Look again – why a return visit to the Galapagos could be for you

AUTHOR The Ecoventura Team

A trip to the Galapagos is often considered a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list adventure.

Given the incredible landscapes and beaches, and of course the magnificent wildlife above and below the waves, the islands have captured the imaginations of some of the greatest minds in science – they were, after all, the source of Darwin’s inspiration for his theories on evolution, and even David Attenborough has called the Galapagos the most extraordinary place on Earth.

But as remarkable as the islands are, and as memorable as any visit to this wonderful archipelago is guaranteed to be, it certainly doesn’t mean anyone should limit themselves to only one expedition.

Certainly here at Ecoventura we are seeing more and more guests return for a second trip – making the most of the fact that we offer two different itineraries to avoid traveling the same route twice.

Some guests are returning after just a year or two – it’s hard to stay away once you’ve got a taste for the Galapagos – whilst others are returning after decades, keen to show new generations of growing families the magic of these islands.

When is the best time for a return visit?

With a huge amount to see and do on and around the islands, a return visit is guaranteed to reveal new sights – and new animals – missed the first time round.

The rhythm of life for many of the creatures that inhabit the islands plays to an annual beat – driven as it is by the ocean currents and breeding cycles – so visiting at different times of year may mean you catch things you didn’t see last time. See new-born sealions taking to the waters of the first time, watch sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand, peer into the depths to catch a glimpse of the majestic migratory whale shark, or see the famous mating rituals of the blue-footed boobies, if you didn’t on a previous trip – these are all things that visitors will only see at certain times of the year.

In addition, visiting at different times of year will bring different conditions and a different feel to the Islands; if you enjoyed a Christmas break or summer visit last time, how about a trip in the Fall to make the most of the changing weather and warm, gentle light at this time of the year?

In general, the Galapagos Dry Season, which stretches from June to November, is likely to bring slightly cooler air and water temperatures as the Humboldt Current washes up from the South, accompanied by fresher trade winds. The garua fog often covers the islands in a light mist in the mornings, bringing moisture to the more elevated parts of the islands to help maintain their lush green scenery.

At sea level however, there is little precipitation, hence the name “dry season”. The summer months are always popular times to visit, and for good reason. Blue skies tend to prevail, and many people find the slightly lower temperatures (averaging around 74°F / 23°C – this is still the tropics after all) more comfortable.

The Humboldt current is nutrient-rich, bringing a host of marine creatures in its wake. Tropical fish, rays and sea turtles arrive in large numbers, bringing bigger creatures too – whales and dolphins are more common, with majestic humpbacks and 100-strong dolphin pods regular occurrences, whilst sea lions are a sure sighting from beaches everywhere you look!

The more gentle climatic conditions and lighting is perfect for capturing holiday snaps, so our October photography departures are always a favorite, whilst for the more active, slightly lower temperatures are ideal for hikes and visits to the islands.

Mating season is often in full swing, and the Fall months brings the arrival of sea lion pups – certainly worth seeing at least once in your lifetime!

The Galapagos Warm Season last from December through to around May. The climate is typically more tropical; there can be rain or cloudier skies. However, the air is warmer with temperatures reaching up to 88°F / 31°C around March and April.

With warmer temperatures in the air and the water, swimming and snorkelling is perfect. Not only to cool off and escape the heat – the Galapagos is an underrated beach holiday location, after all – but also because the waters around the islands – particularly in January, February and March – are clearer now than at any other time of the year.

With visibility at its best, snorkeling conditions are perfect, so if swimming with sea lions and penguins, or watching marine iguanas nibble algae on the seafloor, is on your list, now is the time.

On land, you may find sea turtles nesting in the sand and the marine and land iguanas are getting frisky in their mating season. Tortoises will be laying their eggs in April and May, and flamingoes and great frigatebirds will be mating and nesting in large numbers.

Fond familiarity

At the same time, many guests enjoy the comforting familiarity that a return trip offers; favorite foods, friendly faces amongst the crew and familiar surroundings on board can all add to the desire to return to a location associated with fond memories.

But variety is, of course, the spice of life, so whilst many guests enjoy returning to the Galapagos with us, they tend to switch itinerary so they can explore as much of the archipelago as possible.

The food, service and onboard experience will be identical whichever trip you choose, with the same excursions and activities (albeit to different places) available on both trips. The incredibly rich and diverse wildlife is on display on both voyages (with only a handful of exceptions), so visitors will see all the favorites – from sealions and marine iguanas, to penguins and land iguanas, and the iconic giant tortoises – on either itinerary.

But the itineraries have different characters given the landscapes and wildlife vary in different parts of the island chain, so choosing which itinerary may be the one for you is certainly worth giving some thought to.

A new voyage

Both itineraries offer a week-long voyage around the islands, with one covering the Southern and Central Islands, whilst the other takes visitors to the Northern and Western part of the archipelago.

The Southern & Central Route (Itinerary A or “Beaches & Bays“) visits the oldest islands in the archipelago.

Beautiful white sand beaches created by millions of years of erosion are the order of the day. Colonies of sea lions along the shore doze in the sun, rising occasionally to take a swim in the ocean. Blue-footed boobies show off their colorful feet, and the waved albatross perform a unique courtship ritual.

Climb Bartolome for an iconic view of the central islands and pinnacle rock – one of the most spectacular views anywhere in the Galapagos – and visit Floreana Island to see the oldest post-box in the Galapagos!

The Northern & Western Route (Itinerary B or “Volcanic Wonders“) takes guests to some of the most remote and dramatic islands in the region. Active volcanoes and recently-formed lava formations scatter the landscapes – a Jurassic scene completed by iguanas prowling across the volcanic rocks. Richly colored beaches, caves and volcanic lagoons add to the dramatic views.

Flightless cormorants build their nests along the shore, whilst marine iguanas enjoy the remote Fernandina Island, home to the largest colony in the Galapagos. Snorkeling is a particular highlight here – the Westernmost islands enjoy the best of the nutrient-rich ocean currents, which in turn attracts sea lions, fur seals and marine iguanas in large numbers. The Bolivar channel offers your best chance to see breaching whales leaping from the water, or pods of dolphins on a feeding frenzy.

Special offer for return guests

Guests who have traveled with Ecoventura within the past five years will be offered a 5% repeat client discount off the published cruise rate to travel with us in 2022, when making a new booking. Please note that this discount is available for a limited time only and is subject to change. Certain peak dates are excluded, and this discount cannot be used in combination with any other promotions.

If you would like more information, or to book your return visit to the Galapagos, get in touch with the team and would be delighted to make your twice-in-a-lifetime trip come true!