The Galapagos archipelago lies off the Ecuadorian mainland and is home to some of the most fascinating wildlife on the planet. It’s isolated location, lack of predators, a little contact with humans over thousands of years has helped the fearless wildlife flourish. Nowhere else on earth can you see some a range of species, from flightless cormorants, penguins, and giant tortoises that roam around on the highlands, while sharks, dolphins, and whales take refuge in the plankton rich waters. Without a doubt, the easiest way to see the island is on board one of the many cruise ships. No day is the same, with new experiences and wildlife found on every island and site, but a typical day looks something like this.
In the morning, you will wake up to the sounds of sea birds and the gentle lapping of the ocean. Up on deck, you’ll likely to get you first sight of birds which circle around the boat above. Your crew will already have been up early creating a spread of eggs, toast, fresh fruits, yogurts, cereals, juice, and coffee for your breakfast. You’ll have some time to eat and get ready before the excursion begins. During breakfast, your guide will give you a briefing of the day, what you’re likely to see, and what you’ll need to bring with you.
Board pangas (inflatable boats), to and cross over for either a wet or dry landing. If wet, you’ll jump out into the water and wade through onto the beach. During a dry landing, the boat will moor up and allow you to get right out onto the island. Which one depends on the site you are visiting. Once on shore, you’re naturalist guide will take you on a walk, perhaps up to a viewpoint. Along the way, you’ll likely to see everything from noisy sea lion colonies, blue-footed boobies doing their hilarious mating dance, great frigatebirds expanding their colourful red poach, iguanas basking in the sunshine, and waddling penguins. Your guide will help you identify the species, as well as the flora of the island. Back at the shore, you can don snorkel masks and fins and jump into the sea to explore the marine life of turtles, small reef sharks, and colourful schools of fish.
Having worked up an appetite, you’ll board pangas to ride back to the boat. The on board chef will have been busy preparing a delicious buffet style lunch which typically includes pastas, meat, cheese, bread, vegetables, and some dessert, along with fresh fruit and juices. You’ll have a little time to relax as the boat cruises on to the next destination.
Back on board the panga with your naturalist guide, you’ll motor back to the new site which will reveal a whole host of new species to discover. Make a dry landing on Santa Cruz island. Here, you’ll jump in a 4×4 and head up the windy roads to the lush green highlands. With your guide, you’ll hike through the greenery in search of some of the island’s giant Galapagos tortoises. They move slowly, so they’re never hard to find. Once you have, you’ll have plenty of time for up close encounters with these gentle ambling creatures.
Return back to the coast. If time permits, you’ll be taken to another site for some snorkeling. In the cool waters, you’ll perhaps spot large manta ray, a colourful parrot fish, a green turtle, or a playful sea lion pup whose inquisitiveness with bring them up close to you. The underwater life in the Galapagos is simply astounding, with colourful coral reefs and fascinating marine life. You may even spot the odd harmless reef shark gracefully swimming in search of prey. As always, your naturalist guide will be with you to help you spot and identify the flora and fauna species. With just 16 passengers on most cruises, and 8 guests to every naturalist guide, you’ll have their full attention during the trip.
Back on board, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by the onboard chef. Have a glass of wine, swap stories with your fellow guests, look up at the stars (which are amazing in the islands), get a briefing of tomorrows itinerary, and get a good night’s sleep, eagerly waiting for tomorrow’s experience.
To start planning your cruise in the Galapagos, take a look through our Galapagos tour suggestions, call our Galapagos experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478, or email us here.