Travel in Latin America
An archipelago, the Galapagos Islands lie on the equator just west of the Ecuadorean coast. Most famous for Darwin's evolutionary studies, much of the islands' appeal to vacationers has grown exponentially over the years. Most first time visitors to Galapagos are so enthralled by their experience they invariably vow to return.
Travel to Galapagos
Galapagos Online confirms, "air travel to Galapagos is simple as there are only two airports, one at Baltra (South Seymour) and the other at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal." The two islands are roughly 60 miles apart and there are routine boat trips between them daily.
All flights to Galapagos originate in Quito, Ecuador, and include a long stopover in Guayaquil. Flights are priced according to the island's "high" and "low" seasons. Mid-January to mid-June and September 1st through November 30th are deemed the low season and therefore airlines offer their less expensive flights.
There is also the flight option known to the locals as logisticos. This Air Force flight may be booked at the military airport, Colegio Tecnico y Escuela, at about half the cost. Travelers who opt for the military transport should know, reservations can only be made in advance, on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 8:00 am and 12:00 noon. Passengers will travel to Galapagos on a Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo plane. This two hour trip is sans amenities or facilities, but the expense is much less.
Galapagos Island Tours
The Galapagos have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and 90 percent of the land area and 100 percent of the surrounding ocean are now part of the Galapagos National Park.
A National Park Entrance Fee is required from all visitors entering the Galapagos National Park and/or Galapagos Marine Reserve. The park fee is payable in US Dollars and may be paid at the airport upon arrival in the Galapagos Islands or can be pre-paid by arrangement with your tour operator. A remit granting access to the National Park and Marine Reserve is then given as a receipt.
A Galapagos encounter is casual by nature and even the luxury cruises recommend dressing down. Daytime clothing should be light weight, but durable. Evenings in the island chain, especially at sea or in the higher altitudes, can get quite cool so sweaters and jackets should be packed. Shoes and boots should be suitable to sandy and packed lava terrain.
A sufficient supply of sun block and lip protector are a good idea due to strong sun exposure and potentially high winds. Those susceptible to sea sickness will want to have Dramamine on hand and a wide brimmed hat and sun glasses are also recommended. Galapagos Island visitors should be prepared for wet and dry landings as wading to shore in knee deep water is customary.
And finally, bring film. Lots of film. According to Alan Murphy's Ecuador and Galapagos Handbook, "the islands' animals are so tame that you will use far more than you expected. 2 rolls a day will barely be enough for the least enthusiastic photographers." He also encourages visitors to bring a telephoto lens and an underwater type camera for snorkeling trips.
The Galapagos Islands, discovered in 1535, remain comparatively unchanged and are attractive to vacationers for a wide variety of reasons. But whether you are an adventurer, explorer, naturalist or just enjoy going where few have gone before, a Galapagos Island trip will be one you'll never forget.