There are many things to know before going to the Galapagos Islands, but some are more important than others. Here we present a list of Galapagos Island tips of things to know before a Galapagos trip, to help better meet your expectations, and assist you with your trip running more smoothly, whether it is a Galapagos Islands cruise or a Galapagos land based option that you have chosen. Here are our top ten Galapagos Islands tips:
1. You’ll want some cash – one of the key things to know before a Galapagos trip is that you will want to take some cash with you, and you might even need to take all your spending money in cash. This is because there are only ATMs on a couple of the islands – in fact, most islands are completely uninhabited. There is no guarantee that you will have time to visit an ATM, so being prepared up front with the funds you need for your trip is important, otherwise you may miss out.
2. Bring your best camera and binoculars – if you’re trying to decide between your camera and your phone, then bring your best camera to the Galapagos Islands. There are so many superb opportunities to get excellent pictures, that it would be a shame to miss out, especially if your phone only takes pictures that are so-so. Also pack your binoculars or borrow some if you do not have any. While most flora and fauna can be seen up close and personal, some may be more distant, and having binoculars will make sure you get to see everything.
3. There is an entrance fee – entry to the Galapagos National Park is not free. There is an entry fee to get in, and this costs $100 per person for adults and children pay $50 to get in. Visitors from some countries such as those in the Andean Community pay a discounted rate to enter the Galapagos. While you might resent paying this fee to get in, it is important to bear in mind that this fee goes towards protecting and conserving the park, and the money goes to organizations such as the Galapagos Marine Park, as well as Galapagos Municipalities, among others.
4. Transport is limited – some people might mistakenly think that they can turn up in the Galapagos Islands and island hop from one place to another to get to see everything. While it is possible to get boats between some of the islands, these only run a couple of days a week, so this is not very practical for visitors who have limited time. Additionally, it is not possible to take ferries to many of the islands that you would get to see on a cruise, so deciding to island hop may be deciding to miss out.
5. You can’t just wander anywhere – one of the important things to know before going to the Galapagos is that you do not get access to everywhere once you land on an island. To conserve the national park and the wildlife within it, you will be kept to clearly defined trails. Straying off them could be damaging to the wildlife and is strictly prohibited. If your guide indicates you must stay on the trail then you should do so, and if you are not sure then you should ask.
6. You might want some seasickness pills – one of the most invaluable Galapagos islands tips you may get is take some seasickness pills with you. After all, the Galapagos Islands sit several hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. You will be sure to experience some choppy seas at some point during your Galapagos cruise, and being prepared for this will make it a more pleasant experience.
7. Not all boats go to all islands – arguably one of the most important things to know before a Galapagos trip is that not all cruise boats go to all of the islands. There isn’t one set tour that every cruise follows. Some cruises run for as few as four days, while others run up to 15 days. There are many islands and visitor sites on the Galapagos Islands. Do your research before booking a Galapagos Islands cruise and select a trip that allows you to see most, if not all of what you want to see.
8. You won’t be the only group visiting the island – the Galapagos National Park authority has done a good job of working with Galapagos Islands cruise operators to ensure that not too many boats are going to an island at any one time. However, that does not mean that you’ll get a visitor site or island to yourselves. There will be other groups on the island at the same time. It will not feel overrun at any point, but you will be almost guaranteed to see other people.
9. On a cruise you’ll be in close quarters with others – one of our Galapagos Islands tips is to choose a length of cruise that you feel comfortable in close proximity to others. You’ll be visiting the islands with the people on your cruise, as well as eating with them, and relaxing on deck with them. There is not a whole lot of alone time or privacy. Yes, you have your cabin, but these can be small and not always a very pleasant place to spend time if it is a bit choppy.
10. Bargain trips are hard to come by – one of the final things to know before going to the Galapagos Islands is that it is not a particularly cheap trip, and bargains may be quite hard to come by. Some visitors think that if they just spend a few days in Quito beforehand they will be able to pick up a very cheap trip. While this may be the case for some, it is not as common as it might be for other destinations.
We hope that you have found our Galapagos Islands tips helpful in planning your trip. We are experts on Galapagos Islands cruises and Galapagos land-based tours, and can help with answering any other questions you may have too.