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The Galápagos Islands

Discover Darwin's living laboratory

Information about Galápagos

A trip to the Galapagos Islands is the journey of a lifetime, especially appealing to enthusiasts of photography, birding, diving, and the wonders of nature.

The Enchanted Islands feature a blazing array of wildlife, 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 no more than slightly annoying paparazzi. Rich in food, blessed with good weather, and lacking natural predators, a huge array of species co-exist peacefully on the islands and 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

Weather: The Galapagos Islands have pleasant weather throughout the year, but factors like high season vs. low season and climate should be considered when planning a visit. Check out our FAQ on weather and seasonality for more information.

Awe-inspiring nature: The exceptional and distinctive ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands is the result of the mixing of cold, nutrient-rich waters from the Humboldt Current with warm waters near the Equator, creating a perfect environment for unique and diverse flora and fauna.

No mass tourism: The Galapagos National Park limits the number of visitors allowed each year to protect and monitor the archipelago, making it one of the most highly protected destinations in the world. Mass tourism is not allowed.

The best way to visit: While day tours are available, the most interesting visitor sites in the Galapagos can only be reached on a cruise. This form of tourism allows for more time at each site and is more of an adventure. Click here to find all Galapagos cruises.

Getting in and out: Flights to the Galapagos depart from Quito or Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador and arrive in Baltra or San Cristóbal in the Galapagos. Contact us for help with your flights.

Do you have more questions? Our travel experts are available to answer all your questions about visiting the Galapagos Islands and offer recommendations based on your preferences. We have also compiled a list of over 80 frequently asked questions. Don't hesitate to contact us!

Pictures of Galápagos

Santa Fe - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104
Galaxy Diver Galápagos Cruise

Highlights in Galápagos

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!

A walk on North Seymour
North Seymour

The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour and has an area of 1.9 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and hosts one of the largest populations of frigatebirds. North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 1.2 mi in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.

North Seymour was formed at the same time as neighboring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and to meet the seabirds that call North Seymour home.

North Seymour was the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved there by Captain Hanckock. They have since thrivedthrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on the neighbouring Baltra island.

The biggest attraction of North Seymour is its large colony of Blue-Footed Boobies and its Frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the Frigatebirds rely on the Boobies’ fishing prowess. The Frigatebirds actively steal the Boobies catch to feed themselves!

There is also a population of Marine Iguanas and Galápagos Sea Lions are frequently spotted. The snorkeling here is also very good, with plenty of marine life to see including rays and reef sharks.

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.

Our trips to Galápagos

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