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Galápagos Islands

Discover Darwin's living laboratory

Information about Galápagos

Are you a travel and nature enthusiast? Maybe even a photography-, birding- or diving aficionado? Then, a trip to the Galápagos Islands will be the journey of your lifetime.

The Enchanted Islands feature a blazing array of endemic wildlife species, wonderful beaches and, arguably, some of the world’s best snorkeling and diving spots. The creatures that call the islands home, many found nowhere else in the world, act as if humans are nothing more than slightly annoying paparazzi. Rich in food, blessed with good weather and lacking most natural predators, a huge array of species co-exist peacefully on the islands, many of which were able to evolve into entirely unique and endemic species. This fascinating evolutionary process is so apparent that the Galápagos are often called a “living laboratory”.

Interesting facts about Galápagos

When to travel: The archipelago is blessed with pleasant weather all year round, so there is no “best" time to visit the precious islands. However, you may consider factors such as high season vs. low season and the climate, and some other factors, best explained in this FAQ on seasonality

Every part of the Galápagos’s exceptional and distinctive ecosystem can be traced back to the mixing of marine currents: Cold and nutrient-rich waters from the Humboldt Current mix with baththub-warm waters close to the Equator, creating a perfect environment for one of the world's most exceptional and distinctive ecosystems.

There is no mass tourism in Galápagos. The reason: The Galápagos National Park strictly controls the number of visitors allowed to visit the archipelago each year, making the Galápagos one of the most highly protected and monitored destinations in the world.

While you can also stay on a hotel on the Galápagos Islands and visit the surroundings with day-tours, the most interesting visitor sites in the Galápagos can only be reached on a cruise. This form of tourism has the huge advantage that you can travel at night (no back-breaking speedboat rides!) and have a lot more time available at the different sites. Plus, it's more of an adventure! Click here for more info

A Tip for travelers: Flights leave to Galápagos from Quito or Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador, and arrive in Baltra or San Cristóbal in Galápagos. Inquire with us for your flights, we'll be very glad to help!

Do you have questions about visiting the Galápagos? Our Travel Experts will gladly answer all your questions and give recommendations based on exactly what you are looking for. Also, we have compiled a list with over 80 frequently asked questions, but don't let that stop you from contacting us: We'd be thrilled to hear from you!

Pictures of Galápagos

Isabela Urbina bay -  samba galapagos cruise - gal0052
espanola - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

The Galápagos Islands

Highlights in Galápagos

Chinese Hat
Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat ("Sombrero Chino" to locals) is an islet set just a short distance off the southeastern coast of Santiago. The small channel between Chinese Hat and mainland Santiago is fairly deep yet sheltered, and the water here is a glistening turquoise.

The islet gets its name because if you approach from the north, you will see that this small volcanic cone does indeed look like the traditional bamboo or rice hat. Viewed from above on a satellite image, however, you will see that this islet is actually more of an oval shape.

There is a short hiking trail on Chinese Hat that runs along the western coast of the islet. This is a harsh landscape of volcanic rubble and lava formations, a very atmospheric reminder of the fiery origins of the Galápagos.

Along the cost of both Chinese Hat and the opposite Santiago shore you are likely to see Galápagos Sea Lions and Galápagos Penguins, either basking in the sun or seeking shade to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Overhead, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent Galápagos Hawk.

The stand-out reason for a visit to Chinese Hat however is to snorkel in that turquoise channel. Here you can see various species of sharks, rays, and a variety of tropical fish. Not all Galápagos boats can visit, and permits are only given to a select few boats and guides. Here at Galapatours we offer itineraries on all of these specially selected boats, so if a visit to Chinese Hat is important to you, speak to one of our Galápagos experts today to help choose the perfect itinerary.

A walk on Bartholomew
A walk on Bartholomew

Bartholomew (known as Bartolomé locally) is the most popular excursion for Galápagos visitors, and its iconic scenery is the most photographed in the whole archipelago.

To start your walk on this island you will land in the small bay opposite the famous Pinnacle Rock. You then start the climb to the 375ft peak of Bartholomew. You’ll travel along a half mile trail that includes a series of wooden steps that have been built by the National Park Service to protect the ground here from erosion caused by tourists hiking to the summit.

When you arrive at the top of island the spectacular views will have made your efforts worthwhile. Your Galapatours expert guide will point out all the landmarks you will see from here - Pinnacle Rock itself, jutting skywards. The huge black lava flows of Sullivan Bay. The islands of Daphne Major and Daphne Minor.

On the way back down, you will be able to recognise the different volcanic formations evident on the island, such as tuff cones and volcanic spatter. You'll also see some remarkable examples of the Galápagos' ability to highlight the adaptation of species. For example the  bushes that all look dead are actually very much alive, with leaves covered with special grey hairs that help to reflect the harsh sun and reduce moisture loss for the plants.

Back at the beach there is excellent snorkeling, thanks to the underwater caves and rocks in the area. You will see various sharks, rays and tropical fish. You may also see Galápagos Penguins swimming with you!

Animals in Galápagos

Our trips to Galápagos


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