Country: Eculador
Currency: Dollar (USD)
Peak Season: June-September
Shoulder Season: December-May
Median Temperature: 24.00 C / 75.2 F
Main Languages: Spanish, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, taxi, ferry, boat/kayak, bicycle rental
Recommended Duration of Stay: 8 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $80.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands and islets off the western coast of the lovely country of Ecuador. The islands are fairly well-known to the scientific community due to the immense multiplicity of species that spurred Darwin’s evolutionary theories. The islands, however, also gained notoriety in the pirating community due to their lack of inhabitants and not to mention their eclectic position at the equator. And it wasn’t until 1832 when Ecuador formally annexed the islands to the mainland. Since then, the island has seen its fair share of archeologists and biologists, but they were a solid base for tourism until the 1960’s. The islands’ ideal equatorial location has made them a “stopover” and “home” for many wild birds, reptiles and sea creatures. And, due to heavy promotion, people from all over the world could easily stop over and see for themselves the beauty of the Galapagos Islands.

We would still be seeing myriads of animals had not the Galapagos Islands been defiled and eviscerated of their endemic species in the past four centuries—whaling and poaching included. Yet in spite of the relentless whaling and poaching in 18 of its main islands, the 21st century has been more vicarious in efforts to preserve rare spectacles, including both the Galapagos giant tortoise and Galapagos penguin. The growing tourism has indirectly played an important role in safeguarding the animals against scheming poachers. Adventurous souls can lay flat on the sandy shores with harmless fur seals, go bird-watching for 1,600 bird species, or go scuba diving to see eagle rays and hammerhead sharks. Even more enthralling is how all 18 main islands present a different set of species and environment due to varying altitudes. One will be surprised to find a sea of albatrosses in Española (which also happens to be a great beach spot) and get befuddled with Baltra’s arid lands, where the land iguanas prefer cozy up. All the Galapagos Islands are just teeming with interesting finds.

Packing List

  • A duffel bag with good selection of clothes to brace the elements, particularly unexpected rainfall; you’ll likely be leaving bags aboard the cruise, so forego bringing a large backpack
  • Comfortable walking shoes, zip lock bags (for food peelings/snack containers, so you aren’t tempted to litter), a good hat and a cane in case you get exhausted from walking
  • Survival kits if you intend to go camping; common items to bring would be a flashlights, binoculars, towels, sleeping bags, first aid kits, a compass/GPS and a flair gun (if you can)
  • Essential medication and toiletries—remember that the island is not as extensive in selling groceries and drugs as in the mainland; bring mosquito repellants and sunscreen as well
  • A professional camera kit, plenty of film and batteries; the reason why we would suggest a high-end model and some astute lenses is because of the awesome animal species only found here

Things to Do

  • Ignore the warnings of your tour guides, especially during dives and explorations; pay close attention to whatever they’re saying and don’t go too far away from the pack, else find yourself lost in bushy areas
  • Play with the animals unless advised to by the tour guide; animals of the same species still have varying temperaments, especially the male sea lions, during mating season or when you are near their young
  • Feed the animals (especially the birds) and don’t touch plants, unless you’re absolutely certain they’re not poisonous; the growing dependency of on tourists for food has made them annoyances
  • Dive or snorkel away from your cluster, and carefully check the waiver before signing it—you might be surprised of how diving and cruise companies offer little to no liability to tourist negligence
  • Pick out any tour guide, agency without first knowing their credibility and customer satisfaction—fly-by-night tour operators are popping up these days; being in these islands makes your safety imperative