The Right Galapagos Cruise

Cruising is one of the best ways to explore the Galapagos Islands, from motor yachts with eight cabins to small ships and mega catamarans. There is a huge range of cruises available, each with its own benefits and unique service points.

It all depends of the time you have to travel to the Galapagos Islands. Some travelers preffer cruises that last up to two weeks, but a week-long cruise is easily enough. In general, the larger islands of Isabela, Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal feature most of the itineraries, but by travelling overnight, a cruise can reach remote spots, such as Genovesa in the north and Española and Floreana in the south.

The Galapagos Islands are in fact quite big; the archipelago is home to a total of 21 major islands, 14 of which are open to visitors.

Short Galapagos Cruises (4-5 days)

These cruises focus on one geographic area of the Islands, such as the Eastern Islands, the Central Islands, or the Western & Southern Islands. You will have a chance to do only one or two of the main activities. This is a good option if you want to combine your cruise with a land-based tour.

Medium Galapagos Cruises (8 days)

This kind of cruise gives travelers the perfect amount of time to get accustomed to the motion while still spending plenty of time on land with the dry landings. These cruises are ideal for people who want ample opportunities to experience the main activities without the burden of a two-week commitment.

right galapagos cruise

Extended Galapagos Cruises (+15 days)

This is by far the best way to see literally everything the Islands have to show. Any cruise of two weeks or longer will probably hit all of the major islands and give you enough chances to explore each one. The longer trips are also where you might find special tours, like diving excursions.

Small Boats vs Big Vessels

We know you will take a decisionbased on your needs and expectations. A small yacht is ideal for those travelers who are looking for exclusivity, comfortable and appropriate facilities, personalized service, and the opportunity to share the experiences with your cruise mates as well as the crew of the yacht.

The bigger vessels offer a concept closer to a Caribbean cruise, with lots of activities and services that provide entertainment aboard. Often on big boats, travelers are divided into small groups, which are treated separately, so the integration between all the guests can be a bit difficult.

right galapagos cruise

Small Ships: Pros

Small boats have the most flexibility. A snorkeling session, hike, or other outing may be spontaneously extended, if passengers feel like it. The captain could allow an extra half-hour for a morning sleep-in.

If you love boating rather than cruising, small vessels are a good choice.

Small Ships: Cons

On small boats, there are fewer and smaller public spaces and less to do onboard. You can relax in your cabin, but most likely is going to be tiny. Count on hardly anyone to schmooze with — and if someone drives you crazy, you will still see him often and daily.

Mid-Size Ships: Pros

If you’re cruising with your family, choose a ship that’s at least midsize, although the ship area has relatively more space, a lower deck on a medium or large ship is the best choice if you’re prone to or worried about seasickness among your kids.

Mid-Size Ships: Cons

These vessels share cons with large ships but to a lesser degree. There’s less flexibility, spontaneity, and sense of an adventure.

Large –Size Ships: Pros

Large vessels have everything a medium-size ship has, plus live entertainment, more dining choices (including vegetarian and gluten-free options) and more public spaces like gyms, libraries, and salons to rest.

Large –Size Ships: Cons

Bigger ships deliver less of an expedition experience, so you may feel rushed on excursions when other groups are scheduled after you.

Galapagos Catamarans

A typical catamaran features two parallel hulls, spacious decking, and cabin sizes, and usually carries around 16 passengers. Their stability, speed, spaciousness, and ability to access shallow waters are all factors that make them perfectly suited to this unique environment.

right galapagos cruise

If you already decided what cruise fits your needs,

contact our travel experts to start planning your unique Galapagos Adventure.

Ecuador & Galapagos Vacation Tips

Before you arrive in Ecuador

Before you leave for departure you obviously need to arrange certain things: Find out if it’s necessary to have a Visa as this differs from country to country however, generally as a tourist you can stay up to 90 days in Ecuador without needing a visa.

Click here to view Visa information

For flights, there are two main international airports in Ecuador, Quito, and Guayaquil. When travelling to the Galapagos islands you can choose to fly from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra or San Cristobal. Depending on where you fly from and whether you prefer comfort or saving money you can often pick either a direct flight or one with (multiple) stopovers. Personally, I went for the last option and had a stopover in Frankfurt and Panama-city.

Make sure you have the right vaccinations if needed. It may be wise to book an hotel/hostel or other form of accommodation beforehand to get you started for the first few days. Transport is not needed, as it can be easily arranged at the airport itself.

Ecuador’s currency is the U.S dollar so depending on your origin country it may be a good idea to have some dollars beforehand. Do not bring many bills larger than $20 as they are often not accepted. For public transport as well as daily purchases it may be wise to keep small change. I have noticed that $1 coins are popular in Ecuador. I took the bus to get around in Quito which costs no more than $0,25.

Make sure you read about the customs in Ecuador. Man greet each other by shaking hands, while girls give one kiss on the cheek. (I made the mistake of thinking it was three kisses like in the Netherlands). Furthermore Ecuador is a country where the Catholic religion is well present which is noticeable by the many gorgeous churches.

Bag Packing For Ecuadorian Vacations

So, you have booked your tickets to Ecuador or/and the Galapagos Islands, and arranged accommodation and other necessities, great job! The day has come that you can start to pack your suitcase or backpack. Personally, I choose to take a backpack with me as it’s more convenient to take with me when travelling through the country. Bringing a suitcase is possible, however I would only recommend this if you are planning to stay in one or two locations. You don’t want to lug your suitcase around endlessly from place to place.

Below you can find my backpack and everything I decided to bring with me. I chose to take a 68 liter backpack.  I’m staying for several months and want to be able to just shove everything in there. For a few weeks of vacation in Ecuador a 50 liter backpack will most likely offer you plenty of room.

Cabin Luggage 

You don’t want to put your expensive electronics at risk of being damaged or broken. Baggage handlers are known to handle baggage on a rough way and backpacks are especially vulnerable. Below you can find my cabin luggage for my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

  • Sealable bag with liquids: deodorant, contact liquid, gel, hand sanitizer.
  • Glasses case
  • Papers including flight ticket, copy of passport, emergency information and information about Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
  • Passport wallet for passport, money, boarding passes, and other small documents.
  • Wallet, passport and vaccination booklet.
  • Laptop, laptop charger, phone charger
  • Notebook and pen
  • Nintendo switch and powerbank
  • Camera bag including lenses and charger.
  • Rain cover
  • Inflatable cushion

Checked Baggage

My 68 liter backpack which contains all my clothes, toiletries and other neccesities.

  • Toilet bag including small shampoo, razor blades, toothbrush and paste, contact liquid, sun screen etc.
  • First aid kit just in case
  • Flashlight, power strip and converter
  • A lock and multitool
  • Rain jacket.
  • Fleece jacket and Soft-shell jacket
  • Microfleece towel
  • Water bladder and daypack
  • Hiking and zip-off pants
  • Shorts and jeans
  • Flight bag and TSA approved lock
  • Underpants, socks
  • T-shirts and tank-top
  • Blouse and sweater
  • Leisure shoes

I am planning on doing many climbing tours such as the CotopaxiChimborazoCayambe and others. This is why I brought different layers of clothes. While during the day you most likely won’t need a fleece jacket, at higher altitude it can get chilly. Even though the temperature is pleasant year round, it is custom to wear long jeans while in the city.

One thing that is ideal for packing your back are packing cubes. Packing cubes keep your backpack nicely organized and prevent it from becoming one big mess in which you will never be able to find the thing you just needed.

When you visit the Galapagos Islands vacation, definitely bring sunglasses, a hat or other face cover. If you get sunburned easily bring some UV-proof clothes for the water. The sun is notoriously fierce at the equator and it is very easy to end up burned.

I hope this post helped you getting an idea of how your backpack could look like and inspires you to pack your stuff and start your own adventure! Follow this blog to keep in touch with my experiences within this beautiful county.

Not sure what to do in Ecuador? Contact Gentle Tours & Travel an Ecuadorian tour operator. Their reliable and professional service will help you to make the most of your vacation.

 

  • Guest post by Wesley Vanderbuen 

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Best Ecuador Dishes

Ecuadorian cuisine is diverse, varying with altitude, and associated agricultural conditions. Beef, chicken, and seafood are popular in the coastal regions and are typically served with carbohydrate-rich foods, such as rice accompanied with lentils, pasta, or plantain.

Remember there is way more dishes related to the Ecuadorian culture but we wanted to present what we think are the most important ones.

Ceviche

This cold soup will delight your taste buds! Embellished with onions, fresh herbs it is often composed of seafood like shrimp, octopus etc. Very famous on the coast, it is also found in other regions of Ecuador with a slightly different version. The ceviche can be accompanied with corn or banana chips.

best ecuador dishes

Cuy

The famous grilled guinea pig.. This is not a myth! Ecuadorians actually eat it, often barbecued and served with vegetables. This dish comes from an indigenous tradition still perpetuated today. The “Cuy” is more consumed in little towns and villages but very little in the big cities. Its appearance may be a little weird and many people say its taste is quite similar to chicken while others mention that its taste to something “different”.  It’s up to you to make up your own mind … Do you dare?

best ecuador dishes

Pastel de Maracuya

This exotic fruit typical of South America is suitable for everyone! In cheesecake, or without artifice, this fruit tasted in all ways! It is also known as the fruit of passion … Its taste both sweet and tart will delight many!

best ecuador dishes

Empanadas

The empanada can be enjoyed at any time! In salty or sweet version there is always a good time to your taste! The empanadas can be made out of cheese or meat; or if you don´t have anything to fill them with you can make them empty empanada “Empanada de Viento” You can make them yourself or buy them directly from street vendors. They cook them under your eyes and you will not be able to resist the smell!

best ecuador dishes

Hornado de Chancho

Another way to taste pork. The meat is eaten roasted, juice and in a very tasty marinade! This is the way to present this dish that makes it so unique. The pork is served in a tray, the head is visible as well as the whole body. The meat is cooked in its juice and becomes very tender. When the skin, it is perfectly grilled, crisp and leaves a little sweet taste thanks to the marinade!

best ecuador dishes

Patacones, chifles ..

Plantain is consumed in all its forms in the countries of South America but especially in Ecuador! In chips like “chifles” or “patacones” you will discover many ways to taste the banana! This dish holds an important place in Ecuadorian daily life and it can be eaten with any kind of dressing.

best ecuador dishes

Canelazo

This hot drink will surely make you think of a “hot punch”! It is actually an  hot beverage made from cane sugar, rum and cinnamon: hence its name. Very popular in Ecuador during cold nights, this specialty will warm you up!

best ecuador dishes

Dulce de Higos

This very typical dessert from Ecuador perfectly combines fig and cheese! The candied figs are accompanied by local cheese to reduce the feeling of sugar in the mouth! If, and only if you have some room left at the end of your meal, let yourself be tempted by this dessert like no other.

best ecuador dishes

Arroz con Menestra y Carne Frita

This is the typical dish par excellence! Who has never eaten for his “almuerzo”! This dish is made of rice, meat or chicken and a sauce made from lentils or beans. Ecuadorians love it and that makes sense. This dish is simple but consistent and full of flavors! You can add a little “aji” or hot sauce!

best ecuador dishes

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

The Ecuadorian Amazon is considered the most biodiverse place on Earth and every day countless people flock here to discover the astonishing wildlife that lives deep within the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon is filled with jungle animals and river animals and countless other beings that reside inside the depths of the rainforest.

We put together a list of the most common Amazon rainforest animals that you might run into on your Amazon rainforest tour. Now you’ll know just exactly what to expect on your trip to the diverse Amazon rainforest.

This is our Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Hoatzin

This bird sticks close to streams and lagoons in the Amazon basin. The Hoatzin is nicknamed “The Stinky Turkey” because of its foul odor. Hoatzins only eat leaves which are often hard to digest so they have adapted over the years. Hoatzins break down and ferment leaves in their stomach which is the cause of this foul odor. This might be the smelliest animal in all of the Amazon rainforest.

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Toucans

Toucans are one of the most stunning animals in the whole Amazon rainforest. These magnificent birds have a colorfully patterned coat and a long curved bill that helps them reach fruits and other foods. With a little luck, you’ll see a common species of Toucans in the Amazon rainforest called the White Throated Toucan or the smallest species of Toucans, the Aracaris.

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Parrots & Macaws

  • These birds, along with Toucans, are one of the most represented Amazon animals. Their beauty is beyond compare. Parrots and Macaws are very colorful and come in all sizes. A couple are:
  • Parakeets – the smallest parrots
  • Parrots and Macaws – the biggest

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Herons & Egrets

  • Herons and Egrets are the most common types of birds in water habitats of the Amazon. There are many species of them in plenty of different sizes and colors. A few examples are:
  • The Cocoi Heron – the largest Heron
  • The Boat-Billed Heron –its long striking shaped beak is its signature identifier

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Monkeys

For many, monkeys are the highlight of a visit to the Amazon rainforest. Monkeys are the most closely related animal to humans and are found everywhere in the forest. With some luck you’ll cross the path of monkeys like the Pigmy marmoset, the smallest monkey in the tropics, or the Red Howler Monkey, loudest in all of the Amazon rainforest.

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Caimans

These might be the scariest Amazon river animal but don’t be afraid. If you remain at a distance, they do not attack. They fish in all water bodies of the rainforest. In a nocturnal expedition, you could possibly see the Black Caiman, the biggest species, or a Spectacled Caiman which is smaller but more common.

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Snakes

During a visit to the Amazon, you’re bound to run into a snake or two. There are loads of them in all different sizes. In some cases, you may even spot an anaconda.

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Tree Frogs

Water and humidity are a necessity for a frog’s life cycle, making the Amazon rainforest the perfect home for them. At dusk, you can hear roars of Tree Frogs calling. With a little bit of luck on a night hike, you can see many species of the Phyllomedusa Genus, the most beautiful kinds of tree frogs.

Top Most Seen Amazon Animals

Our wildlife experts will take you on tours through the Amazon rainforest

and show you the very best of the most biodiverse place on the Earth.

Reasons to visit Ecuador

Ecuador is perfect for those who want more than a simple vacation but for those who want to enjoy their life to the fullest. If you fit into this category, you are probably wondering what kind of place Ecuador is, what to expect of it, and what you should bring. So here are a few things to consider.

Language

Being perfectly fluent in English is always a good thing, but in Ecuador it might not be that helpful since local people speak many different indigenous languages. Most of the local people don’t speak English that well or at all, but everyone speaks and understands Spanish perfectly, so it would be wise to learn at least some basic phrases before booking your flight to this amazing country.

Prices & Currency

If you’re from the USA, you don’t have to worry about confusing conversions, since one of the official currencies is the United States dollar. Even with a low budget, Ecuador can be an amazing place for budget backpackers since the prices are not too high.

You can easily find good quality double rooms for 20 to 30 USD a night and a good meal like, for example, a two-course seafood dish, for just 3 bucks.

A great idea that will save you some trouble is to always carry a good amount of small dollar bills since street foods, daily items and transportation are usually really cheap and people often don´t have change.

Another recommendation; be prepared to battle some ATM machines. Some machines won’t accept your card at all while some ATM machines cannot issue more than 100 USD at a time. On top of that, smaller cities and villages usually don’t have ATMs, so prepare your wallet before you go anywhere.

Food

For those who don’t like to experiment too much, Ecuador offers standard western cuisine or different variants of rice dishes with vegetables, meat, and fish, but western food is usually more expensive and, besides that, it would be a sin to miss some of the wonders of the traditional Ecuadorian kitchen. You can get a taste of Ecuadorian cuisine right on the streets or in fancy restaurants.

One of the most popular choices for indecisive and hungry tourists is usually the “almuerzo” – lunch special. These dishes usually include a soup, a main dish, a soda and they cost around 2.50 to 3 USD. Here you’re always guaranteed to get enough food of amazing taste for an affordable price, so be sure to explore the many different choices this place has to offer.

Transportation

It is a great idea to pre-book some transportation to your hotel when you arrive there for the first time, but even if you haven´t, you can still use the taxi. Getting around in bigger cities is not a problem since taxi services are not expensive because fuel is cheap.

In most situations you won’t have to spend more than 3 to 5 USD per ride, but if you want to save up on that, you can still catch a local bus. Local bus fares are usually no more than 50 cents, but traveling routes can be confusing, so check twice if you are in the right bus before it starts going anywhere.

For cross-country traveling, your best options are still buses since they are really easy to use. Just make sure you hold on to any bus ticket receipts you get since you might need them later on. If you are traveling for more than a few hours, be sure to check for different bus companies’ fares and routes since prices and time spent on the road can vary.

Safety

While Ecuador is notorious for being a place where you can easily “lose” your wallet, these rumors are often exaggerated. Having said this, it is important to note that some visitors as in all countries worldwide have had negative experiences so is a good idea to keep your eyes open and always check your belongings.

If you are going somewhere is better to be accompanied by some friends so you can look after each other. Inform yourself of common scams, how to notice them, and how to avoid them before your trip and you should be just fine.

Sunscreen

As the name itself suggests, Ecuador is located on the equator, which means it’s much closer to the sun than any other place north or south of it. This means that you’re going to need some serious UV protection. In case you forgot to bring sunscreen you can easily  find local stores where this kind of products can be found.

Ecuador is a destination that is guaranteed to give you the adventure of a lifetime just make sure you are adequately prepared and well informed!

Whale Watching Ecuador

Whale watching in Ecuador has become very popular along the country’s Pacific coast from late June to early October, every year a large number of Humpback Whales make a more than 4000 miles trip from Antarctica´s cold waters in order to mate and spawn in the Equatorial line warm waters.

The number of whales that are seen off the coast of Ecuador can change year by year, but ranges are between 400 and 2000. The first to arrive are the young males, who travel in large pods and stay fairly close to the coastline. Females that got pregnant the year before are the last to return to the tropical waters due to their extra weight in order to give birth. The hot water is important for the survival of the newborns, they would never survive in the cold waters of Antarctica due to their lack of a protecting fat layer.

Known to be an extremely active and social species of whale, the humpback whale can be observed both alone and in groups of up to 8 individuals. Always talkative, the humpback whale is known for its love of communication and for the harmonious sounds it emits underwater while communicating with other whales.

In Ecuador, humpback whales are seen more commonly along the northern and central parts of the coast. Some of the best places for whale watching in Ecuador are Puerto Lopez, Salinas, Bahia de Caraquez and Mompiche. Puerto Lopez is a particularly attractive destination for whale watching because it offers tours to nearby Isla de la Plata and the Machalilla National Park.

This could be a great opportunity to observe this unique animals and can be taken as a preview of a Galapagos cruise experience.

Contact our travel experts to organize this unique experience while you are visit Ecuador.

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos? Want to take an unforgettable vacation time with your mate?  Why don´t  spend this unique time in cruise to the Galapagos Islands?   It’s got everything a couples’ trip needs: Adventure, gorgeous sea and landscapes, interesting activities, exotic locations, and plenty of opportunity for romance.

Few places on earth have as much untouched natural places, rare and unique wildlife as the Galapagos Islands.

If you’ve never been to the Galapagos Islands (or if you’ve never planned a cruise before), you may feel a bit overwhelmed with the planning process, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you make the right decisions for your trip.

1.- Determine when you want to travel

There’s really no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands, but there are definitely times that are better than others when it comes to viewing certain wildlife. June through September and then December through January are the two peak seasons on the islands.

However, there are better times to see and experience all that the Galapagos Islands has to offer.

  • December through May is the rainy season (but the rains are very sporadic and short-lived, so it won’t really disrupt your trip) and the water is warmer, which makes snorkeling much more pleasurable. It’s also mating season for many of the animals, so you can watch their interesting dances and rituals, as well as witness the tortoises nesting. In March and April, the sea lion pups are born, so you can see them exploring the islands. If you’re given to seasickness, this is definitely the time to visit, since the seas are calmer.
  • From June through November, the Humboldt Current brings cooler water and an abundance of plankton, which attracts the birds, and penguins. The blue-footed booby does its amazing mating dance during this season, and the diving is at its finest, if you can brave the cooler waters.

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos

 

2. Consider your Galapagos Islands itinerary

If you’re thinking about a Galapagos Islands cruise, you probably have a few ideas about what you really want to see. Maybe it’s a particular animal or bird, or maybe you’re an amateur volcanologist. The main goal is to make sure you’ll actually see the things that matter to you.

Cruise itineraries tend to divide the islands into three separate groups, and each has its own highlights:

  • Southern Islands (San Cristobal, Santa Fe, Plazas, Espanola, Floreana) focus more on human history and wildlife diversity. This is the only place to see the waved albatross.
  • Northern Islands (Santiago, Bartolome, Rabida, North Seymour, Genovesa) are noted for their volcanic landscapes and lava fields, as well as the red-footed booby colony and the penguins on Bartolome.
  • Western Islands (Isabela and Ferdinanda) have the most active volcanoes as well as amazing wildlife including the flightless cormorant, Galapagos penguins, and whales. Isabela Island is the only island to have the equator run through it.

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos

 

3. Choose your vessel’s class and size carefully

Almost all Galapagos Islands cruises have air conditioning and private baths as well as spacious sun decks and rest areas. They provide meals with menus that vary based on the size and class of the boat. In general, cruise vessels are assigned to the following classes Luxury, First Class, Standard, Economical. Some vessels offer spacious suites, matrimonial rooms, cabins with balcony is another great feature some ships offer.

Snorkeling equipment and kayaks are available (depending of the ship it may have an extra cost)

Consider whether you’d prefer a smaller vessel (which is usually the cheaper option) with more intimacy with your fellow travelers or a larger cruise ship that allows for more privacy and a wider range of on-board amenities. If you are prone to seasickness, a bigger boat or a Catamaran is a better option.

If diving is on your bucket-list, you can also book a diving cruise, which may be a single day adventure or a series of dives over several days.

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos

 

4. Activities for couples

Endless activities can be done with your mate while you visit the Enchanted islands no matter if you are cruising or exploring the islands on your way. Why not have dinner for two al fresco?. Take your dinner on the top deck of the ship under the stars or at sunset or if you want to stay on land biking is a another great opportunity to bond your relationship and explore one of the great natural wonders of the world together. Use this time to take in all the Galapagos beauty and channel that sense of wonder into your relationship. After all, it isn’t everyday or every couple who gets to explore such a unique environment together.

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos

 

5. Take memories leave footprints

A trip to the Galapagos Islands with your mate is definitely an unique chance to bring together the most romantic  version of you two. So take as many pictures as possible during your stay in the Enchanted Islands, a good idea when you go back home is to make a digital version of your visit to this unique place on the planet and fall in love again every time you remember this once in a lifetime trip .

Why a couple should travel to Galapagos

 

Feel the love again…