are world-famous but they are not, as some people think, a
country in their own
right, nor are they part of Peru, despite the many package tours which
combine the two. A glance at the map shows that the Galapagos
Islands are a province of
Ecuador, nearly 1000km off the coast and in a time zone an hour behind
the Ecuadorian mainland.
Galapagos Islands are
very young, geologically-speaking. They are volcanic in
and have stark, dramatic scenery. Isabela and Fernandina
islands were formed less than a million years ago, though the islands
further east are older, up to perhaps 6 million years in the case of
San Cristóbal. There are fascinating lava flows to
visit on the jagged, younger islands and you can see how the older
islands, further east, have weathered over time with smoother rocks,
more developed vegetation and different eco-systems.
that a cruise is the best way to see the Galapagos Islands
their unique wildlife, including the famous giant tortoises.
for tips on choosing a cruise itinerary and boat and check the
weather for the time of year you
are planning to visit.
Not sure when
is the best time to visit the Galapagos
Islands? Read the tips
on the When to Visit page
which month appeals from the Galapagos
Wildlife Activity Calendar of
highlights, then check for Galapagos
discounts and offers and be sure
to book your Galapagos
flights in plenty of time.
your budget does not
stretch to a
cruise, you can base yourself in one of various Galapagos
independent day trips or excursions to see the Galapagos Islands'
buy a land-based Galapagos tour package. You can combine the
two - begin or end a four or five day Galapagos cruise with a cheaper
couple of days in a hotel on one of the islands.
the Galapagos Islands is an alternative option, though this is still
not cheap - expect to pay anything between $50 to $150 per day on a
reputable volunteer project.
being able to buy anything on the islands other than souvenirs.
Supplies are limited and expensive, so take along whatever
batteries, sunscreen, etc., that you will need. Having said
the boat cabins are usually smaller than they look in the photos, so
don't take everything you own. (You may be able to store
items at your hotel in Quito or Guayaquil). If you can,
minimise your impact on the
delicate environment and fragile ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands by
eco-friendly sunscreen and toiletries. For more ideas for
your Galapagos packing list, see What
to Take to the Galapagos Islands.
doctor or medical professional for the latest
update, but the Galapagos Islands are generally considered to be a
malaria-free zone. Do remember that you will need travel
insurance - a Galapagos Islands
cruise is likely to be one of the more expensive holidays of your life,
so ensure you are protected against a missed flight or sudden illness
preventing you from travelling.
strict rules about what you can take into the Galapagos Islands, in
order to avoid any more accidentally introduced species. Make
sure you are not carrying any kind of seeds, either in the form of food
and snacks, or stuck to your clothes or shoes. You might like
to consider taking environmentally-friendly or organic products to
avoid polluting the islands.
was in the Galapagos Islands that Charles Darwin saw the now famous
Galapagos finches which are slightly different on each island, with
beaks adapted to the unique conditions of each ecosystem.
This led him to formulate his Theory of Evolution, which at
the time was highly controversial. A foundation and research
centre in the Galapagos Islands are now named after Charles Darwin.
Darwin is also a popular christian name for boys in Ecuador.
attracted by the incredible wildlife, the fantastic diving, the curious
social history or the dramatic volcanic geology, you are likely to
always remember your visit to the Galapagos Islands.
Spanish Vocabulary for an excursion to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador:
Las Islas Galápagos: The Galapagos Islands
lobo del mar: sealion (literal translation "wolf of the sea")
Destinations: The Galapagos Islands
Tourist information and Galapagos map for cruises and tours to the
Galapagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin.
The Galapagos Islands' wildlife includes giant Galapagos tortoises,
sealions, iguanas and
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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