Planning Your Trip
When do you travel to Galápagos?
We offer expeditions throughout the year on both ships.
When is the best time to visit Galápagos?
Anytime you can! All year you’ll be able to see much of the iconic wildlife of Galápagos, including the giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, Darwin finches, endemic sea lions, and marine iguanas. Galápagos straddles the Equator, and wildlife is active throughout the year. In fact, these islands are unusually cool and dry for the tropics, and due to the influence of marine currents, the islands have a cool (June to December) and a warm (January to June) season. Please let us know if there is a specific species or behavior of interest and we can help guide you. Most animals are opportunistic about breeding, there's variation year to year, and, of course, nothing can be guaranteed.
What will the air and water temperatures be?
Air temperatures vary from island to island, and water temperatures can vary greatly since they are affected by converging currents and upwellings that create the rich seas that support so much life. For air temperature, in general, you’ll find that from January to May the lows are at 60-70°F and the highs 85-90°F. From June to December the lows are 65-70°F and the highs 75-90°F. The water temperatures from January to May are 75-82°F and from June to December are 62-68°F.
What are the differences between the two ships in Galápagos?
National Geographic Endeavour II and National Geographic Islander both operate year-round in Galápagos. National Geographic Endeavour II offers 10-day Galápagos expeditions, and National Geographic Islander is dedicated to the 7-day Wild Galápagos Escape and 10-day Wild Galápagos & Peru Escape. National Geographic Endeavour II is larger, accommodating 96 guests in 52 outside-facing cabins. The twin-hulled, yacht-scaled National Geographic Islander accommodates 48 guests in 24 outside cabins.
Completely refitted for Galápagos in 2016, National Geographic Endeavour II has paddleboards and an expanded kayak program, a glass-bottom boat, all-new lounge, and many other features, including a mix of suites, dedicated solo cabins, and connecting cabins for families and friends. National Geographic Islander has all the same tools for exploration—Zodiacs, kayaks, snorkeling gear, video microscope—but it does not have a glass-bottom boat. The staff- and crew-to-guest ratio is the same on both ships, ensuring excellent service whenever you choose to explore.
Are there any connecting cabins available?
There are connecting cabins and triples on the National Geographic Endeavour II.
Do I need any vaccinations?
All guests must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all guests 16 years of age and above for voyages departing July 31, 2021, or earlier. All guests 12 years of age and above must present proof of vaccination for voyages departing August 1, 2021, or later.
No other vaccinations are currently required for travel to Ecuador if you travel there directly from the United States. If you are not traveling directly from the United States, please contact the CDC for specific information regarding travel to Ecuador from other countries. The CDC recommends that the normal routine vaccines should be up to date: measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine), diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP vaccine), and polio vaccine.
Do I need a valid passport?
Yes. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the return date to the United States.
Are visas required?
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need visas to visit Galápagos.
Is there a time difference in Galápagos?
Yes. (-7:00 GMT)
What’s the currency? Are ATMs available?
Ecuador, including Galápagos, uses the U.S. dollar. There is no ATM aboard the ship, but you will find one in Puerto Ayora if you need cash. Tips to the crew can be paid with a credit card, check, or cash.
How much cash should we bring per person?
That is a personal choice. Credit cards and personal checks from a U.S. bank are accepted on the ships. The U.S. dollar is the official currency in Ecuador. You can purchase souvenirs in Galápagos in dollars. Some shops accept credit cards.
How will I pay my bill for personal items on board?
The shipboard currency is the U.S. dollar. All services and products purchased on board the ship may be paid for by cash, check from U.S. bank, or charge (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover Card).
Does everyone get a transfer upon arrival?
Transfers are provided for guests traveling on our recommended flights.
Are the Galápagos National Park entrance and other fees included in the cost of the expedition?
Yes, your Galápagos National Park entrance fee and Galápagos tourist card are both included in the cost of your expedition.
Can I extend my stay in Ecuador?
You may extend your stay in Ecuador in either Guayaquil or Quito. We can book additional nights for you. We also offer some extensions and optional tours.
Are children welcome in Galápagos?
Children of any age are welcome on our Galápagos expedition. In addition, we believe sharing an expedition with the kids in your life is a life-enhancing experience, and we offer $500 off the double occupancy rate for each person under 18 on all departures. Galápagos is a popular destination for families, and kids tend to travel over the summer and during holidays.
What are the requirements of children under age 18 traveling with one parent/or legal guardian?
A minor consent form must be signed by the parents or parent not traveling with the child. It is also suggested that the legal guardian of the child sign and have notarized a letter of consent to travel with their knowledge.
Packing and Preparation
What footwear should I pack?
Plan on packing a pair of sturdy hiking or walking shoes and some type of water-friendly footwear such as Keens, Teva, or Chaco sandals. Large hiking boots are often not necessary, but it is a personal choice—if you have a comfortable pair of hiking boots that you often use, feel free to bring them. While most of the hikes are not long, most are over rocky, uneven terrain; several options are given most days. Your sandals or water shoes are handy for wet landings when we land Zodiacs on beaches and you must walk through water a few inches deep to shore. On shore, you can either change into your shoes (towels will be at the beach) or walk in your sandals, depending on the day.
What kind of clothes do I need?
Our style is always informal. The relaxed atmosphere of every journey, a Lindblad Expeditions hallmark, is something our guests tell us they particularly enjoy. There is never a need for fancy clothing, so our recommendations on your travel wardrobe are all about comfort, practicality, and likely conditions. A packing list will be included in the Expedition Guide you’ll receive after you book your trip.
Do I need to dress up for dinner?
Throughout your expedition, there is no need for formal clothing. The onboard atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and so is the dress code.
Should I bring a hairdryer, shampoo/conditioner, etc.?
Every cabin has a hairdryer, and we supply biodegradable conditioning shampoo, body wash, and body lotion. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products. Single-use plastic is restricted in Galápagos.
Are there luggage restrictions?
On the flight from mainland Ecuador to the Galápagos, your checked baggage (one checked bag) may be weighed and cannot exceed 50 pounds (per person). Carry-on bags may be weighed and may not exceed 22 pounds (per person). You must be able to fit your carry-on luggage under your seat or in the overhead compartment.
How much room is there under beds for luggage?
You’ll find 11.5 inches (29.2 centimeters) of clearance under each bed.
What are the ships’ amenities?
- Public areas
Both ships are fully air-conditioned and feature a covered deck with chairs and tables, doctor’s office, fitness center, global market, LEXspa, library, lounge with full-service bar, and facilities for films and presentations. An expanded description of ship amenities is included below.
The ships are air-conditioned or heated throughout, depending on the weather outside.
Meals are served in a single seating in the dining room with unassigned tables to encourage mingling. Meal hours will be posted in the Daily Program.
Each ship features an onboard library with an extensive selection of books pertaining to Galápagos.
- Photo kiosk
For those interested in downloading digital photos aboard any of our ships, there is a digital photo kiosk that will enable you to download your photos to various types of digital media and CD-ROMs/DVDs. Recordable CD-ROMs/DVDs may be purchased aboard.
- Email/internet access
Email and internet access are available on all LEX ships. Your personal email and internet may be accessed from your own personal laptop or at the internet kiosk onboard. Charges apply.
- Telephone & fax
Telephone calls and fax transmissions are available at an additional charge.
Laundry services are available on both ships. There is no dry cleaning.
- Open bridge policy
We have an open bridge policy that provides guests with an opportunity to learn about navigation and share the Captain’s view.
For the comfort of all our guests, smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas.
- Public areas
What are the cabin amenities?
Each cabin has its own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature level in your cabin.
- Shower amenities
We supply 100 percent biodegradable conditioning shampoo, body wash, and body lotion. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products. Toiletries are also available for sale in the Global Market or Gallery.
- Electrical appliances
In general, each cabin is equipped with at least one 110v (American) electrical outlet, which can be used for electric razors and other small devices. Hairdryers are available in each cabin. Additional outlets can be found in the cabins that are either 110v (American) or 220v (European). For vessels with 220v (European) electrical outlets, adapter plugs or converters are available from the hotel manager.
All cabins face outside with windows.
While our ships are not equipped with safety deposit boxes in the cabins, most have small locking drawers with a key where you can keep your valuables. In keeping with the atmosphere aboard, we do not offer cabin keys aboard our vessels. As our vessel safes are quite small, our policy is that we cannot accept custody or responsibility for guests’ valuables while on board.
Is there internet access on the ships?
Yes. One hour of Wi-Fi per day per person is complimentary aboard both National Geographic Endeavour II and National Geographic Islander. Additional time is available for purchase. You may access Wi-Fi on your laptop, tablet, or phone to check email, social media, or surf the web, but you may find that the internet connection is not strong or stable enough to support Skype or video chat. If you choose not to travel with a computer, there are Internet kiosks available.
What can I expect from the meals?
Our shipboard chefs prepare international cuisine with an Ecuadorian flair on this expedition, using fresh ingredients whenever possible, including locally grown produce and responsibly caught seafood. Breakfast and lunch will be served buffet style, with different cold and hot options to choose from daily. Each evening, you will have the opportunity to choose between three dinner entrees–meat, fish, or vegetarian. Dinner choices will change on a nightly basis. Every morning early-riser pastries are served in the lounge beginning an hour before breakfast is served in the dining room. There is also a 24-hour coffee and soda station available.
What is the food like aboard your ships?
A great deal of thought goes into food served aboard. On every voyage we make an effort to bring the regional flavors to your table with fresh, local fruits, vegetables, and spices. And our sustainable seafood program aims to serve locally caught or harvested fresh seafood.
Full buffet breakfasts, casual lunches, and leisurely dinners with plenty of choices are served in our comfortable dining rooms in an open, single-seating environment, or on deck.
Meals are served in one open seating, with an informal atmosphere and unassigned tables to encourage meeting new guests.
What type of meal requests can be accommodated on the ship?
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and many food allergies can be accommodated. Please call to let us know well in advance. Unfortunately, we are not capable of providing kosher meals in Galápagos, though it is possible on some of our other expeditions.
Are snacks available during the day and in between meals?
There is a coffee station in the lounge where we have beverages and snacks available throughout the day.
Is there a fitness center?
Both ships (National Geographic Endeavour II and National Geographic Islander) feature a fitness center with cardio equipment, hand weights, resistance bands, yoga mats, and blocks. Both ships have a wellness program including morning light exercise/stretch classes; kayaking and hiking ashore; and spa treatments including massage therapy.
What is the wellness program?
Exploring the world can be a powerful reenergizing tonic. To that end, we are delighted to offer you options to tap into your own personal wellness goals and help rejuvenate as best we can. Our holistic approach includes wellness elements ranging from massages and body treatments to activities with more fitness in mind. Our staff will provide expertise in massage therapy and relaxation; water sports and aerobic hikes; stretching classes with poses inspired by yoga, qigong, and Pilates; and personalized guidance with the fitness equipment. Our goal is not a one model fits all, but rather a multitiered approach to exploration and rejuvenation.
Is there a spa? What kind of treatments do you offer?
The vessels are staffed with a wellness specialist and feature services that will help you fully recharge. Choose from relaxing full-body, deep-tissue, and focused therapeutic massages; revitalizing facial massage; and exfoliating, moisturizing, or detoxifying body treatments. Each session is tailored for your needs and preferences. Spa services are available for an additional fee, and you will have the opportunity to sign up once on board.
When does the ship travel from island to island?
The ship most often sails between morning and afternoon visits, and during the night.
Are gratuities included?
Gratuities are included for the land portion of your expedition but not aboard ship. If you wish to leave a shipboard gratuity, guidelines will be given by your Expedition Leader and are included in the final documents for your expedition. Gratuities are divided among expedition staff and crew members on board.
Can my family and friends contact me in case of emergency at home?
Prior to your departure date, we will provide you with a list of port contacts and phone numbers, indicating how you can be reached in case of emergency. The ship is equipped with satellite communications for Internet access, telephone, and fax.
Is there a doctor on board?
There is a doctor on board, and his or her services are provided free of charge. The doctor is available at any time in case of emergency.
Will I need Dramamine or seasickness patches?
If you have a tendency to get seasick, please speak with your physician before the expedition. We also have a physician on each ship. Galápagos is a storm-free zone, but sensitivities vary.
Are your ships wheelchair accessible?
Neither ship in Galápagos is wheelchair accessible.
Is English spoken on board?
Yes, everyone on our expedition team speaks English. Some are multilingual as well.
How will I explore in the Galápagos?
Key to our operation is our fleet of Zodiacs, which we use to land on remote islands that would otherwise be inaccessible. These sturdy inflatable rubber boats are the same craft that Jacques Cousteau used in his expeditions for over 30 years. They are widely recognized as the safest and most versatile small boats afloat. The Zodiacs we use are 19 feet long, powered by outboard engines, and are capable of carrying 12 to 14 people with ease.
Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards
Kayaks and stand-up paddleboards provide one of the best means for personal exploration in the areas we travel. They are very stable and easy to master for novices and experts alike. There is something special about being alone, or with a partner in our double kayaks, paddling along a remote coastline, or paddling aboard one of our specially designed boards. Lindblad pioneered kayaking from expedition ships in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is the first company of its kind to be awarded unique permits for kayaking in the fragile Galápagos environment. The Galápagos National Park designates where kayaking and paddling, like snorkeling and other activities, are permitted.
Undersea tools for exploring
Our undersea specialists photograph marine life to share in the lounge. Cameras and other tools allow us to go further and get closer to nature’s wonders. For more information on our Undersea Program, see Tools for Exploration.
Snorkels, masks, fins, buoyancy vests, and wetsuits are available on board our ships. To ensure a perfect fit, we encourage you to bring your own mask and snorkel (no full face masks, please). For your convenience, we will provide “shorty” wetsuits for snorkeling. Our goal is to ease packing restrictions and provide added comfort in the water. Wetsuits will be available on board in a range of adult sizes including XS, S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL, and XXXL. Kids are harder to fit, so please consider bringing your own child-size wetsuit, especially for smaller children. We advocate the buddy system for everyone, at all times. It is highly recommended that children 14 years of age and under be accompanied by an adult and wear an inflatable snorkel vest while snorkeling.
What activities are included?
Nature hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, and lectures/presentations by the naturalists.
What is the level of difficulty of included activities?
Your expedition leader will let you know the level of difficulty of every hike, kayak outing, or snorkeling outing. When a long hike over rugged terrain is offered, there will also be a short, easier hike, and often a Zodiac cruise, offered. It is important to be able to get in and out of Zodiacs and to walk through water up to knee-deep for beach landings.
What types of activities are not permitted on the islands?
One must be with a naturalist guide when ashore in Galápagos. There is no smoking or eating on the islands. Drones, selfie sticks, and the use of flash are prohibited.
What are the activities for children?
Developed in conjunction with National Geographic Education, our National Geographic Global Explorer program is for kids and teens. Our kids’ program is learning disguised as fun. You’ll see kids discover hidden talents and gain confidence while having the time of their lives.
- Photo workshops with a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor using smartphones or point-and-shoots.
- Hands-on science using the video microscope and learning about conservation projects, plus hands-on nature lessons with our naturalists, who are trained to work with kids and are excellent role models.
- Journals and journaling time.
- Scavenger hunts.
- “Certificates of achievement” for various accomplishments.
- Kid-friendly menus and movie night with pizza are always a hit, too.
You often refer to the value of flexible schedules. What does this mean to me?
Often, the most memorable events are those that are unplanned. That’s why every itinerary has flexibility built into the schedule. On some of our journeys, in fact, whole days are left open for exploring. So if we happen to encounter a blue whale or a school of dolphins, for example, we’ll be afforded the luxury of taking the time to stop and watch rather than having to rush off somewhere else. To get a sense of what these adventurous, open-ended days are like, spend some time reading our Daily Expedition Reports. You can read the top 10 or browse in our archive, looking at the destination and time of year that most interests you.
Is there any free time to do things on our own?
You’ll find time to relax when the ship is underway between islands, and you always have the option of skipping any of the scheduled activities to enjoy a massage or spend some time aboard. You’ll also find free time when you visit the city of Puerto Ayora to walk the streets, visit a café, or do some shopping.
What is the difference between photo expeditions and other expeditions?
Photo expeditions include lectures given on photography and more in-depth assistance with using one’s camera to improve your skills, to take the best possible photos, etc. Travel and photography go hand in hand. And with the partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, it’s natural that photography has become a vital component of our expeditions. While all of our expeditions offer a full contingent of specialists to give you plenty of options and an in-depth experience—naturalists, marine biologists, archaeologists, birders, undersea specialists, wellness specialists, and other experts—our photo team is there to help you take the best travel photographs of your life, whether you’re an interested beginner or a seasoned pro.
Also, designated photo expeditions in Galápagos will team a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor and a National Geographic photographer, who will tailor daily activities to maximize photo ops and present an array of instructional photo talks. The photo team can enhance everyone’s voyage with useful tips for improving your travel and wildlife images, strategies for being in the right place at the right time, and time-saving hints for editing and storing digital images.
Everyone can now take advantage of these added options:
- Travel with a National Geographic photographer
- In-the-moment tips to help you maximize photo ops
- The option to join Zodiac cruises and walks ashore devoted to photography
- Presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography
- One-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field
- Voyage slideshows for everyone to enjoy
- While you may choose to make photography a part of your experience, all of our expeditions provide a variety of activities for all our guests
What wildlife will I see?
Darwin was struck by the fact that each island had its own species, and you can expect to see a great variety of wildlife during your voyage. Marine life is abundant and diverse. Some species, like Galápagos sea lions, marine iguanas, and blue-booted boobies, are widely distributed. Others, like the waved albatross, nest seasonally on just one island. Each itinerary is designed to maximize your opportunity to see wildlife.
What is a wet landing?
A wet landing is when you disembark from the Zodiac into shallow water and then walk ashore.
Will there be kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities?
It is most definitely possible; in fact, count on it! There is a fleet of kayaks—to give our guests the opportunity for personal, eye-level encounters with beauty and wildness in all the pristine places we explore. Kayaking areas are designated by the park and weather dependent.
Can you swim off the ship?
Yes, depending on conditions at certain anchorages. In addition, there is an opportunity to swim from beaches many days.
How often will we snorkel? What do can I do if I don’t snorkel?
There is a chance to snorkel almost every day. If you do not snorkel, there will be opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and Zodiac cruises. National Geographic Endeavour II has a glass-bottom boat.
What is an inflatable snorkeling vest and where do we get one?
Inflatable snorkeling vests make it easier to float at the water’s surface, and they are provided aboard for guests who choose to use them. Many people find that their wetsuit provides adequate buoyancy.
Should I bring my own prescription snorkel mask if I have the lenses and a large correction?
Yes. And in general, a personal mask offers the best fit and comfort.
Do I need to be concerned with sharks?
The marine ecosystem is very healthy, and that means there are sharks. If your naturalists see one while snorkeling, they will point it out. Sharks, like the rest of the wildlife in Galápagos, have little interest in humans.
Do you provide underwater cameras for us to use?
What can you tell me about the expedition team?
There are seven naturalists and an expedition leader aboard the National Geographic Endeavour II and three naturalists and an expedition leader aboard the National Geographic Islander. One of the most important aspects of every Lindblad Expedition is the knowledge of our personable staff of naturalists, biologists, oceanographers, and other specialists who provide talks, guidance ashore, and daily camaraderie. These people will greatly enhance your experience, sharing special insights into areas of the world they know intimately. We send bios of staff with your documents, and you can also find them online.
Where are the naturalists and staff from?
All of our naturalists, expedition staff, and crew are Galápagos residents and most are Ecuadorian. Our team is the best in the islands. They are top pros, handpicked by our veteran expedition leaders. They are all licensed by the national park, and many have studied in the U.S as well as Ecuador. Everyone aboard is fluent in English, and our expeditions are conducted in English.
Will there be talks or presentations on board?
Your expedition team is key to your experience. They not only accompany all your explorations off the ship, they also give engaging talks and informal presentations on board. The state-of-the art lounge is equipped with facilities for films, slideshows, and presentations. Naturalists will share their knowledge and add insight to all you see and do. Our undersea specialist shoots undersea footage and then shows images on flat screens in the comfort of the ship’s lounge, giving you a rare view of the undersea world. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructors share their images and offer one-to-one critiques for those who are interested in participating.
Recap is a Lindblad Expeditions tradition, as much a part of the expedition as riding in the Zodiacs. Recaps are generally held each evening in the lounge prior to dinner and include informal presentations by the staff and a lively review of the day’s events involving both staff and guests. At the conclusion of Recap, your expedition leader will review the activity options for the next day.
What does the video chronicler do?
A video chronicler accompanies every Galápagos expedition. With cameras at the ready 24 hours a day and seven days a week, these talented professionals have just one goal: to capture the essence of each expedition for you. They will shoot, edit, and create a documentary of your voyage that will be available for purchase at the end of your expedition.