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Galeodan

Vivencial Fishing, Touring & Lodging In the Galapagos Islands

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Sightseeing

Where to Start?

There are numerous areas of interest within walking distance, or a taxi-ride from the hotels, but any excursion into the Protected Zone must be under the direction of a Naturalist Guide, trained and licensed by the Galápagos National Park. Even then, access is limited to designated “Visit-Sites”. Many of the Visit-Sites are accessible only by sea, on a licensed boat, of which there are 3 main categories:

So, the first decision you will make is whether to base your Galapagos vacation on:

Many sightseeing excursions include an opportunity to discover underwater Galapagos. Snorkelling is an integral part of most day-trips, sometimes with the option of diving. You can even take a live-aboard diving cruise.


Local Attractions - On Inhabited Islands

Cerro Brujo
The Beach at Cerro Brujo, San Cristóbal

These are the most popular sites on each of the populated islands, which are accessible, by foot, bus, taxi, or day-trip by boat.

San Cristóbal

Boat

All of San Cristóbal's attractions can be visited by land or day-trip. Indeed, Kicker Rock (aka Leon Dormido) is off-limits to cruise boats, and can only be visited from San Cristóbal.

By Land:
  • Highlands
  • El Junco
  • Interpretation Centre (natural and human history of Galapagos)
  • Galapaguera (tortoise breeding centre)
  • Tijeretas
  • Beaches: Carola, Playa Mann, Puerto Chino & Baquerizo
By Sea:
  • Kicker Rock ( Leon Dormido )
  • Española*
  • Isla Lobos
  • Floreana*
  • Punta Pitt
  • Rosa Blanca
  • Bahia Sardina
  • Beaches: Puerto Grande, Manglecito, Ochoa etc.

Santa Cruz

Boat

Santa Cruz's attractions are also accessible overland or on a day-trip. Some trips depart from the main pier in Puerto Ayora and others, north of the island, require a bus ride to embark at Baltra.

By Land:
  • Darwin Centre
  • Highlands
  • Lava Tunnels
  • Griettas
  • Los Gemelos (twin lava sink-holes)
  • Beaches: Tortuga Bay, Garrapatero, etc.
By Sea:
  • Bartolomé*
  • Sombrero Chino*
  • North Seymour*
  • Mosquera*
  • South Plazas*
  • Santa Fé*
  • Beeches: Bachas etc.
  • Floreana*

Isabela

Boat

Isabela is the largest of the inhabited islands. While there are several excellent overland and day-trips by sea, several of the best sites are only accessible on a cruise.

By Land:
  • Sierra Negra (Caldera)
  • Humedales (wetlands)
  • Wall of Tears
  • Galapaguera (tortoise breeding centre)
By Sea:
  • Tintoreras
  • Los Tuneles
By Cruise:
  • Vicente Roca Point
  • Morenon Point
  • Tagus Cove
  • Elizabeth Bay

Floreana

Boat

Floreana is the least developed, and most pristine, of the inhabited islands. Day-trips by sea are only available from operators based in San Cristobal or Santa Cruz.

By Land:
  • Baroness Viewing Point
  • Cormorant Point
  • Black Beach
  • Asilo de la Paz
By Sea:
  • Champion Islet
  • Devil's Crown
  • Enderby Islet
By Cruise:
  • Post Office Bay

One Island

Photo 2

Both San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz feature local attractions and multiple day-trips to discover nearby islands. So you can enjoy a major portion of Galapagos attractions from a single home base. Which you choose is largely a question of priorities.

If you particularly want to visit a particular site, that may determine your choice. for example: Santa Cruz for Bartolome, Seymour, and Plazas or San Cristóbal for Kicker Rock, Espanola, Rosa Blanca, and Punta Pitt.

If you want more choice of high-end hotels, restaurants, shops, and galleries, then Santa Cruz would be your choice. If you want fewer tourists, less traffic, clearer water and better scenery, then you will defnitely be happier in San Cristóbal.

If you enjoy fishing or surfing, then there is only one choice: San Cristóbal .


Island Hopping

Aeriel View

Portrait

A majority of the popular visit-sites are accessible by road, hike, or day-trip from the inhabited islands. So you can still see much of what Galápagos has to offer while saving a considerable amount of money. You also gain the pleasure and insights of immersion in the culture and environment of the islands.

Travel between the islands is accomplished using the regular ferries, island-hopper aircraft, or chartered boats that can take you directly from San Cristóbal to Isabela or San Cristóbal - Floreana - Isabela. For transport options, see Getting Around the Islands , on this site.

You can make your own plans, perhaps with the assistance of an agent, or join a package tour with a group of 6 to 16 (commonly).

Map

Galapagos Cruises

Rabida

Some visit sites are not accessible from the inhabited islands and can only be visited on a liveaboard cruise. The furthermost islands, Darwin and Wolfe can only be visited on a liveaboard dive -cruise.

There is a considerable range of size, quality and cost for cruises in the Galapagos. Sizes range from 16 to 110 passengers and the cost, per-person, from around $1,100, for a 4-day cruise on a budget boat, to over $14,000 for 7 days on a luxury boat.

Cruise Ship
Typical 16 pax Cruise Boat

When the Galapagos National Park first issued regulations and licences to operate cruises, they set the maximum capacity to 16 passengers, considered to be the maximum that should be on a visit-site at any one time and, correspondingly, the most that can be under the direction of a naturalist guide.

Cruise Ship
National Geographic Endeavour II - 96 Pax

A majority of boats carry 16 passengers. However, a few major operators have ignored the regulations and combined multiple licenses to carry 80 to 110 passengers on a single boat, with multiple guides.


Cruise Itineraries

At Sea

The Park coordinates all the boats and itineraries to minimize stress on the visiting sites and the operators have limited scope to determine their own itineraries as they have to fit in with the overall matrix. Once an itinerary has been assigned, the boat cannot deviate without the Park’s consent. Most cruise boats run a 14 day cycle around the Archipelago: 7 days in one sector and the following covering the remainder.

Cruise Itinerary
Typical Tour of Eastern Islands

If you purchase a 4, 5, 6, or 8 day  cruise, you will be joining for a portion of the overall itinerary. Note that the first and last days are partial days as the boat unloads and loads passengers, so an “8 day” cruise is 7 full days (7 nights).

Cruise Ship
Typical Tour of Western Islands

Occasionally the Park will set an island or visitor site off-limits to all boats to allow the site time to recover from the impact of the constant procession of tourists. In that event, boats will be given alternate sites to visit that can be incorporated into the scheduled itinerary.

Penthouse
The Galeodan Penthouse Suite
Cruise
The Best of Both Worlds

A cruise can take you to locations beyond reach from the inhabited islands, and most travel is overnight so you wake up ready to explore the next visit site. The days are long and the routine is regimented, as it needs to be in order to take in the numerous attractions. But if you fly in, take a cruise and then fly straight back, you are getting an extensive but somewhat superficial exposure to Galapagos: Galapagos as a National Geographic Documentary. For a more edifying and satisfying experience, we recommend spending at least a few days on one the the inhabited islands, either before or after your cruise.


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