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The Galapagos Islands are a premier destination that travelers place at the top of their bucket lists, and travel agents looking to book this sought-after destination shoulder the heavy burden of client expectations.
With this in mind, Avanti Destinations has some tips for agents charting out the ideal experience in the Galapagos for their clients.
The tour operator provides a variety of ways to experience the destination that include cruises, as well as land experiences, for clients seeking a more flexible journey.
"It all depends on how your clients prefer to travel, how much time they have, and their budget," said Paul Barry, Avanti's executive chairman. "If your clients are used to an independent vacation customized down to the last detail, staying at hotels on one, two, or three different islands, and taking excursions to the others, allow them to see many of the same places as a cruise, with the option of sleeping in and taking a day off to relax when they want.
"Or they can combine a cruise with a two or three-night pre-/post-cruise extension on one or more islands. We make it easy for your client to do the Galapagos their way," he added.
For those looking to book a land-based vacation in the Galapagos, there are some nuances to the booking process:
-Land packages may not be booked more than one year in advance, while cruises may. Due to restrictions set by the Ecuadorian government to limit the number of tourists and their impact on the islands' fragile ecosystems and wildlife, Avanti advises agents to book at least six months in advance, preferably nine months.
Cruises may fill up one year ahead of time. Because land packages use a variety of hotels, they are available closer to travel dates.
-Clients taking a land-based vacation should be advised that they are responsible for paying for their INGALA transit control card (currently $20 per person) and Galapagos National Park Entrance fee (currently $100 per person) in cash upon arrival in the Galapagos. These charges are included in the price of cruise packages, but not in land-based packages.
-A new policy requires travelers to show a return ticket, an authorized hotel or cruise confirmation, and proof of medical insurance that covers them during their stay on the islands.
-There are two seasons in the Galapagos: June to December is the "dry season," characterized by blue skies and midday showers; December to May is the "warm season" with daily rain and cloudier skies but calmer seas.
"There is no bad time to go to the Galapagos," noted Barry.
For those seeking land vacations, Avanti provides 11 customizable "island-hopping" journeys. The tour operator also sells 65 Galapagos cruise itineraries, as well as customized vacations that combine a cruise with a land-based stay before or after.
Travel agents can also work with Avanti to create vacations that include both the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador.
Janeen Christoff caught the travel bug while living in London, England. After two years on the road, she settled in Los Angeles...
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