Check here first for Q & As about our Galápagos expedition
National Geographic Endeavour II & National Geographic Islander both operate year-round in Galápagos. The Endeavour II is larger, she accommodating 96 guests in 56 outside-facing cabins. The twin-hulled, yacht-scaled Islander accommodates 48 guests in 24 outside cabins. Completely refitted for Galápagos in 2016, Endeavour II has paddle boards and an expanded kayak program, a glass-bottomed Zodiac, all new lounge and many other features, including a mix of suites, dedicated solo cabins and connecting cabins for families and friends. The 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.
Since Galápagos straddles the Equator, you’ll find the temperature varies only slightly during the year, and wildlife is active year-round. The archipelago has a wet and dry season, but these can be easily misunderstood since during the “wet” season some islands will get no rain, and during the “dry” season the highlands still catch rain and are shrouded in bright green. 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. If there is one specific aspect of the wildlife you want to see—great frigatebirds during courtship rituals, Nazca boobies with their newly hatched chicks, or albatrosses learning to fly—contact us and we can share the travel dates where you are most likely to see the specific event you’d like, though of course nothing can be guaranteed.
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°. From June to December the lows are 65-70°F and the highs 75-90°. The water temperatures from January to May are 75-82°F and from June to December are 62-68°F.
Yes, both the Endeavour II and the Islander offer the same level of Internet access. It is purchased by the minute (30 minutes for $22.50; 100 minutes for $55; and 250 minutes for $100). You may access wifi on your laptop, tablet, or phone to check email, social media, or surf the web, but since our ships are so remote you’ll most often find that the Internet connection is not powerful enough to support Skype or video chat. If you choose not to travel with a computer, there are Internet kiosks available.
If you wish to leave a gratuity, as a tipping guideline we recommend $180 per guest per week aboard the ship. The gratuities will be divided among the Naturalist guides and crewmembers on board.
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, some are over very rugged terrain. Your sandals or water shoes are necessary 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.
We offer weekly, year round expeditions. National Geographic Endeavour II departs every Friday while National Geographic Islander departs every Saturday.
Yes, your Galápagos Park fee and Galápagos tourist card are both included in the cost of your expedition. Your park fee will be arranged in advance, and one of your naturalists will give you your tourist card after you step off the plane in Galápagos.
All of our naturalists, expedition staff, and crew are Ecuadorian—this is required for every ship that operates in Galápagos. Our team is the best in the islands. They are top pros, handpicked by our veteran expedition leaders. They are all national park employees, and most of them have studied in the U.S as well as Ecuador. Everyone aboard is fluent in English, and our expeditions are conducted in English.
The marine ecosystem is very healthy, and 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 no interest in humans.
Expect to see a great variety of wildlife and vegetation—much of it found nowhere else in the world. On land, you’ll likely see Galápagos giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, flightless cormorants, frigatebirds, and several species of Darwin finches. Greater flamingoes and Galápagos land iguanas are not quite as common but are still regularly seen throughout the year. Waved albatrosses are nearly always seen April through November, occasionally seen in December, and unlikely to be seen from January through March. While snorkeling or Zodiac cruising you’re likely to see Galápagos penguins, green sea turtles, marine iguanas, lava lizards, Galápagos sea lions, Galápagos fur seals, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Whales and dolphins of a variety of species are occasionally seen throughout the year, but are not as common. Please remember that these are guidelines only, and do not guarantee specific sightings.
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. And “certificates of achievement” for various accomplishments. 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. Kid-friendly menus and movie night with pizza are always a hit, too.
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.
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.
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.
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 offered. It is important to be able to get in and out of Zodiacs, and walk through water up to knee-deep for beach landings.
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.
Kayaking provides 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. Lindblad pioneered kayaking from expedition ships in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and Lindblad is the first company of its kind to be awarded unique permits for kayaking in the fragile Galápagos environment.
Undersea tools for exploring
Our vessels are outfitted with a variety of underwater exploration equipment, ranging from snorkeling gear to high-tech imaging systems. Bow cams or hydrophones bring to life the sights and sounds beneath the sea, kayaks allow us to silently explore a cove or inlet under our own power, and our Undersea Specialists photograph marine life to share in the lounge. These 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 and beach towels are available on board our ships. To ensure a perfect fit, you may want to bring your own mask and snorkel. 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. Unfortunately, due to storage constraints, we are unable to provide children’s wetsuits, as they often require special fitting and to provide a sufficient range of sizes is beyond our capacity. 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.
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.
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. Global Perspectives guest speakers will add depth, knowledge, and relevancy to your understanding of the region. Our National Geographic Photographer shares their images and offer one-to-one critiques for those who are interested in participating.
Recap: This 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.
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 voyage DVD that will be available for purchase at the end of your expedition for $50.
Both ships (National Geographic Endeavour II and National Geographic Islander) feature a fitness center with gym equipment. All ships have a wellness program with elements ranging from kayaking and hiking, to exercises inspired by yoga and Pilates, massage therapy, and body treatments.
Exploring the world can be a powerful reenergizing tonic. To that end, we are delighted to offer you more options to tap into your own personal wellness goals and help rejuvenate as best we can. Our holistic approach includes many levels of choice for you—with 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 or Pilates, personalized guidance with the fitness equipment, and more. Our goal is not a one model fits all, but rather a multi-tiered approach to exploration and rejuvenation.
No 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), Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTP Vaccine) and Polio vaccine.
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 ten or browse in our archive, looking at the destination and time of year that most interests you.
One must be with a naturalist guide when ashore in Galápagos. There is no smoking or eating on the islands.
A wet landing is when you disembark from the Zodiac into shallow water and then walk ashore.
The ship most often sails during the night.
The difference between a photo expedition and a regular expedition is that there is a guest photographer (usually a National Geographic photographer) on board as well as a photo instructor. There are lectures given on photography and 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 specialist, wellness specialist, 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 seasoned pro. Also, designated photo expeditions in Galápagos will team a certified photo specialist 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 & 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.
There is a chance to snorkel almost every day. If you do not snorkel, there will be opportunities for kayaking and Zodiac drives. National Geographic Endeavour II has a glass-bottom boat.
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.
You’ll find 11.5 inches clearance under each bed.
There are connecting cabins on the National Geographic Endeavour II.
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need visas to visit Galápagos.
Vegetarian, vegan, and we can accommodate many food allergies. 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.
Snorkeling gear (shorty wetsuits, mask, snorkel, fins, buoyancy aids and snorkel bags) is available aboard in many sizes, but to ensure a perfect fit you may want to bring your own mask and snorkel. If you are very nearsighted and do not wear contact lenses, consider investing in a prescription mask (not available aboard), available at most dive shops and online.
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.
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, vegetable, 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 or even ashore on a remote beach.
Meals are served in one open seating, with an informal atmosphere and tables unassigned to encourage meeting new guests.
If you have special dietary restrictions, please let us know in advance and we will accommodate you. Unfortunately, we cannot provide kosher meals but can provide vegan meals.
Throughout your expedition, there is no need for formal clothing. The on board atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and so is the dress code.
Yes, alcohol, considered a personal item, is available for purchase on the ship. A self-serve refrigerator is always stocked with Ecuadorian beer ($3 a bottle) and the bar is open as late as guests choose to stay up.
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.
There are spas on our ships in Galápagos where massages and facials are offered.
Children of any age are welcome on our Galápagos expedition. In addition, we believe sharing an expedition with your kids or grandkids is a life-enhancing experience, and we offer $500 off the double occupancy rate for each person under 18 on all departures.
Neither ship in Galápagos is wheelchair accessible.