From Galapagos Penguins to Waved Albatross, Flightless Cormorants to Lava Gulls, the Galapagos Islands make for a great birding vacation with one of the highest rates of endemism of any archipelago. For birders Galapagos also offers the sheer joy of getting up close to a host of species which literally have no fear of humans!
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Travel in a time of uncertainty…
Now travel has resumed, planning your Galapagos vacation should be a source of excitement, but making sense of all the travel regulations can be a headache. We follow developments in Ecuador, Peru and Galapagos incredibly closely so we have all the latest information on hand.
Having all the latest information and expert teams on the ground helps us take the uncertainty out of your planning and give you the confidence to book, secure in the knowledge we have you covered! If you want to find out the latest advice on travel to Ecuador, Galapagos and Peru please contact us
All our Galapagos wildlife vacations have a naturalist-led cruise at their heart. Because the islands are spread over more than 200 km, by visiting on board a live-aboard Galapagos wildlife cruise, this enables you to reach the most remote and pristine parts of the archipelago
Navigating mostly at night means you to spend the best parts of the day for wildlife watching with early morning and late afternoon land visits. Then in the middle of the day you can experience some of the amazing Galapagos wildlife below the water, with some of the best snorkelling in the world.
Although Galapagos is a year-round destination, for birders our favourite time is mid-April through mid-June. This is when the arrival of nutrient rich cold water currents triggers the sea birds to go into courtship mode. This is quite a spectacle particularly on the island of Genovesa (Tower) with the calls and puffed up red chests of the male frigate birds. Also on Espanola with the Waved Albatross back, these beautiful birds who mate for life will be also in full courtship mode.
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Dedicated birding cruises are rare now in Galapagos which usually means the best way for birders to experience Galapagos is on board a general interest wildlife cruise. Helping you pick the best cruise for you is where Think Galapagos and our expertise comes in. We can help finding the best wildlife cruise, with the best itinerary and superb naturalist guides. Often we find a good way to boost the number of endemics you can see is to add time on in Santa Cruz Island after your cruise in the company of your own private Galapagos National Park guide so you can really focus and go in search of some of the endemics found here.
The best way to start planning your Galapagos birding trip is to give us a call or contact us via email. We are always delighted to help answer any questions you may have. In case it is helpful, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about birding tours in Galapagos.
Our preference for birders, particularly for those visiting around May time, is for the itineraries that focus on the Eastern part of Galapagos and which include the outpost islands for seabirds of Genovesa and Espanola. The only down side to the 8 day itineraries that include these two islands is that they never include Fernandina or the Northern and Western parts of Isabela island which are the only place that you can see the iconic flightless cormorant which are only included in Western itineraries. For birders who want to see the flightless cormorants as well as Espanola and Genovesa Islands, there are some yachts that have good itinerary combinations which allow you do see all these islands in 10 days.
Yes! For those of you looking to see as many endemic species as possible, our recommendation would be if you can to go for a full 15 day cruise, although it is virtually impossible to see all of the endemic birds in Galapagos, most notably the Mangrove Finch which is critically endangered now and only found in an area of mangroves in Western Isabela Island with strict restrictions on access, access to the highlands of Floreana to see the Medium Tree Finch is quite difficult and access to Champion and Gardner Islets to see the Floreana Mockingbird is now near impossible. Here is our blog with some details on the work to save the Mangrove Finch.
We highly recommend birding guests spend a bit of extra time in a hotel in Santa Cruz Island after your cruise to boost your bird count. One of the challenges for birders on a general wildlife cruise, is that your Galapagos National Park guide will have to balance the interests of the entire group during your island visits. This means in many cases it won’t be possible to go in search of the harder to find endemics found on certain islands, although in most cases the endemic birds are there and hard to be missed.
To ensure that you can get in a few more of the harder to spot endemics, in particular some of the finches we recommend that birding guests add a day or two onto their cruise in the island of Santa Cruz. We usually then hire a Galapagos National Park guide to accompany you as you go in search of some of the endemics to be found here with a little bit of searching, including the Galapagos Rail and the Woodpecker finch to name but two. There are a number of hotels we work with in Santa Cruz island ranging from a lovely family run B&B to a luxury 5* hotel and everything in between!
We do love a list, and thought we would share with you the 26 endemic species found in Galapagos using the taxonomy proposed by the International Ornithologists Union. In the list are the four species of Galapagos Mockingbird which were the true inspiration for Charles Darwins work on the theory of evolution, even though often it is finches which are often given the credit for this!
Laterallus spilonota (Also known as Galápagos rail)
Mimus trifasciatus (Also known as Charles Island mockingbird)
Mimus macdonaldi (Also known as Española mockingbird)
San Cristóbal mockingbird
Mimus melanotis (Also known as Chatham mockingbird)
Large ground finch
Medium ground finch
Small ground finch
Sharp-beaked ground finch
Common cactus finch
Española cactus finch
Large tree finch
Medium tree finch
Small tree finch