Galapagos animals: what to see & where
From sea-going lizards to the dancing birds, get to know the extraordinary range of Galapagos animals and discover which …Learn More
Looking for information about the Galapagos Islands? You've come to the right place! We present seven of the most frequently asked questions to help you better understand the famous archipelago, and further articles that guide you through the practicalities of visiting them yourself and which animals you can encounter.
The Galapagos Islands are located around 600 miles off the coast of South America, in the Pacific Ocean. The equator passes right through the archipelago, which also sits at the confluence of strong trade winds and three nutrient-rich ocean currents. Together these create the perfect conditions for an extraordinary array of creatures to survive here.
Indeed they are. This makes a cruise here an even more attractive proposition, because the islands can easily be combined with some of the highlights of the mainland, such as the Amazon Rainforest, the dramatic Avenue of the Volcanoes and the high altitude capital Quito, surrounded by high Andean peaks. The Galapagos Islands are typically reached via flights from the coastal city of Guayaquil.
Absolutely, they are perfectly safe. Whilst park rules quite rightly strictly ban direct contact with any creatures, this is to protect the wildlife and to ensure the animals are not disturbed, rather than to keep visitors safe. In fact the islands are famed for the tameness of its inhabitants, most of whom pay little attention to to human presence and some, most famously the playful sea lion pups, actually seem to relish the attention.
The islands are home to an extraordinary range of birds, reptiles and marine life. Perhaps the most famous animals are the giant Galapagos tortoises, the elder statesmen of the archipelago and the creature after which the islands are named. Joining them are marine iguanas, the world's only sea-going lizard, the only penguins living in the tropics and waved albatrosses and blue-footed boobies, both of which perform charming and spectacular mating dances around April and May. Discover more of our favourite Galapagos animals and find out which made our 'Big 5'.
Marine Iguana, Sea Lion, Waved Albatross & Galapagos Tortoise
The archipelago can only be explored on excursions with licenced park guides. Usually guests choose to stay on a boat, either a large cruise vessel, a motor yacht, a catamaran or a smaller sailing boat, though it is also possible to stay in a hotel on one of the main islands. Besides the experience itself, the main advantage of a cruise is that you are able to cover much greater distances, waking up in a different part of the archipelago each morning. This enables you to see a greater cross-section of Galapagos animals and explore a wider variety of landscapes. Cruise lengths vary from short three or four night itineraries, up to seven night tours, which can sometimes be combined for a complete in-depth two week cruise.
A stay in a hotel offers a more relaxed experience, with more flexibility over what to do and when on each day and the chance to explore an island and its immediate neighbours in more depth.
Find out more about how to visit the Galapagos and what to expect.
Aside perhaps from September, when the seas are a little choppier and many boats go into dry dock, there isn't really a bad time to visit the islands. Timing could be dictated by the yearly cycle of nature which the archipelago goes through, with certain wildlife more active at different parts of the year. Learn more about when to visit the Galapagos.
The million dollar question (fortunately not literally). With so much choice in terms of cruise lengths and the standard of accommodation, it's no surprise that the costs vary greatly. As a guide, a 9 night Galapagos holiday starts from around £3,900 per person on a tourist class sailing yacht, up to around £4,600 on a larger motor yacht or cruise vessel. This is based on two people sharing a room and includes return flights from the UK to Quito, via Madrid, two nights in the capital, return flights to the Galapagos and a seven night comprehensive cruise of the archipelago. Whilst in Ecuador, you may prefer to make the most of your time there and include a visit to the Amazon Rainforest, increasing the starting cost to around £5,000 each. See the tour box below for more options.
9 Nights from £4,692 €4,730 $5,099
The essential tour of the Galapagos, and the quickest way to get to the islands to discover the wildlife.
Ninos Galapagos Tour
13 Nights from £4,799 €4,858 $5,238
Close encounters with tame wildlife are a unique experience for youngsters to develop an appreciation of the natural world. Doing so with family builds a bond for life.
14 Nights from £8,532 €9,338 $10,091
This tour includes the Amazon rainforest, a Galapagos cruise to experience the stunning friendly wildlife and an insight into the colonial charm of Quito, high in the mountain…
14 Nights from £8,532 €9,338 $10,091Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Flight from London to Quito
Day 2 - Tour to Otavalo Market
Day 3 - Transfer to Amazon Lodge
Day 4-5 - Guided excursions & activities at the Amazon Lodge
Day 6 - Transfer to Quito
Day 7 - Tour of Quito
Day 8 - Flight to Galapagos Islands and board yacht
Day 9-14 - Guided excursions & activities at the Galapagos Islands
Day 15 - Flight back to the mainland. Return flight home
Day 16 - Arrive back home
19 Nights from £5,950 €6,240 $6,735
Close encounters with friendly wildlife on the Galapagos Islands cruise and experience fascinating cultures in the exuberant rainforest and by the volcanoes on the Andean moun…
19 Nights from £5,950 €6,240 $6,735Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Flight London to Quito
Day 2 - Otavalo and Quito City Tour
Days 3-6 - Amazon Lodge & excursions
Day 7 - Return to Quito for 1 night
Day 8 - Tour of Cotopaxi Volcano
Day 9 - Ingapirca and Cuenca
Day 10 - Gualaceo Valley
Day 11 - Cuenca Tour and Cajas National Park
Day 12 - Cajas National Park
Days 13-19 - Galapagos cruise with daily guided excursions
Day 20 - Travel back to UK
17 Nights from £5,394 €5,572 $6,012
Cruise the Galapagos Islands and experience the culture and Inca heritage of the Andean region. Option to continue to Lake Titicaca, La Paz and the stunning setting of Rio de …
17 Nights from £5,394 €5,572 $6,012Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Departure
Day 2 - Quito City Tour
Day 3 - Otavala market
Days 4 - 10 - Cruise the Galapagos Islands
Day 11 - Flight to Lima
Day 12 - Lima City Tour
Day 13 - Flight to Cusco
Day 14 - Cusco city tour
Day 15 - Sacred Valley of the Incas Tour
Day 16 - Machu Picchu by Vistadome Train
Day 17 - Machu Picchu at Leisure
Day 18 - Departure or Extension (see options below)
Day 18 - Cusco at Leisure
Day 19 - Andean Explorer Train to Lake Titicaca
Day 20 - Uros Islands
Day 21 - Sun Island & Transfer to La Paz
Day 22 - La Paz City Tour
Day 23 - Flight to Rio de Janeiro
Day 24 - Christ the Redeemer Excursion
Days 25 - 26 - Rio de Janeiro at Leisure
Day 26 - Flight back to UK
Day 27 - Arrive home
17 Nights from £7,597 €8,216 $8,876
Cruise the Galapagos Islands for close encounters with friendly wildlife, combined with the landscapes of the Andean mountains, colonial heritage and ancient Inca civilisation…
17 Nights from £7,597 €8,216 $8,876Full Itinerary Contact Specialist
Day 1 - Departure from the UK
Day 2 - Tour of Lima & museums
Day 3 - Puno & Uros Islands
Day 4 - Island communities of Lake Titicaca
Day 5 - Train to Cusco
Day 6 - Sacred Valley of the Incas
Day 7 - Cusco & Inca Ruins Tour
Day 8 - Machu Picchu by Vistadome Train
Day 9 - Machu Picchu at Leisure
Day 10 - Cusco
Day 11 - Flight to Quito
Days 12 - 18 - Cruise the Galapagos Islands
Day 19 - Departure