The Galapagos Islands sit 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, and visiting them is an unforgettable and uniquely beautiful experience. Trips to the Galapagos Islands generally consist of either 5 or 8 days in the islands, with a night in the gateway city of Quito added in on either end. Therefore, a 5 day trip to the islands is really a minimum of 7 days travel, and an 8 day trip to the islands is really a minimum of 10 days travel.
The Galapagos can be visited in different ways, and we strongly recommend going on one of the smaller vessels, ideally from 12-20 passengers or on one of the 40-48 passenger vessels. The smaller vessels are a particularly intimate and up-close way to see the islands. There are also options for traveling on one of the larger vessels, which get up to 110 passengers (still relatively small by cruise ship standards). A final option, particularly for those who don’t like to sleep on a boat, is to stay at a hotel on Santa Cruz Island for a few days and make excursions to local islands. For both practical and environmental reasons, we do not recommend or encourage this last option. You don’t see as much while staying at just one hotel as you can see if you take a cruise, and hotel development in the islands is a significant long term threat to the islands (because it inevitably leads to pressure for more and more land based development, bars, restaurants, immigration, etc.). For these reasons we do not encourage land based Galapagos tours.
Travel to the Galapagos takes place all year round. It is very strongly recommended that you book your trip as far in advance as possible, particularly for the peak periods of the Christmas holidays, July, and August, because spaces fill up very far in advance.
Most people add on a few additional days to see some of mainland Ecuador, an astonishingly beautiful and varied place in its own right. For example, you can combine Galapagos with visits to see local towns such as Otavalo or to see the world’s highest active volcano, the 19,300 foot tall Cotopaxi. You can also add in visits to see the Amazon jungle, which starts just over the Andes Mountains from Quito and is easily accessible on a one hour flight. There are some outstanding jungle lodges in the Amazon region of Ecuador that we work with. You can review these options on our Galapagos Islands & Ecuador page or simply contact us to get information about your options. Another of our most popular trips is the combination of Peru and the Galapagos Islands, as you can see in our Machu Picchu & Galapagos itinerary.