The Galapagos Islands, orcas the locals say Galap, are the world’s second-largest marine reserve after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. However, they’re a lot more remote, making it a much less common holiday destination. Discovered entirely by accident in 1535, the Galapagos Islands consist of 21 islands spread out over nearly 8000 square kilometres. The Galapagos Islands are just over 900 km to the west of Ecuador so getting there isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it. The unique geology and geography, the incredibly diverse endemic species, and the teeming marine life make the Galapagos a very worthwhile trip, especially if you’re already in the region.
The Galap islands lie on the active Nazca plate and are formed by volcanic activity that may have been going on for up to 100 million years. However, due to constant eruptions and plate movement, the current group of islands are estimated to be around 5 million years old, making them geologically speaking, practically newborns. 13 of the 21 volcanoes in the island chain are considered active and there have been at least 60 recorded eruptions since Darwin famously dropped by in 1835 and did a little research. (That helped inspire a wee theory of his, which American Creationists have spared no effort to keep away from schools.) Geographically- it’s 21 fascinating islands spread out over 45,000 square kilometres of Ocean on both sides of the equator, more than 900 km away from the next landmass. It’s remote, it’s beautiful and as tourism is relatively controlled, it’s never overcrowded. It’s a great place to feel in awe of the amazing planet we live on.
The Galapagos Islands are also famous for having one of the highest levels of Endemic species on Earth with crowd-pleasers like the Marine Iguana, Galapagos Penguin (The only Penguin species to live at the equator) and of course the Galapagos Giant Tortoise. However, there are plenty of lesser-known but fascinating species to be found such as the Galapagos Hawk and the Vampire Finch (which occasionally feeds on the blood of two other popular native species the Nazca and Blue Footed Boobies). In fact, the island is a bird watcher’s paradise with 45 species of bird only being found on the islands.
The other main attraction is the islands teeming Marine life- Snorkel or Dive with Fur Seals, extremely curious and friendly Sea Lions, Turtles, Rays, 30+ species of sharks, including schools of Hammerheads and if you’re lucky the opportunity of catching a whale shark- the largest fish in the sea and a favourite among divers. There is no shortage of sites for both Snorkelers and Scuba divers in the Galapagos, so whether you just want to snorkel and frolic with sea lions in Turquoise Bay or are an experienced Diver who wants to take on Gordon Rocks there are dozens of options available for everyone.
See the Galapagos islands for yourself on our upcoming Ecuador Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands tour!
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