The Galapagos Islands are a “bucket list” destination for many of us. Their remote location 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador has allowed creatures to evolve that you can’t find anywhere else, and who wouldn’t want to encounter a Giant Tortoise or a marine iguana in their natural habitat?
Trouble is, that remoteness comes at a cost – literally. Because the islands are so far off the beaten tourist track, a trip to experience the Galapagos can often seem financially out of reach. The only way to get the full Galapagos experience is to travel around these unique islands by boat. Cruising in this way gets you to the most remote islands, and allows you to visit the feeding and breeding sites of iconic species like Blue-Footed Boobies, green turtles and Galapagos penguins. Given that visitor numbers are strictly controlled and that there’s a strong luxury travel market, demand often outstrips supply.
However, thanks to specialist Galapagos travel company Galapatours.com, there’s now a way for independent travelers with date flexibility to discover some potentially huge savings.
We spoke to Benno, one of Galapatours’ travel experts, about what kind of savings are possible if you’re ready to head to South America on short notice. One excellent piece of advice he gave us was to make sure that we don’t make any other travel arrangements until we have our Galapagos cruise confirmed. The reason? Availability changes pretty much hourly, and although Galapatours’ information is among the most up to date in the market, demand can be such that spaces are sold out just minutes after being released.
“We really don’t recommend relying on a last minute cruise deal during the most popular times for visiting Galapagos,” Benno told us. “Key holidays like Christmas, Easter and midsummer can book out up 2 years in advance. So if your heart is set on a visit at these times, then you’d be better off planning well ahead and securing your perfect trip.”
“Of course, there’s always the chance of taking advantage of cancellations or changes in plans, and if you’re flexible and can move quickly, then keeping a close watch on late availability deals can land you with some real bargains.”
If you’ve done a little research and you know the kind of boat and itinerary you want to choose, then the Galapatours last minute portal is a great way to see what kind of bargains are currently available. For example, when we looked at finding cruise places available in the next 7 days we found discounts of up to $1,000 per person on a one week Galapagos cruise on a mid-range ship like the Nemo III. That’s over 25% off the full price you could have paid a few months ago.
Be warned – given the number of ships and cruise itineraries available through Galapatours.com having to choose one out of the hundreds on offer can be daunting! If you’d like some help in finding the right ship and the right itinerary to make sure you really scratch your Galapagos itch, then we recommend giving Galapatours a call. They operate a small team of advisors who all have first-hand experience of the Galapagos Islands and the cruise itineraries.
Let them know what you’re looking for from your trip, your budget and how flexible you can be and they’ll come up with some tailored choices for you to help you narrow down the field.
Galapagos cruises are very comfortable indeed – some extremely luxurious – but make no mistake, this is adventure travel. Accompanied by an expert National Park approved guide you’ll spend most of your time in hiking boots and a sun hat or snorkel gear taking in all the different sights the Galapagos have to offer.
All Galapagos cruise itineraries feature multiple excursions every day, and you’ll get from your ship to the shore using “pangas” – the local name for an outboard-fitted inflatable dinghy. While you do get some time to just sit on white sands and soak up the atmosphere, you’ll spend most of your time exploring landscapes and creatures that developed in glorious isolation over millions of years.
After a hard day’s “work” is when a Galapagos cruise comes into its own. It’s fantastic to wind down and swap stories with a small group of like-minded travelers while you eat amazing food and relax in extremely comfortable surroundings without any formality or stuffiness. It’s this combination that makes a cruise-based trip to Galapagos the perfect way to see the islands.
Helping people experience this for themselves was the driving force behind setting up the business. Deciding to cut out any middlemen, Galapatours choose to work directly with the owners and operators of all the licensed tourist vessels in Galapagos, and they have built a unique portal that allows you to search through every itinerary the fleet has to offer.
So if you’re the type of person who’s got a bag packed at all times “just in case” and you want to snorkel with hammerhead sharks and Galapagos sea lions next week, you just might be able to pick up a fantastic bargain by finding a last minute Galapagos cruise deal.