In the Galapagos, giant tortoises and albatrosses with massive wingspans have no fear of humans and penguins venture north of the equator. Frigatebirds, after soaring for days or weeks on wind currents, find roosts where males inflate their throat sacs like red party balloons. Iguanas swim effortlessly in the sea. Hikers step carefully around pairs of blue-footed boobies nesting in the trail. The Islands of Galapagos are where nature freely experiments in the unimaginable.
The Galápagos Islands, part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean about 906 km (563 mi) west of continental Ecuador. The islands are known for the variety of ecosystems, their large number of endemic species which were studied by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of HMS Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection.
In 1971, the Ecuadorian government declared 97% of the archipelago as National Park, making it the largest in Ecuador.
Tourism is the main income for the 25,000 Galapagueños and thus an important and sustainable factor for the inhabitants. As Galapagos is one big national park, the number of allowed visitors per year is restricted and controlled by the ministry and the Galápagos National Park Service.
The group consists of 18 main islands, three smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets, of which four are populated. The first islands formed here at least eight million years ago, the last ones are still in forming progress (due to active volcanism and tectonic movement).
How to select your perfect Galapagos Cruise
Although ships are limited to reduce impacts, making the right choice for a Galapagos cruise is quite challenging and time-consuming. We are happy to make the decision less stressful for you! We start with your desired comfort level – pick from economical, mid-range, first class or diving cruises.
Please read through our descriptions of what to expect in each category. Together with your desired travelling date, we’ll use your preferences to match you with the ideal ship and crew for a memorable Galapagos journey. If you have more specific interests – specific islands, points of interest or animals and birds you want to see – please let us know. We consider each of your wishes in making our personalized offering. We always recommend that you book your Galapagos cruise as early as possible, especially when travelling during high season (December, January, Easter, July, August).
Galapagos cruises are available in four different categories (budget, mid-range, first-class and diving cruises) and in different length of stay (four up to 17 days). While the category (see below) is the most important decision you have to make in terms of comfort, the length of your stay is what is giving you the amount of insight to this remarkable and unique archipelago.
- A two weeks cruise will give you the ultimate experience of the Galapagos islands, and is perfect for those who want to get a real insight into the nature and geography of the islands.
- The seven-day Galapagos cruises are very popular. Guests find that a one-week cruise offers a good balance between cost and excursions, and by choosing a mid-range Galapagos cruise over a First-Class ship you can increase that cost-benefit even further.
- Our four- and five-day cruises are ideal for those on a tighter schedule and backpackers.
- The benefit of choosing a cruise over a hotel-based stay is that you will see far more of the islands on a ship even on these shorter cruises and that it has much less impact on the ecosystems of the island than a land-based stay.
The categories differ the most in private space, food presentation and amenities. In terms of itineraries, sites visited, guides and excursions all boats offer the same service and amount of things to see.
For our Galapagos Cruises we partner with Galapatours because it offers the widest range of cruises at an exceptionally high level of service. We are always happy to arrange your Galapagos cruise for you. But if you choose to book directly on Galapatours’ website, we’d greatly appreciate it if you mention us, “Respect Travel”, in your booking. Last-minute bookings are also available.