Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Tours

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Galapagos Tours

The Galapagos Islands are a special place and traveler would want to experience them in full. So, how many days should one stay on the islands? Should you go on a cruise or hop from island to island? Find sample trips to the beautiful islands and more information below. 

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Our hand-picked Destination Experts in Galapagos Tours

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  • Marilyn
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    Personalized itinerary within an estimated 30 hours

    Destination expert in Ecuador


    I have been working in the tourism industry for several years and I am an expert in designing tailor-made tours in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador is an amazing country, full of magic places you will enjoy when exploring its 4 different "worlds": the Amazon, the Andes, the coast and the Galapagos Islands. As a nature lover, I'm always looking forward to showing you the very best of my country and ...

  • Silvia
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    Personalized itinerary within an estimated 20 hours

    Destination expert in Ecuador


    Being born in a land full of colors and diversity I fell in love with every single detail that makes my homeland a destination worth visiting. As a National Tour Guide and a photographer, I have had the chance to travel all over Ecuador discovering its wonders and learning more about its richness. As a passionate traveler and a lover of music and art I have traveled around the world learning new cultures and dif...

  • Catherine Personalized itinerary within an estimated 23 hours

    Destination expert in Ecuador


    Hola! I'm Catherine, and I will be more than happy to welcome you in my country, that I consider to be the hidden jewel of South America. Being such a diverse country I'm confident that you will find your perfect itinerary either visingt breathtaking mountains or rainforest landscapes, planning luxury stays in the Galapagos Islands, walking in colonial cities or meeting local indigenous communities. With the hel...

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    Destination expert in Peru


    I’m a photographer, studied journalism in Lima and worked as a photojournalist for several years which led me to travel all around Peru. I was amazed with its diversity, but mostly I enjoyed its people. I remember when I was 9 years old and traveling the Titicaca lake, feeling the cold wind on my face, the vastness of the lake my eyes could not grab, I remember the sense of belonging to something bigger, greatte...

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How many days to go to the Galapagos?

The Galapagos Islands are a special place and traveler would want to experience them in full. So, how many days should one stay on the islands? Typically travelers stay between 5-8 days. This gives you enough time to see a few islands, understand their differences and spot various animals like sea lions, blue-footed boobies, finches, and iguanas.
If you want to see more islands or animals, you can absolutely stay longer. There is always something else to discover.

How much time you best spend as a visitor to the Galapagos also depends on whether you are planning to take a cruise or experience the islands through island hopping (refer/link to the article about the topic). Cruise boats run on fixed routes typically for 4, 5, 6 or 8 days. Often these routes can be combined to extend your stay. Additionally, you can add a few nights in a hotel before or after the cruise. 
With an island hopping - staying in a hotel on an island and joining day tours from there - you are more flexible with the length of your stay. Here it is recommendable to stay on different islands as a base and join tours from there, e.g. 3-4 nights in Santa Cruz and 3-4 nights on San Cristobal. 

When it comes to the maximum length for a trip to the Galapagos, this is really up to you and your interest in seeing various islands. One factor to keep in mind is the budget. Visiting the Islands is rather costly and accommodation and tour prices add up quickly. 

When it comes to the minimum length, on the other hand, 4 days is a good orientation. Less than that is not recommendable. Keep in mind the Galapagos Archipelago is situated about 1000 km (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador. Flights from Quito or Guayaquil take about 2 to 2.5 hours one way and on the arrival and departure day there is usually little else you can do as most tours are full day excursions starting in the morning and coming back in the evening. Looking at a 4-day Galapagos tour, you are really just there for 2 full days and 2 full day excursions.

If you want to know more about how long you should plan your stay, reach out to one of our Destination Experts and start planning your once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos experience.


Cruise or Island hopping?

There are two general ways to travel through the Galapagos Islands - island hopping or on a cruise. What difference does that make for you as a traveler?

When deciding between cruising or island hopping there are a few factors to keep in mind:
(1) How much do you want to see and experience during a day?
(2) Which islands do you wish to visit?
(3) What is your budget?
(4) What are your personal preferences for space and free movement?
(5) How relevant are other travelers and the guide on your trip for you? 
(6) How much do you want to see and experience during a day?

Joining a cruise you will usually visit two islands per day and with that have a variety of experiences within a day and throughout the entire cruise. You stop at several points to enjoy snorkeling, an island-walk or an in-depth explanation of flora and fauna from your guide. On a cruise, the boats try to navigate early in the morning or late at night for you to wake up close to the next island for the morning excursion. That saves travel time as you navigate while you wake up, eat breakfast or dinner, or end the day relaxed reminiscing about the impressions of the day. That gives you more time to enjoy the islands because you start the day with an excursion instead of a 1-2 hour boat ride to the visited island.

Choosing island hopping as your preferred travel style means you will be staying in a hotel on one of the islands and start your day excursions from there. You will also return to the same island at the end of the day. Because of that and because of the distances between the island, you will spend more time traveling and will have either less time on the visited island or are only able to visit one island instead of two. That still means you will have a great Galapagos experience, however, it might be less that you see or the experience can be less intense.

Which islands do you wish to visit?
Think about the distances between the islands in the archipelago and the time it takes to get from one island to the other. Some islands of the are many kilometers and hours of navigation apart from each other and with that many islands are only reachable on a cruise. 

Overnight stays are limited to a few islands, namely Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isla Isabela. So, during an island hopping, you will start your day tours from there. Within one day, it will be impossible to navigate to and from some of the islands in the north, west, and south specifically. With that your options of day tours for the island hopping are limited. Still, there are different experiences to choose from. 

Also, keep in mind that weather conditions change quickly on the islands and day tours are adjusted to such changes in the weather conditions. Chosen day excursions might change on the day of the tour or the day before. Stay flexible. 

Should you think about visiting a specific island, keep in mind to ask your Destination Expert if that will be possible with island hopping and or a selected cruise. 

What is your budget?

Also budget wise you will find differences. Islands hopping is somewhat more inexpensive than cruises. However, here it also depends on the hotel and number of excursions or the boat class and trip length you choose. There are sheer endless options and prices vary greatly.
To get a better understanding of options, inform your Destination Expert about the price range you are looking for so she can offer you options within your price range. 

What are your personal preferences for space and free movement?
Lots of factors can play into your personal preference. Besides the mentioned points, think about your sleeping time and the need for space. Can you find your rest on a boat? Are you okay staying on a boat with limited space? For some people, these might be the important question to ask.

The boats are usually navigated into calm bays just off the islands for a good nights' rest. Still, there might be slight movements on the boat while you sleep. 

Also, being on a boat means moving in a smaller space than in a hotel. After the days' excursions and island visits, you will be on the boat until the next morning. Boats exist in different sizes (see Boots types/classes article) and many are rather luxurious and spacious. nevertheless, if you are looking to go for a walk after the days' excursions or go to a restaurant you will only have that possibility with an island hopping. 

How relevant are other travelers and the guide on your trip for you? 
One last factor to keep in mind is the group composition and your guide. On a cruise, you will typically stay with the same group of travelers for several days or have fewer changes in the group composition. Also, your guide will typically be the same throughout the journey. When deciding for islands hopping with daily excursions the group of travelers joining you will usually change each day. The guides as well will change on a day to day basis, depending on which day tour provider your excursion is operated by.  

Overall you should choose what best fits you- There is no right or wrong. Look at different options let your Destination Expert know what is most important for you around your Galapagos adventure. This will help the Destination Expert to find the right travel option for and with you. 

This is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience so it is okay to ask questions and really organize the perfect trip for you!

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