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.

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

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.

Galapagos Islands information - map

Are the Galapagos Islands part of Ecuador?

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.

Are the animals of the Galapagos safe?

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.

Which animals are the Galapagos Islands best known for?

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'.

Galapagos Information - animals

Marine Iguana, Sea Lion, Waved Albatross & Galapagos Tortoise

How can I visit the Galapagos Islands?

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.

When is the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?

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.

How much do Galapagos cruises cost?

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.