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Top tips for travel in the Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands attract people from all over the world, from couples to big families, to nature lovers and adventure-seeking travelers. You will undoubtedly meet people with different cultures, languages and interests in this world-renowned equatorial archipelago. However, this can lead to some complex problems when it comes to tour groups, including potential language barriers, physical capabilities or flexibility in your itinerary. In a location with so much to see, these problems can be detrimental to your time on the islands; its like gazing longingly at a ride as you wait in line at an amusement park, but only one of the ticket booths is open. Multi-guided expeditions are by far the best way to avoid these complications and fully take advantage of your Galapagos experience. There are plenty of options out there, but it’s always important to be logical and common sensical about which one is best. A lot of these options typically focus on things such as exclusivity, privacy and avoiding mass tourism; however, one must note that not all of these are grounded in actual facts. With just a little bit of research and discretion, we are certain you will manage to find the best option that suits you. Flexibility in activities The Galapagos National Park has strict rules in place to protect the delicate Galapagos ecosystem. These regulations incorporate something that we now regard as a Golden Rule: guests must be accompanied by a naturalist guide at all times. Imagine if there was a family that couldn’t decide on just one activity: the aunt and dad want to go in the glass-bottom boat, the children want to go snorkeling, while the mom and older daughter simply want to relax on the beach. Under the Golden Rule, such a scenario would be impossible to accommodate with just one guide. The absence of multiple guides means that these three groups will now have to agree on just one option at a time. In addition to allowing guests to divide into groups according to the activities they want to participate in, expedition vessels also offer more options such as glass-bottom boats, snorkeling, kayaking, or relaxing on the beach, among other activities. They also adjust to the needs of their guests by offering multiple hikes that each have different levels of difficulty. Language barriers Many people believe that this barrier, isn’t all that big a deal. With one guide per a maximum of 16 people, it seems highly unlikely that such a relatively small group would require a tour in another language. But stop and think back on just how many people from around the world attracted to the islands almost everyone! Imagine being on a 16-person yacht with just one guide and trying to manage communication with a couple from France, a German family and a group of friends from Australia. This situation is very common in the Galapagos Islands, and can make things exceptionally difficult for both tourists and guides. As guides must repeat their talks in several languages, they are more pressed for time and are thus restricted in the explanations and stories they can share. Furthermore, naturalists often have to limit guests questions so that they dont appear to give preference to one language over another. This not only affects the information guests receive, but also what they are able to see remember, the animals are not going to wait for the guide to finish. Just imagine, by the time a guide finishes explaining something in one language, the Galapagos hawk may have already captured its prey and flown off to devour it in privacy, and by the time they finish with the second language, the blue-footed booby just down the trail may have already finished courting its mate what good is the explanation without the visual? Better coordination Some tourists are turned off by the idea of an expedition vessel because it seems impersonal; but this actually couldn’t be any further from the truth. Park regulations state that vessels are restricted to a maximum capacity of 100 people and, consequently, any expedition vessel you see in the Galapagos is bound to be much smaller than your average ocean liner. That is why they are commonly referred to as expedition vessels instead of cruise ships. Galapagos expedition vessels also have a smaller ratio of guides to guests, allowing tour companies to organize groups according to their needs, nationality and/or language, and therefore provide a more customized experience based on your personal interests. You may even have the option of touring with multiple naturalist guides, that each provide you with the opportunity to hear about the individual experiences they’ve had along with the passions each one has. The multi-guided system is based on having an expedition leader, whose main role is to take full advantage of each visitor sites, by properly coordinating each and every group on the boat. There is Never Enough Time Whether it is the enthralling mating rituals of the waved albatross, huge herd of hammerhead sharks or one of the largest reptiles in the world, there is no shortage of things to see in the Galapagos Islands. Your time in the Enchanted Islands is precious, and you will not want to waste a second of it by waiting for your naturalist guide to describe the same thing in multiple languages or kayaking around the shoreline when you would rather be biking up in the highlands of Santa Cruz alongside giant tortoises. Satisfy your curiosity in one fell swoop! Multi-guided expeditions make the most efficient use of your valuable time in the islands and provide greater flexibility to satisfy their guests, no matter the language or physical restrictions at hand. In the end: don’t let your Galapagos expedition be limited by the limitations of others. Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing more reasons for why you should participate in multi-guided expedition vessels in the near future! Adrián Peñafiel is Corporate Commercial Vice-President at Metropolitan Touring. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Adrián Peñafiel

Adrian Peñafiel Schweitzer is the Chief Commercial Officer at Metropolitan Touring. He manages multiple facets of both the financial and commercial areas, specializing in offering clients the best experience available. Adrian is a passionate explorer and educator that views the Galapagos as one of the greatest places to visit. He’s also a family man, a big fan of the NFL, mathematics, and the Galapagos BIG15 group of iconic species. For 6 decades, Metropolitan Touring, a regional DMC with offices in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, has offered transformative experiences in iconic destinations such as Galapagos, Quito, Machu Picchu, and many more.

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  1. Wow, this looks amazing! I hope I get to see it with my own eyes someday. Thanks for sharing! I’ve never been on a multi-guided trip before. I usually convince myself I could just do the activities myself and save on the cost. I’ll have to try one out someday.

  2. Thanks for this look into visiting the Galapagos. We have a small group tour booked for next year. Hard to sometimes read between the lines of tour descriptions. This helps!

  3. If I ever visited Galapagos I would certainly only explore the island with a guide, I’d be far too scared! I’m definitely not under any illusion that I would know what I’m doing out there aha. I absolutely love water activities so I would likely spend most of my time on boats or diving, I bet those experiences are great there

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