The Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago about 926 miles of the coast of Ecuador, were put on the map by one Charles Darwin (you may have heard of him) who lionized them as a crucible for evolution in action. Where he left off, the emerging scientific community took up, and today you can be sure that if National Geographic isn’t running an article or special on them, Discover, LiveScience.com, or the Discovery Channel is. Weirdly exotic, the islands of ancient giant turtles and some of the strangest-looking iguanas under the sun may be the one place on Earth where the best PR ever done was entirely scientific.
Face it: the Galapagos are on your bucket list, so bite the bullet. They represent a modern-day Shangri-La: Everybody has heard of the islands, but do you know anybody who has gone? Why not be the first and have something really unique for the Facebook page?
Galacruises Expeditions offer a perfect beginner’s intro to the Galapagos Islands; not too rugged but no pussyfooting, either. Flip through the offerings and a real stand-out is the “Galapagos Island Hop” that not only includes a science-man on staff to give you the ins and outs of evolutionary theory — which is playing out on the islands to this very day — but also a few more vacation-y things like swimming and snorkeling. And unlike Darwin, who had to do all his work on the HMS Beagle, a decidedly cramped and un-luxurious sloop, you get all the creature comforts of a fully-equipped catamaran. Even better, Galacruises run specials and discounts throughout the entire year, so depending on what you are looking for, a visit to the website may be fortuitous in more ways than one.
A few necessary buzzkills: To look at the map, you’d think the Galapagos Islands, all of which straddle the equator, would be sunny and tropical. Certainly, that is what all the photos hint. Ironically, nothing could be further from the truth. The Islands are smack in the middle of the extremely cold Humboldt Current, which means it actually rains most of the year and/or is foggy the rest of it. Summer temps average out to a pleasant, but by no means balmy, 77º F.
For more information, go to galacruises.com or call Steele Luxury Travel at 646-688-2274