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Smack on the equator 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are one of the world's greatest wildlife destinations. Where else can you stand within touching distance of blue-footed boobies and giant iguanas, snorkel with friendly sea lions and penguins, and scuba dive with hammerhead sharks? Nowhere. The archipelago's popularity, however, has begun to threaten the very animals that draw the world to it. For the visitor, this means a journey to the islands requires planning both to minimize human impact and to get the most out of a trip. For years, cruises aboard licensed yachts with licensed guides have been the only ...

Smack on the equator 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are one of the world's greatest wildlife destinations. Where else can you stand within touching distance of blue-footed boobies and giant iguanas, snorkel with friendly sea lions and penguins, and scuba dive with hammerhead sharks? Nowhere. The archipelago's popularity, however, has begun to threaten the very animals that draw the world to it. For the visitor, this means a journey to the islands requires planning both to minimize human impact and to get the most out of a trip. For years, cruises aboard licensed yachts with licensed guides have been the only real way to see most of the islands. Best case scenario: you get a qualified English-speaking guide and you see the best the islands have to offer. Worst case: you hit heavy seas, spend too much time at port, have a lousy guide, lousy food and a lousy crew. Spend as much money as you can and as much time on research. You and the wildlife will be happier in the end!

Danny Palmerlee
About the Expert

Danny Palmerlee is the main author of numerous Lonely Planet travel guides, including Ecuador, Argentina, South America on a Shoestring, and Pacific Northwest Trips.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km (525 nmi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part. Wildlife is its most notable feature.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December through June, but doable year-round