Voyage to the Galápagos Islands
Choosing your own adventure
There’s nowhere else on Earth like the Galápagos, making exploring here an adventure of a lifetime. To ensure guests get the most out of their Galápagos experience, Lindblad offers meaningful options, giving you the opportunity to choose how you explore. Short on time? Choose the action-packed week aboard the 48-guest, yacht-scaled National Geographic Islander and, perhaps, add a three-day, post-voyage cultural experience in the Andes of Ecuador. Or choose the classic, 10-day expedition aboard the 96-guest National Geographic Endeavour II or a 16-day Galápagos and Peru trip combining the voyage with an exploration of Machu Picchu and the Land of the Inca.
No matter which Lindblad-National Geographic expedition you choose, you’ll have daily opportunities to customize your experience. Elect to join the naturalist of your choosing, each with their own specialties and interests. Join a long hike, opt for yoga on the beach before breakfast, or spend the morning on a photography walk with a certified photo instructor. Opportunities to go paddling and kayaking are also available in select sites.
Exploring like a local
Lindblad Expeditions has introduced generations of adventurous travelers to the Galápagos, a scattered group of volcanic islands some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. In 1967, explorer and naturalist Lars-Eric Lindblad led the first-ever international tourist expedition to the remote archipelago made famous by Charles Darwin. Following the voyage, Lindblad funded a study assessing the potential impacts of tourism on the Galápagos islands. Based on the findings, Lindblad began advocating for stronger environmental protections and financed the Galápagos’ first two national park rangers.
As a leader in sustainable tourism, conservation, and exploration in the Galápagos for more than a half century, Lindblad Expeditions is uniquely positioned to give you a local’s-eye view of this wondrous UNESCO World Heritage site and Biosphere Reserve. Each Lindblad-National Geographic Galápagos voyage is accompanied by knowledgeable expedition team members, such as naturalists, undersea specialists, and certified photo instructors (CPIs). Most are Galapagueños from the archipelago’s four inhabited islands: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana. This local connection opens a window into the lesser-known human story of this famously isolated wild place.
Discovering a world of undersea wonders
The waters surrounding the volcanic Galápagos Islands harbor a mind-boggling mix of marine life ranging from tiny sea urchins to bus-sized whale sharks and blue whales, the world’s largest animals. This aquatic array totals nearly 3,000 species and includes the world’s largest biomass of sharks and the world’s only marine iguana. Taking a deep-dive into what lies beneath the Galápagos is an integral part of every Lindblad-National Geographic expedition. Guests are equipped with complete snorkeling gear and there are opportunities to go snorkeling nearly every day. Explorers who’d prefer to stay dry can observe sharks, corals, shimmering schools of fish, and other colorful marine life through the glass-bottom boat on the National Geographic Endeavour II.
Lindblad-National Geographic expeditions also regularly hosts undersea scientific studies, such as the 2019 pilot research study with National Geographic, the Charles Darwin Foundation, and Galápagos National Park documenting the first-ever recorded sightings in the Galápagos broad nose sevengill shark and bluntnose sixgill shark. The study’s field phase, which took place on six expeditions aboard the National Geographic Endeavour II, deployed a National Geographic deep-sea camera system to explore the Galápagos Marine Reserve, one of the most biologically diverse marine protected areas in the world.
Expecting the unexpected
Life in the Galápagos moves to the rhythm of nature. That’s why spontaneity is a hallmark of Lindblad-National Geographic expeditions. The expedition team is prepared to change plans instantly to ensure guests can observe all the awe-inspiring moments that unfold naturally throughout the day. So, if a pod of orcas appears just as breakfast is about to be served on deck, the food can wait because the killer whales won’t. Instead, the expedition team will drop the Zodiacs into the water and ferry you out closer to where the orcas are feeding for a jaw-dropping orca encounter.
And, since each expedition team includes wildlife specialists like marine biologists and ornithologists, every surprising discovery is an opportunity not only to observe something remarkable in nature, but also to ask questions and gain invaluable insights.
Encountering extraordinary wildlife
Being isolated from the mainland for millions of years created the unique collection of creatures found only in the Galápagos. The archipelago is best known for its high proportion of endemic species, such as giant tortoises, flightless cormorants, and the only penguin to exist north of the equator and nest in the tropics. Called ecologically naïve, Galápagos animals evolved without land predators and have no instinctive fear of humans. Animals feed, care for their young, and perform courtship rituals, such as the mesmerizing mating dance of the albatross, right before your eyes. This makes the Galápagos one of the best places in the world for wildlife viewing.
To responsibly observe and photograph wild things up close (while keeping at least six feet away, per Galápagos National Park regulations) Lindblad-National Geographic expeditions use kayaks, paddleboards, and Zodiacs on the water and offer naturalist-led hikes and walks on land. Getting guests as close as possible to where the wild things creates seemingly unlimited opportunities for amazing wildlife encounters. Among the wild possibilities: walking among lava lizards and marine iguanas, paddling past volcanic coasts in search of penguins, and hiking into the highlands to photograph giant tortoises in the wild.
Capturing stunning images
British naturalist Charles Darwin recorded the unusual plants and animals he encountered during his 1835 expedition in the Galápagos in a series of famous notebooks. Today, a smartphone or digital single-lens reflex camera is all you’ll need to create a vivid, visual story of your Galápagos voyage. To help guests get their best wildlife and landscape shots, National Geographic Certified Photo Instructors (CPI) accompany each Lindblad-National Geographic expedition. CPI’s offer real-time, Galápagos-specific tips in the field on topics such as lighting, composition, and getting in position to capture epic shots of breaching whales or fast-moving fur seals.
Select National Geographic Endeavor II departures in the Galápagos are dedicated photo expeditions, meaning there are additional CPIs and a National Geographic photographer on board. In 2022, these voyages include an optional, post-expedition photo extension in the jungle and rivers of biologically diverse Yasuni National Park. Having an opportunity to learn from and shoot alongside National Geographic photographers is one advantage of the Lindblad-National Geographic Alliance. Founded in 2004, the alliance produces immersive, ship-based, marine expedition programs that inspire exploration and promote conservation and sustainable tourism.
Supporting conservation and communities
Ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad’s inaugural international tourist expedition to the Galápagos more than 50 years ago, Lindblad Expeditions has worked to protect the unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems of this otherworldly archipelago. Lars-Eric embraced the concept of bringing travelers to wild places with a purpose: inspiring awe to initiate action. From his own travels, Lindblad understood that spending time in nature was the best way to motivate people to care about the planet and want to safeguard it for future generations.
Each Lindblad Galápagos expedition is a continuation of Lars-Eric’s legacy, as is the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund. In the Galápagos, the LEX-NG Fund supports efforts to safeguard native and endemic species, conserve biodiversity, and promote environmental stewardship through education. Recent projects include helping local teachers inspire students to become future guardians of the Galápagos and, in conjunction with Galápagos National Park, launching a new fisheries-monitoring mobile app for use in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Inspired by Lindblad’s commitment—and their own awe-inspiring Galápagos experiences—expedition guests have donated more than $9.3 million since 1997 for Galápagos conservation, environmental education, and research priorities.
Savoring locally sourced, sustainable foods
Sustainable agriculture is good for the Galápagos and the planet. To grow the bounty of homegrown ingredients, such as butternut squash, heirloom tomatoes, pineapples, and sugar cane, Lindblad invests in Galápagos farms and sources as much food as possible from island growers. Each year, Lindblad purchases 30 to 40 tons of local and organic produce for Galápagos expeditions. This farm-to-table approach helps create sustainable economic opportunities for Galapagueños and protect the unique island ecosystem, and infuses dishes with healthy ingredients grown in the Galápagos.
The 30 different local fruits and vegetables incorporated into Lindblad’s Galápagos menus are produced by 40 farmers. Along with supporting local economies, buying local significantly reduces the packaging waste and carbon emissions created by each expedition. Non-produce menu items, such as Andean quinoa and Ecuadorian artisanal wines, are sourced either in the islands or from mainland Ecuador. Serving only local and regional food and drink is part of Lindblad’s wider commitment to protect the Galápagos now and for the future.
Inspiring the next generation of explorers
Kids are natural explorers, and the Galápagos is nature-made for exploration. It’s no wonder then that all Lindblad-National Geographic Galápagos expeditions offer the National Geographic Global Explorers Program for kids and teens. This fun, family-centered experience, designed in partnership with National Geographic Education, features a variety of hands-on science, storytelling, and adventure activities designed to build real-world explorer skills and spark a passion for nature, conservation, and exploration.
Certified field educators lead activities, which can be tailored to fit specific interests, such as marine biology, geology, or photography. Participants continually learn by doing, whether recording wildlife observations in their Field Notebooks, hiking to a volcano, or counting nesting sea turtles as part of a citizen science project. Daily adventure options, such as snorkeling with sea lions and learning to stand-up paddle board, empower kids and teens to explore outside their comfort zones and try something new. Using video, photography, maps, drawings, and other creative tools, participants share their Galápagos discoveries and, likely, inspire others to start exploring.
Embracing transformative travel
People who choose to explore the Galápagos on a Lindblad-National Expedition are seekers, not sightseers. Instead of watching passively from the sidelines, they plunge into landscapes and seascapes to experience the extraordinary and be profoundly changed by it. Lindblad’s transformative Galápagos experiences, such as snorkeling among sea lions off the coast of Isla Floreana or swimming through a living kaleidoscope of fish in the waters off Isla Santa Cruz, help foster a deep and lasting appreciation for the nature world.
Complementing these active ecotourism excursions are engaging, on-board discussions and presentations about such topics as Galápagos culture, biodiversity, ecosystems, and environmental threats. Ships are also equipped with expedition tools, such as an underwater video camera and video microscope, which naturalists use to give guests an in-depth look at the day’s undersea discoveries. And, thanks to Lindblad’s “Open Bridge” policy, you’ll have an open invitation to the bridge, or captain’s deck, where you can learn about navigation and be among the first to spot wildlife ahead.