Your Guide to the Galápagos Islands
(Photo Credit: Lindsay Blatt)
Are you trying to decide the best way to experience the Galápagos Islands? You may be wondering what trip is best designed for you. Wild Women Expeditions offers three unique ways to immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity and true marvel of the isles.
We’ve highlighted the differences below but on all three of our adventures you can expect to see curious sea lions, red-billed tropicbirds with kite-like tail streamers, Darwin finches and prehistoric marine iguanas. You will see tortoises, sea turtles, countless blue-footed boobies and crimson Sally lightfoot crabs. Certain species like the flamingo, barn owl, Bryde’s whales or darling Galápagos penguins can’t be guaranteed and should be considered as lucky encounters.
Wildlife surrounds and abounds as each itinerary allows you to witness the Galápagos by panga (Zodiac), kayak, on foot, underwater and, always, in awe.
So, what’s your style? Yacht? By sail? A multi-activity, kayak-centric everything?
Soundtrack: “You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht…”(You’re so Vain, Carly Simon)
Aboard the Tip Top II, you’ll be well-spoiled by the 360° views on the upper deck and an authentic local menu prepared by Chef Willy in the galley. Cabins on the upper level (four) have private balconies and are available on a first come, first-served basis to those who opt for the single supplement.
What’s great about it?
Climb the curling heart-pounder stairs to Bartolome Island’s super scenic summit.
See the endemic flightless cormorant.
On Rabida Island, cross your fingers for a lucky encounter with the bubblegum pink flamingos elegantly picking their way through the salt water lagoon.
Experience the enormous colony of marine iguanas that inhabit Espinoza Point. The Planet Earth II episode featuring the harrowing chase scene between dozens of racer snakes and a young iguana was filmed here.
Consider this: The navigation route of the Tip Top II can be choppier than your Ninja Chopper. However, you get to cross the equator FOUR times during this north-south navigation of the western isles. Pack some ginger or motion sickness medication just in case–and keep your eye on the prize–Bryde’s whales and manta rays are travelling the same route following clouds of krill and are frequently spotted from the observation decks.
Soundtrack: “Sail away, sail away, sail away…” (Orinoco Flow, Enya)
Aboard the 3-masted Mary Anne, you will have a more pampered experience than Darwin! She has 1,000 square meters of canvas sails and is the only schooner in the Galápagos. When Darwin explored the isles, the HMS Beagle was so crowded with crew that he had to sleep in a hammock slung above the drafting table in the poop cabin!
Check off two highly-coveted endemic bird species that are only found on Española: the waved albatross (present only during breeding season: April to December) and the Española mockingbird.
The endemic Española lava lizard deserves some limelight too and it’s also found here.
On Sante Fe Island, see the largest prickly pear cacti in the Galápagos, the Opuntia. They can grow over 10m (32 feet!) tall.
Consider this: Sailing relies on the whims of Mother Nature and sometimes she’s not full of hot air. The sails of the Mary Anne will be raised but if conditions aren’t favourable, she will be under engine power.
Soundtrack: “I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay, Watchin’ the tide roll away…” ( Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding).
Experience the islands by tandem kayak, hiking boot, motorboat and ferry. If the thought of being on topsy-turvy seas for 8 days straight makes your stomach flip, this land-based itinerary allows you to kayak, snorkel and navigate the closer islands and sheltered bays and return to land (and a non-moving bed) each evening.
What’s to brag about?
Camp for two nights on Manglecito Beach!
Hike along the ribbon of trail that winds along Sierra Negra’s volcanic rim.
Snorkel in club soda-clear waters into caves where whitetip reef sharks like to rest.
Kayak around the mangrove-fringed beach of Finch Bay and Punta Estrada to look for lava herons and Darwin’s finches.
Consider this: This adventure does not include a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Centre. However, you will visit an awesome tortoise sanctuary in the highlands of Santa Cruz.
Want to read more about Wild Women in the Galápagos? Our content writer, Jules Torti, shares her story about returning to the Islands for the second time here.