A new year has begun – and it’s time to be thinking about your dream vacation to the Galapagos Islands.
If you need a bit more convincing that 2018 is the year you should visit the Galapagos, we’ll give you five reasons to go.
Because You Deserve an Escape
Let’s start with the most important reason for a Galapagos vacation in 2018: You deserve a great escape to one of the planet’s most magical places. If you have a milestone birthday or anniversary coming up this year, the Galapagos will gift you with memorable experiences. As well, this archipelago is a unique place for your honeymoon or a family reunion. A trip here could be an unusual graduation gift for that budding scientist in your family. The Galapagos also makes the perfect get-away-alone destination.
Baby Galapagos Tortoises!
For many years, the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center near Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, has been the place where you could see baby tortoises. For decades, it’s worked to repopulate Española and Pinzon islands with these gentle giants. But the baby tortoises you can see now are not just any species of giant tortoises – but one being brought back from extinction.
For over a century, it was believed the Floreana Giant tortoise was extinct. But at the beginning of this millennium, with DNA testing, Floreana hybrids were discovered on Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island. The Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative was begun to bring this species of giant tortoise back from extinction – and the first babies have hatched! Be sure to add a visit to them on your Galapagos to-do list.
Stroll the World’s Best Beach
In December 2017, the 2017 World Travel Awards – the Tourism Oscars – declared the Galapagos Islands as the World’s Leading Beach Destination. The beaches in this archipelago range from powdery white at Tortuga Bay and ebony at James Bay (Santiago Island) to breathtaking scarlet on Rabida Island and olive-green at Cormorant Point (Floreana). These beaches are also a wonderful place to observe dozens of endemic, native and migrant shore birds.
La Niña Will Be Visiting
Another La Niña climatic event is occurring in the Pacific Ocean, and is expected to continue until May. This means that on land, it will be cooler and dryer – affecting plants’ flowering and the availability of food for animals. At sea, water temperatures are cooler. Underwater life will be more abundant, promising great snorkeling adventures (you will probably need a wet suit), and the accompaniment of dolphins and whales on your Galapagos cruise.
Experience a Place Where Nature Rules
Most of Galapagos National Park is protected, with humans being able to reside on only five of the islands: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Baltra, Floreana and Isabela. The other islands are deserted, with stringently regulated visits coordinated by the national park. You will rarely see another tour group at a site. You’ll also notice there are no docks on the isolated islands – landings are made in a panga (zodiac raft) or by wading to shore (what is called a “wet landing”).
These restrictions help to preserve not only the Galapagos Islands’ near-pristine environment, but also to guarantee you the experience humans have had since the first recorded visit in 1535: the fearlessness the birds, tortoises, sea lions and other native inhabitants exhibit.
To Protect the Galapagos Even More
Big changes in entry requirements to both Ecuador and the Galapagos are underway and are anticipated to take effect in February 2018. Even though the laws were passed in 2017, Ecuador’s Foreign Relations and Human Mobility Ministry and the Galapagos Governing Council are deciding how to effectively implement them.
The first new requirement is that all tourists entering Ecuador will have to show proof of medical insurance for the duration of their stay in the country. The second big change affecting your Galapagos vacation is that you must show proof of your cruise and / or hotel reservations for your entire stay in the islands.
Are you convinced now to go to the Galapagos Islands in 2018? If you are, check out our wildlife and weather calendar to choose the perfect time for you to go.
Photo credit: Paul Krawczuk