Stepping onto the Galapagos Islands is like stepping into a land of the unknown – a time before man where birds lost their ability to fly, penguins survive at shockingly high temperatures, and tortoises and dandelions grow to mammoth sizes. However, a wonderland of such proportions can quickly turn from an enchanting paradise into a disorienting chaos if it is not properly managed, with visitors becoming overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of new experiences. Your tour operator can either provide you with a breath of relief, creating a safe Galapagos experience directly related to your passions and abilities, or a headache, as you come to realize this archipelago is much larger than you had imagined. Don’t take the risk What makes the Galapagos Islands so stunning is also what makes some visitors hesitant about visiting them – their remote location. Although you will be accompanied at all times by a naturalist guide, minimizing any small threats that may exist, you will want to make sure there is a doctor on board your vessel 24/7 to ensure your comfort during your Galapagos vacation, and at the very least an ease of mind. Imagine a mere discomfort such as a scrape or upset stomach ruining your trip of a lifetime simply because you could not access a doctor to prevent something seemingly irrelevant from becoming more serious. To further ensure your comfort, be sure to choose a room that is far from the ship’s engines, ensuring a good sleep while travelling and a fresh start every day. On this note, one of the most common concerns among visitors to the Galapagos is seasickness. The archipelago itself is about the size of Mississippi, meaning that some islands require several hours of travel in order to reach their shores. If you are prone to seasickness or unsure of how you will react to travelling in deep water, expedition vessels are always a safer bet over individual day trips. The on-board doctor will be able to assist you with any illnesses in addition to the fact that expedition vessels minimize any impact felt from waves, thus reducing the possibility of seasickness. However, if you want to avoid all dangers of experiencing seasickness, there are itineraries specifically designed for you such as the “Central Islands Itinerary” of the Isabela Yacht. These islands are protected from the strong winds and water currents of the open sea by the outer islands, the waves are much smaller. The experts really do know best Are you a history buff, a nature lover, geology explorer or marine enthusiast, or perhaps all of the above? Once you begin to research the Galapagos Islands, you will soon realize that their wealth of options provides something for everybody, but is so varied that it is impossible to see everything, thus making it important to maximize your trade-offs. Choosing the right touring company is essential to this process, tapping into its vast experience to align your interests with the stories these islands hold and unlocking the secrets that the archipelago holds. Many visitors to the islands are aware of the spectacularly unique life that the islands hold, but very few are aware of the differences and diversity that exist between and even within the islands themselves, as well as in the water surrounding them. For example, the flightless cormorant is only found on the coastline of Fernandina and the northwestern shore of Isabela – a mere two of the 20 islands that make up the Galapagos Archipelago. Likewise, whale shark sightings are overwhelming off the coast of Darwin Island. This diversity is also mirrored in the geology, which ranges from spatter cones, underwater caves, lava tunnels and even the islands’ own version of Ol’ Faithful.’ Each island has a different face, and in some cases even their own unique ecosystems. On the other hand, the Galapagos Islands also offer tourists a rich island history, filled with stories of pirates, whalers, a missing baroness and remains from World War II. They are also home to one of the world’s first international mail services. This ‘post office’ (a wooden barrel) has been in operation since the late 1700’s, and today visitors continue to pick up letters that they then hand deliver once they get home, often leaving one in their place. Expedition vessels have been developing, modifying and enhancing their national-park-approved itineraries for decades, thus offering comprehensive and well-coordinated excursions that will give you a rich understanding of these world-renowned islands. Experienced companies can compile the plant, animal, and marine life along with the history and geology of the islands into a well-planned and detail-oriented itinerary that is aligned with your interests, far outweighing what individual day trips may offer. Finally, choosing a company that has an expedition leader in addition to the naturalist guides is absolutely critical. These leaders are responsible for organizing the day-to-day activities and ensuring that each guest is more than satisfied, no matter their language, abilities or interests. 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.
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