When they hear the name “Galápagos” most people think about the great flora and fauna they’ve heart of. But do you remember discussing Charles Darwin, his famous finches and his theory of evolution in your Biology lessons? Because this is ref the 6 main islands, 12 smaller islands and over 40 islets – “las islas encantadas” (the bewitched islands).

Discovery

iguanaIn 1535 the islands were discovered by the Bishop of Panama called Tomás de Berlanga. He stranded there, like most animals and plants, unvoluntarily and said that noboby could live on the isle. With his last force he reached the coast of Peru. And some years later in 1574 the archipelago could be drawn in a world map with the name “Islands of the turtles” or in Spanish “Archipelago de los Galopegoes”.

Climate

beachThe archipelago has its very own, special climate. You can not compare it with nowhere else in the world, it has just its own micro-climate. This is because of the different ocean currents. From December to June there prevails the north-equatorial Panama current, so that you have nice temperatures between 24 and 27°C. But in the other part of the year, the so-called garúa-months (June to December), the temperatures just rise to 17-20°C and there is often fog and everlasting drizzling rain (garúa). So in this time you better take a big pullover and a windbreaker with you. Even at night the temperature can fall below 15°C, especially at sea and at higher altitudes. And if you want to check the weather right now …

Getting there

planeDue to the fact that the Islands are situated 970 km west of the Ecuadorian coast most people choose to go by plane. The national airline TAME (“Transportes Aereos Militares del Ecuador”) flies to the archipelago twice a day. The plane leaves Quito and continues via Guyaquil to (the airport on the isle..wuerde ich vielleicht weg lassen) Baltra or (the airport of) Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. So before you leave make sure you’ve checked your itinerary or have gathered enough information about those two islands to know which one you’d like to go to. A hint: Most cruises start from (the airport isle) Baltra.

Visa

rock Most nationalities will need a visa to enter Ecuador. You can get a tourist visa at the airport or the border. Depending on your nationality, you will get 60 or 90 days. You can get an extension at the migration office at Calle Amazonas 2639, Quito or in Galápagos only in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal. You can also get a work, student, business or residence visa, which is more complicated and expensive. Because chances are that you will be asked to show your passport at a checkpoint, it is not advisable to overstay your visa. However, the official fine for overstaying your visa is only 40 cents.


Puerto Ayora

Darwin Research Station The city is situated on the isle Santa Cruz, which is about 986 sq km big. It is the most developed town on the Galápagos Islands and has about 15.000 inhabitants. There you’ll have the choice of many different restaurants and activities to join in. You can visit art galleries, surf on the Internet (but it’s rather expensive), go scuba-diving or go on a tour to explore the other islands. So it is not surprising that Puerto Ayora is the tourism center of the archipelago. The Charles Darwin Research Station gives you a good introduction of the Galápagos Islands and we recommend to visit it as early in the morning as possible or late in the afternoon, because of the many tourists. It is opened every Monday-Friday from 8-12 and 13-16 and on Saturdays from 8-12. This station consists of a national park information center, a museum (with slideshows in English, German, French and of course Spanish) and a very cute baby tortoise house. Also you’ll be able to take a look at the giant old tortoise called “Lonesome George” (“Jorge Solitario”). He is the last survivor of his species from the island Pinta and he is over 50 years old. And until now the scientists have not found a female for him, so when he dies someday, there will be one species less on earth. After the visit you’ll be in the right mood to walk to Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay). They say that it is one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. And you wouldn’t want to miss such a attraction, would you? Another place to take beautiful photos is the Academic Bay. It is a natural harbor where you’ll be able to observe all kinds of ships because of the many circumnavigators who stop in Puerto Ayora before they go on sailing around the world. But enjoy in on your own!

  • Post office

It is located by the port, on the right side of the Pro Insular Supermarket and does not look like a post office, so keep your eyes open! And aks for special stamps!

  • Money matters

Most boats accept Traveler’s checks. But the only accepted credit card on the archipelago is Mastercard. But most places don’t take credit cards at all.

Banco del Pacífico
Cirrus ATM and cash advance on Mastercard.
Change of Traveler´s checks with 5% fee
Address: Av. Charles Darwin by Pelican Bay
Opened: Monday – Friday from 8 – 15.30
Saturday 9.30 – 12.30

 


Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

Puerto Baquerizo MorenoOne of the oldest islands of Galápagos, San Cristóbal, is the home of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It is the secong largest city after Puerto Ayora and has about 8.000 inhabitants. But it has still kept its charm of a fishing village, from years before. Although it is the provincial capital of the archipelago, it seems very calm and cosy. The town is named after Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno, who was the first Ecuadorian president who ever visited this island in 1916. Its airport, which was opened in 1988, is quite new and you’ll have more than enough opportunities to buy souvenirs for your friends at home. If you want to have a good insight into the history and the fascinating flora & fauna of Galápagos, the information center (“Centro de Interpretación”) is the right place for you. They show videos and displays to give you an understanding of Galapagos. At times you’ll also be able to enjoy theatre, exhibitions or workshops in the evenings. There is also a small natural history museum to visit as well as a cathedral on Avenida Northia with painted mural paintings of Galapagos themes.(Entrance fee US$2). Another highlight would be the possibility of camping down at the local beach… And this is the only place on the whole archipelago where you can do this legally!

  • Post office

It is situated at the Malecón, Av.Charles Darwin y 12 de Febrero, at the opposite of the little watersidepark. Do not forget asking for special stamps!

  • Money matters

Most boats accept Traveler’s checks. But the only accepted credit card on the archipelago is Mastercard. But most places don’t take credit cards at all.

Banco del Pacífico
Cirrus ATM and cash advance on Mastercard.
Change of Traveler´s checks with 5% fee
Address: Malecón Charles Darwin y 12 de Febrero (by the waterfront)
Tel: 520365/366
Opened: Monday - Friday from 9 - 16

 


Useful expressions when searching for accommodation:

  • Is there a room available? = ¿Tiene una habitacion libre?
  • a double room = una habitacion doble
  • How much does it cost? = ¿Cuánto cuesta?
  • Does it have a private bath? = ¿Tiene baño privado?
  • Can I see the room, please = ¿Puedo ver la habitacion, por favor?

Some useful phrases for eating out:

The cost of living all over the Galápagos Islands is higher than on the mainland. That’s because most food is imported, and bottled drinks for example are very expensive. Another example: in Quito a beer costs 1 US$ and in Galápagos it costs about 3 US$.

  • Do you have a table for one/two/three/four persons? = ¿Tiene una mesa para una/dos/tres/cuatro personas?
  • It tastes delicious = Es deliciosa.
  • Can I have the bill, please! = ¡La cuenta, por favor!
  • salt = sal
  • pepper = pimienta
  • knife = cuchillo
  • spoon = cuchara
  • fork = tenedor
  • meat = carne
  • beef = res
  • pork = cerdo
  • Enjoy your meal! = ¡Buen aproveche!

Going out/Nightlife:

  • A beer, please = Una cerveza, por favor!
  • A big bottle of Pilsener = una Pilsener grande
  • Do you have a boy/girl-friend? = Tienes un(a) enamorad(o/a)?
  • What kind of cocktails do you have? = Que tipo de cocteles tiene?
  • Can I see the menu? = Puedo ver el menu?