Exploring the Galapagos
I’ve unofficially decided that June will be a month all about the Galapagos Islands. After combing through hours of footage, I realized I have a ton of things I can share. After making my Galapagos video, I had a number of people ask how exactly I got there. I hadn’t occurred to me that, while these islands are 1000km away from most of civilization, they’re difficult to get to. Then I realized I had little idea of how I’d get there until speaking with a travel agent. The company I used, Andean Travel Company, set up all the transportation in my trip so I didn’t really need to put a lot of thought in to it. It isn’t necessary to use a company to make your reservations, though.
Arrive in one piece.
Back in around 2005 or 2006, I joined an online forum that shared documentaries of nearly anything you could image. My main interest has always been animals and nature. I stumbled upon a handful of Galapagos themed docs and that’s what sparked my interest. I’d read about the islands in school when learning about Darwin and his finches but to really see what happens there, it’s entirely different. From that point on, the islands sat very high on my bucket list. I had read stories online of people sneaking into cargo ships, stowing away until they reach the islands. Don’t do that. Well, you can do that but I don’t see the point. You’ll be stuck on a boat for 3 and a half days. If your threshold for adventure is that high, more power to you. Personally, I’d rather spend those 3 days around the islands.
The ideal way to reach the islands is obviously by plane. You’ll find two airports nestled in the archipelago — one on Santa Cruz and one on San Cristobal. There is no real “shopping around” involved here. The flight schedules and prices are set and do not deviate from that. Before reaching the islands, you have to get a little bit closer to them. You can’t book a flight from LAX directly to the islands. There will be a required pit stop in Ecuador, on the mainland. Flights originating from the islands will only land in the two airports in Ecuador — Quito or Guayaquil. Where you land in the islands depends on where you plan to go to start your trip. The only way to travel between the islands is by boat so knowing where you should begin is pretty important.
The most popular way to see the islands is by cruise. There are many, many ships that will take you around and show you a good time. Choosing a ship is a big decision — you’ll be confined there for the length of your tour, mine was 5 days. I stayed on board the Treasure of Galapagos, booked through the same Andean Travel Company. Cruises can be booked without a tour company through the ship’s websites.
In this case, the tour company secured a cheaper spot for me on the boat than if I had done this myself. If you travel solo often, you’re probably familiar with the “single supplement” that gets added on to a lot of tours, cruises, hotels, etc. The company was able to bypass this by having me agree I would share the room with another solo female. Turns out, there was none so I had the whole room to myself, and no supplement paid.
There are a few things you should take in to consideration before choosing your ship. What kind of food do you like? What do you want to see while you’re there? How small of a room are you willing to take? These things can vary a whole lot from ship to ship. Each ship has it’s own itinerary. The boats share the same basic itinerary, having the islands broken up into the northern and southern halves. Even then, there are small islets and different spots these ships will take you.
Once you’ve picked your ship, you’ll get your itinerary for each day, usually with a little more detail than when you booked it. I suggest you read up on each location and what inhabits the areas you’ll be exploring. Next, we’ll take a look at all the amazing places and critters around the islands. I’ll break down all the spots I went and the places I wish I did.