A typical tour

Daniel Pawlyn, from our Galápagos land based vacations supplier, Intrepid Travel, shares his experiences: “Our group visited four different islands and travelled around by boat, bus and on foot; journeys were always short with the walk to the Sierra Negra volcano the longest at around four or five hours. Our leader was fantastic, and was with us the whole time. A qualified naturalist guide, he knew everything about the ecology and wildlife but also about the geology, culture and history of the islands. He was also fun, which was certainly a big part of the trip! Being land based, we got a good chance to absorb the different atmosphere and observe the way of life on the islands. We visited Santa Cruz’s fish market early in the morning, watched pelicans beg for scraps, ate wonderful seafood in local restaurants and bumped into sea lions on the way home from the pub… experiences that you might not get on a liveaboard. All the islands we stayed on were inhabited and we stayed in the ‘main towns’, often with sandy streets and a sleepy feel.”

Live like a local

Morag Prosser, from our supplier ROW Adventures, explains how land based tours bring you closer to the human history and cultural identity of the Galápagos: “One thing which goes unnoticed is the human population. They've been there for many, many years, and what the park is doing to conserve nature has a big impact on their ability to earn a living and continue living on the islands they were born on. They've had to stop fishing, they've limited the farming that people can do to sustain their families – and these people are now almost wholly dependent on tourism. The land based tours give a good understanding of that. You can go to the Wall of Tears and learn about how it was a penal colony. Political and war prisoners were held there for many, many years under terrible circumstances – and it's interesting that no-one talks about that part of the Galápagos. There's the history of Floreana - people arriving there, the murders, people disappearing - and the fact that no-one's ever been able to get to the bottom of that mystery is as fascinating, I think, as the reintroduction of native species of tortoise to each island. So I think that being able to balance that human history with the incredible wildlife is a real plus.”
Simon Forster, co-founder of our supplier, The Beyond Tourism Co., considers the benefits of land based tours: "Land based tours will take you exploring around the islands of the national park and you will meet some of the communities that live there – a rare chance to experience the other face of Galápagos beyond the cruise ships. You'll come face to face with the famously tame wildlife, meet the Ecuadorians that are proud to call themselves Galapagueños and learn about the complex issues facing this extraordinary, UNESCO World Heritage-listed environment.




Malaria and similar diseases don’t exist on the islands which lessens chances of sickness while away from home although it's still important to visit your GP at least 4 to 6 weeks in advance to find out if you need any vaccinations or other preventative measures.

Due to the islands’ location, slap bang on the equator, the risk of sunburn, even on cloudy days, is high. High factor sun screen, floppy hats, shades and light clothing with long sleeves are certainly recommended, especially for children.

Snorkelling is certainly one activity to try on the Galápagos but remember to cover bare skin to avoid burning whilst losing yourself underwater. T-shirts, sunblock and long shorts can make the difference between an amazing experience or a few days stuck indoors with sunstroke.

Although you won’t be spending your entire time on board a cruise ship there will be lots of opportunities to set sail on small boats, catamarans and water taxis. Seasickness can be a real problem for some people, even over a short period, so bring over the counter medication, ginger tablets or an acupressure wristband as a precaution. Consult your GP in order to get suitable medication if you know you are prone.

Make sure your travel insurance covers you in the event of an accident that requires assistance on the Ecuadorian mainland or beyond. Although Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno both have hospitals, anything serious might result in having to transfer elsewhere. Also, make sure you’re covered for water sports, such as diving, snorkelling and kayaking, as well as land based activities including mountain biking and hiking.


Although animals aren’t dangerous on the Galápagos it’s worth keeping your eye on young children, especially if they’re obliviously approaching mothers with babies.
Make sure your kids are looked after around waterfronts and boat trips, especially if they’re not confident swimmers.
If you're not a proficient scuba diver, the Galápagos is not the place to start diving. Strong currents and often poor visibility are not a good mix and there's so much to see above the waves anyway that you'll probably find you'll actually be missing out on all the best bits. Try snorkelling instead, much more enjoyable and much less hassle.



At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Galápagos land based vacation travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Take an underwater disposable camera, and your own mask and snorkel, and practise before you go.” – Margaret Arch
“Visit Los Tuneles (off Isabela) for the greatest snorkelling experience you will ever have - we saw seahorses and giant manta rays, and swam with penguins, sea lions, turtles, rays and white tip reef sharks as well as amazing fish! Stunning!” - Kerry Hyde
“If going in the wet season be prepared to get soaked in downpours and for it to be difficult to dry clothes out. Take dry clothes and a separate bag to put wet stuff in - particularly if, like us, you are traveling around a lot with little time in one place to give stuff a chance to dry out.” - Moira Butcher
“Make sure you take a windproof jacket as it can get chilly in the evenings. Also the water was very cold for snorkelling and I wish that I had taken a full wet suit with me.” - Elaine Battison
“A pair of open-toed, sturdy sandals AND a pair of sturdy tennis shoes are a must. Be prepared for walking and balancing on volcanic rock. And the intensity of the sun cannot be overemphasized – you cannot wear enough sunscreen and I snorkelled mostly in long-sleeved tee-shirts and scrub pants for sufficient protection.” - Caroline Hoke
Photo credits: [A typical tour: Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough] [Live like a local: Michael R Perry] [Tip1: Steven Bedard] [Tip2: Jan Hazevoet]
Written by Chris Owen
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