The colonial city of Quito and the Otavalo market should not be missed during your stopover or extend your journey to explore the surprising diversity of Ecuador, from active volcanoes in the Andes to the rainforest of the Amazon basin.
Diablada Pillareña – Píllaro, Tungurahua Province - January 1-6
The Devil’s Feast of Píllaro is part of the Cultural Patrimony of Ecuador. Its origins are not known because the historical documents of the town were burnt in an indigenous uprising in 1898 and so several different versions exist. One thing is known, that there are absolutely no religious elements in this celebration. The devil is believed to be a symbol of rebellion against oppressors. People of Píllaro and its surrounding communities dance around the town to the rhythms of village bands, drinking and eating, and dressed up as devils with very elaborate costumes and masks made with real animal teeth and horns. It is a very beautiful and impressive sight.
Amazon Region Day - February 12th
Commemorating the discovery of the Amazon River by Francisco de Orellana in 1542, this day is celebrated throughout the Amazon region with dances and chicha, a traditional alcoholic beverage.
Carnival – Throughout the country - weekend before Lent (February)
This catholic tradition merged with indigenous festivities producing today’s "carnaval" or carnival. It is a time of dressing-up and dancing in many regions of the country, the most popular place being Guaranda in the province of Bolívar. A custom that the government has tried to end is that of throwing water and flour at people, including passers-by, which is known as "playing carnival". Carnaval is a two-day holiday that many Ecuadorians spend at the beach.
Festival of Fruits and Flowers – Ambato - weekend before Lent (February)
Created to raise money after a disastrous earthquake in August 1949 in the region took thousands of human lives, this festival has become one of the most beautiful in the country. It celebrates the fertile soil of the region. The time of the event matches that of the nationwide carnival, but in Ambato it is forbidden to throw water and other things at people, as is the custom in the rest of the country. The main event that takes place is the Parade of marching bands, skits, and floats decorated with flowers and fruits. There is also a ceremony of the Blessing of the Bread and Fruit which is done in the main atrium of the city’s cathedral, where there is also an exhibition of large religious representations made with flowers, fruits, and bread. The Queen of Ambato is elected and there are many musical events, traditional dances, and parties on the streets. The Festival of Independent and Avant-Garde Music, which is very popular, is also held as a part of the celebrations.
Easter – Quito – March or April (according to Christian Calendar)
As in all Latin America, in Ecuador Easter is an important celebration. The most interesting ceremonies and traditions can be seen in Quito from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the most important being the Procession of Jesús del Gran Poder on Good Friday, which represents Jesus’ passion and starts at noon from San Francisco Church, goes through the downtown and back to the church during around four hours. Anyone can participate as cucurucho (a character dressed in a purple robe with a pointed hood –"cucurucho" means cone-shaped-), veronica, penitent, roman soldier, etc. On Easter Sunday, you can hear the Concert of the Church Bells in the historic center. Also for about two weeks during Easter time, the International Festival of Sacred Music takes place, with presentations in churches and theatres of the city. The "fanesca" is a soup made of grains accompanied with other specialties which is served only and always at Easter time.
Corpus Christi – Throughout the country – June, Ninth Thursday after Easter
Once again, this festivity mixes Catholic and indigenous mythology elements. It is celebrated throughout the country, but the most exotic and symbolic celebrations are in the town of Pujilí, Cotopaxi province. The main characters are the "sun dancers" whose dance expresses gratitude for good harvests to the Sun and the Moon. In the city of Cuenca, Corpus Christi celebrations last seven days.
Inti Raymi – Andean towns - June 22nd
Inti Raymi or the Festival of the Sun is an Incan celebration to honor the God Sun (Inti) and ask for good harvests. It was banned as pagan by the Spaniards in the time of the colonies. It is celebrated all throughout the Andean region, each town having its own rituals and customs, the most well-known being the festivities in Otavalo. Rituals usually include a spiritual and physical purification in water (e.g. a river, spring, or waterfall), which in Otavalo is done at the Peguche waterfall.
St Peter and St Paul - Otavalo, Cayambe, and Cotacachi, Imbabura Province - June 24th
This festival combines catholic rituals with ancient fertility rituals. Women who want to become pregnant jump over a fire for good luck, and neighbors throw her old clothes into the fire to burn away bad luck. A symbolic burn of St Peter’s beard is done by burning old tires, paper, and eucalyptus branches. The local band plays, announced by church bells and fireworks. People pray and sing in the plazas for the success of their corn and bean crops and, at night, they gather to tell jokes. On the coast, some communities celebrate this festivity with boat processions.
Paseo del Chagra – Machachi - around July 20th
"Chagra" is the name given to the cowboy of the Andean paramos, and Machachi, a town 40 km south of Quito, is known as the Capital of the Chagras. At the Stroll of the Chagra horsemen arrive from the haciendas of all over the country with their best horses, dressed with their traditional outfits, chaps, striped poncho, scarf, and hat, to display their talents in dressage and with the lasso.
Foundation of Guayaquil – Guayaquil – July 25th
The foundation of the city of Guayaquil is celebrated, along with the anniversary of the birth of Simón Bolívar (July 24th), during the month of July with parades and traditional dances, and an art exhibition in the colorful neighborhood of Las Peñas.
Festival of the Corn Harvest – Sangolquí - August 29th to September 12th
This festival in honor of corn, the main agricultural product of the Andes, includes parades, horse races and horsemanship shows, art exhibits, cockfights, food festivals, and bullfights. Corn-made food and drinks are abundant.
Yamor – Otavalo – September 1st to 15th
Yamor is an alcoholic drink made by the fermentation of seven different kinds of corn, and is believed to date back to the time of the Incas. The Yamor festival was created in the 50s by a group of young Otavaleños to bring about the reunion of relatives and friends within the community of Otavalo, and has since then become the main celebration of the region. It combines both precolonial and catholic religious elements, paying homage to Mother Earth, Allpa Mama, as well as to the Virgin of Otavalo, la Niña María. The festival includes parades, folk dances, cockfights, and the election of the Queen of Yamor.
Virgen del Cisne Procession – Loja - August 15th to September 8th
El Cisne is a town near the city of Loja, Loja province, home to the Lady of El Cisne (a statue of the Virgin Mary), to whom a miracle was attributed in 1594. This fact is commemorated every year by taking the statue on a 74 km massive pilgrimage of more than 400,000 people to Loja. Several stops are made along the way and at each one the Virgin’s outfit is changed and ceremonies and celebrations are done, until it reaches the Loja Cathedral where the usual celebrations with fireworks, dance, and music take place. The Virgin stays for two weeks in Loja and then returns home to El Cisne.
Black Mama (La Mama Negra) – Latacunga, Cotopaxi Province - September 23rd or 24th and November 11th
Black Mama integrates elements which have been added through time from the different cultures involved in Ecuador’s history: Indigenous, African, Spanish, pagan, and religious. It takes place around the 23rd or 24thSeptember to honor the Lady of Mercy, whom people thank for her protection from the Cotopaxi volcano’s eruption of 1742. It is also celebrated in the beginning of November, sometimes on the 11th, Independence Day of the city of Latacunga, or sometimes around the 2nd, the Day of the Dead; the November celebrations are the larger and more colorful ones. It is a unique folkloric manifestation which has been declared a part of Ecuador’s Cultural Patrimony. The center of the celebration is a parade of characters dressed with very elaborate and colorful costumes, the Mama Negra, the Angel of the Star, the Moorish King, among others, a very happy and humorous event that ends with a big party with typical food, drink, and dance.
Día de la Raza (Race Day) / Rodeo Montubio – October 12th
The date of the discovery of America, October 12th 1492, which is also known as Columbus Day in North America, is celebrated on the coast, especially in the provinces of Guayas and Los Ríos, with rodeos where men and women show-off their horsemanship abilities. This date is an official holiday in the country.
Day of the Dead – Throughout the country - November 2nd
The Day of the Dead in Ecuador is a national holiday where people visit the tombs of their loved ones to remember them and share a meal. The "guaguas de pan" (bread babies) and "colada morada" (a thick beverage made with berries) are the typical dishes of this season.
Cuenca Independence Day – Cuenca – November 3rd
The Cuencan equivalent of the "Fiestas" of Quito and Guayaquil, on the weekend around the 3rd November Cuenca celebrates its own "fiestas" with agricultural fairs, music, dancing, and cultural activities and exhibitions.
Foundation of Quito – Quito – December 6th
The "Fiestas de Quito" (Quito festivities) start at the end of November and culminate on December 6, the date of the Spanish Foundation of the city. The whole town is a big party with music bands, concerts, art exhibitions, dancing, food, and the popular "chivas", open buses where people drink and dance to the sounds of a music band while driving around the city. Also at this time takes place an important bullfight event, "Feria Jesús del Gran Poder", with the participation of famous bullfighters from around the world; the atmosphere at the "plaza de toros" (bullring) is a very special one.
The country has a tropical and humid climate, air quality is very good by the presence of large natural forests, national parks and the Amazon rainforest, 20% of the country's ecological reserve. Due to the presence of the Andes and as the influence of the sea, the continental Ecuador climatologically is fragmented into various sectors. Moreover, because of its equatorial location, each climate zone has only two seasons: wet and dry, erroneously called "winter" and "summer" respectively, as occurs in other regions of the globe where by close pitches to the equator, no real winters and summers occur.
In both the East Coast and in the country, the temperature ranges between 20 ° C and 33 ° C, while in the mountains, this is usually between 3 ° C and 26 ° C by height of the cities. The wet season runs from December to May on the coast, from November to April in the mountains and from January to September in the Amazon. The Galapagos Islands have a rather mild climate and temperature between 22 and 32 ° C, approximately.
These cause wet and dry seasons in each region different seasons. Are highly variable temperatures up to the mountains, the Amazon region, the country's coast and the Galapagos Islands.
Thus, from January to March is mainly dry season, with most beach season in the entire coastal region or Ecuadorian coast and in the Amazon; in the same months in the mountains is wet season, with most cloudy and cool days.
The other way, from July to September in the Amazon and the coast or coastal region is wet season, although some beaches more moderate climate are still enjoyed (mostly in the province of Esmeraldas) by tourists, some are clearly cold (like Salinas) compared to other seasons and also receive tourists from the mountains and neighboring countries. In the mountains, in the same months the country has a dry season with hot days and lots of sunshine.
A valid passport, with at least six months remaining before expiration, is required to enter Ecuador. Visas are not currently required for visitors for up to 90 days, however it is the passenger’s responsibility to check with their Ecuadorian consulate prior to traveling to determine if a visa is necessary.
International Flights to Ecuador
Flights to Ecuador are currently serviced by American Airlines (Miami), United (Houston), DELTA (Atlanta), LAN (Miami and JFK), LACSA/TACA (San Jose), COPA (Panama), IBERIA (Madrid) and KLM (Amsterdam). All international tickets have the airport departure taxes included in the cost of the ticket. Local customs authorities allow two suitcases with a total combined weight of 60 kilos per person. A fee of $200.00 is charged for a third suitcase and $400.00 for a fourth suitcase, excluding carry-on bags.
No inoculations are currently required for visitors to Ecuador and Galapagos. Please do check with your local health office at least two weeks prior to your departure for an update.
Ecuador is in the Eastern Time Zone (GMT-5). Daylight savings time is not observed. Galapagos is one hour behind mainland Ecuador. On board, mainland Ecuador time is observed.
US Dollar is the monetary unit. Be sure to bring small bills ($1, $5, $10 are best).
English is spoken by our Ecuador representatives, staff and our guides Quito guide. Aboard the vessels by guides and Captains. The crew speak Spanish.
110/AC 60 cycle (plugs are same as in the USA)
Client Information Form
All passengers must complete and send this form in order to guarantee a space for you in this journey. It includes information such as passport name, passport number, expiration, nationality and date of birth. It also includes information regarding your dietary needs + emergency contact, medical conditions, food allergies or any special dietary requests.
Register at: http://www.mondove.com/?page_id=500
Included in your Land Journey and the Galapagos Cruise
All transfer from/to the airports. Flights to/from Galapagos (priced separately since they are subject to change). Entrance fee to the park and Transit Card (TCT). All activities as described in the itinerary. Hotel and cabin accommodation on board, all meals as specified in the itinerary. During your cruise all meals and snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, filtered water, house wine and local beer with dinner, welcome and farewell Captains parties, guided shore excursions, use of snorkeling equipment, wet suits and kayaks, transfers between the airport and dock in Galapagos (Sundays only).
Not Included in your Land Journey or your Galapagos Cruise
International flights to/from Ecuador. Any extras due to delays, lost flight connections, excess luggage fee, personal expenses such as laundry or calls, gratuities for guides and crew, alcoholic beverages and purchases from the boutique. Travel insurance meals not specified in the program. Upgrades on flights or hotels.
Gratuities to Guides & Crew
During the land portion of the program or on board the yacht, gratuities are not included. We prefer that participants reward guides, the staff and crew based on their performance. Tipping is a personal matter and passengers are encouraged to tip an amount they find appropriate. For those passengers who inquire, we suggest they follow our guidelines of $200.00 per person during the cruise. Gratuities are divided among all crew members including guides. During the land portion of the trip we recommend US$ 1.00 per luggage for luggage handlers, US$ 2.00 per day per person for your driver and US$ 4:00 to 5:00 per day per person for your guide. Tips at restaurants is 10% of total cost of bill.
Galapagos Entrance Fee or “Park Tax”
The Islands are part of the Ecuador National Park system and the entrance fee is $100.00 per person. Children age 11 and younger get a reduced rate of $50.00. The fee is divided up among various entities including the GNPS, Marine Reserve, agriculture, municipalities, INEFAN and INGALA. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC will register all passengers in advance provided the fee is pre-paid and we receive the passenger information form.
Transit Card Fee
All visitors to Galapagos are required to purchase a “Tarjeta de Control de Transito” or TCT card for $10.00. This card allows INGALA, the institution that controls migration to the islands to better regulate the flow of all arrivals and departure to Galapagos. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC will register all passengers in advance provided the fee is pre-paid and we receive the passenger information form.
The Park Tax and TCT Fees
These are included in the cruise rate. These fees are added to your cruise invoice and prepaid by Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC for your convenience provided that you arrive on Sunday to Galapagos (SCY) on the Aerogal. For those who decline to prepay or do not arrive on Sunday with Aerogal, you will need to pre-register on line and pay the fee at the airport.
Flights to Galapagos (San Cristobal)
Flights to Galapagos for Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC passengers are serviced by AEROGAL Airlines from Quito and Guayaquil. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC makes flight reservations for confirmed passengers automatically through our allotment of seats on Sunday’s to/from San Cristobal (SCY). Passengers who purchase their tickets through Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC for the Aerogal flights will receive assistance with the check-in procedure and can chose to pre-pay the park tax and transit card. A representative from Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC accompanies our passengers on this flight. The airline allows one checked suitcase (maximum 44 lbs.) and one carry-on bag per passenger. Aerogal Airlines is required to spray inside the aircraft with a special process once doors are closed and is preparing for take-off. This is considered common procedure for flights bound to fragile island eco-systems that are susceptible to prevent any invasive species or virus being accidentally transported to the islands.
Flight Check-in Procedure
On the day of departure, we will be at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil two hours prior to departure for check-in. A card will be left at your hotel the evening prior with the exact check in time. You must first have your bags inspected by SICGAL as required to travel to Galapagos. Next, look for the Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC representative at the AEROGAL Airline ticket counter to collect your boarding pass, transit card (if prepaid) and get assistance with check in. Do not stand in line to pay the TCT card if you have already prepaid. Upon arrival in Galapagos, you may be selected to be fingerprinted to complete the process of the migration control. Next you will form a line to process passengers for the Park entrance fee. Do inform the park representative that you are traveling with Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC if you have prepaid the fee. They will have a list of prepaid passengers. Once through, our guides will be waiting for you with signs. You do not need to claim your bags; our crew will collect all baggage and deliver them to your cabin. Passengers who choose to travel to Galapagos earlier or choose to purchase tickets on another carrier will not be provided with the same services.
We highly recommend guests purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy to protect you and your investment before and during your trip.
We recommend that all passengers traveling to Galapagos consider two nights in mainland Ecuador prior to their cruise to allow for potential flight delays and misconnection. This is particularly important for passengers traveling over winter holidays when flights tend to be overbooked and/or delayed caused by poor weather conditions.
The majority of Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC passengers are healthy, active and reasonably fit. Passengers able to walk a few hours a day unassisted will be able to fully enjoy mainland Quito or Guayaquil and Galapagos. Some of the excursions require more physical activity than others involving short steep climbs or long walks in hot weather or on uneven rocky trails. Quito is located at about 9,400 feet above sea level so taking in easy upon arrival is a very good idea. Altitude in Guayaquil is not an issue. During your Galapagos journey most excursions require moderate activity and the walks are at a leisurely pace. Entering and exiting the Zodiacs require that you need to be sure footed. If you are concerned about your ability to do any particular day hike, please consult with the naturalist before disembarkation. In order to enjoy your trip to its fullest potential, it is a good idea to do some exercise before your trip, such as walking, swimming or bicycling. Please see your doctor for a check-up before traveling to Ecuador. Any medical condition or physical disability that may require special attention or treatment must be advised to Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC at the time of booking.
Altitude Sickness (For participants landing in Quito)
On reaching heights above 9,000ft, heart pounding, a light headache and shortness of breath are a normal response to the lack of oxygen in the air. However, for some visitors these symptoms can deteriorate into a condition known as “Soroche” (or mountain sickness) in which you can start experiencing headaches, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, sleeplessness and often nausea. Symptoms usually develop within the first day or two at altitude. To prevent Soroche, first of all try not to rush and take it easy on arrival. Drinking a lot of water (water, herbal teas, soups, etc) is one of the most important tips to prevent altitude sickness. It is always a good idea after a short rest, to walk easy around the area; this and not lying in a bed is what will allow your body to keep acclimatizing. Of course the more sleep you get during the night, the better. Try to avoid alcohol, cigarettes and heavy food (at least during your arrival). The drug Diamox (Acetazolamide) is often used by visitors to speed the acclimatization process and counter the symptoms of Soroche.
Due to strong currents, there will be moderate movement of the vessel while navigating. Most passengers are not affected. However, if you are prone to seasickness, we strongly urge you bring some type of medication to prevent motion sickness.
Medical Facilities on Board
The yachts carry first aid kits and medical supplies. The Captain and guides are trained in basic First Aid procedures. The yacht have radio contact with the mainland for any medical emergencies.
Access to phone and emails is available at your hotel in Quito and Guayaquil. Check with your cell phone services provider to see if they have international plans for Equador. Most telecommunication providers have signal in Galapagos and passengers can use their smart phones that are activated for international calling on days when the yachts are in close range to port. The yachts do not offer WiFi service.
Smoking Policy during the Galapagos portion of your program
Smoking is prohibited in enclosed areas aboard the vessels and on the Islands. Smoking is only allowed on the outside deck in a designated smoking area.
Drinking Water on the Cruise
Bottled water is provided in your cabin and is free of charge. Filtered drinking water is provided during meal times. We suggest you do not drink water from the tap in your cabin. Water bottles can be refilled from the water container located in the bar area.
You may order a bottle of wine ($30) or birthday cake ($20) to be served at dinnertime or a fruit basket ($10) for your cabin. It is prohibited to bring flowers to Galapagos. Please advise us at least 30 days prior to departure.
Purchases on Board
Every passenger has an open tab at the bar and boutique, which are paid the last day of the cruise. We accept cash (US Dollars), Master Card or VISA credit cards only
Island Visits/ Activities
Passengers will be assigned by Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC to any of the three identical sister yachts at the company’s discretion. The vessels anchor offshore at two visitor sites or Islands per day. Passengers are ferried to the landing point in zodiac style inflatable landing craft. The landings are either wet (where one must step into water anywhere from your ankles to your knees and wade to shore) or dry (where one steps from the panga directly to the volcanic rock). Your guide and Zodiac driver will assist you with a steady hand. On the Islands, one follows marked trails set by the National Park walking at a leisurely pace together with your guide. You will spend 3-4 hours at each site allowing plenty of time to explore and photograph the wildlife. In addition to the guided land excursions, we offer deep water snorkeling, beach swim/snorkel, kayaking and zodiac (dingy) rides. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC is not currently offering any optional scuba diving until further notice.
Yacht & Itinerary Stipulations
Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC reserves the right at its sole option and discretion and that of the Captain of the vessel or National Park impact studies without liability for damages or refund of any kind to deviate from the vessel’s advertised or ordinary itinerary for any reason including mechanical failure. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC will not be held responsible for any refund whatsoever for changes to the printed or scheduled itinerary.
There are many opportunities to snorkel during the cruise, sometimes twice a day from the beach and in deep water. Masks, fins and snorkels in average sizes are available on board free of charge for use during the cruise. If you anticipate taking advantage of all snorkeling opportunities you may prefer to bring your own mask and snorkel for a proper fit.
Full 3mm wet suits are available for passengers to use during the cruise at no additional charge on a first come first serve basis. Wet suits are most popular from June to November when water temperatures are between 65 and 72 degrees.
Reserve a Wet Suit
Wet suits are available without charge. For passengers who prefer to reserve a wet suit prior to the cruise may do so for a charge of $25.00 for the week. The fee will be charged to onboard account and paid at the end of the cruise. Reserved wet suits will be removed from the inventory and set aside for your exclusive use during the cruise. In order to reserve a wet suit, we need to know your approximate size (size selection may vary by yacht): Men: S, M, MT, L, XL, XXL, XXXL / Women: S, M, MT, L, XL / Children: S, M, L
Each yacht carries two tandem and one single sea kayaks. They are available at designated sites during the cruise at no charge on a first come first serve basis.
Dress is casual and comfortable, and informality is basic for all activities. We recommend you pack in a collapsible, soft-sided suitcase. Checked bags should be securely locked for your security. We recommend that you leave all valuables at home. The yachts do not have safety boxes and cabins lock from the inside only. When packing please considers the use of quick drying, lightweight, active wear clothing. Casual wash and wear clothing is most appropriate during your journey. Light/heavy long-sleeve shirts/blouses and well-insulated windbreaker is necessary for the Quito portion of the trip and may came in handy during your cruise.
- Small backpack or knapsack
- Fleece vest or jacket (useful for your Quito portion of the trip and the boat)
- Gore-tex windbreaker or jacket
- Walking shoes or lightweight hiking boots and socks
- Sport sandals with a Velcro strap (Tevas style)
- Boat shoes or flip flops to wear on board
- Lightweight pants or nylon zip-off pants that convert to shorts. Shots
- Short sleeve t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts
- Two bathing suits, sunscreen, lip balm SPF 30+
- Wide brimmed hat, bandana, Sunglasses with UV filter and a strap
- Lightweight wind breaker
- Sweat shirt or fleece vest or light weight jacket (July to Nov only)
- Camera equipment in a waterproof bag
- Underwater camera
- Personal medication, Sea sickness medication
- Ear plugs
- Small flashlight
- Water bottle – non-polycarbonate plastic (or BPA free) that can be refilled from our containers of purified water made from our reserve osmosis water makers.
- Toiletries – we ask that you bring only biodegradable sunscreens and lotions if possible. Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC supplies you with biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner.
Important Note: Although provided, you may want to bring your own snorkeling equipment (mask and snorkel). Also beach towels and hair dryers are provided and therefore it is not necessary that you bring these
Quito: The Andean city of Quito is blessed with mild days and cool nights almost all year. The averages is 64 degrees F. Temperatures at night are in the mid 50’s F. In the Andean region there are two seasons. The wet and the dry seasons. Winter is the wet season and Summer is the dry season. The rainy season is from October to April. It is not rare to find sunny days during the wet season.
Guayaquil: Guayaquil has a tropical climate. Between January and April the climate is hot and humid with heavy rainfall. The rest of the year the rainfall is minimal due to the cooling influence of the Humboldt Current, with usually cloudy mornings and very pleasent afternoon and evening breezes.
Galapagos: The Galapagos have a surprisingly cool, sub-tropical climate. The larger islands with volcanic peaks have a variety of climatic zones. The coastal areas are arid and covered with plants adapted to desert conditions. The highland areas receive moisture almost all year round, which support lush vegetation. Temperatures are determined almost entirely by ocean currents, which are influenced by the trade winds. There are two seasons, both of which have some precipitation. Galapagos gets an average of ten inches of rain per year, it is never considered “rainy”. During the months of December to May, the cooling currents subside, temperatures rise and the climate is warm and sunny with occasional showers. In June, the trend begins toward cooler temperatures with moderate breezes, which continue through November. This period is referred to as the “garua” (pronounced gah-ru-ah) season, which means mist in Spanish.
Monthly Temperatures in Galapagos:
JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
MAX AIR TEMP:
84 86 88 86 82 78 76 74 76 77 78 80
MIN AIR TEMP:
70 74 74 72 72 68 66 64 62 64 66 68
AVG SEA TEMP:
74 76 76 76 74 74 72 66 68 70 72 74
AVG RAINFALL (In inches)
1 1 2 1.5 .75 .25 .50 .25 .50 .25 .50 .50
May to November at Wolf & Darwin: 74-78 degrees F
May to November in Central Islands : 65-72 degrees F
December to April at Wolf & Darwin: 76-80 degrees F
December to April in Central Islands : 75-78 degrees F
Warm marine currents arrive. Land birds start nesting On Espanola, the adult male marine iguanas become brightly colored. The green sea turtle arrives to the beaches of Galapagos to lay their eggs. Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles on Isabela. Water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June. Warm waters are comfortable for snorkeling
On Floreana, Greater flamingos and White-cheeked pintails start their breeding season Nazca boobies on Espanola are at the end of their nesting season. Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz. Highest water temperature reaches 25°C (77°F) and remains until April. Galapagos dove’s nesting season reaches its peak
Sporadic tropical rains and intense sun. Air temperature can reach up to 30°C (86°F), water temperatures reach their maximum. Marine iguanas nest in Fernandina. On March 21st, the summer equinox signals the beginning of Spring. The waved albatross arrive to Espanola to begin their breeding cycle.
Massive arrival of waved albatross to Espanola to begin their courtships. Hatching season ends for giant tortoises. Green sea turtles’ eggs begin to hatch. Land iguanas hatch on Isabela
North Seymour’s blue-footed boobies begin their courtship. Sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay and Punta Cormorants. Palo santo trees begin to shed their foliage. Albatross on Espanola start laying their eggs. Band-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period.
Beginning of the dry season with the arrival of the Humbolt current. Giant tortoises migrate from the highlands to lowlands for suitable nesting places to start the nesting season.
Sea birds are active, especially blue-footed boobies on Espanola Flightless cormorants court and nest on Fernandina. It is possible to find oyster catchers nesting on Puerto Egas. Lava lizards initiate mating rituals until November. Whales and dolphins are more likely to be observed, especially off the Western coast of Isabela.
The Galapagos hawks court on Espanola and Santiago. Large colonies of Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa. Temperature of the ocean descends to 18° C (64°F) which obviously varies according to the geographic zones among the islands. Migrant shore birds start to arrive, and stay on the islands until March. Giant tortoises return to the highlands.
Peak of the dry season. The air temperature reaches its lowest (19°C – 66°F). Penguins demonstrate remarkable activity on Bartolome until December. Sea lions are very active, females give birth, specially in the western and central areas of the Archipelago. Most species of marine birds remain active at their nesting sites.
Lava herons nest until March. The Galapagos fur seals begin their mating period. Boobies raise their chicks on Espanola.
Sea lion pups are active on the Eastern part of the Archipelago. Breeding season of brown noddies and Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period.
The islands receive warm waters from the basin of Panama; the Panama Flow. Hatching of the giant tortoise’s eggs begins and lasts until April. Green sea turtles display their mating behavior. The warm season begins and all of the plants of the dry zone produce leaves. Galapagos “turns green”. The first young albatross fledge.
Follow the National park rules & regulations.
The National Park establishes and maintains nature trails and interpretive signs. Signs posted on board our vessels list the National Park Rules & Regulations. During the orientation, your guide will go over the Galapagos National Park rules, which you are required to follow. Visitors cannot legally go anywhere in the designated National Park area without being escorted by a licensed guide. During the cruise, listen to your naturalist guide and follow all the National park rules; they are as follows:
1- Please do not disturb or remove any native plant, rock or animal on land or in the water.
2 - Be careful not to transport any live material or sand from one Island to the next.
3 - Do not take any food or drink except water to the uninhabited islands.
4 - Please do not touch, pet or feed the animals. Approaching them too closely or taking flash photography will disturb them.
5 - Please do not startle or chase any animal from its nesting place.
6 - Please do not leave any trash on the Islands or throw any litter overboard.
7 - Please follow the marked trails at all times and do not walk out of their limits.
8 - Please stay with your naturalist guide who must accompany all groups on the trails.
9 - Please do not buy souvenirs of objects made from native Galapagos products (except for wood) especially black coral, sea lion teeth and shells of the Galapagos tortoises.
10 - Do not smoke on the islands.
Suggested Reading – Short List
- Galapagos, Preserving Darwin’s Legacy, by Tui de Roy, 2009
- Galapagos, Both sides of the Coin, by Pete Oxford & Graham Watkins, 2009
- Darwin in Galapagos, Footsteps to a New World, by Greg Estes & Thalia Grant, 2009
- Galapagos, Exploring Darwin’s Tapestry, by John Hess, 2009
- Galapagos at the Crossroads; Pirates, Biologists, Tourists and Creationists Battle for Darwin’s Cradle of Evolution, by Carol Ann Bassett, 2009
- Best Field Guides
- Galapagos, A Natural History Guide, by Michael Jackson
- A Traveler’s Guide to the Galapagos Islands, by Barry Boyce
- Galapagos Wildlife, by David Horwell & Pete Oxford, Brandt Publication
- Galapagos, Reef Fish Identification Guide, by Paul Human
- Lightweight and Easy to Pack
- Galapagos, Smithsonian Natural History Series, by JC Kricher,
- The Enchanted Isles, by Herman Melville, paperback
- Galapagos, A Novel, by Kurt Vonnegut, paperback
- The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin, in paperback
- On Natural Selection, Charles Darwin, Penguin Books
- Galapagos, World’s End, by William Beebe
- Insightful Reading
- On the Origin of Species, The Illustrated Edition, by Charles Darwin & David Quamman
- The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner (Pulitzer Prize-winning book)
- The Reluctant Mr Darwin, by David Quammen,
- Charles Darwin, The Concise story of an extraordinary man, by Tim Berra
- Galapaogs Affair: Satin came to Eden (2013) murder mystery documentary
- Galapagos 3D with David Attenborough (SKY) (2013) nature documentary series
- Creation (2010) starring Paul Bettany as Charles Darwin, Jennifer Connelly as Emma
- Master & Commander, The Far Side of the World (2008) starring Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany
- Galapagos, The Islands that Changed the World (2007) Tilda Swinton
- Galapagos (IMAX) (2002) follow marine biologist Carole Baldwin to the ocean floor
- Galapagos National Park Service: www.galapagospark.org
- Galapagos Conservency www.galapagos.org
- Galapagos Conservation Trust www.gct.org
- WildAid www.wildaid.org
- World Wildlife Fund www.wwf.org