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The Galapagos, Enchanted Isles

August 17, 2015
  |   Lori Goodwin
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Sailing lore had it that the Galapagos Islands did not exist, they were so often obscured by intermittent fog that they would appear and reappear to ships on the islands as if they were an Enchanted otherworld.  The nickname has stuck, and now it is the astonishing array of wildlife and the surreal desert and volcanic landscapes that leave visitors feeling as if they are under a spell. 

The Galapagos  are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator, about 1000 kilometers off the South American mainland in the Pacific Ocean. Officially a part of Ecuador, the islands are most commonly reached by commercial airlines that fly out of Quito, the capital or Guayaquil on the coast. The most visited islands of the archipelago are Espanola, Bartolome, Fernandina, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal primarily for their for their spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife. Airports are located on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Some hotels and lodges are clustered on Santa Cruz, while some are located on Isabela and Fernandina.

Most Galapagos visitors experience the vast array of endemic wildlife via all-inclusive small ship cruises as this offers the most efficient and ideal way to see the most species, islands and landscapes. Lodges combine boat day trips and activities but lack the reach of the ships to access the widest array of sites and islands. Naturalist guides accompany vessels and provide comprehensive insight into the flora and fauna visitors will encounter. They also do pictoral presentations on-board and ships provide further resources for learning about the Islands. 

When To Go

Relatively warm weather means that travel is year-round. Many species are non-migratory, so wildlife is always abundant yet behavior tied to breeding and feeding cycles is seasonal. There is warmer and wetter weather January to May, while June through December is drier and cooler. 

TEMPERATURES (F) & RAINFALL(Inches)

Season         Day         Night      Water       Rain 

Jan - May      85 - 89    70 - 75    75 - 82    2 - 4.6"

June - Dec     75 - 80    65 - 70    62 - 68   .2 - .3"

Highlights By Season

January to March: Marine iguanas exhibit bright colors. Clearest waters for ideal snorkeling.

April to July: Blue-footed Boobies famous mating dances. Waved Albatross begin to nest on Espanola Island.

March to June: Frigate birds inflate red throat pouches during breeding season.

October and November: Galapagos fur seals breeding season beginsSea lion pups are born.

 Learn about the Galapagos wildlife highlights that can be experienced throughout the year with our Wildlife Calendar

 Where, what and when! Get a feel for the enchanted islands and regions of the Galapagos with our useful Islands Guide

 Discover the best ways to experience the Galapagos Islands via ship or lodge and all about How We Explore

Related Trips

Pay 2017 Rates for 2018
Galapagos Travel

Treasure Southern

5 days | from $2,895

Zodiac Tours, Snorkeling, Photography, Birding

Ship: M/C Treasure of Galapagos

Galapagos Travel

Treasure Southern

Journey on a stable and spacious catamaran from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, passing by Española, Floreana and highly endemic Santa Fé. These oldest islands are among most appreciated sites of Galapagos with many emblematic species that have evolved into unique figureheads. Striking coral sand beaches at azure bays are favourite places for large colonies of Galapagos sea lions. This cruise promises to become an unforgettable experience.

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