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Galapagos islands questions and answers

UCT (GMT) – 6 hours. Time on the Ecuadorian mainland is – 5 UCT (GMT).

Visitors may arrive to Baltra or San Cristobal Islands in the archipelago by plane, taking off from the Guayaquil or Quito airport in the mainland. No other airports offer flights.

It is also possible to reach the Galapagos Marine Reserve and National Park via a private yacht. However, this rarely occurs and is extremely expensive.

a) Endemism = the islands are home to a large variety of species, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world

b) Practically untouched, unspoiled natural habitats, unforgettable volcanic landscapes

c) Influenced modern-day thought: the flora and fauna that the islands hold inspired Charles Darwin in creating his theories of modern evolutionary thinking.

d) Completely isolated from the world!

It is currently $100 to enter the Galapagos National Park (www.galapagospark.org), and the migration control card (which helps to regulate immigration to the islands) is $20 a person.

Yes, the sun is extremely strong due to the archipelago’s location along the equator. We recommend that visitors use at least SPF30.

Because the islands are situated along the Equator, no matter what time of year you visit you can enjoy the Galapagos – there is no ‘best time’ to aim for.

The temperature varies according to the season. The islands have two principle seasons, which (although they are located along the equator) are relatively different. However, tourists visit the island year round. The hot season, which lasts from December to June, is characterized by a high humidity and temperatures are primarily in the 80s F (26°-30° C). Although it may rain sporadically (and heavily), the weather is typically hot and sunny. The temperature of the oceans varies between 25°C-28°C (mid-high 70°Fs).

 

On the other hand, June to November is characterized by a rainy season. Cool winds arrive to the islands, bringing the intermittent light misty drizzle or garua. Additionally, the temperature of the air decreases slightly, falling to the mid 70°Fs (22°-24° C) and reaching the mid 80°Fs (26°C-28°C) during the day, dropping somewhat at night. The archipelago represents a subtropical weather pattern and primarily experiences a dry heat.

No, all types of recreational fishing are banned within the Marine Reserve boundaries. Nevertheless, local fishermen are permitted.

Yes, however because of the isolation of the islands, connection is sporadic and relatively weak.

Definitely! The Galapagos Marine Reserve is the second largest worldwide. These waters are excellent for exploring the life hidden beneath the ocean surface. In fact, snorkeling and swimming are essential to learning about the Galapagos. The islands have a variety of beautiful beaches, providing guests with a wide range of opportunities for swimming.

A visitor’s decision in choosing a vessel is largely based on the personal preferences and experience of the individual. While some enjoy traveling on expedition vessels that hold more people, others prefer smaller sailing boats that only hold around 16 people. Ultimately, vessels provide a more extensive voyage as a result of factors such as staff numbers, individual space, dining options, Internet connectivity, environmental impact, well thought-out itineraries, and a broader range of facilities. Nevertheless, visitors may choose from several yachts that vary between these two extremes. Metropolitan Touring has three different ships: two expedition yachts that hold between 40 and 48 guests, and the Santa Cruz II, which holds 90 guests. The smaller ships tend to be cozier, for example the La Pinta has inter-connecting cabins. However, the Santa Cruz II has more spacious and diverse social areas, and is also more suitable for families. In accordance with park rules, no sizeable cruise liners are permitted within the Galapagos Islands. Thus, if you are under the impression that this is an industry of massive tourism, you should know that this is not correct. It is indeed fortunate that the Ecuadorian Government and the Galapagos National Park have implemented standards to prevent all large cruise liners from entering the waters around the islands.

Below we have listed various factors to contemplate when determining which size vessel you would prefer during you Galapagos expedition.

The Captains and Deck Officers of expedition vessels must have an Ecuadorian Navy or Merchant Navy qualification, and 12 years of experience as a minimum.

Only ships with multiple guides are required to have a medical doctor permanently on board. Single guided vessels don´t have a doctor on board. It is like a Life Insurance: its good to have one but not need it, than needing one but not having it.

Expedition vessels organize flexible activities, which vary depending on the general capabilities of the guests. Because they have multiple guides, they can schedule outings with a variety of activities. On the other hand, smaller boats only have the capacity to hold one guide who must always be with the group. This does not leave room for flexible activities.

Additionally, on expedition ships, small groups are primarily determined by the language abilities of the guests. In this way, it is extremely beneficial to have multiple guides in that a guide is not forced to explain a visitor site in several languages (which can negatively impact the experience).

Each one of our ships has a glass-bottom boat and sea kayaks so that guests may experience the Marine Reserve on a more intense level. In order to further enhance the expedition, we combine these with our snorkeling programs. Very few vessels are equiped with this alternative way of exploring the underwater world of Galapagos.

We highly recommend that visitors bring comfortable walking shoes for most outings, as well as strapped  sandals for walking along the shore. Because of the volcanic surface of the islands, it is necessary to have shoes with good traction.

In the months of May to December, the waters around the Galapagos are quite a bit cooler and so, it is advisable that swimmers use ‘shorty’ wetsuits. Thus, swimmers are able to spend more time in the water. All of our vessels provide wetsuits (some charge to rent the suits).

600 miles/1,000 km.  This is approximately an hour-and-a-half flight from Guayaquil and 2 hours from Quito.

Almost. 97% of the Galapagos Islands has been converted into national park, while 3% is inhabited. Once within the national park borders, tourists must abide by strict rules. The park also has one of the most expansive Marine Reserves in the world.

The name dates back to a medieval Spanish word that describes a type of saddle, which was elevated towards the front. Spanish sailors thought the giant tortoise shells resembled this saddle and so began to call them “galapago.”

Galapagos finches are important because they have been used to describe Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. For example, a couple called the Grants carried out an important case study (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beak_of_the_Finch) on the finch populations of Daphne Major, further asserting Darwin’s argument. Darwin reasoned that the evolution of populations within just a short amount of time proves that “species are not immutable,” but instead that they are able to evolve within a short period of time in order to best adapt to the ecological niche. Furthermore, because of the varying annual weather patterns and unique climatic events (El Niño and La Niña) that the archipelago undergoes, the islands are excellent for studying natural selection. The Galapagos Islands have 13 species of finch all together, although some vary only slightly: it is next to impossible to identify every specie in their natural habitat all at one time.

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