A guest post by Kerry-Anne Smith.
A nature lover’s paradise, botanist’s dream and photographer’s haven, the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador offer a variety of holidays for people with a range of interests. Due to this, choosing the right style of trip is important, and there are so many things to consider, from land-based stays to Galapagos cruises.
If you opt for staying on water, you need to decide whether you are looking at luxury cruises or the more simple options and which wildlife you want to see. So before you book anything, consider your answers to the following 5 questions.
1. Are luxury cruises for me?
One of the first things to decide is how you want to see the islands. The start of any brochure on the Galapagos opens with a section on Galapagos cruises, explaining the virtues of the numerous boats available. But once you browse through the brochure, you often find land-based arrangements that can either be done on their own, or as an extension to the range of luxury cruises. If you are prone to seasickness, or like waking up to a morning stroll, then one of these island based options may suit you more than a cruise. The land-based options may also be cheaper and the number of nights can be more flexible, as land based tours do not have to fit with a cruise itinerary. Of course, if seeing the less inhabited islands is your preference, then Galapagos cruises may be your only choice.
2. Size of the boat?
The range of Galapagos cruises available means there is a boat to suit everyone – from small catamarans such as the Athala by Sanctuary Retreats that only have 16 guests, to the larger boats with a full range of facilities and on-board entertainment. The decision of which boat is right for you comes down to what you are looking for – the smaller boats are often a more intimate experience and can have more flexibility in where they visit, however the larger boats are often more stable and have a broader range of things to do whilst on the water.
3. When to go?
The Galapagos Islands are a year round destination, however there is a slight seasonality – December to April is warmer, however to compensate these are also the wetter months. If you travel May to November, you may need some warmer layers and to swim in a wetsuit.
August and Christmas tend to be the busiest months due to school holidays, so if you can avoid these peak times, you will find better value at other times of year.
4. What to wear?
As an island destination, clothing tends to be more casual. If you are travelling in the cooler months, do remember to bring a warm layer or two such as a fleece and long trousers. Also note that some of the luxury cruises may have a smart casual dress code for dining.
5. Your guides?
One of the things most people find interesting when visiting the Galapagos Islands is the information they get on the flora and fauna from their guides. Generally, the better the guides on board, the more your cruise will cost. Furthermore, the better guides will generally have a higher standard of English, which may be an important consideration unless you are fluent in Spanish. Checking out the quality of the guides before you book is important – you don’t want to mistake the elusive red-footed booby (pictured above) with the more common blue-footed variety.
Note: this post is brought to you in partnership with Sanctuary Retreats who operate two Galapagos cruises as well as other cruises in Egypt and China.
Read about other recommended places to visit in Ecuador.