When is a great time to spot wildlife? Wild animals can be found in ecosystems like deserts, forests, rain forests, plains or grasslands. Often wildlife is hidden and difficult to spot. Here you will find the right time and areas where the chance for a wildlife sighting is much higher.
Galapagos! A once in a lifetime destination. Pristine nature with endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else on earth. Do you need an expensive cruise to experience this intriguing island? No, we did without a cruise and had an amazing time. Of course, there are plenty of boat and cruise options, but traveling independently from island to island works really great. Scroll down to get answers to all of your questions:
- Best time to visit
- How to get to Galapagos
- How much does it cost! Saving money
- How long to stay
- What to do and see on which island
- Where to stay
- Which animals to see
You almost can’t explore the islands on your own only with a naturalist guide. However, most of the islands offer unlimited access to one or two awesome places for locals and visitors alike. We try to give you all the needed information for your Galapagos Adventure from another perspective. It is possible to plan your trip by yourselves if you are not focused to experience a special kind of wildlife or marine life. To be honest, we came here with high expectations and experienced more than we could dream of. Each day got topped by the next day.
Galapagos Weather - Best Time (Seasons)
The islands have a cool microclimate although located in the tropics. The annual rainfall is on average around 500 mm depending on the elevation. The weather is influenced by the Humboldt current, different ocean currents, El Nino in the rainy season, and La Nina in the dry season. El Nino occurs every 5 to 7 years and causes a high amount of precipitation, a warmer ocean temp around 30°C / 86°F and even higher. Many marine mammals, reptiles, and birds die when the real El Nino occurs. The last El Nino happened in 2016. La Nina has a strong effect on the temperature; the air and ocean temps are much colder, it causes a drought. Usually, most precipitation occurs during March.
- Rainy Season (December-May)
December through May is the rainy season, however, often sunny and warm expect afternoon showers. The sea is calm with a good visibility, and the sea temperature is between 21°C and 26°C / 70°F and 79°F. Due to the warmer ocean temps, it's a great time for snorkeling. However, we've seen lots of divers as well. Sea lions mate in the rainy season, and you might see the newborn seal pups around March and April. Also, turtles and iguanas mate and nest during this time of the year. Due to the higher amount of precipitation, the islands are in full bloom from February to April. Continue reading to figure out the best snorkel spots and island tours.
- Dry Season (June-November)
Usually, the sky is overcast in the dry season. Colder temperatures on the islands and in the sea occur due to the Humboldt current. The current brings cold water to the islands from June to November. The sea is nutrient rich which attracts a huge variety of fish, therefore sharks as well, seabirds like the albatross, and penguins as well. Wales and dolphins arrive when there is enough fish available. It's mostly cloudy with a higher surf. During August and September, the sea is very rough. The sea temperature varies between 18°C and 24°C / 64°F until 75°CF. From September to November the Galapagos Islands are an outstanding place to enjoy marine-life the reason that divers prefer this season. You are able to find schools of hammerhead at Darwin & Wolf Island. Hammerhead sharks occur throughout the year at Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock). It is easy to get to Leon Dormido by guided boat trour from San Cristobal. More penguines can be spotted on rocks and swimming in the colder season. However, although it is the dry season on lower levels and the coast there are rain drizzles in the highlands. The tortoises migrate to higher elevation for a lush vegetation.
The number of visitors is limited to the Galapagos Islands National Park. The islands are very busy around Easter, from May to early September, and again for Christmas holidays from mid-December until mid-January. Booking far in advance is advisable before coming here not to mess up your trip. Tours are fully booked, and the sky is the limit for hotels and guest houses.
Although, it is always said you have to book far in advance for Galapagos, that's not true! There is a low season where you get last-minute prices for different offered tours and cruises for diving, snorkeling, and on land. These months are November and mid-January to the end of February. Mid-September and October are also not any longer super busy. You don't need to book accommodations and tours far in advance in these specific months. Fly to one of the main islands; Santa Cruz (airport on Isla Baltra) or San Cristobal. The local people are attentive and appreciate having tourists on their islands. Stay in one of the many guest houses or hotels and book your excursions just one or two days before.
Hotel Tips & Tours
Besides others, we chose the Mainao Hotel on Santa Cruz as our home base. If that one is not available, use bookig.com (they have a price guarantee!) to look for a nice one on Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz Hotel Deals - Galapagos (Tip: Bookmark this link to save time and money).The staff was super friendly. The rooms are spacious; also, family rooms are available. We appreciated huge windows could be opened to let fresh air in during the night. Tea and coffee are available 24/7. The Mainao is utterly quietly located within walking distance to the Malecon. There isn't an elevator, but we loved to walk the stairs up, watching the impressive architecture a bit like Gaudi. Next to the hotel is an affordable laundry. We were traveling for quite a long time, and we were glad about it. Also, one of the must-see fish-markets is located close to the Mainao. If you arrive via San Cristobal, browse the hotels with the best reviews here (via booking.com): San Cristobal Hotels. We have more accommodation tips in the main text below for the other Galapagos islands. Make sure to check these! You'll also find many great money-saving tips in the main text below if you'd like to visit Galapagos on a budget! If money is no issue, just check these amazing organized tours via Viator - TripAdvisor Experience: Galapagos Tours
Koalas are in abundance in the Great Otway National Park. They are often spotted along the Lighthouse Road. Another good spot is along the Great Ocean Road. Koalas start being active from the afternoon onwards. During the day, you may see them resting on a branch in the tree. However, they sleep around 20 hours each day. To increase your chance for an unforgettable sighting stay at least one night in the National Park or along the Great Ocean Road. Do you like to know the exact spots for koala watching? Continue reading and follow the Google Maps Links for an awesome experience.
Lots of precipitation throughout the year deep in the heart of the Great Otway National Park. Warmer and "drier" conditions from November to April; however, rain can always occur. Winter is the wettest season.
Where to Stay in the Cape Otway National Park
There are not many opportunities to chose from if you plan to stay in the Cape Otway National Park. Check out the link for the best prices with booking.com for the four different types of accommodations in the Otway. We'd chosen a Standard Cabin with shared bathroom at Bimbi Park all others were fully booked already.
Don't miss out our entire Great Ocean Road Guide - 3 Days Itinerary - Top Tips - Where to Stay
The meeting point is outside of Oudtshoorn very early in the morning before sunrise. The starting time mentioned on the website is estimated. It also depends on the weather conditions. You need to contact them the day before to confirm the accurate time for the next early morning. In winter it's chilly early morning. Make sure you take warm clothes and a binocular.
In general, less precipitation in Oudtshoorn but it occurs throughout the year with peaks in March/April and August/September. Driest and coldest months are June and July, single-digit temps in the night from May to September. Sometimes it snows in the mountains. Hottest season from November until March.with day temps around 30 degrees and more. Expect plenty of sunshine, but thunderstorms can occur.
Due to their professionalism, it's not a question how many people take part. Less busy during the winter months; Mai/June until August.
(updated by whentobewhere)
The Isalo National Park is accessible throughout the year due to its dry tropical climate. However, the winter time from December to February experiences most of the annual precipitation. The tourist season starts in April, the peak season is during summer in July and August and the best months are September and October. At these months, the end of the dry season, there are only a few mosquitos around, and you may spot newborn baby lemurs.
Compared to other parks wildlife is not as numerous due to the higher temperature. However, Isalo is an outstanding park to spot the awesome Verreaux’s Sifakas along the streams in the canyons.
Another highlight is the elephant’s foot plant (Pachypodium rosulatum) which is in bloom from August to early October.
The most popular spot in Isalo is the "Piscine Naturelle" therefore it can get pretty busy especially during midday to escape the heat.
The dry season lasts from April to late October, but there is not much precipitation in the south west of Madagascar. Pleasant day temps from April to September ranging between 23°C and 28°C / 74°F and 82°F though nights are chilly between 10°C to 15°C / 50°F - 59°F. The rest of the year temps are around 30°C / 86°F. Inside the canyons, it's cooler while hiking through the savanna without any shelter is pretty hot and strenuous. The hottest months with higher humidity are November to March.
Average Monthly Temperature and Rainfall for MDG at location (-22.5,45.41) from 1991-2015; source. worldbank.org
The Best Hotels Close to Isalo
Some of the best lodges of Madagascar are located next to the Isalo National Park entrance. Usually, the available hotels have a lower standard and rating. Advanced booking is recommended to ensure having an excellent stay.
- The Isalo Rock Lodge has truly a spectacular location; embedded into the rocky landscape. The staff is super professional and the management perfect; that is rare to experience in Madagascar.
- Le Jardin du Roy is also excellently located surrounded by huge rocks. It's an incredible view from the terrace or balcony. It's a high standard hotel with a gorgeous restaurant. Take your breakfast outside and enjoy the scenery.
The Grey-headed flying foxes (also called fruit bats) stay in the Yarra Bend Park close to Melbourne year around as a permanent colony. The Colony numbers fluctuate with the seasons, and there are usually more flying-foxes in summer (December until April) and fewer in winter. During summer the colony grows immense up to 30.000 to 50.000 bats. Continue reading to figure out the best time of the day and what else to do in Yarra Bend.
Time of Day
During daytime, they roost upside down in the trees nearby the water. They are vulnerable to overheating; therefore, they choose this area because of the higher humidity and the colder air. Another reason, they need to drink water on hot days, so they stay close to a water source such as the Yarra River.
Close to the Bellbird Picnic Area, you can find a viewing platform. The bat colony walking trail and interpretive signage provides details about the flying‐foxes. You can observe them from different stops along the Bat Colony Trail. Although some of them are very close to the path, you should either take a binocular or a good zoom camera with you. The young flying-foxes often roost high up in the trees; the elder flying foxes are more experienced using the shadow of the trees at lower places.
Flying-foxes are nocturnal and at sunset, they will fly-out to consume nectar, fruit, and pollen from a wide range of plant species. Typically they start flying out together if it becomes dark, which is a spectacular scenery. Preferably a day with a blue sky during daytime and nice sundown will allow the perfect experience. You may have to wait sometime after sunset before they start to fly out and taking photos will become more difficult due to low light.
Bear Watching Season
Starting in April, black and grizzly bears begin emerging from hibernation and head to Glendale Cove to feed on the succulent new spring growth. Glendale Cove is home to one of the largest concentrations of grizzly (brown) bears in British Columbia. Tours for Grizzlies start mid-May until end of September. Best time to see grizzly bears is June. At this time the berries are not yet ripe, and the bears are seeking for other food close to the water. They will collect eels, crabs, and isopods at the beach by rolling rocks.
Although August and September are mostly the months to see Grizzlies hunt for Salmon, it is not predictable. The salmon run, the time when the salmon will swim up the rivers and inlets to spawn, usually start after heavy rain falls. You need the luck to choose the right time for your trip. Planning a trip at this time requires pre-booking due to limited availability.
During our visit in early September 2017, not much Salmon had been seen compared to last year's early run in July. Peak season and tours should be booked in advance from mid-August to mid-September. It's a spectacle when the bears hunt the salmon, but this year they are feeding on a high protein grass. Grizzlies are hungry in the morning and come out of the higher vegetation to the shoreline. Therefore, the trip starts before 7:00 am because the travel time from Telegraph Cove to Knight Inlet is about 2 hours. In September the start time for the trip needs to be synchronized with the tides.
The summer climate at Telegraph Cove and the Johnstone Strait is characterized by still, cool mornings with not much wind and usually some fog. As the day progresses the fog lifts, sometimes slowly and shows the spectacular views to the area. In the late afternoon, winds can fresh up but drop for early evening to yield marvelous sunsets. In summer storms with rain are not very common, but it can occur when the wind changes to the South East. Usually, the wind blows from the North West. From July to August the precipitation is low compared to October until January, but you will always get some days with rainfall each month throughout the year.