When it comes to wildlife, no place on Earth compares to the Galapagos Islands. It must be the only place where you can swim with penguins, snorkel with sea lions and lumber along with giant tortoises. See cormorants dive into the water, dance with the waved albatross and ogle at the feet of the blue footed booby. Like Africa’s Big Five, the Galapagos Islands have their Big 15, which reflects the archipelago’s most unique and fascinating wildlife. Take a look at the Big 15 below and find out about the abundance of wildlife you can expect to see during a trip to Galapagos.
How to travel around the Galapagos
Diving in the Galapagos is done in one of two ways. You can choose a "livaboard" dive boat which is specifically equipped for diving. On these boats you will dive up to four times daily including night dives. These trips are usually for one week but can be booked for up to ten days. The boats often go out to the remote islands of Wolf and Darwin, both famous for their schools of Hammerhead Sharks, giant Manta Rays and Whale Sharks. The other way would be to base yourself on one of the islands and go on 'day trips' to various dive sites.
Cruising is by far the best and most popular way to get the most out of the Galapagos Islands. Most vessels will travel between islands and mainly at night, meaning you wake up to a new island each day. Depending on your interest, time and budget, you can choose from countless combinations of stops, routes and cruises, ranging from 3 nights right up to 14 nights. As a general rule, the longer the cruise the further afield you can travel. This means more wildlife spotting opportunities, less explored islands, and a greater selection of marine life. From small yachts and catamarans to large cruise ships carrying 90 passengers, there is something to suit everyone.
At Imagine Latin America we offer a range of island hopping programs around the islands which are ideal for those more adventurous. Itineraries range from four nights to eight nights, where you can visit up to four different islands and actively explore the Galapagos. These itineraries are packed with activities, with time spent walking, hiking, snorkelling, kayaking your way around the archipelago and interacting with the abundant endemic wildlife species.
If you prefer dry land to the open water, a great option is to stay at one of the eco-lodges or hotels in Isabela Island, Santa Cruz or San Cristóbal Island. Although you will not be able to visit as many islands as you would on a cruise, you will still have plenty of opportunities to encounter the famous Galapagos wildlife. An advantage is that you will not be restricted to set departure dates, which gives you more time to spend on each of the islands, as well as the option to enjoy a number of activities (such as mountain biking, kayaking, hiking and swimming). A land-based trip also tends to be more laidback than a cruise, as you have the flexibility of doing what you want when you want.