Introduction to the Galapagos

To early explorers, the Galapagos Islands were known as the Islas Encantadas — the enchanted isles — and, despite there being many more visitors now than then, none of that enchantment has been lost. Indeed, it would be hard not to fall under the islands’ spell as you step out of a turquoise sea on to a pristine white sand beach to have your first encounter with the many dozing sea lions — the ever-present beach bums of the archipelago.

Galapagos Snorkelling

Now one of the few places left on earth where you can watch wild animals at close range, for many a visit to the Galapagos is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. This remote chain of volcanic islands is home to a startling array of wildlife, much of which is endemic to the archipelago. The animals’ indifference to human presence is legendary — seemingly regarding visitors as nothing other than mildly irritating paparazzi.

The islands’ famous association with Charles Darwin and the scientific theory of evolution he began to develop after his visit has, perhaps, become a little too romanticised, but no one can leave the Galgápagos without being touched by its significance as one of the few true wildernesses left on the planet.

Ishpingo Tours and the Galapagos
The quality of your guide and the quality of the itineraries are two of the most important factors in any trip to the Galapagos. Ishpingo Tours works to ensure that your guide is registered with the Galapagos National Park Service and is also an enthusiastic and entertaining educator.

We try to avoid any itinerary that makes too many visits to the two main ports, which is particularly important if you are on a longer cruise. We would suggest a five-day cruise to be the minimum as, in reality, the first and last days of any visit are taken up with travel. An eight-day cruise allows for visits to the outlying islands such as Isabela and Fernandina.

In order to help maintain the Galapagos’ pristine status, Ishpingo Tours partners only with those operators who run on genuine responsible tourism lines. We look at such things as employment of local people, sponsoring or contributing to local environmental projects, small tour group numbers and general operational practices.

When to Come
There is no optimum time to visit; however it is useful to be aware that there are two distinct seasons:

  • January–May (High Season): The high season is a warm/wet season that runs roughly from January to May and which is generally sunny and warm with occasional heavy downpours — average air temperature 25°C/77°F.
  • June–December (Low Season): The low season is a cool/dry season from June to December that is affected by the Humboldt current. Average air temperature is a pleasant 22°C/71°F, water temperature, however, can drop to a fairly chilly 18°C/64°F. Low season means fewer visitors and lower rates, which is a plus. However, the seas can be rough during overnight passages between islands and those who suffer from seasickness may find this uncomfortable, particularly on smaller vessels.

What to Bring
Snorkelling equipment is provided on all Isphingo Tours’ selected boats, though of course if you prefer to use your own, please feel free to do so. Wetsuits are available to use either free of charge or to hire on board depending on the boat; however, we are unable to guarantee that all sizes will be available. If a wetsuit is important to you, we recommend that you bring your own. During the cooler season, a wetsuit may be necessary particularly in chilly, deeper waters.

Our suggested packing list can be downloaded here.

Ecuador Love Live Ecuador Touch the Sky International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association