This stunning archipelago, Darwin's living laboratory of evolution, provides unique opportunities for viewing wildlife at close range. We offer a wide range of Cruises to suit all tastes and budgets, and which offer the best way of seeing the different islands.
This stunning archipelago is made up of 13 major islands, formed by enormous volcanic eruptions and only inhabited by humans less than 200 years ago. It is Darwin's living laboratory of evolution and provides unique opportunities for viewing wildlife at close range. We offer a wide range of Cruises to suit your preference and budget.
The Galapagos Islands have inspired botanists and nature-lovers alike. Charles Darwin visited in 1835 and declared "remarkable; it seems to be a little world within itself." The islands are made up of the tops of volcanoes and flourishing with endemic species. Such harsh conditions have forced rapid adaptation in the wildlife here, none more so than in the marine iguanas which had to take to the seas to survive, the only lizard to do so in the entire world.
The Galapagos National Park is dedicated to the preservation of this unique habitat and visits are carefully co-ordinated with fixed itineraries (licensed by the park authorities) for each boats so that the number of visitors at each site is carefully controlled.
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'All the guides we had were excellent. We were contacted by phone twice by Veloso Tours' representatives who checked if we were satisfied and offered assistance if required.'
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'All the hotels were excellent: Good varied selection. All guides and transport were good. We were satisfied with everything.'
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'Our guides were very good. Bethsheila Pinto in Cusco was very good and Maria Esther Segura in Quito excellent.'
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'The entire journey was absolutely seamless and everyone turning up without hiccup. So far everything has worked like clockwork and our guides have been prompt, attentive and very knowledgeable.'
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'All our guide were exceptional, sharing their enthusiasm and their knowledge of their countries. In Peru, Fernando and Henry were amazing and make our trip unforgettable."
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'All our guides were well qualified with excellent English, especially Fernando in Cusco and David on the Galapagos. Our trip was fascinating and we enjoyed every minute. Thank you.'
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'Our holiday through Veloso was a real luxury tour for us. We felt safe at every moment and confident with our drivers. Guides were all efficient, helpful. It was a pleasure to spend time with them.'
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'Our holiday was very satisfactory and exceeded our expectations. Guides were knowledgeable and the Galapagos Cruise was amazing.'
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Insights - Galapagos Cruise Experience
Travel in Style
If getting up close and personal to some of the world's tamest and most mind-boggling creatures, strolling along idyllic beaches in the company of lazy sea lions and snorkelling crystal-clear waters packed with eye-popping marine life sounds like your idea of a good holiday, then a Galapagos cruise is for you. In fact a cruise through the archipelago is suitable for all types of travellers, with boats in a variety of sizes and styles, many tailored for luxury or family travel. Whichever vessel you chose, you'll be guaranteed warm hospitality, complete comfort and expert guidance throughout your tour.
All the yachts in the Galapagos Islands are licensed by the authorities and have permits for a specific itinerary, so that the stops on the islands are staggered and there are not too many yachts and visitors in the same place at the same time. Limiting the number of yachts also limits the number of people that can visit the Galapagos Islands archipelago, so as to keep the islands pristine for the wildlife.
Choosing Your Cruise
You feel the movement of the sea more on small yachts than on large ones, an important factor for you to consider when choosing a yacht to cruise the Galapagos archipelago, where the islands are quite far apart and located 800 miles off the coast of Ecuador, in the Pacific Ocean. Other factors are the size of the cabins and bathrooms, the amount of space in the public areas when you have a full complement of passengers and crew and the availability of water for several showers per day. You must consider also that there is considerable noise from the water lapping against the hull, the engines, desalination plant, electricity generators. The size of the vessel and location of the cabins and decks, determines how far the cabins are for the noise to dissipate, bearing in mind that the main engines are usually in the centre of the ship, for stability.
Guests disembark regularly, in small groups of no more than 16 and led by experienced and fully-licensed nature guides, to follow trails designed to take you up close to the wildlife, without disturbing them. Itineraries are carefully planned to offer the best experience possible for you, taking into account the season and activity levels of the birds, reptiles and sea life which reside in the Galapagos. The islands go through a yearly 'cycle of nature', with each month bringing something different to see. One of our undoubted highlights is the extraordinary mating dance of the waved albatross, which takes place during April and May.
The guides are licensed and trained by the Galapagos authorities in three grades, with grade three being the best and most experienced.
Fabulous Marine Life
The nutrient-rich waters here create a colourful spectacle below the surface, with astonishing marine life flourishing throughout the archipelago. Most itineraries offer regular snorkeling opportunities to experience a very different side to the Galapagos, often encountering playful sea lion pups, Green Sea turtles, penguins or the world's only sea-going iguanas as you do so. The cruises also afford ample chances to observe the rugged coastlines of the islands in smaller panga boats and, during certain times of the year, it is possible to watch a variety of whales and dolphins passing through on their migrations.
The Perfect Combination
A trip to the Galapagos Islands can be combined with visits to some of Ecuador's other world-renowned destinations, including Quito's world heritage centre, the cinematic Avenue of the Volcanoes and the mysterious Amazon rainforest, with its colourful birdlife and fascinating indigenous communities.
Insights - Darwin's Islands
Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin stayed here just five weeks, studying the behavioral patterns of the Galapagos' wildlife inhabitants in 1835. yet his name is so inextricably linked to the archipelago that you'd be forgiven for thinking he had spent half his life here. During his visit Darwin took in-depth notes and brought various specimens back home with him, the sum total of which would prove pivotal in supporting his theory of evolution and so cementing the Galapagos' place in history.
Battle for Survival
One of the great mysteries that surrounds the islands is just how such an astonishing array of creatures got to this remote volcanic archipelago in the first place. Most are assumed to have undertaken epic voyages to do so, some by air, others either swimming, drifting or catching a ride on driftwood.
The isolation and relative lack of natural predators or human interference have made the islands a relatively stable environment, in which this huge variety of wildlife has survived and thrived. The biggest threats have been posed by sporadic volcano eruptions and the periodic failing of trade winds, precipitating the devastating El Niño phenomenon. Rising water temperatures destroy the nutrients brought north by the Humboldt current, causing much of the eco-structure of the archipelago to collapse. Other challenges have been much more subtle, the day-to-day challenges of finding food sparked a process which peaked the interest of Darwin all those years ago.
Gradually, over many years, subtle differences began to emerge in many of the species found here, with physical features changing as the creatures adapt to the unique demands of the Galapagos. This process is perhaps most markedly seen in the marine iguana, whose shorter body, powerful tail and special glands allow it to dive deep in the ocean to feed on the algae which grows on the sea bed. Out of sheer necessity, it adapted to the body it needed to become the world's only sea-going lizard.
At Close Quarters
It isn't just the process of evolution, the bizarre nature of the creatures, or the sheer variety of different species that are found here that makes the islands so remarkable. What is equally remarkable is just how tame and indifferent the inhabitants are to the presence of humans. In fact some are positively curious, as anyone who has snorkeled in the company of playful sea lion pups will testify. What this means is that you can genuinely get closer to wildlife here than anywhere else in the world. You just might find that the bench you wanted to sit on is occupied by a sea lion.
To preserve the islands for future generations and to offer a degree of privacy to the wildlife, visitor numbers and access points are controlled by local authorities. Small groups are led around marked trails by fully-licensed expert guides, giving the right balance between a great experience for the guests, and the ongoing preservation of this extraordinary habitat that will forever be linked to its most celebrated visitor, whose observation and research changed the way we think about life today.
Insights - When to visit the Galapagos Islands
Most of the species are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and can be seen all year round, though there are specific highlights at certain times of the year. Some examples are:
January - Land Birds start nesting - Marine iguanas take on bright colours on Española - Green sea turtles arrive on beaches to nest
February - Greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana - Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz
March - Marine Iguanas nest on Fernandina and North Seymour Islands - Albatrosses begin to arrive on Española
April - The waved albatrosses start their incredible mating dances - Green sea turtle eggs begin to hatch - Land iguana eggs start to hatch on Isabela
May - Blue-footed boobies begin their courtship on North Seymour - Marine iguanas eggs begin to hatch on Santa Cruz - Waved albatrosses begin to lay their eggs
June - Giant tortoises migrate from the highlands of Santa Cruz to the lowlands, to look for nesting sites - Migrating birds pass through the islands - Humpback whales sometimes pass by on their migration north
July - Flightless cormorants begin their courtship rituals - Sea birds are more active - Whales and dolphin sightings more common
August - Sea lions begin to have their pups on the beaches (it is possible to swim and snorkel with the juvenile sea lions all year except October.) - Galapagos hawks start their courtship- Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz - Migrant shore birds begin to arrive
September - Penguins highly active around Bartolome - Sea lions are also more active
October - Fur seals begin mating season - Lava herons start nesting
November - Sea lion puppies active in water - Brown noddies begin mating
December - Giant tortoise eggs start to hatch - Green sea turtles begin mating season - Waved albatrosses begin to hatch
From late July to September there is more wind and the water is cooler. In September the sea can be quite choppy so is the least attractive time to cruise the Galapagos Islands archipelago, it is also the time when several yachts go into dry dock for maintenance.