Journey to the Galapagos
A trip to the Galapagos Islands might well be one of the most exotic
journeys you’ll ever plan, so knowing what your clients want to see and how can help create the right itinerary.
If they’re nature-lovers, the Galapagos Islands await their arrival. If they want to view wildlife, there are seabird colonies of red-footed boobies and nazca boobies, giant tortoises, sea lions, sea turtles and penguins. If they like reptiles, they’ll find plenty of them. Iguanas – both land and sea – and lizards abound.
Sea lions are marine mammals! There are relatively few land mammals to be found here, as the distance from the mainland is considerable. Grasses and ferns are plentiful but blossoming flowers are not part of the landscape.
Situated approximately 600 off miles the coast of Ecuador in South America, the Galapagos Islands include 13 major islands and seven smaller islands, all part of the Galapagos archipelago and the South American country, Ecuador. The islands have both tropical and temperate climates. Most are located just below the equator. They are volcanic islands, formed by repeated volcanic action.
You can experience these relatively remote islands by land or sea or both.
One way to see the islands is to fly to Quito, Ecuador first, explore there, then fly on to Santa Cruz Island, approximately two hours, 15 minutes with one stop in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the country’s most populous city.
Best-known from their exploration by Charles Darwin in 1835, the islands are home to diverse plant and mostly amphibious animal life because of their unique ecosystem and environmental conditions “that set them apart from all other island groups in the world,” according to the Galapagos Conservancy.
In fact, the Galapagos appeared on the world’s radar when the Dominican friar, Fray Tomas de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, first discovered the islands on March 10, 1535 on his way from Panama to Peru. Currents set him off course. According to the Galapagos Conservancy, his account of the voyage is the first written record of the Galapagos and describes the giant tortoises and cacti, the inhospitable terrain and the difficulty finding water. Through the years, pirates, whalers, fur sealers, fishermen, scientists, colonists and tourists have visited the Galapagos Islands, with impact on their flora and fauna.
According to Michael H. Jackson, in his guide book, Galapagos: A Natural History, the tops of underwater Galapagos volcanoes appeared about five to 10 million years ago off the coast of Ecuador in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They had no plant or animal life. Species are believed to have arrived by sea and air. They either swam or floated to the islands with the help of tangled vegetation “rafts” or flew, or were blown by wind. In the last 500 years or so, people have introduced new plants and animals to the remote islands.
There are many ways to see the Galapagos: by small cruise ship, through a land-based tour, or a combination. Major cruise lines and smaller companies offer itineraries in the Galapagos. Which way your clients travel depends on how much time they have, which combination of islands they want to see, and their budget.
By Land and By Sea
Tara Tours offers a variety of programs in this country that they they have divided into 4 sections: Ecuador Land programs, Galapagos programs, Amazon programs and mixed programs (a bit of everything…) Their Galapagos programs are 8 days long, and include both cruising and visiting Quito and the surrounding area. Their Magnificant Galapagos package cruises around the islands for 8 days (plus one night in Quito) in deluxe and first class yachts. www.taratours.com
Trusted names GalaTours and KleinTours joined forces in 2014 to become GO Galapagos – Ecuador. Go Galapagos offers the best of both worlds once in Ecuador. They recommend tours that provide vacationers a complete travel experience. Their all-inclusive Go Packages mix an unforgettable luxury cruise in the Galapagos Islands with amazing inland landscapes and cultural experiences in continental Ecuador and Peru.
Latin America specialists EcoAmerica Tours believes that cruises are a great option for those looking for the full Galapagos experience and do not have mobility limitations. They offer impressive itineraries visiting the major sites and also some remote islets. Expert Naturalist Guides will offer environmentally friendly and educated excursions focused in the natural history of the Galapagos.