Welcome to the Around the World Interview series on Ordinary Traveler! Every couple of weeks we will have a new guest who has either lived or spent an extended amount of time in a particular country. Each guest will give valuable insights and tips to a different destination around the world.
This week, Andres from Global Basecamps shares his Galapagos Islands travel tips!
How long did you travel in the Galapagos Islands?
I have been to Ecuador many times, and just returned from a trip to Galapagos this spring. I was in Ecuador for 10 days this time, and in Galapagos for about a week, including an island-hopping cruise and a couple of days on land.
If you’re flexible, try and avoid going during busy travel seasons (winter holidays & summer are the busiest and most expensive). Traveling during the off seasons is great, you’ll see tons of wildlife, and the prices will be better. You can visit Galapagos on a budget whether you do a cruise or not.
Favorite places or favorite experiences?
Galapagos is probably my favorite place in the world, so it’s hard to pinpoint one amazing thing, when there are so many. My favorite thing about Galapagos is visiting the uninhabited islands. On these islands there are no people living there, no human structures, and nothing but wildlife and unspoiled landscapes. Considering how many people visit Galapagos, it’s amazing they’re able to keep these places so pristine.
What is the food like in the Galapagos?
The food in Galapagos is a mix of Ecuadorian and international cuisine. Nobody visits Galapagos for the food, but it can be quite good and I had some great meals while there. You can find all sorts of food on the islands, especially in Puerto Ayora, the biggest town in the archipelago.
Dos and don’ts regarding customs?
Don’t touch the wildlife. It’s amazing how close you can get to animals, but it’s very important to respect and protect the ecosystem by not touching or disturbing the animals. The main rule while in Galapagos is to leave everything in perfect condition, as you found it! This keeps it amazing for future visitors.
Favorite place to stay?
I love the Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge on Santa Cruz Island, in Puerto Ayora. It’s a bit of a splurge, but an amazing place to end up at after a cruise (while you recover your land legs). It’s right on the water and has a great, laid back atmosphere. You can sit on the back deck overlooking the water, with a drink, next to a sleeping sea lion and little land iguanas walking all over the place.
For super special occasions (like honeymoons), Galapagos Safari Camp is one of the coolest places in the world. It’s not the most inexpensive place around, but as far as unique and incomparable experiences, it’s hard to beat.
Must-do activities or must-see sites?
There are many: you should try and visit as many islands as you can, within your budget. A cruise allows you to visit many islands the most easily. Every island has its own unique landscape, and flora and fauna. Galapagos is really great for active travelers: if you like to hike, snorkel, scuba, and surf – all while seeing otherworldly landscapes and animals – then there’s no better place in the world.
Safety tips, warnings or things to be aware of?
Galapagos is very safe, but you must be aware that the animals – though used to being around humans – will respond if provoked. As long as you act normal, and in a respectful manner, though, you will be safe! I also recommend you know exactly what you’re getting into when you book a cruise or any other kind of tour, especially if you’re not interested in an active holiday. Not all programs require lots of activity, so it’s definitely best to find something that suits your particular interests and priorities.
Best and cheapest times to visit?
If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you might consider visiting outside of the busy travel seasons, such as the summer and winter holidays. No matter when you visit, you’re bound to have the trip of a lifetime.
There are two basic seasons: the hot/wet season, and the dry season (also called “garua”). There are pros and cons to visiting during either season: the hot/wet season lasts from about December – May. This season is hotter, wetter, and the ocean is warmer for swimming and snorkeling. Wildlife is great during this season, though marine wildlife prefers the cooler waters of the dry/garua season. The dry/garua season lasts from about June – December. This season is more comfortably cool, drier, and the ocean is a bit cooler for swimming and snorkeling (most people wear wetsuits for snorkeling during these months). Though the waters are cooler, the marine wildlife during this season is bountiful.
Packing tips for the Galapagos Islands?
Bring sunscreen, lots of film, cash, an underwater camera, shoes, flip flops, a swimsuit, and spring/summer clothing (days can be hot, nights can be cool). You might also want to pack some Dramamine if you’re going on a cruise.
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