Come face to face with a blue footed booby, snorkel with sea lions, soak up the sun with iguanas, enjoy the brilliant display of stars in the night sky, or simply enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you. Yep, it’s just another typical day in the Galápagos. One of the few locations on earth without an indigenous human population, the Galápagos Islands are an especially unique place. Situated in the Pacific Ocean about six hundred miles west of Ecuador and located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a melting pot of marine species. Protected by its distance and unusual geography, its flora and fauna have survived and flourished through time, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. With no known predators, the wildlife here exhibit almost no fear of humans.
It was a result of Charles Darwin’s observations after his visit to the Galápagos in 1835 that inspired his theory of natural selection and publication of On the Origin of Species. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978, these islands restrict the number of visitors and require them to have a guide in protected areas.
For many people, the idea of seeing the out-of-this-world array of incredible animals is a true inspiration to travel there. Yet, for each traveler who has been there and tells of their fantastic journey, there are several more who believe it’s too hard to get there, too expensive, or too difficult to visit on their own. If you have put off a trip for those reasons, read on to learn of five different travel opportunities that may change your mind. Prices range from $2699 to $6000 per person double occupancy.
9 Days – August 19
This is a small group land-based escorted tour with inter-island transportation provided by speedboat. This is not a luxury tour, so be prepared for basic accommodations that include hotels and community guest houses. This tour aims to provide active, fit travelers opportunities to get close to nature. Tour price includes all accommodations, 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners, and internal flights. The tour is part of the Jane Goodall Collection.
Lindblad Expeditions with National Geographic Explorer
7 Days – November 24
This is a sea-based journey on the National Geographic Islander. Yacht-scaled and trim, with mahogany and gleaming brass fittings, this 48-guest, twin-hulled expedition ship has the feeling of a private yacht. Days 1 and 7 pre and post cruise hotels in Ecuador with days 3 – 6 onboard the ship. Cruise price includes meals and beverages, excursions, and internal flights.
7 days –July, September, October
This is a small group land-based tour with inter-island transportation provided by speedboat. The group is led by a naturalist guide who will take the group to extraordinary wildlife experiences, minus the flocks of tourists. Guests can walk, hike to a volcanic caldera, kayak and snorkel up close to marine iguanas, Galápagos penguins and other creatures found nowhere else on earth. Accommodations are in boutique and first-class hotels. Tour price includes accommodations, meals, internal flights, and group leader.
Tauck Bridges – Earth Journeys with BBC Earth
8 days – August 14
Earth Journeys celebrates the family with this travel experience, featuring custom-made film vignettes by BBC Earth natural history experts. This trip is a combination of land and sea travel with four nights on the 90-guest Santa Cruz II. Cruise price includes licensed naturalist guides to accompany shore excursions. Price includes accommodations, meals, internal flights, and excursions.
7 Days – August 25
There are some added amenities that make this a great deal if the cruise is purchased within the designated deadline of May 15th. It offers a $1000 onboard credit, 1 category upgrade and economy air round trip for $299.00. Cruise price includes stateroom, internal flights, all meals and beverages, and included shore excursions.
You shouldn’t go to the Galápagos because it’s cool, although it is. You shouldn’t go just to cross off a destination on your bucket list. You shouldn’t go if all you really want are cool pictures for your social media feeds. You should go because it’s one of the most unique places in this world. You should go because you will truly have the experience of your life and memories that will stay with you forever.
Helen Jordan is the owner of Jordan Luxury Travel, an independent affiliate of Brownell Travel, a member of Virtuoso. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.