Basic Galapagos Travel Guide
Datos de inters
- Regin: Insular
Capital: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Cantones: San Cristbal, Santa Cruz e Isabela
Islas: 14 Islas las principales; Isla Isabela, Isla Santa Cruz, Isla Fernandina, Isla Santiago, isla San Cristóbal, Isla Floreana, Isla Marchena, Isla Española, Isla Pinta
Poblacion: 26640 hab. (Censo del ao 2012)
Superficie: 8.010 km
Clima: Tropical Seco
Temperatura: 20 ° C a 26 ° C
Cdigo postal: EC200150
Latitud:1 40 'N-1 36'S
Longitud: 89 16'-92 01'W
Moneda: Dólar Americano
Idioma predominante: Español
Prefijo Telefónico Internacional: Código de país +593, código de área 5
Corriente Elctrica: 110 v
Identificación de código de país de Internet: .ec
Distancia de la Costa de Ecuador: 972 km.
ABOUT THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Located about 600 miles west of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands were created five million years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions. In 1535, Tomas de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, sailed into this archipelago and named it Galapagos after the giant tortoises he encountered. Pirates used the islands for refuge and to bury their stolen treasure, but it wasn't until the end of the 19th century, when it became a regular port of call for whaling fleets, that the islands' wildlife became threatened.
The most celebrated visitor of the Galapagos was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. On the Galapagos Islands, it became clear to Darwin that, over time, different species adapt to their environment. He was intrigued by the fact that each small island had its own characteristic species of bird, lizard and tortoise. Because the islands' geographic and climate conditions were relatively similar, he reasoned that they were not responsible for these differences.
Instead, he concluded that the differences were related to feeding habits. This theory helped form the foundations of Darwin's unprecedented works on biological adaptation, natural selection and evolution.The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
In 1934, the first legislation to protect the islands was enacted, but it wasnt until 1959, when it became part of Ecuadors national park system, that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species came under legal protection. In 1979 the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and subsequently a World Biosphere Reserve in 1985.
GALAPAGOS MARINE RESERVE
The interior waters of the Galapagos Islands, plus those within 40 nautical miles measured from the baseline of the Archipelago, were declared the Galapagos Marine Reserve in 1994. This is the only protected coastal marine area in the east Pacific and the second largest Marine Reserve in the world. It contains approximately51,351 square miles of the interior waters of the Archipelago. There are many areas with small submarine volcanoes, which are important feeding zones for marine birds and mammals. The submarine area of the Galapagos (0 to 590 ft. deep) is 2,587 square miles.
Don't miss the chance of a lifetime to snorkel with sea lions, penguins, a variety of colorful fish and even inoffensive sharks. Diving tours are offered for those who carry diving licenses.
WILDLIFE ACTIVITY IN THE ISLANDS FOR:
Beginning of the rainy season
Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain
On Hood (Española) Island adult marine iguanas become brightly colored (green & red + black)
The green sea turtles arrive to beaches on the Galapagos for egg laying period
Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles on Isabela Island
Both, water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June
Ideal time for snorkelling
On Floreana Island greater flamingos start nesting
Bahama pintail ducks (Black-tailed pintail) start their breeding season
Nazca (masked) boobies on Espaola are at the end of their nesting season
Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island
The highest water temperature reaches 25C (77F). This temperature remains constant until April
Very few penguins are sighted at Bartolome Island (most have followed the cool waters back to the west or near up welling areas)
Nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak
The rainy season reaches the highest precipitation (this does not mean it rains everyday)
Sporadic tropical rains, intense sun and hot climate. Air temperature can reach up to 35C. Humidity is high.
Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina
March 21st, the beginning of the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Espaola.
Even the western islands have warm waters where snorkelling is excellent. Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela) can be an amazing site. Penguins still active in the water, next to tropical fish! (How bizarre!)
Some shores, especially those facing the north side, can receive deep surge (ola de fondo) coming from the northern currents. Wet landings at places like Puerto Egas, Gardner Bay, Bartolome can sometimes be a challenge.
Snorkelers will remain long periods of time in the water by choice, marine life is very active.
Massive arrival of waved albatrosses to Espaola. Amazing courtship starts.
End of hatching season of the giant tortoises
Eggs of green sea turtles begin to hatch
Eggs of land iguanas hatch on Isabela
While the rains have ended, the islands continue quite green
Good visibility in the water for snorkelers
Perhaps, together with May, the best months in Galapagos (weather, animals, water temperature)
North Seymour's blue-footed boobies begin their courtship
Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant, and Puerto Egas
Most of marine iguanas' eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz
Palo Santo trees begin to shed their foliage
Waved albatross on Española start laying their eggs
Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period
Beginning of the gara season
Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island migrate from the highlands to the lowlands in search of suitable nesting places
Beginning of the nesting season of giant tortoises
South east trade winds return. Currents become a bit stronger. Seas pick up in surge and wave action.
Many red pouches by males of Magnificent Frigate birds on North Seymour.
Southern migrants have started their journey towards the north. Galapagos is a rest stop for such birds. Some species of cetaceans also follow this pattern of migration.
Some groups of Humpback whales that migrate up to equatorial latitudes along the coast of Ecuador can reach the Galapagos too.
Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), especially the Blue Footed Boobies on Espaola.
Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina.
If you walk along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island) you could find American oystercatchers nesting.
Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November
Cetaceans (whales & dolphins) are more likely to be observed, specially off the western coast of Isabela
Great month to see the four stages of nesting in Blue Footed Boobies: eggs, chicks, juveniles and subadults.
Water temperature does not reach more than 21C (68F)
Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago
Nazca (masked) boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island
The temperature of the ocean drops to 18C (64F), which obviously varies according to the geographic zones among the islands.
Migrant shore birds start to arrive, and stay on the islands until March
Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz
Oceans are quite choppy, currents at the strongest levels, surge can be expected along the shores that face west or south
Pupping season (births) of sea lions has started. Western and central islands are common places for such sightings.
Peak of the cold (gara) season
The air temperature reaches its lowest levels (19C/66F)
Galapagos Penguins show remarkable activity on Bartolome.
Since May swimmers and snorkelers can be delighted at Bartolome with penguins active at the surface or torpedo-like while underwater.
Sea lions are very active. Females have reached oestrus stage, and so harem-gathering males are constantly barking and fighting. Shore fighting is heavy. Western and central islands are the most active ones in terms of sea lions' activities.
Most species of sea birds remain quite active at their nesting sites.
Lava herons start nesting until March
The Galapagos Fur Seals (subspecies of sea lions) begin their mating period
Blue Footed Boobies raise chicks all over Espaola and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)
Giant tortoises are still laying eggs
Days are not always sunny. Gara can be expected in most locations, except the western islands where most days have a misty start but after few hours of daylight it burns off.
Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful after the gara covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes.
Summits are clear, but low-lying fog covers the shoreline.
Pupping of sea lions continue.
Sea lions are sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago.
Breeding season for the brown noddies
Some species of jellyfish can be seen around the islands.
The genus Physalia is commonly seen floating around Gardner and Tortuga Islets. Some can also be seen stranded at the shores of the Flour Beach at Floreana.
Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period
Seas are calm. South east trade winds have decreased strength. Water temperatures are slowly rising.
Generally great weather due to transition between one season and the next one
Good visibility for snorkelers
Sea lion pups (especially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkelers. Most pups here are curious enough to nibble at fins of snorkelers. The average age of most pups is 3-4 months.
Hatching of giant tortoise's eggs begins and lasts until April
Green sea turtles display their mating behaviour
The rainy season begins; all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves. Galapagos becomes "green"
The first young waved albatrosses fledge
Victor Hugo Hotel in Puerto Lopez.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION BEFORE YOU TRAVEL TO GALAPAGOS
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Passengers need their original passports to enter the Galapagos Islands. No vaccinations are required.
LOCAL TIME: GMT-5 on the mainland. GMT-6 on the Galapagos Islands.
FLIGHTS TO GALAPAGOS
The only way to get to the Galapagos is by air. Galapagos flight booking is warranty with your cruise confirmation. All international connections are from mainland Ecuador. There are flights from Quito (stop over in Guayaquil) and Guayaquil to Baltra or San Cristobal where your cruise will begin. Your flight will take 30 minutes to get from Quito to Guayaquil and about one and a half hours from Guayaquil to Galapagos (Baltra or San Cristobal islands)
The airlines have established low and high season for the flights as follows:
High Season: Nov 01 - Apr 30 + Jun 15 - Sep 14
Low Season: May 01 Jun 14 + Sep 15 Oct 31
LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE: A maximum of 20 kilos per person (one piece of luggage) is allowed on the flights to the Galapagos Islands.
NATIONAL PARK TAX: The Galapagos Islands are part of the Ecuadorian National Parks System and the entrance fee is US $100 per person. Children under 12-years-old pay US $50. This fee is collected IN CASH ONLY at the Baltra and San Cristobal airports in the Islands.
ARRIVAL IN THE GALAPAGOS: Your cruise's tour guide will meet you at the Baltra or San Cristobal airport. A bus out of the airport will transfer passengers to the cruises (a short distance of about 10 minutes).
ON BOARD: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served on board. The menu consists of continental breakfasts, international cuisine and a few buffets. Tea, coffee and water are free all the time. The naturalist guide on board will give daily briefings about the islands, the species and suggestions about clothes and equipment for the daily visits.
ON THE ISLANDS: The yacht anchors at each island destination and passengers are ferried to the landing point in small boats called pangas (dinghies). On island walks, visitors follow marked paths which may change slightly from season to season to avoid bird-nesting areas. Naturalist guides accompany all groups. Some islands have excellent beaches for swimming and snorkeling. Masks, flippers and snorkels are available on board. Some yachts include the snorkeling equipment in the price of the trip, but if you prefer you can bring your own equipment. The terrain is often rough and passengers should be in good physical condition.
ELECTRIC CURRENT: The Electric current is 110 V and 220 V A/C &12V and 24VD/C. You can charge your camera batteries, cell phone and other electronic gadgets on the yacht
PURCHASES ON BOARD: Cash (American dollars) may be used on board. No credits cards are accepted for payment on board. Charges are kept on individual passengers' tabs and are paid at the end of each cruise.
CLIMATE: In general, December to June is the warmest months (28 C average temperatures). January, February and March can be hot and humid, but the islands can be quite lush and green if it rains. The months between July and November are cooler and dryer (24 C average temperatures). The water temperature is usually between 21 C and 25 C.
WHAT TO BRING:
Comfortable walking shoes (sneakers are fine)
Sandals with thongs or Tevas for wet landings
Light cotton socks
Long-sleeved cotton shirts and T-shirts
Lightweight long pants or skirt / dress
Light rain jacket or wind breaker
Sweater, light jacket: the early morning/late evenings can get cool
Sun block lotion
Sunglasses with a strap
Extra eye glasses/ contact lenses
Self-sealing bags for electronic equipment
Camera (you can charge your batteries in the yachts)
Extra batteries for your camera
Extra flash memory cards
Underwater camera to take photos while snorkeling
Money and Security
Copy of passport
American dollars, cash mostly low denomination bills ($5 to $20)
Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate for stomach upset and mild diarrhea.
Immodium or Lomotil for more severe diarrhea
Band - Aids
Aloe Vera cream or gel for sunburn
Tylenol or other mild pain relief.
Humpback Whale Watching in Ecuador
Victor Hugo Hotel in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, South America