The Galapagos are one of the most protected places on Earth and one of the few places untouched by human development. The 61-island archipelago sparked Darwin's Theory of Evolution, which becomes clearer than ever when you see the wildlife here. As you navigate the rather chilly seas, you'll get up close and personal with giant ambling tortoises which weigh over 400kg, as well as sea lions, sharks and iguanas. The Galapagos only allows a certain number of visitors per year, however, that number has risen from 17,000 tourists 20 years ago to over 200,000 today. As protected as it may be, the region is starting to show strain from tourism. Now is a better time than ever to visit before those numbers get any higher and the UNESCO World Heritage site is ruined or becomes highly restricted once again.
When to go
The Galapagos are situated right on the equator so the air and water temperatures stay fairly constant throughout the year, as does the wildlife that you can see. If you visit in high season (due to school holidays) which runs mid-December to January and June through to August, be sure to you book at least six months in advance.
Who to take with you
A guide - it's a legal requirement. Like going back to school in the best way possible.
Most likely to bump into…
Blue-footed boobies jigging around in their goofy mating dances.
Snorkelling - many people think of the amazing wildlife on land in the Galapagos but forget that there's another whole world under the sea. Swim with marine iguanas, sea lions, green sea turtles, the world's second smallest penguin and thousands of colourful fish.
Essentials you need to bring with you
Binoculars - spot the amazing wildlife on the islands from the boat Sea-sickness remedies such as crystallised ginger, patches or tablets Underwater camera
How to get there
Unfortunately (though fortunately for the wildlife) there are no direct flights to the Galapagos. Fly first to Quito or Guayaquil then take one of the daily flights with TAME or AEROGAL. You can also access the Galapagos by boat from Quito, but don't take this option unless you have time to kill as it takes three days.