GALAPAGOS


The Galápagos Islands are one of the world’s top nature destinations, a crucible for evolutionary theory that inspired one of history’s greatest scientific minds: Charles Darwin. Observe and learn about more evolution and natural selection with us than with anyone else in the company of our expert naturalist guides.

Every day, in every corner of this remote archipelago, something magical is taking place. Be there with us to see it happen.


WHY ARE THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS SPECIAL?

A combination of factors have conspired to make this remote archipelago a fascinating destination to visit and one of the world’s top natural attractions.

ORIGIN


First, there’s the islands’ origin and location. They are volcanic, the product of a crack in the ocean floor creating a ‘hotspot’ through which lava shot up (and continues to shoot up!) to form the islands. All this in the wilds of the Pacific Ocean, some 1,000 kilometre (600 miles) from the South American continent.

EVOLUTION IN ACTION


Second, the species that managed to reach these shores and survive once they arrived have evolved in truly unique ways. The inky-black marine iguana’s ancestor, for example, is a tree-dwelling green iguana from the continent, that somehow got washed out into the ocean, catching a ride on a raft of vegetation. The couple (or the pregnant individual) managed to survive, and from one generation to the next, adapted to its new natural environment. The individuals who fed in the sea survived best and so the species eventually came to feed exclusively underwater, expelling the salt from its diet from its nostrils in unseemly snorts. This is just one example of the archipelago’s amazing creatures, but there are many others, including the Galapagos Penguin (the only penguin to be found in the Tropics) and the Flightless Cormorant.

NO FEAR


Thirdly, in terms of the visitor experience, the Galapagos are special because the animals are fearless. They are not tame, since they’re still very much wild. But they do not have an ingrained fear of humans. Due to the lack of large mammal predators, they do not regard Man as a threat. This makes for magical and very special encounters and experiences for visitors, who can approach nesting birds and lazing sealions without them taking flight or running off. Very few places in the world can offer such up-close and personal encounters with beautiful creatures.

PROTECTED & PRISTINE


Lastly, the Galapagos has been protected since 1959 as a national park by the Ecuadorian authorities. Despite the challenges of growth and development, it remains a great example for the sustainable use of natural resources. Some 97% of the archipelago’s land is protected by the national park, and its marine reserve ranks among the largest in the world. From a visitor point of view, it’s largely a pristine environment which still feels preternatural and wild. A very special place indeed.

ORIGIN


First, there’s the islands’ origin and location. They are volcanic, the product of a crack in the ocean floor creating a ‘hotspot’ through which lava shot up (and continues to shoot up!) to form the islands. All this in the wilds of the Pacific Ocean, some 1,000 kilometre (600 miles) from the South American continent.

EVOLUTION IN ACTION


Second, the species that managed to reach these shores and survive once they arrived have evolved in truly unique ways. The inky-black marine iguana’s ancestor, for example, is a tree-dwelling green iguana from the continent, that somehow got washed out into the ocean, catching a ride on a raft of vegetation. The couple (or the pregnant individual) managed to survive, and from one generation to the next, adapted to its new natural environment. The individuals who fed in the sea survived best and so the species eventually came to feed exclusively underwater, expelling the salt from its diet from its nostrils in unseemly snorts. This is just one example of the archipelago’s amazing creatures, but there are many others, including the Galapagos Penguin (the only penguin to be found in the Tropics) and the Flightless Cormorant.

NO FEAR


Thirdly, in terms of the visitor experience, the Galapagos are special because the animals are fearless. They are not tame, since they’re still very much wild. But they do not have an ingrained fear of humans. Due to the lack of large mammal predators, they do not regard Man as a threat. This makes for magical and very special encounters and experiences for visitors, who can approach nesting birds and lazing sealions without them taking flight or running off. Very few places in the world can offer such up-close and personal encounters with beautiful creatures.

PROTECTED & PRISTINE


Lastly, the Galapagos has been protected since 1959 as a national park by the Ecuadorian authorities. Despite the challenges of growth and development, it remains a great example for the sustainable use of natural resources. Some 97% of the archipelago’s land is protected by the national park, and its marine reserve ranks among the largest in the world. From a visitor point of view, it’s largely a pristine environment which still feels preternatural and wild. A very special place indeed.

GALAPAGOS TRAVEL TIPS

Here some advice when planning your trip to and travelling in the Galapagos:
  • Book early, especially in high season, to ensure the best experiences.
  • Stay for longer: if you’re going to invest in the air-fare to the islands, plus the $100 entrance fee, make your money go further by staying longer.
  • In general, the better the yacht or cruise, the better the guide. So it’s worth investing more for a better experience.
  • Be careful with the sun! Since the Galapagos are on the Equator, the sun’s rays are particularly powerful. Be sure to wear a hat, plenty of sunblock and long-sleeved shirts and trousers for longer land visits. When snorkelling, be careful not to burn the backs of your legs!
  • Try to build in extra, free time into your plans. There’s plenty to see and do in and around Puerto Ayora, or sometimes it’s nice just to have an afternoon to relax on a beach (Tortuga Bay is your best option).
  • If taking inter-island transport, it’s wise to take a sea-sickness tablet before the journey since the sea can be rough.
  • When travelling to Isabela Island, consider taking the small, light planes that fly from Baltra, and doing this as the first part of your itinerary (when landing from the mainland). You can then return from Isabela’s Puerto Villamil to Puerto Ayora by boat. This saves on travel times.
  • If you’re interested in SCUBA diving, plan your itinerary so as not to dive on your last day, to avoid any pressure problems when flying back to the mainland.
  • Avoid bringing $50 bills to Ecuador and the Galapagos, since businesses don’t generally accept them. $20 are best.
  • And finally, please follow the rules established by the Galapagos National Park since these ensure generations to come will be able to enjoy the experience you’ve had.

PACKING LIST

WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR TRIP TO THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS:
  • Sunscreen minimum SPF 30
  • Sunglasses with tie/strap
  • Sun hat, cap or bandana
  • T-shirts and long sleeve shirts
  • Light fleece and/or wind shell
  • Light back pack or fanny pack
  • Hiking shorts and light full-length hiking pants
  • Hiking shoes or boots
  • Teva-style sandals or water shoes
  • Deck shoes or sandals
  • Thin and breathable hiking socks
  • Water bottle
  • Charging cables
  • Plug adaptors (Ecuador uses us-style two flat prong plugs)
  • Notebook / sketchbook – nothing like getting inspired!
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