|The Galapagos Islands are located around 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador. Galapagos is famous for being home to some of the most unique wildlife anywhere in the world, and the lack of natural predators has created a paradise where animals do not fear humans, making it possible for visitors to get incredible close-up experiences with the animals both on land and in the sea.
The Galapagos Islands can be divided into four different areas within the archipelago: Western, Southern, Northern and Central. Each region has unique features showcasing both the geological features and the wildlife that lives there. Many Galapagos Islands have their own endemic wildlife - species found there and nowhere else in the world. In Galapagos you can for yourself witness how these animals evolved differently from each other from one island to the other, an observation that is the foundation for Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
In 2011 Galapagos Cruises are available in 3 to 11 days or in 15 days. All Galapagos Cruises visit 1 to 2 sites each day. The 8 days cruises are traditionally the most popular and are currently how most boats operate - however, the majority of the Galapagos Cruises have had their itineraries changed by the Galapagos National Park beginning in January 2011 and will now operate on a 15 day itinerary, to minimize the effect that tourism has on the Galapagos. Shorter cruises will be a portion of the 15 day itinerary. The full 15 day itinerary gives you a possibility to see most of the islands.
Unlike cruises to other destination, where your ship is a small moving city, Galapagos Cruises are restricted to yachts and ships carrying 100 passengers or less. There are several factors to consider when deciding what kind of cruise boat to choose. You will spend a considerable amount of your time in Galapagos on board, this may influence your choice of category, small cruises offer the most options from budget cruises to the most luxurious cruises. Snorkeling is possible on nearly every boat, but scuba diving is only available on a limited number of boats. The standard Small Galapagos Cruise ship are large comfortable yachts carrying up to 16 passengers, this means that the whole boat will get on and off for shore excursions at the same time since the National Park has implemented a maximum of 16:1 traveler to guide ratio.
Galapagos Islands is a year round destination, but Galapagos has two different seasons offering different experiences, which may influence the time of the year you want to visit. The dry season is from June to December, when temperatures are at the coolest. This is the time of the year when rain showers are infrequent and the seas are roughest. Animals are more active this time of the year and it is the best time for seeing whales and dolphins. For scuba divers this is peak season marked by the arrival of whale sharks in Galapagos from May to November. The rainy season is from December to June, when the temperatures are the warmest, the seas are the calmest, and there is a greater risk of afternoon tropical showers. This season is a popular time for cruises to Galapagos while it is cold in the northern hemisphere.