Tourists enjoying the view of Galapagos sea lions
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What is the best way to plan my trip to the Galapagos?

User Avatar Author: Kevin Wright
5 years ago - July 9, 2019

Reading time: 5 mins

Your journey awaits and the best way of planning for it is to solve a few simple questions: the what, the how and, perhaps most importantly, the when. Are you ready for your trip to the Galapagos? Want to walk on the renowned islands where animals do not fear your presence, where you can enjoy the beach alongside the iguanas and the sea lions? Do you want to see the islands that inspired Darwin for yourself? Whatever it is, you know that the Galapagos offer something truly unique! Now, all you have to do is figure out how you want to experience the Galapagos, along with how many days you want your trip to last.

This blog will help you get rid of any anxiety that comes with planning a visit to such an amazing place. All you have to do is answer the three simple questions to help you plan your dream vacation to the Galapagos.

Mother blue-footed booby with her chicks in the Galapagos

Step One: What do you want to see?

The Galapagos are globally renowned for their biodiversity. According to the Galapagos National Park, the archipelago is an ecological hotspot with one of the greatest levels of endemism in the world. This is why a trip to the Galapagos is a unique opportunity to experience the most incredible wildlife in the world. Keep in mind that the archipelago is located in an area that covers 17,000 square miles (45,000 square kilometers). In sum: we are talking about a group of islands that are spread out over a very large area.

This is why choosing a Galapagos cruise itinerary that keeps in mind exactly what you want to see (especially when it comes to wildlife!) is so important. Are you a bird enthusiast? Maybe sea lions are your thing? Iguanas? Penguins? Giant tortoises, perhaps? The list goes on and, when you consider the fact that not all of the iconic animals are found on every single island in the archipelago, you have to be sure to pick the Galapagos cruise itinerary that best suits your wildlife interests.

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Step 2: How do you want to experience the archipelago?

Many people feel utterly transformed after their visit to the Galapagos and a brief, a weeklong stay is enough to make you feel like you’ve experienced something truly unique. However, it’s worth noting that there is no one single way to go about visiting and experiencing all of what the Galapagos Islands have to offer. You’d need an entire lifetime to do that! And that’s why planning your trip to the Galapagos can sometimes seem like a monumental task.

But don’t worry! Ridding yourself of these doubts and hesitations is as easy as simply choosing how you want to experience the islands. It’s as simple as asking yourself: Do I want to travel to more islands in the archipelago aboard an Expedition Vessel or would I rather stay on land at an Expedition Hotel and explore nearby islands from there? Each option has its advantages. Cruise ships can visit more spots in a convenient amount of time and thus offer more comprehensive itineraries when it comes to thoroughly exploring the archipelago. Hotels allow you to experience the local island life and enjoy the Galapagos at your own pace. Two things to keep in mind when deciding between these two is that: A.) Select Expedition Hotels in the Galapagos still offer an adequate number of options for exploring the National Park, and B.) Due to safety regulations, children under the age of four may not be allowed aboard certain expedition vessels.

Note: We strongly recommend that you plan your trip or book your tour before buying your plane tickets so you don’t have to travel long distances between islands on a speedboat or incur more expenses by having to board an interisland flight to align with your cruise schedule or the things you have planned for your trip. 

A view of Pinnacle Rock in Bartolome Island, Galapagos

Step 3: How long do you want to stay in the Galapagos for?

Now that you know what you want to see and how you want to experience the Galapagos, you simply need to pick how many days you want to spend in this wonderful paradise. First off, keep in mind that the Galapagos has a very special climate, with dry and hot seasons. Already know which season you prefer? Now you can pick how many days your trip should consist of (we recommend a 5-day itinerary as a minimum). It’s highly important to keep in mind that direct flights to the Galapagos take off from only one country in the world (Ecuador) and that flights to/from the Galapagos only depart during the earlier parts of the day. That’s why, in order to maximize your time in the archipelago, we always recommend adding a day and a half to your visit to account for the time spent (and lost) getting to and from the archipelago. So, if you know what climate you prefer and how long you want your visit to last in the Galapagos, you already know all of the essentials for planning the trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos!

Tourists enjoying themselves on a beach in the Galapagos

Planning your trip to the Galapagos is an adventure in and of itself! Nevertheless, it’s part of an experience that brings you that much closer to the intrepid adventurers that once sailed to the Galapagos! Luckily, you now have the tools and advice to properly plan your trip to the Galapagos! Don’t forget: it’s all about the what, the how, and the time!

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