Visit the Galápagos Islands: A Naturalist’s Dream Vacation

The Galápagos Islands and its dazzling shores offer moments to encounter animals found nowhere else on the planet.

 

Visit the Galápagos Islands

Imagine coming up close to the biggest tortoise you can imagine, taking photos of the strangest, spikiest and most colorful lizards or simply admiring birds you never knew could soar the skies so gracefully. The Galápagos Islands are spectacular, isolated and home to such incredible walks of life. A visit will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world.

 

Volcanic and Isolated Islands

The Galápagos Islands are made up of 19 volcanic islands and they are very far from civilization– exactly 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. They sit on their own in the Pacific Ocean, a place that has been referred to as a “living museum and showcase of evolution.” This also has much to do with the fact that life on these islands inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.  The English geologist and biologist visited the islands in 1835 and discovered species of finches that varied from island to island and made keen observations that would later form his theory. Volcanic activity and extreme isolation has led to the development of unusual animal life that Darwin found so fascinating.

 

Planning a visit to the Galápagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appreciate one of the few places on earth where humans haven’t left their mark. It’s also one of the most unique places to see a diverse array of animals roaming as they please.

 

How the Galápagos Islands Were Born

Between three million and five million years ago, volcanic eruptions created this unique archipelago. Today it’s still volcanically active. The islands continue to experience cycles of eruptions. In 1959, Ecuador named it its first national park. In 1978, the islands were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It remains a well-visited tourist site with more than 200,000 people coming each year to see the animals and landscapes.

 

The Galápagos Islands are a true melting pot of species and your travels here will inspire you to think differently about the world.

 

Visit the Galápagos Islands: What You’ll Find

Visitors must come with a guide licensed through the Galápagos National Park. It’s best to consider vacation packages on offer including small cruises, hiking trips, eco tours, adventure excursions and diving trips.

 

The trip you choose will head to one or more of the islands in the archipelago. Each one boasts its own unique landscape. Throughout the islands you can explore black, volcanic terrain or head to a place on to the other end of the spectrum featuring white sand beaches with beautiful blue waters.

 

The Animals of the Galapagos Islands

The animals of the Galápagos Islands don’t face many natural predators. As a result, visitors love the friendly wildlife they encounter and the experience is often touching.   

 

Here’s a list of the unique animals you will encounter when touring the Galápagos Islands to get you inspired:

 

Darwin’s Finches
These are 15 different species of small birds that Darwin studied and his observations helped him form his theory of evolution.

  

Blue-footed Boobies
This is a fantastic bird to come upon.  The name “booby” derives from the Spanish word bobo, which means “fool.” Blue-footed boobies are, in fact, clumsy but their very bright blue feet will steal your attention from the start.

 

Flightless Cormorants
These interesting birds are endemic to the Galápagos but can’t fly.

 

Galápagos Land Iguana

Darwin described these spiky yellow orange creatures as “ugly.” Go and see for yourself!

 

Marine Iguanas
Darwin called them “imps of darkness.” They also happen to be the strangest creatures around the islands. They live on both land and sea and can dive down into ocean depths of 30 feet.

 

Sally Lightfoot Crabs
Sally Lightfoot crabs are colorful and agile and a joy to observe. You may happen to catch them skitting along very quickly to get out of your sight.

 

Galápagos Giant Tortoise
This immense tortoise lives longer than any other vertebrate on Earth. The average life span of this species is 100 years. 

 

Frigatebirds
Frigatebirds have tiny bodies with enormous wingspans. They can fly for days and even weeks without stopping.

 

Waved Albatross
These great birds breed in the Galápagos Islands. They can fly for hours by a phenomenon known as dynamic soaring.

 

Visit the Galápagos Islands: Travel Tips

When you plan your visit, consider whether you want to travel during high season or low season. It’s always best to book at least a few months in advance.

 

The dry months of June, July and August are very busy touristic months. The time between mid-December to mid-January is popular too. Do note that colder water means a better chance to spot amazing marine life like hammerhead sharks or whale sharks at Wolf and Darwin islands.  During December through May there is a hot rainy season and the ocean is calm. Those daily rains disappear among sunny skies and 80 degree temps remain.

 

Getting to the Galápagos Islands

Flights to the island leave from Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador.  If you land in Quito, be aware that the elevation is over 9,000 feet, so keep altitude sickness precautions in mind.  Guayaquil, Ecuador is at sea level.

 

Are you a nature and animal lover? Would you like to plan a visit to the Galápagos Islands?

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