Monday, 2 July 2012

What is the best way to visit Galapagos?

For the visit to the Galapagos islands, there are two options: A cruise/boat charter or island-hopping/land based trip.

It's a general thought, that a cruise is the best way to see the Galapagos Islands, but also more expensive.

The alternative is a land based trip, where you can base yourself in one of various Galapagos hotels on the islands and then take independent day trips or excursions to see the Galapagos wildlife, or buy a land-based Galapagos tour package.

Cruises will include the smaller islands like Espanola, Genovesa, Fernandina, and Rabida, while island-hoppers will stay on the larger islands like San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. Some islands are also too far away for land-based tours.

Which option to chose will depend on you interests (including snorkeling/diving), which islands you want to visit and your budget.

This is some of the pros and cons of taking a land-based trip or cruise.

Chose a land base trip:
  • If you do not want to spend a lot of time in a boat, land-based will be your best option.
  • It is less expensive than a cruise - Hotels are more expensive than for the mainland.
  • More interaction with the local people taking the land-based trip.
  • Can be considered more environmentally responsible than a cruise.
  • Slightly greater chance of catching a water-borne disease when land based..
  • You may need to know more Spanish.
  • Takes lot more work to arrange.
  • Many day-tours and tour packages might be sold out early.
... or choose at a cruise:
  • You will be able to visit the smaller islands as well as the islands far away. 
  • Also cruise ships will visit islands which are closed to island-hoppers.
  • Go one day earlier to Quito or Guayaquil . If there are flight delays, you will miss your boat.
  • The crossings can be rough - primarily on the smaller boats.
  • At the sea it can be cold in the morning and during night.
Important things that will determine how much you enjoy your trip are:
  • The naturalists. These are the guides who tell you everything about the island and the itinerary. 
  • The islands are all very different. Get a guide book, read up in advance.
  • The boat. Size matters. Larger ships will have better amenities, and smaller boat will have more intimate atmosphere.
Also read Planning a Trip to Galapagos by FROMMER'S

Some other useful links:

1 comment:

  1. Hi! After doing some research I found out that smaller boats often have less of an intimate atmosphere than expected. This is because smaller boats usually share visitor sites with a large fleet of other small vessels. A large ship, however, tends to be the only ship at each visitor site. Choosing a large ship also has the added benefit of having multiple guides, meaning there's a greater variety of activities to choose from. 
    The downside of choosing a small ship is that there will be numerous other small ships at each visitor site (to fill up the maximum number of visitors permitted at each site). But if you're looking for a much more exclusive experience at each visitor site, then booking a large ship is the way to go.