The Galapagos Islands are certainly off the beaten track, but that's a large part of what makes them as attractive a destination as they are.
The islands straddle the equator about 1000km out into the Pacific Ocean which is what has ensured their isolation and the evolution of the unique collection of animals and plants many of which live no where else. This is a place that does things rather differently to anywhere else.
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To reach the Galapagos you must first fly to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador in South America. Ecuador is so named as it straddles the equator, the Galapagos Islands are part of the country though are about 620 miles (1,000km) west of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean.
The flight from Quito is 1,391 miles / 2,238 kilometers and takes about two and a half hours.
to Quito, Ecuador miles / km
Flying time approx.
|New York||2,838 / 4,567||9 hours|
|Dallas||2,569 / 4,134||8 hours|
|Los Angeles||3,493 / 5,621||10 hours|
|London||9,214 / 14,282||16 hours|
|Sydney||13,599 / 21,885||20 hours|
Trips often begin with a stay of one or two nights in Quito before moving on to the Galapagos Islands which frequently includes a tour of the city and may also involve an overnight stay on the return journey too, welcome breaks if you have a long flight home.
Further excursions in Ecuador and South America are also available to visit the Amazon Rainforest, the Andes and Macchu Picchu for instance.
It is possible to visit the Galapagos and stay on an island in a hotel, though the best experiences come from guided tours aboard small cruising vessels. These include all accommodation and meals, most drinks and often also assorted other costs such as National Park entry fee, transfers and use of snorkeling and other equipment. These cruises are led by trained guides and naturalists who will help travelers while ashore interpreting the islands' wildlife. These guides make nature come alive.
There are a great many cruises to choose from, they operate year-round as there are many different wildlife events that happen at different times in the annual cycle. The cruises visit a number of islands to see some of the various sights that are found throughout the various destinations of the island group. They fit broadly into three categories:
Brief cruises of 4-6 days - suitable if your time is limited or if you are travelling with young children. Such a short cruise alone is not recommended as it is very brief after travelling so far to arrive in the Galapagos in the first place. Best combined with a land programme to make the most of your travelling, this can be in the Galapagos, in Ecuador or other South American countries.
Classic cruises of 7-8 days - enough time to visit a number of islands with a wide variety of wildlife and swim / snorkel several times in different locations. Expect total travel time of 10-11 days.
In depth cruises of 9-12 days - a longer time enables you to see more of the wildlife, natural history buffs and birdwatchers will appreciate seeing a greater range of species in more locations. Allow 12-15 days with travel time.
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