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There are plenty of misconceptions surrounding the Galapagos Islands regarding different topics that range from travel details to wildlife. Here, we are going to debunk the biggest myths about the Enchanted Isles through official Galapagos National Park information! After reading this, you’ll know the truth about:
According to Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism, during 2019, the Galapagos Islands received 271,238 visitors. This is barely 15% of the whopping 1,702,887 tourists that visited the Maldives throughout that same year! As to how many people board Expedition Vessels in Galapagos, the annual number is around 75,000. The Islands are a very well-regulated destination. Aside from monitoring site visits, the Galapagos National Park Authority determines the total number of visitors and expedition vessels allowed within the Park. Thanks to these and other measures, there is no mass tourism destroying the Galapagos Islands.
When you get to the Galapagos Islands, you arrive in one of the islands that are partially inhabited by humans. These areas are not part of the Galapagos National Park, and they only represent 3% of the entire archipelago! Ultimately, you can’t say you’ve visited the Galapagos Islands if you only stay within these inhabited areas. Yes, you’ll see some animal species interacting with the locals; however, seeing them in their natural habitat is a wholly different and more rewarding experience. Furthermore, there are some unique landscapes you’ll only get access to when you set sail aboard an expedition vessel with Park-certified naturalist guides -an essential requirement for exploring any part of the Galapagos National Park!
Did you know that, in terms of size, the Galapagos Islands are comparable to the State of Mississippi? Try covering all that in just one day! The Galapagos Islands, and its impressive Marine Reserve, are spread out over a total area of around 51,000 mi² (133,000 km²). Of this total area, only 3,100 mi² (8,010 km²) comprise land. The islands themselves may not be very big, but the space between them sure is. In some cases, navigation times can take up to 12 hours! To properly experience the Galapagos Islands, you need at least five days considering that just getting there and back will take approximately one-and-a-half days.
Because of the size of the archipelago, it is important to create itineraries that cover different regions, for example, Eastern, Central, Southern, Northern, and Western. Each section of the Galapagos offers a unique set of things to see and experience! Nevertheless, when you visit those islands that are a little further removed from the rest, you stand the chance of enhancing your experience. Islands like Genovesa, Fernandina, and Española take longer to reach but offer visitors a more exclusive experience of the Galapagos’ pristine ecosystems.
Is the trip worth it? Yes! Will you be able to reach these with a 3-night itinerary? Nope. Usually, routes that last less than five days offer you a basic program on the islands closest to the inhabited areas. These types of itineraries often feel rushed because of the number of activities that the tour operator tries to fit in within a limited timeframe.
Calling a vessel that sails in this archipelago a cruise is merely a formality. Given the Galapagos National Park’s strict regulations to safeguard its Marine Reserve, ships may only carry a maximum of 100 passengers. Massive cruise ships (like those that sail through the Caribbean) are not allowed anywhere near the Galapagos Islands! Expedition vessels are the number one option if you’re looking for a well-rounded program. These options usually include multiple guides aboard, which means you don’t have to stick to what the entire group wants to do, and you can choose the park-certified activity you want to enjoy based on your interests!
Yes, smaller vessels have fewer guests on board, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get cramped! To get more privacy on your selected ship, you need to look for the ideal guest-space ratio, not vessel size! This number will provide you with the insight you need to choose the right ship. Think about where you’ll want to enjoy those glorious moments following each excursion to one of the visitor sites! Do you want to relax with an excellent book? Choose whether you want to do that in a proper lounge with the right ambiance or in a crowded common area.
Also, you want to keep in mind that small vessels have very limited storage space. This means they may not be able to accommodate as much equipment as bigger Expedition Vessels! Don’t sacrifice the quality of your experience; once you’re in the Galapagos Islands, you have to properly connect with the archipelago via activities that will enhance your adventure, like snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, glass-bottom boat rides, and so much more!
Sure, you can observe animals almost everywhere around the world, but not the Galapagos way! When you visit the Galapagos National Park, you can enjoy an up-close and personal experience with its most famous residents. There are no safari-like tours in the archipelago: you don’t have to stay inside your transport to observe the wildlife around you. You don’t even have to observe them from a distance! Inside the Park, so long as you’re calm and respectful, you may stand as close as six-and-a-half feet from any animals you encounter during your activities. From snorkeling with adorable penguins to walking by a laidback land iguana, you’ll get to enjoy the real deal, whether you’re on land or underwater!
Traveling to the Galapagos archipelago is not particularly cheap. However, it is very much worth the investment! The Galapagos Islands are one of the last remaining places with pristine flora and fauna, which means you can get a closer look at some of the most unique species in the entire world!
When you travel, the length of your stay and the amenities afforded to you as part of your experience will determine the cost of your trip. How much you pay will reflect the quality of your experience. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it is really hard to put a price on it.
Choosing to travel with Metrojourneys allows you to connect with the Galapagos Islands in a setting with a lower-than-average guest-to-guide ratio, the highest quality accommodations and food, and unparalleled service!