Quito (UIO); Guayaquil (GYE)
Galapagos Luxury Cruises
There may just be no place on earth, quite like the Galapagos. It was here that Charles Darwin did his ground-breaking research for his “Origin of the Species.” And it is here that you will see nature at its absolute best: undisturbed and much as it has existed for thousands of years. Blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, and iguanas are but a few of the animals that you’ll get “up close and personal” with.
The ocean surrounding the islands has been declared a marine reserve, second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. And the entire archipelago is a whale sanctuary. UNESCO has recognized the islands as a World Heritage Site. Today, the Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory of evolution and one of the world’s premier ecotourism destinations. The Galapagos tour providers practice sustainable tourism by conserving water and energy, recycling and treating waste material, sourcing locally-produced products, hiring local employees, paying them fair wages, and supporting community and conservation projects.
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World’s Best Small-Ship Cruise Destination: Most of the archipelago’s 18 major islands spread across 3,040 square miles of ocean are only accessible by a small ship. Naturalist guides onboard the ship provide expert insight on each region. Ships serve delicious cuisine on sun decks with beautiful outdoor views. The options range from budget to luxury accommodations.
Beaches: Known for the warm, turquoise water lapping the white-sand shores, Galapagos Islands provide excellent water activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming to have a close encounter with turtles, penguins, or sea lions. As the number of visitors to the islands is restricted, the beaches are often uncrowded and peaceful.
Wildlife: Galapagos Islands are home to dozens of distinctive animals, birds and, fish. A haven for birdwatchers as there are 56 native and 29 migratory species of birds, including 14 species of Darwin’s finches. Galapagos tortoises look different on each island; marine Iguanas cluster on every shore, and snakes are easy to spot. Most animals are habituated and accustomed to humans. If you have ever wished to swim with a sea lion or a penguin, Galapagos Islands is the place!
Unspoiled Ecosystems: As 97.5% of the archipelago is set aside as a strictly regulated national park, visitors get a pristine and unspoiled experience of the dense forests, volcanic lava tubes, picturesque beaches full of sea lions, penguins, iguanas, and a variety of birds. Exploring volcanoes is one of the highlights of visiting the islands.
When to go:
Best time to visit: December to May offer temperatures in the mid-80s with frequent but short showers and lots of sunshine.
High season: June – August. Mid-December to mid-January. Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination, and due to limited permits, reservations are recommended months in advance.
Low season: August through November. June – November brings cooler temperatures in the 70s and rougher seas and an opportunity to see rare fish and birds. Best time to snorkel and scuba dive.