These remarkable volcanic islands are unique in the world for the richness and variety of their wildlife. Hugely influential to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, a visit to the Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime experience of nature at work.
Formed by a combination of volcanic activity and uplift in the last 15 million years, the Galapagos were first used by pirates and buccaneers as a hideaway, and have only had permanent inhabitants since the 19th century due to the harsh conditions and lack of easily-obtained water.
Whether you stay on board a comfortable boat or opt for an adventurous safari you’ll see some of the most exciting wildlife on the planet, which due to the relative lack of predators shows no fear and is easily approached by visitors. Several species are unique to the islands, including giant tortoises, fur seals, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins (the only penguins to live on the equator) and vampire finches.
The islands’ marine life is breathtaking. There are some excellent snorkelling sites where you can swim with playful sea lions and see dolphins, penguins, rays, sea turtles, and even whale sharks (the world’s largest fish) in their natural element.
Here are some of our Galapagos highlights
There are some stunning beaches in Galapagos and quite varied from idyllic white sand and coral to black lava. They are often deserted, save a few sealions, unless they are already out in the turquiose-blue water having fun with snorkellers.
With few natural predators, Galapagos wildlife are easily approached by visitors. Some species are unique to the islands, including giant tortoises. Many have heard of (the now late) Lonesome George but there are other species and various breeding programs in place.
Arguably the best way to visit the Galapagos Islands is to take a cruise. There are many different boats sailing around the enchanted islands from yachts to catamarans to cruise ships with guided visits to various islands made by panga boats.
Our trip to Peru, Ecuador and Galapagos went extremely smoothly and the organisation can only be described as immaculate! Obviously the clients are bound to have some nervousness about a relatively complex trip, transport connections, etc. etc. We need not have been concerned: every liaison and hand-over was absolutely spot-on.
The local agents in Peru were stars and all their guides were both pleasant and well-informed. We thoroughly enjoyed our trips with all of them. Our guide in Quito was also a gem and it was really stimulating that he was able to engage in such a wide range of discussions with us relating to so many different aspects of life in Ecuador.
The hotels were without exception excellent and, of course, it's always the staff that make the difference. Inkaterra (Aguas Calientes) and Patio Andaluz (Quito) were each very special in their different ways but we loved them all - even the Radisson at Lima Airport that was top-notch in its Radisson sort of way. The Andean Explorer was a highlight and pure decadent luxury from leaving the hotel in Cusco until arriving in Puno.
And then the Galapagos: we've spent our adult lives hoping to get there and, of course, you can build yourself up for a big disappointment. In fact, the group on Cachalote, the crew, and the Islands themselves provided a completely wonderful experience in every way. Again, much depended on the guide and Darwin was quite outstanding. We will always remember this trip as a real highlight in our lives.
Thank you, Sue and Last Frontiers, for putting it all together for us and for putting up with all those irritating questions in the lead-up phase. I cannot see how anything could have been done that would have improved the organisation and quality of this trip; it's a very great testimony to you and to all your contacts in Peru and Ecuador. - AR