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Exclusively Galapagos

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Exclusively Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands guard their secrets well; these 13 islands and 6 isles are difficult to get to, and many remain remote, quiet, and untouched. A cruise through the archipelago is exclusive by necessity: the flora and fauna of this unique region is fragile. Each species lives in balance with the others, and the impact of humans can alter this precarious equilibrium. Visiting these isolated, otherworldly islands is possible only when accompanied by a naturalist guide. Because of the relative difficulty of arranging such excursions, it remains quite an exclusive experience – but one that is eminently worth the trouble.

A large cruise ship going to, say, the Caribbean, can accommodate as many as 3000 to 3400 passengers. A cruise to the Galapagos, however, is usually limited to 100 for a large cruise ship and up to 36 people for a small yacht. Prices, too, are more on the “exclusive” side as these cruises are considered luxury cruises. Depending on your ship, you can pay as much as $3500 for an eight-day cruise. Before you book your accommodations, make sure to inquire what is included within this price. Food and beverages are usually standard, but you likely have to pay gratuities, National Park admission fees, airfare from Ecuador, bottled beverages, and other vacation necessities.

A cruise to the Galapagos Islands would not be complete without the opportunity to see and experience the wealth of plant and animal life, but incredibly, many ships do not have the resources to provide you with this opportunity. It is essential that your cruise ship have naturalist guides who are able to lead you through the Islands. While being respectful to the land and its inhabitants, you will be able to glimpse amazing species, like the Galapagos Tortoise, that seem more myth than reality. Without this option and without these guides, your cruise is of little practical value and you will not get the full Galapagos experience.

Another word of warning: a “budget” ship may have lower prices, but these boats do not typically move between the Islands as quickly as the luxury ships. This may mean that you do not get to see and experience as many excursions as you would on a more expensive cruise.

While the Islands allow cruise ships with up to 100 passengers to cruise the waters, many of the individual islands limit the amount of visitors at one time. Passengers may be divided up into groups of 16 or so, depending on the island, and taken by small boat. For optimal enjoyment, a ship or yacht with only 16 to 32 passengers is recommended. Make sure to secure your places early because these exclusive cruises are usually booked months in advance.

The Galapagos Islands try to hide their beauty, but intrepid travelers can get there with prior planning and knowledge of their options.

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