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Galapagos Land-Based Tours

Traveling to the Galapagos Islands without taking a cruise has to raise a brow. However, we’re here to say that the islands can be enjoyed to the fullest on a land-based “island-hopping” tour. In fact, a hotel-based tour offers a great alternative to a cruise, which in the past was the only way you could visit the islands.

 

Land-based tours of the Galapagos archipelago are great for those who might feel cooped up on a boat after several days, and for people who lack the “sea legs” (meaning those prone to seasickness) when onboard a constantly rocking ship. Being more flexible, a land-based tour’s exploring activities and times for relaxing can be set as you see fit, and daytime “island-hopping” tours can be taken to selected islands by traveling for short times on speed boats.

 

If this is what you have in mind for your Galapagos getaway, contact a Surtrek travel specialist so that we can start planning your island experience today!

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Highlights

 

  • Great for those who are prone to seasickness or hate feeling cooped up on a boat for a week
  • Chances to walk in Darwin’s footsteps past hordes of dragon-like iguanas and iconic 500-pound tortoises
  • A wide range of 1st-class hotels to choose from on the 4 inhabited islands, with some hotels having their own boats for day tours
  • More flexible itineraries for mingling with the locals and enjoying restaurants and beaches at your leisure
  • Opportunities for “island-hopping,” taking shorter speedboat trips to visit various islands around the archipelago
  • Expert naturalist guides who provide insightful narratives on all aspects of the islands 

 

What you’ll experience at on a Galapagos Land-Based Tour

 

What makes any visit to the Galapagos Islands truly exceptional are the many opportunities for close encounters with the extraordinary and exotic wildlife. In this amazing archipelago, you’ll come face to face with endemic animal and plant species that exist nowhere else on the planet.

 

To discover all of this and more, on a land-based island-hopping trip you’ll make short speedboat trips or even shuttle flights to two or three different islands, giving you a chance to explore each of these islands for a day or two. Every evening, you’ll then sleep in a comfortable 1st-class or luxury-class hotel rather than a rocking cruise ship. For light sleepers, or anyone prone to motion sickness, or for those who might suffer from cabin fever after being confined on board a yacht for several days, a hotel-based itinerary might be your best option for getting the most from your once-in-a-lifetime experience in these enchanting islands.

 

Nonetheless, travelers should keep in mind that land-based tours allow for visits to fewer islands and therefore afford less exposure to the archipelago’s wildlife.

 

Is it safe to visit the Galapagos Islands?

 

When traveling through the Galapagos Islands, safety should not be a major area of concern, as the vast majority of trips occur with no problems whatsoever.  In fact, the safety concerns here tend to be those related to protection from sunburns, taking common-sense precautions around animals (e.g. male sea lions), safe swimming and diving practices, and perhaps overdoing it at the ship’s bar.

 

On a land-based cruise, one should keep in mind that the speedboats that will shuttle you between the islands of the Galapagos are operated by trained and experienced professionals, while you’ll also be accompanied by guides with first-aid and CPR training. As you’ll see for yourself, each ride begins with a safety briefing to familiarize you with all of the boat’s safety equipment and protocols. As for these speedboats, all are outfitted with the most up-to-date safety equipment, as well as satellite phones for emergency calls and life vests for all passengers. In addition, these boats undergo regular safety and performance assessments. 

 

Concerning crime, the few towns and villages in the Galapagos are known to be safer than those in mainland Ecuador. Still, to prevent opportunistic wrongdoing, levelheaded measures should be taken, such as keeping an eye on your belongings, not flaunting valuables, etc. – the same precautions that should be taken when traveling anywhere in the world.

 

As for the big cities on the Ecuadorian mainland, you’ll be accompanied by experienced local guides during any time spent here. In any case, travelers should avoid going out alone at night, take registered taxis, and walk-in groups – just to be extra safe.

 

All of this being said, Ecuador is a relatively safe country overall, especially the Galapagos Islands. Therefore, travelers shouldn’t let the negligible potential for crime keep them from enjoying all that this amazing county has to offer.

 

Best Time to experience the Galapagos Islands

 

There’s really no “bad” time to visit the Galápagos Islands. Whenever you visit, the adventure is sure to be unique and eye-opening.

 

With that said, the sunny season extends from January through May and is generally considered the best time to visit the Galapagos. This season has warmer air and water temperatures, though the period is also characterized by frequent but brief afternoon rains.

 

From June to December, cold ocean currents from the south bring cooler weather and the “Garua,” an almost perpetual light mist and fog. The upside is that these cold currents bring in large quantities of plankton that attract hungry marine life, making this time especially great for snorkeling and diving experiences. Also, for land excursions, you won’t have to worry so much about rain during this drier season.

 

Read more about the best times to travel to Galapagos.

 

 

What should I pack for traveling to the Galapagos Islands?

 

When planning a cruise in the Galapagos Islands, keep in mind that you’ll be visiting not just those tropical and semi-arid islands, but also the cooler South American continent. With no direct flights to the archipelago, you’ll touch down first on the Ecuadorian mainland, where most travelers choose to spend at least a day or two in Quito to arrive in the Galapagos fresh and ready to hit the ground running.

 

Dressing for the spring-like weather of the Andean city of Quito means you’ll need to pack a few warm and water-resistant items (e.g. a jacket, long-sleeve fleece or sweater, and long pants, as well as bring along a travel umbrella). 

 

Later, when landing in the Galapagos Islands, you’ll have to dress for warmer weather and geographies that range from sandy beaches to cactus-dotted deserts and volcanic-rock-strewn fields.

 

In any case, for your daily land expeditions, pack a wide-brimmed sun hat or a cap with a strap, short-sleeve breathable T-shirts, long-sleeve expedition-style shirts, convertible cargo pants, comfortable walking shoes and open-toe sports sandals with non-slippery soles (which are great for “wet landings,” where you’ll have to step directly out of from your island-hopping motorboat into angle-deep water and sand on the beach). Don’t forget shorts, swimwear, and some reef-friendly sunscreen for your ship’s sundeck and the shore, and bring some Dramamine if you’re prone to motion sickness and plan to go on island-hopping speedboat trips.

 

For the cool evenings in the islands, some of the items you packed for the mainland will serve you well.

 

Worried about leaving anything out? Don’t fret – after you book your tour, you’ll receive a detailed packing list from Surtrek as a part of your information packet.

 

How to get to the Galapagos Islands?

 

As there are no direct international flights to the Galapagos Islands (an Ecuadorian province), you’ll fly into mainland Ecuador*, choosing to land either in Quito (which is the county’s capital and located in the Andes) or in the hot and steamy coastal Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil.

 

While flights are plentiful to both cities, Quito is generally considered a more compelling stopover option. With its stunning colonial center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s easy to spend a couple of fascinating days here in the Ecuadorian capital. In either city, you’ll be welcomed at the airport by Surtrek representatives, who will assist you with your luggage and privately drive you to your upscale hotel.

 

In the Galapagos Islands, you’ll fly into either Baltra Island’s Seymour Airport (GPS), which is used to access central Santa Cruz Island or into San Cristobal Island’s airport (SCY), in the far east of the archipelago.

 

Like with your stay in mainland Ecuador, from the moment you touch down in the islands and until it’s time to leave, you will be accompanied by experienced bilingual Surtrek representatives and guides who will accompany throughout your cruise and when traveling to and from your boat.

 

Therefore, during your Galapagos experience, you’ll be welcomed upon your arrival at each airport, assisted with your luggage and checking in at all domestic and international airports, provided ground transportation to your hotel(s), and finally seen off on your flight home or onward.  So don’t worry – Surtrek’s soup-to-nuts services make travel and getting around a breeze.

 

(*) Note: Direct non-stop flights fly to both Quito and Guayaquil from several US cities, including Houston, New York, and Miami. Likewise, such flights arrive from European cities such as Madrid.

 

Why go on a Galapagos Land-Based Tour with Surtrek?

 

Since 1993, Surtrek has been helping travelers find the best Galapagos land-based vacation that suits their particular needs, preferences, and interests. We personally inspect the quality of each and every hotel and lodge, recommending only those that meet our exacting standards and our environmentally friendly Green Philosophy. We sleep in the beds, rate the coffee and the cuisine, get to know the guides, and yes, even do the “heavy lifting” of sampling the cocktails before we give a hotel and a tour our thumbs up. Contact one of our expert Galapagos trip planners for help planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Galapagos.

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