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Land-Based Galápagos Tours

Hotel-based, or land-based tours, are similar to navigable tours in that they combine visits to land and marine sites in the archipelago. The major difference is that combination tours include lodging on land and are limited to sites within a finite radius of the hub town, either Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno or Puerto Villamil. These tours are based in certain hotels, which have partnerships with various tour agencies, dive centers, and transportation services. As cruise prices (and taxes on them) have gone up, more and more Galapagos visitors are choosing land-based trips.

Packaged tours may offer any combination of trips to local visitor sites. You can book individually (with one or a few companies) or you can book a weekly tour package comprised of a series of day trips, which can include land sites, snorkeling/dive sites, surf sites, or all three.

Daily tours to island sites range in price from $30 to $115 per person per day when booked individually, depending on the services provided by the tour company and the site visited. Daily tours to dive sites have less variable prices: most dive centers charge a standard $100 to $120 per person per day, according to the site. The price of combination tour packages range from $1000 to $2000 per week, including guided trips, hotel, and meals. You can arrange these types of trips from your home country or from the mainland, following the same guidelines outlined for navigable tours.

For some companies that offer land-based tours, visit our Galapagos tours page for an overview and list of operators.

Land Day Trips

A typical island day trip begins at dawn, with a walk to the dock or a bus trip to the canal, where you meet the boat that will take you to your destination. You spend a short time sailing to the pre-determined visitor site. Once there you will spend the majority of the day touring the island with a naturalist guide, eating lunch, and (if available at the island site) swimming and snorkeling from the beach. You return to Puerto Ayora via the same route in the early afternoon.

There are plenty of day-trip operators in Puerto Ayora (fewer in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno) who will accept reservations until the day preceding the excursion. Day boats can vary in quality and comfort, but since most island sites are close and you spend a relatively longer time on-site, it is probably more important to shop for day trips by destination. Most day trip destinations from Puerto Ayora include visitor sites on the central islands of Santa Cruz, Santa Fé, North Seymour, South Plazas, and Bartolomé. Different boats visit different islands on different days, so plan accordingly.

Dive Day Trips

Galapagos is a world-famous dive destination and many visitors will want to spend a day or more diving. This is easily done with one of the many dive shops in both major towns. Visit our Galapagos diving page for more information.

Land-Based vs. Cruise Tours

There are certain benefits associated with land-based tours, the most important of which is the comfort of stationary hotel accommodations versus mobile staterooms. You are not limited to on-board facilities and services, gaining access to a wider variety of port town restaurants, nightlife and shops. Finally, your community and associated social outlets extend to town visitors and residents, not just the other passengers on your boat. You can also pick and choose where you want to go instead of being tied to an itinerary mandated by the national park.

There are downsides to land-based tours relative to navigable tours. A considerable time is spent sailing back and forth to visitor sites; you are limited to visiting the close, central islands; only one (versus two) site is visited per day; and there is no chance of visiting sites either very early or late in the day.

02 Nov 2015

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