Galapagos Giant Tortoise Galapagos Giant Tortoise

The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most remote destinations on the planet and famous for being the primary inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. The small archipelago of volcanic islands along the equatorial line in the Pacific Ocean are are a national park and biological marine reserve of Ecuador which is a UNESCO World Heritage site from 1978.
The remote Galápagos archipelago lies about 960 kilometers off the mainland; it was pushed up out of the Pacific by volcanic eruptions around five million years ago. The lava vent is gradually creeping east with the Nazca plate, forming more islands as it moves. There are currently sixty named islands, the principals being Fernandina, Isabela, Baltra, James, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. The scenery of the islands is arid along the coast, with turquoise lagoons and lush, forested highlands and fine beaches.
The Galapagos Islands were discovered in 1835 by Charles Darwin. The landscape captured him very much, but Darwin was even more impressed by its inhabitants. A colourful variety of land and sea animals populate the islands, and many pay little or no attention to humans at all. Only here visitors can walk among reptiles, swim with sea lions, watch iguanas sit motionless on black lava, step over nesting boobies, be licked by curious seal pups and come face to face with giant tortoise. The creatures of the Galapagos are survivors of a tortured landscape and unique climatic conditions. Because of their long history of isolation from Homo Sapiens, both land and sea animals remain virtually fearless and unaffected by visitors. This unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands have inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. Later he published The Origin of Species that helped cement the Galapagos Islands' reputation as a magical land.
Every year, thousands of curious visitors journey to the remote islands to behold the wondrously variegated wildlife that inspired The Origin of Species. But the islands are strictly regulated to ensure the ecosystem stays intact. Tourists are never allowed to wander off on their own. To protect the environment the tour groups are accompanied by guides. A lot of tours and cruises are available, whatever you will do, remarkable animals will surround you. Most tours and cruises offer many opportunities to snorkel; the sea lions, sharks and giant tortoises of the archipelago are often a highlight for visitors. Several sites around the islands are also world-renown dive spots; a lot of operators organise diving trips for people of all skill levels, but the better sites are generally considered suitable for only experienced divers.
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The islands have two airports, Isla Baltra and Isla San Cristóbal, which are serviced by regular flights from mainland cities Quito and Guayaquil.
Accommodations are available on several islands, and public boat and plane services allow visitors to move about the archipelago. But perhaps the best way to experience the Galápagos is by boat tour.
The Galapagos Islands are beautiful all year through, this is why there is no single time of year that is better than another for visiting, but part of the government’s plan to protect these islands includes limiting the number of visitors to each island at any given time. During the high season (mid-June through September and again in mid-December to mid-January) many boats are already booked far in advance, so reservations must be made ahead of time (month or weeks before the vacation). From December through May the islands tend to be quieter. During this period the tourism in the Galapagos decreases, prices fall and boats are available.
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