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Galapagos designed by a Level III Naturalist Guide

Galapagos travel tips

LUGGAGE

The time period between December and May is considered the «warm season». During this warmer season, the Galapagos’ climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies. Also, the ocean temperature is warmer for swimming and snorkeling.

During this season tourist may observe a big amount of species around the islands or the sea such as: marine iguanas, sea turtle, land iguanas, flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, masked boobies, marine iguanas, albatross, blue-footed boobies, etc. Due to the water conditions snorkeling is the recommended activity during these months.

CLOTHES TO TAKE
For your Galapagos vacations, clothing ranges from informal to very informal.

Essentials Include: proper footwear, shorts, long- and short-sleeve lightweight shirts, bathing suit, a wide-brimmed hat, long pants, and a wind breaker or light jacket for evenings. Be sure to bring sunblock (SPF 30), sunglasses and lots of film.

SHOES
Most walking ashore is over rocky lava terrain. Therefore tennis shoes, sneakers or walking shoes with rubber soles must be worn. For easy walks like on gravel or sand terrain Tevas or aqua socks are suggested.
SUNBURN
Because the country is located right on the equator, sun rays are direct.

Fair-skinned persons should use sun protection at high altitudes and seashore at all times, even if the weather is cloudy, as UV rays penetrate light clouds.

I strongly recommend sun block with SPF30 or higher.

PASSPORTS
Guests must travel to the Galapagos with their passports.

Names and passport numbers must be delivered one month prior to arrival.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK ADMISSION FEE
In your Galapagos vacations US$100 per person must be paid upon arrival at the airport in Galapagos (rate is subject to change without notice) to be able to enter to this national park.

See a Gallery of Stunning Galapagos Pictures

ELECTRIC CURRENT
110/AC. Electric shavers and hair dryers can be accommodated.
LOCAL TIME
GMT minus 6 hours in the Galapagos Islands. GMT minus 5 hours on mainland Ecuador.
PURCHASES ON BOARD
When planning your Galapagos vacations is good to know that… US dollars or traveler checks may be used on most of the cruise ships in the Islands.

Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) are also accepted specially aboard Santa Cruz Ship or Isabela II deluxe yacht and the all new Yacht la Pinta.

SAFETY
All safety and fire prevention measures have been implemented on most of the vessels cruising the Islands, for a comfortable and secure Galapagos vacations. MT ships are all ISMC compliant.

See our Recommended Galapagos Land Tours

MEALS
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included on every ship cruising the Galapagos. Wine, beer and soft drinks are extra. Bottled water is supplied in each cabin free of charge.
PACKING CHECKLIST
Small backpack (waterproof)
Comfortable walking shoes
Sneakers or rubber soles
Shorts
Trousers
T-shirts
Long and Short sleeved shirts
Windbreaker
Bathing suit
Wet suit (for snorkeling between June – November)
Socks
Underwear
Hat or cap
Toilette kit
Biodegradable shampoo please
Sun block
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera & camcorder
Any medicine you may be taking
My Favorite book About the Galapagos Islands:
» Galapagos, a Natural History.  by Michael Jackson. »

Galapagos Seasons

The Galapagos islands has two distinct climate seasons:

1. Warm & Wet, and
2. Cool & Dry.

Warm Season

The time period between December and May is considered the «warm season». During this warmer season, the Galapagos’ climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies. Also, the ocean temperature is warmer for swimming and snorkeling.

During this season tourist may observe a big amount of species around the islands or the sea such as: marine iguanas, sea turtle, land iguanas, flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, masked boobies, marine iguanas, albatross, blue-footed boobies, etc. Due to the water conditions snorkeling is the recommended activity during these months.

Dry Season

From June to December the southern trade winds bring the colder Humbolt current north to the Galapagos. This means that the water is cooler, and a layer of high atmosphere mist pervades the island skies. In effect, the highlands of the larger islands are kept green and lush, while the sea level islands and shorelines have little precipitation.

Thus, June to December is generally called the «dry season» known for its blue skies and mid-day showers.

During this season tourist may observe a big amount of species around the islands or the sea such as: giant tortoises, Humpback whales, blue- footed boobies, cormorants, oystercatchers, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, masked boobies, swallow tailed gulls, sea lions, lava herons, brown noddies, penguins, etc. Due to the water temperature it is the perfect time for diving.

Diving in Galapagos

The Humboldt Current’s influence brings cold waters especially during the mist rainy season (cool weather) from July to December. «El Niño» current may bring warm waters to the Galapagos and will make the surface warmer and rainfall increase (January to June).

The water temperature varies during the year

January to June: from

70°F (21°C)

to

80°F (27°C)

July to December: from

65°F (18°C)

to

75°F (23°C)

Let's start a great Galapagos Adventure

Galapagos National Park Rules

  • Because of its unique nature, the plants, animals and rocks should stay on site so that there is no change. Nothing must be taken away from the islands, except photos.
  • Please avoid the introduction of foreign organisms such as animals, seeds, plants and insects as they cause serious problems.
  • Galápagos animals should not be touched or petted for your safety and because they can quickly loose their tameness and change their behaviour.
  • The endemic and native fauna of Galápagos has its natural form for feeding. Therefore, do not give them any type of food because it could harm them.
  • The Galápagos marine birds leave their nests if you disturb or follow them. They will let their eggs or chicks alone on the ground or leave them exposed to the sun. Therefore you may watch the birds at a distance of no less than two meters.
  • Visitors’ sites at the Galápagos National Park are marked to guarantee your safety. You cannot leave the paths.
  • Garbage of any type interferes with natural processes and takes away the enchantment of the unique island scenery. Do not dispose garbage at visitors’ sites, in the ocean or near the islands.
  • Please avoid purchasing souvenirs made of flora and fauna of the islands, like black coral, marine tortoise shells, sea lion teeth, or shells. This goes against the principles of conservation.
  • Writing names and phrases of any type on rocks, walls, etc. is a sign of bad manners and rudeness and damages the scenery.
  • Fire or smoking within Park areas is not allowed as a fire could start with a match or a cigarette that is not put out completely, and can cause uncontrollable bushfires, death and destruction.
  • Fishing on board of tourist ships is not permitted. Please collaborate with the National Park Service by reporting any transgression to the management of the Galápagos National Park.
  • If you want to camp in the authorized sites or do comercial filming, you have to request a permit from the Galápagos Nacional Park Director. Please contact us at any of our technical offices located in the inhabited islands (San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, and Floreana).
  • If any kind of danger puts on risk the visitor’s safety and that of the National Park, please inform about it to a Park Ranger, Police authorities, Ecuadorian Navy, Air Force or any Municipal Authority.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to show your conservationist attitude. Explain to others the rules of Galápagos National Park and make them follow them.

Marine Iguana colonies

    

The Galapagos National Park

It was created under executive decree N-17, of July 4, 1959, to commemorate the first centenary of the publication of the book «The Origin of Species» by Charles Darwin, who inspired his famous theory of evolution by natural selection based on observations made during his stays in these Ecuadorian islands.

The executive decree considered the high ecological value of this archipelago, so it declared 97% of the earth’s surface a National Park, also becoming the first protected area in the country. This regulation declared «the lands that form the islands of the archipelago of Colón or Galapagos to be reserved for the preservation of flora and fauna, with the exception of these reserve areas the lands possessed to date by the settlers of the archipelago and those that have already been legally owned by the State».

To learn more about the history of this protected area, check out the following document: History of the Galapagos National Park Directorate.

The Galapagos National Park covers approximately 7,970 square kilometers, which corresponds only to its terrestrial part.

The natural beauty of the islands, the diversity and uniqueness of species they host, their volcanic origin, their geological dynamics with permanent changes and variety of formations; Being considered a living laboratory of evolutionary processes still underway, added to the fact that it accommodated the development of a large number of both animal and plant species that do not exist anywhere else in the world, make Galapagos a very unique site of global importance for the common heritage of humanity.

In Galapagos, only 5 islands have some type of human settlement, which are generally the largest in the archipelago and have natural resources that sustain life and the development of the communities it hosts.

Santa Cruz is the most central island of the archipelago; This proximity to the other populated islands is what has possibly favored its productive development, trade and transport. San Cristóbal is the capital of the island province and concentrates most of the government dependencies. Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago and one of the most diverse. Its population is relatively small, but in recent years it has largely developed ecotourism with local participation. Floreana, despite being the first inhabited island in the Galapagos, has a small population of no more than 120 inhabitants. And Baltra, an arid island that was given a U.S. air base during World War II. Currently, this island belongs to the National System of Protected Areas, except for a small part that is destined for the operation of the Galapagos air base and the harbor master’s office.

To improve the management of protected areas, the Galapagos National Park Directorate implemented zoning for land use planning. This dynamic and adaptive process is an effective planning and management tool, dividing the national park according to its conservation and its ability to sustain certain human activities.

In this way, the 330 islands, islets and rocks have been divided into:

Absolute Protection Zone, which refers to pristine or near-pristine areas, free of known man-made impacts;

Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration Zone are areas that manifest a certain degree of alteration with or without the presence of introduced organisms or human impacts.

Impact Reduction Zones, these are the peripheral areas of the national park with a significant degree of alteration, located in the areas adjacent to urban or agricultural areas.

The endemic and native flora and fauna, unique in the world, make the Galapagos Islands an exceptional place. More than 45 species of endemic birds, 42 reptiles, 15 mammals and 79 fish live in Galapagos and coexist harmoniously with humans. The Galapagos Islands also have a rich variety of endemic flora, reaching 500 species including vascular plants, bryophytes and algae.

The most representative species of the Galapagos National Park are the giant tortoises, which give the archipelago its name. Initially there were 14 species of turtles, but the human predation of which they were victims in the eighteenth century by pirates and whalers, caused the extinction of 3 species, and the constant eruptions of the volcano La Cumbre, in Fernandina, also wiped out the species of this island, naturally.

The most recent extinction that caused global consternation was that of the emblematic Lonesome George, the only specimen of the species Chelonoidis abingdonii, from Pinta Island, who died of natural causes inside his pen, at the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island, after 40 years

Lonesome George represents the world’s will to conserve the different threatened species. Since its discovery, in total solitude on Pinta Island in 1971, the Ecuadorian State, through the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, focused its efforts on achieving its reproduction to safeguard its species, efforts that are maintained even after its death.

The Galapagos National Park faces some problems that threaten its protection and care, among them the voluntary and involuntary introduction of exogenous species to the fragile ecosystems, however, the systematic and planned work that the Ecuadorian State has executed through the Galapagos National Park Directorate, has allowed that today 95% of its originally recorded flora and fauna are kept in good condition.

Please visit their web site:

https://galapagos.gob.ec/parque-nacional-galapagos/

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