At Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders, one of the questions we get asked very regularly is, “How long should I spend in the Galapagos Islands?” With a wide range of different Galapagos Islands cruise options available covering just a few of the islands, or an extended number of islands, as well as land-based Galapagos options, it can be difficult to know the ideal number of days for Galapagos Islands visits. We hope that this article will help you decide how long to visit the Galapagos Islands.
First of all, the ideal number of days for the Galapagos Islands is somewhat a matter of individual preference. The Galapagos Islands is truly an extraordinary experience, but some find that a four or five-day cruise is plenty for them, while others prefer to see absolutely everything and take an eight-day cruise, or even a cruise that lasts 14 or 15 days. There are a few cruises offering very complete itineraries with plenty of sites to see regardless of the number of days you plan to visit, a very good cruise option offering diversity of itineraries is the Infinity Galapagos yacht. Factors to weigh up when deciding on the right option for you will be thinking about just how passionate you are about the wildlife, along with how long you want to spend on a boat with the same people.
The latter may be impacted by your personality. Extroverts may be happier than introverts with spending longer cooped up on a boat with others, while introverts might find that a few days are more than enough, even if the wildlife is amazing. However, for some a deep passion for seeing as much of the wildlife as possible could outweigh this. When thinking about how long to visit the Galapagos Islands it is important to take these sorts of things into account.
One factor that is worth bearing in mind is that it is not cheap getting to and entering the Galapagos Islands, and for most people this will probably be a once in a lifetime experience. The cost of the flight is likely to be at least $500, and for most adults, the entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park is $100. That means you will spend at least $600 just to get there and get in. As such, many people will want to maximize their trip and see as much as they can with the time they have available. For just two or three days, getting there is a big expense and somewhat time consuming, so this is probably not worth it.
Of course, if for you the Galapagos Islands is just a check mark to make on a long list of places to visit, and you do not really care about spending too much time there, then this may be enough for you, but you’ll be missing out on a lot.
For most people, the answer to, “How long should I spend in the Galapagos Islands?” is likely to be a minimum of four to five days, but perhaps up to seven days. Five-day, four-night Galapagos Islands cruises differ from yacht to yacht but are not likely to get too far from the central Galapagos Islands, given the time available. On such a cruise, you might, for example go to Santa Cruz Island, Santiago Island, Genovesa Island and Bartolome Island and stop off at various different sites on these islands.
Longer cruises seven nights are more likely to include Floreana and San Cristobal, while cruises of ten days and nine nights are much more likely to visit Isabela Island. For those considering land-based options, again, four days is likely to be an absolute minimum to have a worthwhile visit.
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If you are very eager to see as much of the bird or wildlife as possible, and especially if you are a birdwatcher, one of the longer cruises may be what you are looking for. There are a few species on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela Islands that are simply not found anywhere else in the world. For example, if the flightless cormorant is on your “must see” checklist then you will want to be on a cruise that takes in the islands a bit further away from the central hub, as this bird is endemic to certain spots on these islands.
On the other hand, if you hope to see some of the main creatures like giant tortoise, sea lion, marine iguana, Sally Lightfoot crab, blue footed boobies, flamingos, pelicans and frigate birds, you will be fairly likely to see most, if not all of these on one of the shorter tours, and in some cases, repeatedly. In this case the ideal number of days for Galapagos islands trips will be five to seven.
Summarizing, the answer to, “How long should I spend in the Galapagos Islands?” is a very personal one, but will likely be a tradeoff between available time, funds, the wildlife you want to see, and how long you can take being on a cruise ship. The ideal number of days for Galapagos Islands trips is likely to be at least four to five, and probably more like 5-7, though for some it will be longer.