterate that we had an unforgettable trip and will definitely recommend the Mary Anne...
03. This trip on board Sagitta with multiple daily outings and activities was a dream come true and far exceeded my expectations.
04. We had a great time in the Galápagos and would definitely recommend the Sagitta - she was a beautiful boat and the guide and crew were lovely. Fantastic food and plenty of it, and a great itinerary - we really felt that we saw the best of the islands. It's amazing how quickly you get used to seeing the animals all over the place, we were lucky and managed to see quite a few giant tortoises in the wild, dolphins swimming alongside the boat and thousands of sealions!
Becky and Jon
05. Incredible. Our 6 days are over - it felt like 3 - and we've had the most amazing time. Many thanks for encouraging us to choose the Sagitta - sure it's your job! - but it was magnificent from Day 1 - 6. The crew, the guide, the food and especially the islands. Unforgettable. Blog updated with 6 days on the Sagitta. Many thanks again and the best of luck if you do decide to travel around the world at some stage.
06. I just wanted to provide you with some feedback to our stay on the Mary Anne (trip C), which I am sure is consistent with what you generally hear. Overall, the trip was excellent. 1. Crew
- The crew was outstanding, particularly the naturalist guide, Carolina (perhaps the most competent guide I have ever had on any trip!)
- Attention to detail and the little extras that the crew provided was truly impressive
- The teamwork amongst the crew was equally a pleasure to observe
- The food was great (albeit some a little sweet for my taste, but the presentation spoiled us!)
2. SS Mary Anne
- In my opinion the most beautiful ship in the Galapagos
- All were great, excellent variety, stunning animal / bird life
While I typically don't repeat the same trip, I can imagine that some day when my son is a little older, I would love to show him the Galapagos on the Mary Anne or another Angermeyer ship;-)
A sincere thanks for all your help! Greatly appreciated!!!
Cheers / viele herzliche Gruesse!
07. For a visit to the Galapagos Islands, 7 days are not enough!!! One would like to stay there half of life. Followed by the Galapagos Islands, the Easter Islands unfortunately fade a little… On the Galapagos Islands you experience such an untouched world, that you feel distant from reality. There are animals lying around all over the place and the art consists in avoiding to step on any of them, as they seem so unimpressed of humans. If one travelled on board of the "Mary Anne", one would not want to experience the Galapagos Islands again on board of any different vessel. The crew is fantastic, the food as well (by the way, no person is able to eat such enormous quantities…). I refused fish meals, and instead I was always attended with fishless meals, even on snacks and coffee-breaks. There was always free drinking water at disposition and no wishes remained unfulfilled. Our guide, Lars, was excellent. (although I should like to complain that our tour was not guided in "german" but in "swiss". As there was a swiss tourist in our group, we often had to ask him for translation…) Lars' knowledge was superb, we had a lot of fun and, most important of all, he transmitted the necessary respect for the Galapagos Islands. Also the crew people, who always brought us to shore or through the waves on board of the "Zodiak", were fantastic. There were always helping hands during landings and boardings. During snorkling activities they offered total attention and open ears. During this trip I simply always felt "safe". Further, the snorkel experience was fantastic, surrounded by sea-turtles, sea-lions and penguins. I even saw a shark. The pictures seem posed or backgrounded by a film-set: sea-lions among blue-footed boobies and sea-lizards. We could see a new-born sea-lion baby with his mother, while buzzards swallowed the placenta, lizards crawled around and we stood there amidst this world of life with an overwhelming feeling. Simply, one fantastic moment after the other!!! The impressions still hold on. While my body is sitting in my office again, my spirit still remains on the Galapagos Islands and has no wish to deal with these daily problems. One is for sure: Some day I should like to travel on the East-tour, but only on board of the same vessel and only with the same guide! But therefore first I have to save money.
I should like to thank you for the support, for the response to all our questions (yes, the Taxi-transfers worked perfectly), for the advise and implementation as well as for the nice welcome-package!!!
I send my greetings and will be pleased to answer all your questions.
The Galapagos Islands have directly inspired the whims of two major English-language novelists, Hermann Melville and Kurt Vonnegut, not to mention that its peculiarities served to enthral Charles Darwin, the scientist who fathomed evolution. Today, worldwide acknowledgement and publicity of the Galapagos as a world-class destination makes for there to be a wealth of material out there on the islands. Here is a more or less tentative list of Galapagos literature that may be of interest when preparing for your trip.
1. Charles Darwin. The Origin of Species: by Means of Natural Selection. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968. The 1859 classic scientific treatise, for those compelled to go to the source.
2. Charles Darwin. Voyage of the Beagle. England: Penguin Group, 1989. Written by the man himself, Darwin's adventures during his life-changing trip around the world.
3. Ned Deloach and Paul Humann. Reef Fish Identification: Galapagos. New World Publications, 2nd edition, 2003. If you'd like to know what you're seeing underwater, this is a useful choice.
4. Michael H. Jackson. Galapagos: A Natural History. 2nd Edition. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary Press, 2nd edition, 1993. A nice and practical, easy-to-read overview on the natural history of the Islands.
5. Ernst Mayr. Evolution and the Diversity of Life. MA: Harvard University Press, 1976. A compelling and insightful look on Life on Earth and human thought.
6. Hermann Melville, The Enchanted Isles. A poetic yet stark view on what the islands were like long before they became one of the world's top ecotourism destinations!
7. Herman Melville, Moby Dick. Life at sea like few have been able to describe it.
8. Swash, Andy and Rob Still. Birds, Mammals & Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2nd edition, 2006. Full of pictures, useful in the field, a must have.
9. John Treherne. The Galapagos Affair. New York: Random House, Inc. 1983. An enticing read on some of Galapagos most infamous mysteries.
10. Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos. An interesting, perhaps rambunctious take on the possibilities of evolution.
11. Jonathan Weiner. The Beak of the Finch: A story of Evolution in our Time. Random House Incorporated, 1995. A classic, from researchers Peter and Rosemary Grant immersion into the intricacies of finch speciation in the Galapagos.