Galapagos Archipelago: An Overview

The Galapagos Archipelago, often the main reason to visit Ecuador, consists of 18 volcanic islands which have never been connected to the mainland, meaning that many species have evolved completely independently. Home to a rich variety of marine and land creatures - some of them found nowhere else in the world - the Galapagos Islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin's groundbreaking On the Origin of Species, in which he articulated his theory of evolution.

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Why we think you’ll love it

  • You'll find a unique combination of sun, sea, sand and the opportunity to interact with incredible wildlife (think: snorkelling with baby sea lions!) - what's not to love?

Galapagos Archipelago: The Detail

Six hundred miles from the Ecuadorian mainland in the Pacific Ocean lie the Galapagos, which need little introduction - a group of eighteen volcanic, harsh and isolated islands where species have evolved independently from the rest of the planet. Marine iguanas and giant galapago, or tortoises, capture the limelight but there are many other animals, birds and flora unique to the islands.

Nearly a quarter of all species found here are endemic and due to their historic isolation have no instinctive fear of man. As a result, travellers on Galapagos holidays come into close contact with an impressive array of animal life including fur seals, marine iguanas, blue and red footed boobies, flightless cormorants, manta rays, penguins, turtles, and giant tortoises.

Whenever on land, you are - by law - accompanied by a multilingual and highly-trained guide who should be a fountain of knowledge on all things related to not only the ecology of the Galapagos but the islands' history and culture as well.

Ask a supremely knowledgeable Original Travel Latin America team member for more information, because while all expeditions to the islands are conducted by boat, with landfalls made under the strict supervision of professional guides, from personal experience there are operators we would particularly recommend. Pick the right boat and this should be a fascinating experience that will see you get close up to some amazing wildlife and possibly even snorkelling or diving with sea lions and penguins.

While the vast majority of holidayers visiting the Galapagos spend their time aboard a luxury cruise on one of the excellent boats available, there is also the possibility to stay in a very comfortable hotel on the main island of Santa Cruz. Whilst on the main island don't miss out on a visit the Darwin Research Centre at Puerto Ayora, to see if Lonesome George the hundred-plus year old tortoise has indeed become a father...


Top picks for Galapagos Archipelago

Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray

Galapagos Archipelago

Not to be mistaken for the famous makers of cranberry juice, Ocean Spray is probably the slickest of all the luxury yachts in the Galapagos. A large catamaran, Ocean Spray has nine comfortable cabins (eight double, one single) each with a private balcony.

Where to stay

 Athala II

Athala II

Galapagos Archipelago

The Athala II is a motor catamaran, and is one of the best ways to cruise the Galapagos in style and comfort. The exclusive boat provides luxury cabins and amenities to rival any larger vessel.

Where to stay

M/V Eclipse

M/V Eclipse

Galapagos Archipelago

A 64-metre motor yacht with a cruising speed of 11 knots.

Where to stay

Royal Palm

Royal Palm

Galapagos Archipelago

The Royal Palm in the lush highlands of Isla Santa Cruz is the finest luxury hotel in the Galapagos Islands, and developing something of a reputation as a celebrity haunt, with the Prince of Wales and Brangelina (entourage included) recent guests.

Where to stay

 Galapagos Safari Camp

Galapagos Safari Camp

Galapagos Archipelago

Unique within Ecuador, the Galapagos Safari Camp is a tented camp following the African safari model, in which guests stay in comfort while remaining close to nature.

Where to stay

Isabela II

Isabela II

Galapagos Archipelago

One of the most luxurious yacht cruising the Galapagos, with an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere.

Where to stay

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