The Galapagos Islands lie almost a thousand kilometers off the coast of Ecuador’s mainland.
Biologically diverse, they are one of the planet’s natural paradises and one of the most visited national parks in the world. The flora and fauna you’ll find here are truly unique. Here, you’ll see unending beaches of marble white sand such as those of Tortuga Bay, tunnels of lava, spectacular diving areas, and a marine reserve, not to mention the prehistoric animals and colorful birds you’ll get a chance to observe.
There are thirteen main islands that make up the archipelago. The climate here is sub-tropical. The Galapagos Islands have two airports with flights to Quito and Guayaquil.
Darwin and Galapagos
Charles Darwin was a British naturalist who proposed the theory of biological evolution by natural selection.
From 1831 to 1836 he was part of a research expedition carried out aboard the ship HMS Beagle, which made stops in South America, Australia and the southern tip of Africa. At each stop, Darwin had the opportunity to study and catalog the local plants and animals.
In the 1850s, Darwin wrote a controversial and influential book called On the Origin of Species. In it, he proposed that species evolve (or, as he put it, have “offspring with modifications”) and that all living things can trace their ancestry back to a common ancestor.
Darwin proposed that species change over time, that new species come from pre-existing species, and that all species share a common ancestor.
The mechanism that Darwin proposed for evolution is natural selection. Because resources are limited in nature, organisms with heritable traits that favor survival and reproduction will tend to leave more offspring than their peers, causing the frequency of those traits to increase over several generations.
Natural selection causes populations to adapt or become increasingly well-suited to their environment over time. Natural selection depends on the environment and requires that there be heritable variations in a group
The Galapagos Islands
Surely, when you name the Galapagos Islands you think of a huge turtle. In fact, the image of the Galapagos is the portrait of George, a giant tortoise who died in 2012 and became the symbol of the islands. Therefore, sighting these species of tortoises is the main objective of all those who wish to travel to the Galapagos Islands.
Most of these tortoises live in the forests, and walking the trails and farms next to them is an experience that must be done in the Galapagos Islands if you want to live the emotion of being in front of a unique animal in the world.
There are 18 main islands (with more than 1 km2) and several islets. Of them, 3 are the most populated and where you can base yourself: Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Isabela.
What makes the Galapagos Islands so special (besides its tortoises) is that most of the animals that inhabit it do not flee when they see humans nearby. That happens especially with the sea lions, who you can find sleeping peacefully in the main square of the town; but the best thing is to see them in the water.
For lovers of diving, they have their place in the Galapagos Islands, especially at a point called “sleeping lion”. In the crack of this incredible rock you can have the experience of one of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The reason is that around it there are a good number of different marine species, including the hammerhead shark. On a lucky sunny day, you can even see it snorkelling.
The blue-footed booby is another of the emblematic animals of the Galapagos Islands. Together with the turtles, his portrait has become a print on t-shirts and other souvenirs. On Isabela Island or North Seymour you will be able to see up close that its legs are an intense light blue color.
The Galapagos Islands are not a permanent residence for penguins, but when food and water temperatures allow, you will find them lounging on the lava tunnels or even swimming swiftly alongside you. Although it is difficult to see them in the water since they move very quickly, seeing them in action is another one of those experiences that you have to do in the Galapagos Islands.
Hundreds of years ago, the Galapagos Islands had frequent volcanic activity. Its surface was covered with several rivers of lava that reached the sea. Of these rivers now only their magmatic “crust” remains, cold and hard as a stone. It is possible to visit several of them on Isabela and Santa Cruz islands.
Being a National Park, the Galapagos Islands have very restricted camping areas whose reservations must be made one or two days in advance. One of those areas is the base of the Chico volcano, in Isabela. Few know this fact, so sleeping at the base of a volcano in the Galapagos is an almost lonely experience.