Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) General Information

The Ark Archipelago

Quick Facts

Region: South America & Central America

Population:
18,000

Religion:

The main religion of Ecuador is Roman Catholic.

Language:

As in the rest of Ecuador, Spanish is the official language of the islands. On the mainland of Ecuador, some Indians speak only a Quechuan language.

Area (sq. km):
7,880 square meters

Time:

GMT - 6 hours

When To Travel

The ocean currents largely determine the weather on the Galapagos Islands. June to December is generally called the ‘dry season’, known for its clear blue skies. The southern tradewinds bring the colder currents north to the Galapagos. This means that the water is cooler, and a layer of high atmosphere mist pervades the island skies. From December to May is considered the ‘warm season’ - the Galapagos' climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies. Also, the ocean temperature is warmer for swimming and snorkelling. There's never a bad time to visit the Galapagos.

There's never a bad time to visit the Galapagos. The peak season lasts from mid-June through early September and from mid-December through mid-January. The national park limits the number of visitors to each island, so the Galapagos will never feel crowded. Here is a quick summary of the seasons to help you decide what time of year is best for you: December through May - During this time of year, the water and the air are warmer, but this is also the rainy season. It drizzles almost daily for a short period of time. Ironically, this is also the sunniest time of year. The end of December and the beginning of January is still the high season, so expect more visitors than during the rest of the year. Because the water is warm, the idea of swimming and snorkelling is enticing. On the flip side, there aren't as many fish to see as later in the year. This is also the breeding season for land birds, so it's a good opportunity to watch some unusual mating rituals. If you're into turtles, this is best time of year to come; you can watch sea turtles nesting on the beach, and from March through May, you can often see the land tortoises wandering around the lowland areas of the islands as they make their way down from the highlands in search of a mate. Sea lions also mate in the rainy season -- it's entertaining to watch as the males fight it out for the females. Around March and April, you'll see the adorable newborn pups crawling around the islands. June through November - From June through November, the Humboldt Current makes it way up to the Galapagos from the southern end of South America. The current brings cold water and cold weather, but it also brings water rich in nutrients and plankton, which attracts fish and birds. During this season there always seem to be clouds in the air, but it rarely rains. Conditions are windier during this period. Experienced divers claim that this is the best time of year to visit the Galapagos. Because there are more fish in the sea at this time of year, there are also more seabirds searching for these fish. Albatrosses arrive on Espanola in June and stay until December. Penguins also like the cold water and abundance of fish, so you're more likely to see them here during this season. On Genovesa, the elusive owls mate in June and July, and you have the best chance of spotting one during this time. Blue-footed boobies also mate during this time of year, so it won't be difficult to witness their beautiful mating ritual known as the "sky point."

Useful Travel Facts

Airports:

Quito, in Ecuador, is the start and end point of our Galapagos explorations. Quito International Airport is located 20 kilometres north of the city centre. There is a 24 hour yellow taxi rank outside the terminal and a fare to the city centre should cost approximately US$30. The flight from Quito takes us to Baltra airport on the Galapagos Islands. There is another airport located on the island of San Cristobal.

Telephone:

In Puerto Ayora, which is the largest town in the Galapagos, there are phone booths to make international calls. There is limited mobile coverage on the islands.

Electricity:

The power onboard our vessel is 110 Volts AC.

Food:

While on board the 'M/S Darwin', all meals are provided. Usually sandwiches are served for lunch and larger meals in the evening. The food is good, hearty and delicious, with variet offered such as various meat, chicken, fish, salads, vegetables, soups, and desserts are served. There is a bar on board where you can run a tab and pay at the end of your voyage.

Transport:

While in the Galapagos you’ll stay aboard the Gecko’s boat. The 'M/S Darwin' is a modern vessel with a cosy lounge and a comfortable dining area, as well as a sun deck where you can watch the wildlife or just kick back and relax. She has eight twin cabins, air-conditioning in all public areas and is small enough for us to offer an individual level of service. Transfers on the island is by bus.

Visa: Visa requirements for Galapagos Islands are the same as Ecuador.

Useful Words & Phrases

Spanish

1: uno
10: diez
2: dos
3: tres
4: cuatro
5: cinco
6: seis
7: siete
8: ocho
9: nueve
Bicycle: bicicleta
Breakfast: desayuno
Can I take a photo?: Le puedo sacar una foto? Por Favor
Car: auto/carro
Cheaper: Mas barato
Closed: Cerrado
Dinner: cena
Do you speak English?: Habas ingles?
Entrance: Entrada
Exit: Salida
Fine, Thanks: Bien, gracias
Goodbye: Adios/Chau
Hello: Hola!
How are you?: Como estas?
How do I get to_____?: Como puedo llegar a_____?
I don't speak much Spanish: No hablo mucho espanol
I don't understand: No entiendo
I would like_____: Quisiera
I'm looking for_____: Estoy buscando
I'm vegetarian: Soy vegetariano
Information: Informacion
Lunch: almuerzo
Mr/Sir: Senor
Mrs/Madame: Senora
my hotel: mi hotl
My name is_____: Me llamo_____
My names is_____?: Me llamo_____
No smoking: No Fumar
Open: Abierto
Police: Policia
Taxi: taxi
the airport: el aeropuerto
the bank: el banco
the bill: la cuenta/la factura
the post office: el correo
the train station: ka estacuib de ferrocarril
Toilets: Banos
too expensive: muy caro
Turn left: A la izquierda
Turn right: A la derecha
What does_____mean?: Que quiere decir?
What is your name?: Como te Ilamas?
Where is_____?: Donde esta_____?

Further Reading

Watching Wildlife: Galapagos Islands - David Andrew - Lonely Planet Galapagos – Kurt Vonnecut Galapagos: A Natural History – Michael H Jackson