This magical volcanic archipelago, off the coast of Ecuador, famously inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and has become one of the world’s foremost wildlife-watching locations. An archipelago of 19 islands, The Galapagos Islands possesses a stark beauty, with peculiar lava formations, verdant forests and tropical beaches washed by topaz waters.
Wildlife on the islands, which has never been attached to any mainland continent, originally arrived by flying or swimming and some species can now only be found on the archipelago, such as the Galapagos Tortoise and Marine Iguana. This isolation, and minimal human footprint, has fostered a rich and diverse ecosystem. Due to the lack of natural predators, the wildlife is renowned for being calm and relaxed, allowing for unparalleled close-up animal encounters.
Minimal pollution and extremely limited human communities on the archipelago mean stargazing in the Galapagos Islands can be exceptional. Clear skies on the Equator offer the chance to spot a multitude of constellations from both hemispheres. Although not always visible throughout the year, these may include the ‘Big Dipper’ and the fabulous constellations of the zodiac.
Landscapes & Wildlife
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, the volcanic landscapes comprise craters and lava fields, sandy beaches and lush mangroves. There is a real privilege in exploring remote landscapes that have been enshrined in history, encountering sealions frolicking on the shore, standing next to a Blue-footed Booby bird as it feeds its young, watching giant tortoises ambling slowly along the shore and spotting iguanas reclining in the midday warmth.
The Galapagos Islands offers some of the world’s finest, most unique, diving experiences, placing them at the top of most scuba-divers’ bucket lists. Even for non-divers, swimming, snorkelling and kayaking allow for an abundance of endemic wildlife encounters. Unique experiences include the chance to swim alongside sealions, harmless White-tipped Sharks, Sea Turtles and giant Manta Rays, or to idly float eye-to-eye with penguins.
La Pinta Yacht
One of the best ways to discover the Galapagos Islands is on an expedition cruise, following in the wake of Darwin and other pioneers. The luxurious La Pinta Yacht is a small, luxurious cruise liner with a crew boasting decades of experience in curating excursions. On board, workshops and lectures are led by four expert guides, while activities include snorkeling, whale and dolphin-watching and a range of shore excursions. Panoramic windows offer almost permanent vistas of the resplendent scenery, with an observation deck that’s perfect for Equatorial stargazing.
The Galapagos Islands is, essentially, a year-round destination, boasting an uncharacteristically dry and moderate climate for the tropics, with temperatures ranging from 21°C to 30°C. Late-December to June is the warmest season, with March and April are the hottest and wettest times. June to December (the cooler, dryer season), provides the best chance to view the famed marine life and is the best time for divers. It is also the breeding period for many sea and shore birds, Marine Iguanas, sealions and Fur Seals.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Galapagos Islands.
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Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit Insect and tick bite avoidance.
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCDO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: Foreign Travel Advice. Additional sources of information include: Public Health England, The National Travel Health And Network Centre, Foreign And Commonwealth Office and your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.