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At Explore we specialise in small group adventure holidays, with over 450 tours on offer in 120 countries. We have a wide range of adventure travel options including walking and trekking tours, cycling tours, polar voyages, family adventure holidays and much more...

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Last Minute

The Galapagos Islands

Why travel to the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos National Park is a unique collection of islands, formed by volcanoes over hundreds of thousands of years, 970km off the coast of Ecuador.

As the islands have never been connected with a continent, over the years, plants and animals here have developed differently to their continental ancestors as they have adapted to the conditions and environment of the Galapagos. 25% of shore fish, half the plants and nearly all the reptiles are found nowhere else on earth. In many cases different forms of species have developed on different islands within the Galapagos archipelago itself.

It was these amazing and unique plants and creatures that inspired Darwin on his voyage aboard The Beagle in 1835 and is a source of wonderment and fascination for travellers today. A journey around the Galapagos is a chance to visit a living laboratory of evolution and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world in its most unspoilt state.

 

Why travel with Explore?

Sustainable tourism: The ecosystems of the Galapagos are extremely fragile. Everyone is familiar with the story about the extinction of the dodo and today other species found only in the Galapagos are under threat. Explore works with the Monserrat yacht in the Galapagos which is both Smart Voyager and Rainforest Alliance certified – both these programmes ensure that our boat and local crew help to protect the islands’ ecology and support and educate the islanders. We are also a corporate member of the Galapagos Conservation Trust.

Our vessel: We have worked with the Monserrat yacht for many years and since it was refurbished in 2007 it provides even more comfort for our customers in the Galapagos Islands. One of the key features of the boat is that every cabin has lower beds, so you don’t have to worry about rolling out of a bunk bed in the middle of the night! There’s 24 hour hot water and each cabin has a private bathroom. The crew onboard will take good care of you and the food cooked by our chef gets excellent reviews.

Experience and expertise: Having operated adventure holidays in the Galapagos for many years, Explore and our local crew know the best places to go for great wildlife sightings. All of our trips are accompanied by an expert Naturalist Guide who is a veritable encyclopaedia of knowledge on the fauna and flora of these remarkable islands.

 

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Galapagos
Checklist

Before booking your Galapagos tour, make sure the trip ticks the boxes like Explore’s tours do:

Tick_redSmart Voyager Certification – protecting the delicate eco-system

 

Tick_redRainforest Alliance Certified – promoting sustainable tourism

 

Tick_redNaturalist Guide   - get a much deeper understanding of these unique islands

 

Tick_redComfortable yacht – lower beds and private bathroom

Which tour is best for me?

Explore offers a number of different Galapagos programmes depending on your interests and budget...

 

When is the best time to travel?

 

One question we get asked a lot is when is the best time to travel to see certain wildlife – the truth is that at anytime of year you can see the whole range of wildlife because they are endemic to the islands.

Also, each time of year has its own advantages, whether it is chicks hatching, sea lions mating, birds nesting or plants flowering – these events occur year round and whenever you travel you’ll get to enjoy at least one or more of the above natural events.

In terms of weather, December to May is generally the hot season, with the chance of the odd heavy shower and June to November is the cooler season when the seas are cooler and the days can be more cloudy. Winds can be stronger in July and August leading to bigger swells.

  Landing_boat For those of you for whom time is precious we recommend taking our 12-day ‘The Enchanted Isles' tour that features a 7-night cruise around the Galapagos islands.
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If you want to see the Galapagos but would rather spend each night in a hotel on the islands, rather than aboard a boat, then check out our 16 day ‘Volcanoes and Galapagos' tour – this is also our best-value tour in the Galapagos.

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Our most popular tour is the 22-day ‘Ecuador & the Galapagos' tour, this comprehensive tour includes the best of Ecuador and a 7-night cruise in the Galapagos – a real treat for nature lovers as we spend time in the Amazon and the Galapagos.

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  Smart_voyager

Smart Voyager Certification


Smart Voyager certification is a non-profit making programme based in Ecuador that seeks to minimise the impact of tour boat operations in the Galapagos and ensure that local operators have a positive impact on the local communities in the islands and on nature conservation. In order to obtain Smart Voyager certification, the operators of M/Y Monserrat have to meet the programme’s standards on a wide range of issues, from preventing the introduction and spread of non-native species to the proper management of waste and recycling initiatives. At the heart of Smart Voyager programme is the commitment to improve the welfare and socioeconomic development of the Galapagos Islands’ community.
 

Galapagos Wildlife

Are any islands better than others for wildlife?

To a greater or lesser extent most of the islands in the Galapagos are home to almost the entire range of fauna and flora, so whatever islands you visit, you will get to see most of the unique wildlife the archipelago have to offer. Swimming and snorkelling is possible at almost every island too, so you can experience the beauty and diversity of the underwater world as well as the land creatures. Santa Cruz island is the best place to spot giant tortoise.
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Rainforest Alliance


The Rainforest Alliance works with local hotels and suppliers to promote best management practices that will help local business reduce negative impacts and potentially obtain certification in sustainable tourism. Through training, workshops and by providing tools and resources, the Rainforest Alliance encourages the tourism industry to conserve local environments and contribution a positive way to their local communities. Explore supports the Rainforest Alliance by agreeing that a minimum of 50% of our nightstops will be in properties working towards certification in sustainable tourism and actively encouraging the other properties we work with to sign up to local sustainable tourism programmes.