Ecuador is perhaps one of the smallest countries of the Americas but it still is the most impressive place to visit for the different biodiversity offered in its four well marked regions, Coast or lowlands, Sierra or highlands, Oriente or Amazon Rain Forest and the unique Galapagos Islands.
The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km west of continental Ecuador. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site: wildlife is its most notable feature.
The weather in the Galapagos Islands is largely determined by the ocean currents. Normally from June to December, there is a cold current rising from the south which creates a cool misty fog called a garua, making the climate rather cool and dry. In December, the wind has less force, the ocean is calm and the currents change, surrounding the islands in the warm Panama current from the north. These currents create a definable weather pattern of hot sunny mornings followed by clouds and occasional showers in the afternoons. Needless to say, this is usually the favorite time to visit. Based on all of this information, it would be safe to say: from June to December it's cool, cloudy and dry. From December to June it's warm, sunny and rainy.
When to Go
Although directly on the equator and with tropical weather year round, there are still better times than others to visit the Galapagos Islands. The months of June, July and August (and into September) tend to be characterized by cool garua (mist) and temperatures averaging 24ºC (72ºF). This time of the year the sea is at its roughest (but still relatively tame), the highlands tend to be dry, and the palo santo trees leafless.
What are the Galapagos like?
When Charles Darwin arrived to the islands in 1835, he admitted being a bit horrified by the thousands of iguanas that he encountered.
"One doesn't get used to their hideous appearance, one is never entirely free of a sense of unease. Some say they look like guardians of Hell or condemned spirits or dragon spawn." - Charles Darwin
The inhabitants of the Galapagos are survivors of a unsettled landscape, an volcanic archipelago 900 miles away from the rest of the world. And because of their isolation from humans, both land and sea animals remain more or less fearless and unaffected by visitors. As a visitor to the Galapagos, you will be amazed at how close you are able to get to the creatures of these enchanted islands. On land you will find yourself watching your step, amongst all of Darwin's hideous beasts (iguanas), as well as nesting blue-footed boobies, sea lions and who knows what else.
These islands are uniquely positioned in-between 3 ocean currents, creating a climate unlike any other in the world. This is why, about one fourth of the animals on the Galapagos are only found on these islands.
Orginizations Protecting the Islands
There are a few organizations designed to support the preservation of the archipelago. The main one is the Charles Darwin Foundation who also manages the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is the operative branch of the foundation. Other organizations include Galapagos Conservation Trust, a UK based charity and Galapagos Coalition, a group of scientists and lawyers with expertise in environmental law, whom are interested in the understanding of the relationship between the conservation of Galapagos and human activities.
What to Expect on a Cruise
On most cruises you sleep on board, traveling between the islands at night and visiting the islands during the day.
Some of the best diving in the world is available here to experienced divers. The minimum of Open Water Diver certification is required and your log book showing that you have made some dives within the previous 12 months. In addition you must bring a medical certificate showing that you are fit to dive. Sea conditions can include strong currents and open, cold waters.