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Galapagos Islands holidays

We offer 51 Galapagos Islands holidays. Made famous by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution as observed in his "Voyage of the Beagle", the Galapagos Islands lie some 900 kms West of Ecuador. The islands are home to an astonishing array of endemic species such as giant tortoises and sea iguanas that are unique to the Galapagos, as well as countless sea lions, birds and fur seals. The isolation of the Galapagos Islands has resulted in the wildlife having an unusually fearless attitude towards humans, meaning a wildlife cruise to the Galapagos guarantees and extreme close encounter with some of the most compelling and unusual species on the planet. Our Galapagos Islands holidays will take you on an unforgettable wildlife encounter to this isolated, wild and famous archipelago.

Galapagos Islands holidays
Galapagos activity & wildlife holiday, land based
Privately guided land-based activity holiday in Galapagos, from £1917 - £2516 (7 days) ex flights
Peru and Galapagos adventure holiday
Combine superb hiking with a spectacular wildlife cruise, from £4705 - £7105 (18 days) ex flights
Galapagos Islands holiday
Home to many interesting species of endemic wildlife, from £4072 - £4572 (17 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos holidays, Ecuador
A First Class wildlife cruise around the 'Enchanted Isles', from £3642 - £4072 (12 days) inc UK flights
Peru and Galapagos holiday
An inspirational tour combining Peru, Ecuador & the Galapagos, from £0 (15 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos holiday cruise options
Excellent selection of small and midsize Galapagos cruises, from £1970 - £3143 (8 days) ex flights
Ecuador holiday, Quito & the Galapagos
Experience Quito & the Galapagos Islands, from £2200 (11 days) ex flights
Ecuador highlands tour & Galapagos cruise
Experience Ecuador's stunning highlands and the Galapagos, from £0 (16 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos adventure holiday
An active Galapagos Islands adventure holiday, from US $2845 (10 days) ex flights
Galapagos activity holiday
Trek, bike, kayak and snorkel on this fantastic adventure, from £1695 (8 days) ex flights
Galapagos cruises
Cruise the Galapagos Islands on sailing boats and yachts, from US $2100 - US $4500 (8 days) ex flights
Peru and Galapagos Island holiday
South America's archaeological and natural jewels, from £4622 - £4922 (17 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos multi activity holiday
An amazing adventure Galapagos Multi-sports, from £1995 (7 days) ex flights
Galapagos tailor made holiday
See wildlife and share the day-to-day life of Galapagueños, from £1669 (9 days) ex flights
Peru, Ecuador & Galapagos vacation
South America's top highlights, from £2249 - £2299 (14 days) ex flights
Galapagos adventure holiday with volunteering
Island hop, volunteer, and travel all in one experience!, from US $1790 - US $2190 (21 days) ex flights
Galapagos Islands adventure tour
The original Galapagos Land Based Tour, from US $4490 - US $4690 (10 days) ex flights
Ecuador & Galapagos holiday, tailormade
Discover the Andes, Amazon and Galapagos, from £3435 - £6235 (16 days) ex flights
Galapagos & Machu Picchu holiday in Ecuador and Peru
Discover Peru's Machu Picchu and the Wildlife-rich Galapagos, from US $5755 (16 days) ex flights
Galapagos small group adventure holiday
Amazing wildlife, both on land and underwater, from £1790 - £1955 (10 days) ex flights
Galapagos and Amazon holiday in Peru and Ecuador
Explore rainforests and volcanic islands, from £4572 - £4972 (17 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos holiday, North Islands
8 day Galapagos Islands cruise, from US $3050 - US $3250 (8 days) ex flights
Teach English in the Galapagos Islands
A unique opportunity to help teach English, from US $1040 - US $2840 (14 days) ex flights
Ecuador and Galapagos family activity holiday
View world famous wildlife in award winning National Parks, from £3425 (15 days) ex flights

67 reviews for Galapagos Islands holidays4 star overall rating

These full and frank independent Galapagos Islands holidays reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through responsibletravel.com. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.

Galapagos cruises
The first day arriving in Galapagos and seeing the sea turtles, snorkelling, swimming next to sealions was the most memorable part of this holiday. (more)Miss D.D
The most memorable parts were seeing and swimming with many of the wildlife including penguins, sea lions, dolphins. Driving through ocean surrounded by volcanoes on all sides. (more)Matt Hayden
Visiting one of the most unique places left on earth, and seeing how protective tours and the park authorities are keeping it that way, were most memorable. Amazing and excellent - truly a trip of a lifetime, and one of the few times one can genuinely use the word 'awesome'. (more)Ayesha Kyari
From US $2100 - US $4500 excluding flights
Peru and Galapagos adventure holiday
Fantastic -it was everything we expected. Sometimes reality does not meet expectations but not so this time and we are both fairly well travelled. Everything went like clock work. (more)Jennifer Parks
The view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate after a gruelling 4-day trek and the tameness of the animals in the Galapagos were the most memorable parts. (more)Glenys France
Galapagos Islands really are as good as expected - amazing wildlife - almost too easy to get great photos as the wildlife is so obliging but I am not complaining! (more)Andy McDaid
From £4705 - £7105 excluding flights
Peru, Ecuador & Galapagos vacation
Fantastic. Great crew and guide. Wildlife unbelievable. (more)Frances Kidd
Most memorable was the opportunity to see close-up the most wonderful selection of animals and birds. (more)David Weller
From £2249 excluding flights
Galapagos adventure holiday
We feel we've had many 5-star holidays but this was certainly one of them. (more)Robert Coifman
Snorkelling with the wonderful under-sea creatures - as well as scores of beautiful fishes, I swam with marine iguanas and sea turtles. Plus the kayaking was a high point for me. (more)Camilla Reeve
An incredible experience and privilege like no other (more)Sarah Pajwani
From US $2845 excluding flights
Galapagos holiday cruise options
Really there are no words to express how wonderful my holiday was. You have to experience it yourself to appreciate it...the most exciting part was seeing the animals on the Galapagos & swimming with the sea turtles. (more)Sy Schwartz
The most memorable part was swimming with sealions and turtles in the Galapagos. (more)Elaine Edmondson
From £1970 - £3143 excluding flights
Galapagos cruise options, tailor made
Excellent. The guides, accommodation, food, wildlife was better than I had expected...our guides were all local and very good at their job. (more)Sam Taylor
The wildlife was just awesome! Even more amazing than we'd expected! The crew were fantastic - really friendly and welcoming and the guides were exceptional. (more)Christine Ennew
Most memorable was swimming with sea lions, but actually it was all brilliant. (more)Bryn Parry
From £1999 excluding flights
Galapagos activity holiday
Memorable parts? The SEA LIONS are great encounters. Especially on San Cristobal Island being such close proximity with them on beaches is almost unheard of anywhere else in the world! That is a real specialty of the trip! Walking the Volcano surfaces on Isabel Island was amazing too! Tips? Organised tours don't seem to include the chance to be able to Scooba Dive with the Sea Lions or other sea life, so best to book that separately by extending your holiday by 1 day or skip the... (more)Anni Jancsek
From £1695 excluding flights
Galapagos 2 week cruise, Ecuador
Memorable parts? The fantastic wildlife. The friendly crew. The very knowlable guide. Tips? If travelling alone - pay the extra for your own cabin. Take as little as possible - you can always rinse things out & dry them! A couple of pairs of shorts or trousers & a couple of t-shirts, GOOD soled shoes & sandles. 60+ Sun block, Deet. AND CAMERA(s) Don't spend money on new clothes before you go! Local benefits? The locals certainly appeared to make the most of the tourist trade!!!!!!... (more)Margaret Dolan
From £5222 - £5572 including UK flights
Galapagos family holiday
We loved the holiday - it was the whole family's favourite to date and was made special because of the other families and the Guides, esp. in the Galapagos where Pedro, the local guide, was intelligent, fun and great with the children. (more)Vimty Muir
The most memorable part of our holiday was the unique wildlife, unafraid of humans - the seals especially. The local people were very friendly and worth spending money on to benefit their economy - children beautiful. (more)Barry A Clout
From £3011 - £3301 including UK flights
Galapagos conservation projects
Flying over San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos then landing on the tiny airstrip right by the sea and seeing unique plants and animals for the first time that I had only seen in books or in documentaries was the most exciting part. (more)Sue Gardner
Most memorable? Swimming with sea lions but a close second was the community of people that is jatun sacha. (more)John Sheehan
From £1195 excluding flights
Ecuador and Galapagos holiday
Memorable parts? Zip-Lining in the Cloud Forest but the Galapagos was amazing. Tips? Definitely take a torch, wet weather clothing and a sense of humour. Local benefits? Yes, definitely. Overall rating? Brilliant but the cloud forest was a bit disappointing as we had continual rain and saw very few animals or birds. This also occurred in the Amazon. We were told by the operator that rain was minimal with short bursts. Obviously a joke. (more)Anne Goffin
From £4345 - £4555 excluding flights
Galapagos adventure holiday with volunteering
A fantastic mix of meaningful volunteering work, organised activities and free time to do your own thing (more)Dot Lemon
The volunteering at foundation reserve is the most memorable as we get to contribute back to the Galapagos National Park as well as making new friends and understanding the objectives/ problems of conserving the Islands. (more)Lisa Teo
The most memorable part was discovering the beautiful Galapagos islands with their varied plants, birds and animals, differing from one island to another. (more)Kate Martin
From US $1790 - US $2190 excluding flights
Teach English in the Galapagos Islands
Memorable parts? All of it! The amazing people we met, the fantastic kids that were so enthusiastic in lessons, the little goodbye poems and cards they made us to say goodbye, the wonderful trips we took on the weekends to get up close and personal with the wildlife, the amazing feeling of walking down into town and realising we were an active, contributing part of society on the Islands... I could go on for days talking about how fantastic it was! Tips? 1. Learn Spanish! Although... (more)Kerry Hyde
From US $1040 - US $2840 excluding flights

Holiday Reviews

You can trust responsibletravel.com reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays. In addition, we don't run these holidays ourselves - our only interest is giving you the best independent advice.

Read our review policy

Unedited reviews from other travellers

5 stars
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
4 stars
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
3 stars
Very enjoyable
2 stars
It was OK
1 star
A bit disappointing really

Galápagos holidays travel guide


2 minute summary

The world is filled with wonderful wildlife – much of it bigger, fiercer or more
unusual than that of the Galápagos. But nowhere else is it as fearless and friendly, and
that is what lures people to this isolated archipelago, nearly 1,000km out into the Pacific.
It’s this extreme isolation that has erased the memories of fear, and shaped the
beaks, shells and wings of these unique species, in this living exhibit of evolution.
The experience of swimming with sea lions, walking with tortoises and strolling past salt-snorting marine iguanas is indescribably wonderful
It's a step back in time to the storybooks of childhood, where animals and humans live side
by side. Even more phenomenal is that these species have survived and evolved in one of the
world’s harshest environments – a jumble of lava fields and still-smoking volcanoes,
which continue to mould the islands today. The Galápagos’ past has been shaped by
travellers – including Charles Darwin and fugitive pirates – and modern-day visitors
must be mindful that its future, too, is now dependent on them, and that the evolution
of Galápagos holidays will be the next big milestone in the islands’ unique story.

A Galápagos holiday is...

a trip to the birthplace of
Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

A Galápagos holiday isn't...

a petting zoo.
Keep your distance from the wildlife!

What we rate & what we don't


Our best & worst of Galapagos holidays

Española and Genovesa, Galapagos

Española and Genovesa


The more remote the island, the higher the level of endemism – meaning that these two often overlooked islas have species even curiouser than the rest of the Galápagos. Tiny Genovesa is formed by the lip of a submerged caldera, and hosts the world’s only nocturnal gull species. Espanola’s marine iguanas change colours in different seasons, and its steep cliffs are perfect departure points for the enormous waved albatross. [Close]
Northern islands, Galapagos

Northern islands


Remote and rarely visited, the islands of Wolf and Darwin are a scuba diver’s dream. Given the distance and the lack of infrastructure, once here, diving tours are based off the boat, making for an entirely marine experience. 28 shark species live here, including hammerhead and whale sharks, and barracuda, yellowfin tuna and seahorses are common. [Close]
Human history, Galapagos

Human history


The archipelago has been inhabited over the centuries by maltreated prisoners, hiding pirates, a flamboyant, fake Baroness and mysterious murders and disappearances which remain unsolved to this day. The Wall of Tears is a reminder of the islands’ brutal past, while the Post Office Barrel symbolises the kindnesses that have occurred – visitors can sort through the letters left here to deliver by hand once back on dry land after their Galápagos holiday. [Close]
Lava landscapes, Galapagos

Lava landscapes


The Galápagos’ strange and still-active geology has created semi-submerged calderas, lava fields and tubes, black sand beaches and puffing volcanic peaks, while its rich volcanic soil feeds weird and wonderful flora. Its 560 endemic species include unique fruits, “daisy trees” and lava cacti, along with exotic orchids and mosses clinging to twisted tree limbs. [Close]
Giant tortoises, Galapagos

Giant tortoises


“Galápago” means “giant tortoise” in Spanish, and it’s clear why these characteristic creatures, up to 1.6m long – were the ones to give the archipelago its name. It’s likely that the islands’ 15,000 tortoises – in 14 “races” – all descend from a single individual who washed up here thousands of years ago, and it’s possible that some of the hatchlings seen by Darwin may even be alive today.[Close]
Volcano hikes, Galapagos

Volcano hikes


The Galápagos’ tame wildlife is not its only astonishing sight. The 9km-wide, 91 metre-deep crater atop Volcán Sierra Negra is the second largest active caldera on earth, and hiking around the rim offers spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes and ocean, and you can continue on to the bizarre, smoking lava landscape of Volcán Chico, which last erupted in 2005. [Close]
Tranquil beaches, Galapagos

Tranquil beaches


Ecuador’s beaches are generally pretty underwhelming – so this is the place to kick back for some beach time. Staying at Puerto Ayora gives access to some excellent little bays during your Galápagos holiday, which will be all yours (save the sea lions!) once the cruise ships leave town, but others are reached along forest trials or by hiking through atmospheric mangroves. [Close]
Snorkelling, Galapagos

Snorkelling


Island life is only one part of the story – what inhabits the surrounding waters is a very different one. Nowhere else in the world can you splash about in lava tubes, while green turtles paddle nearby and sea lion pups swim up and look you in the eye. Marine iguanas are on the prowl, Galápagos penguins dive in, and hammerhead and white-tipped sharks lurk in the depths.[Close]
Two-week cruises, Galapagos

Two-week cruises


The A Galápagos holiday is fascinating, but the tortoises all begin to look the same after a few days and only the most obsessive biologists are going to enjoy more than ten days here. Additionally, cruises leave little space for independent exploration. If you do want to stay longer, consider spending additional onshore days near a beach once your tour has finished.[Close]
Oversized ships, Galapagos

Oversized ships


The assumption is that hugest vessels – carrying up to 100 passengers – must be the best equipped and the most stable. However, larger ships cannot dock at all the islands, boarding and departing can involve long queues, and you’ll be paying a premium for a slightly more spacious cabin which, in reality, you’ll be doing little more than sleeping in during your Galápagos holiday. [Close]
Charles Darwin Research Station, Galapagos

Charles Darwin Research Station


The station does impressive work, and has been vital for the reintroduction of some incredibly endangered species. But it is first and foremost a research centre, and visitors can leave distinctly underwhelmed by the non-interactive exhibits and wildlife in concrete enclosures. Visit at the beginning of your Galápagos holiday to build up to the wild creatures – you’ll be much less disappointed. [Close]

Food, shopping & people


Travel like a local on your Galapagos holiday

Eating & drinking in the Galápagos


As most of the population are recent immigrants and most ingredients are imported, there are few typical local dishes, thought the seafood is exceptional.
Look out for ceviche, which is different to the Peruvian version. It often contains shellfish marinaded in lime, and is served with popcorn.
Lobster is a local delicacy. Fishing is usually permitted from September-December, but do check if it was harvested sustainably.
Sea cucumber is a highly prized delicacy – as the Japanese believe it is a powerful aphrodisiac. Harvesting it contributes considerably to the local economy.

People & culture


The Galápagos is cultural melting pot, as people from the Amazon, Andes and coast of Ecuador have migrated here – as well as a small community of researchers and scientists. Spanish is the universal language among the islands’ 27,000 inhabitants, and most people are employed in tourism or fishing.

People from the Galápagos are known as Galapagueños (male) and Galapagueñas (female).

Only four of the islands are populated Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana and San Cristobal
 

Gifts & shopping


The Galápagos is not the best place to purchase South American souvenirs, but beyond the overpriced “I Love Boobies” t-shirts there are a number of craft stalls and high-end jewellers along the waterfront in Puerto Ayora who are making their name on the island
Avoid any items made with black coral and turtle or tortoise shell. These are threatened species, and the products are illegal.
All profits from the Research Centre gift shop are returned to its projects, so buy your books here rather than off Amazon when you return home!
Sadly, you can’t take the adorable wildlife home with you – but you can adopt!

Fast facts


The Galápagos Marine Reserve, at 130,000km2, is the second largest marine protected area in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

How much does it cost?


Carved wooden figures: £5
Souvenir T-shirts: £21
Bottle of Chilean wine: £4.25
Reduce the cost of your beer
– return your bottle to claim
your deposit and
reduce waste
 

A brief history of the Galápagos


For centuries, these inhospitable, lava-encrusted islands were viewed as having little value, other than as a place for pirates to hideout after looting expeditions across South America. The giant tortoises were also valued for their meat, as they could be kept alive on ships during epic journeys, and it is believed that hundreds of thousands may have been removed from the islands. Goats and dogs which were introduced during this period continue to cause some of the most serious environmental damage today.
Read more ▼
After the islands became Ecuadorian in 1832, they were used as a penal colony, where prisoners, living in slave-like conditions, were controlled by dogs. In 1835, a young Charles Darwin arrived on the HMS Beagle, and visited four of the islands. His groundbreaking book, On the Origin of the Species, was published 24 years after his only visit to the Galápagos, but it was still not until 1934 that the islands’ incredible biological value was fully recognised, and laws were passed to protect their unique fauna.
The Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galápagos Natural Park were eventually created in 1959 – the park now covers some 97 percent of the land, while a marine reserve protects much of the surrounding waters. The Charles Darwin Research Centre was founded, beginning the essential captive breeding and reintroduction programmes, starting with the giant tortoises. The most significant event in the islands’ rollercoaster history, however, began in the late 1960s, with the arrival of the first mass tourists.
Recent decades have brought both good and bad news to the fragile islands; a new airport and roads have created further environmental damage, yet the archipelago’s declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site brought more funding for its preservation and the enforcement of commercial fishing laws. These, in turn, posed a threat to the human population – who have few economic alternatives to sustain themselves on these far-flung volcanic islands.
Today, tourism is better managed than ever – yet there are also more tourists than ever. Some species which had disappeared from their native islands thanks to hunting or non-native species such as goats have been reintroduced, while others have become extinct forever – including the much-loved Lonesome George, the last remaining Pinta Island tortoise who died in 2012. Tourism growth continues, but it is now as important to the story of the Galápagos as the famous fauna and fauna. The development of the island’s largest industry will have huge impacts on its wildlife as well as its people.
Photo credits: [Española and Genovesa: Rob Sansom] [Northern islands: daren_ck] [Human history: fabulousfabs] [Lava landscapes: Aaron Logan] [Giant tortoises: Eric Chan] [Volcano hikes: Michael R Perry] [Tranquil beaches: Aaron Logan] [Snorkelling: Rinaldo Wurglitsch] [Oversized ships: David Berkowitz] [Charles Darwin Research Station: NH53] [Eating and drinking : David Berkowitz] [People and culture: Michael R Perry] [Gifts and shopping : Paul Krawczuk] [How much - carved turtle: David Adam Kess]
Peru and Galapagos adventure holiday
Combine superb hiking with a spectacular wildlife cruise, from £4705 - £7105 (18 days) ex flights
Galapagos holiday cruise options
Excellent selection of small and midsize Galapagos cruises, from £1970 - £3143 (8 days) ex flights
Galapagos activity & wildlife holiday, land based
Privately guided land-based activity holiday in Galapagos, from £1917 - £2516 (7 days) ex flights
Galapagos holidays, Ecuador
A First Class wildlife cruise around the 'Enchanted Isles', from £3642 - £4072 (12 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos Islands holiday
Home to many interesting species of endemic wildlife, from £4072 - £4572 (17 days) inc UK flights
Peru and Galapagos holiday
An inspirational tour combining Peru, Ecuador & the Galapagos, from £0 (15 days) inc UK flights
Peru, Ecuador & Galapagos vacation
South America's top highlights, from £2249 - £2299 (14 days) ex flights
Galapagos adventure holiday
An active Galapagos Islands adventure holiday, from US $2845 (10 days) ex flights
Galapagos cruises
Cruise the Galapagos Islands on sailing boats and yachts, from US $2100 - US $4500 (8 days) ex flights
Ecuador highlands tour & Galapagos cruise
Experience Ecuador's stunning highlands and the Galapagos, from £0 (16 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos tailor made holiday
See wildlife and share the day-to-day life of Galapagueños, from £1669 (9 days) ex flights
Peru and Galapagos Island holiday
South America's archaeological and natural jewels, from £4622 - £4922 (17 days) inc UK flights
Galapagos multi activity holiday
An amazing adventure Galapagos Multi-sports, from £1995 (7 days) ex flights
Galapagos activity holiday
Trek, bike, kayak and snorkel on this fantastic adventure, from £1695 (8 days) ex flights
Ecuador holiday, Quito & the Galapagos
Experience Quito & the Galapagos Islands, from £2200 (11 days) ex flights
Galapagos Islands adventure tour
The original Galapagos Land Based Tour, from US $4490 - US $4690 (10 days) ex flights
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