Cruise Tours – Adventure Tour
The most popular way to see the islands is by boat. These ships become the visitors’ homes for the duration of their tour, and all activities (eating, sleeping, relaxing, partying, etc.) take place onboard. Due to the increasing popularity of the Galápagos, nearly 75 tourist vessels are now available for cruises, ranging from small but charming sailboats, to elegant, custom-designed motor yachts and luxurious, mid-sized cruise ships.
Itineraries and Landings
Boat tours combine land and marine visits at each visitor site. Tourists usually visit two different land sites and one or two snorkeling sites on each day of the tour. Visitors are transported by panga (dinghy or zodiac) from their yacht to the island’s sandy or rocky beach according to what are known as wet and dry landings. Wet landings require that you wade to a sandy shore in up to knee-deep water, while dry landings are made along rocky outcroppings and require a bit of agile grace to avoid turning a dry landing into a wet one – watch out for slippery algae! Once on the island, visitors follow their naturalist guide along marked trails, periodically stopping to bird-watch, check out a scenic vista, or snap photos.
Each boat is required to have one or more naturalist guides—each guide is responsible for up to 16 passengers—who is in charge of providing daily island briefings, natural history information on flora and fauna of the islands and suggestions for island conservation. There are over 200 certified naturalist guides in the Galápagos (not all work concurrently), who are qualified with a level I, II, or III according to their educational background.
Generally speaking, level I guides have their high school diploma; level II guides have a bachelor’s degree and some foreign language training; and level III guides have an advanced degree or specific training in the biological sciences and fluency in a foreign language. Lamentably, these are fairly arbitrary designations that do not take into account years of experience in Galápagos, naturalist behavior, or group facilitation style.
Guides can make or break a tour, so it is prudent to ask for additional recommendations and/or qualifications that clarify the ranking of the guide assigned to your cruise. Unfortunately, since most guides are hired on a tour-to-tour basis (some have semi-permanent placements on boats), visitors have very little control over guide selection.
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Galápagos Health & Safety, Shore Birds – Galapagos, Stone Scorpionfish, Flightless Cormorant, Getting Around the Galapagos Islands, Marine Iguana, Punta Cormorant – Floreana Visitor Site, Lava Heron, Mammals – Galapagos and Zebra Moray Eel.
Cruise the Galapagos Islands on small expedition cruise vessels. Explore the areas each day on your Galapagos cruise. Encounter wildlife including sea lions, boobies, and tortoises. Small group sizes keep your Galapagos tour intimate and active. Discounts and deals available on Galapagos cruises.
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