The Galapagos Islands Travel

Galapagos

Introduction

The Galapagos Islands are an en-thrilling and enchanting result after thousands of years being untouched by civilization and other land masses. These islands thrive with wildlife, wild scenery and history making it one of the most exceptional and most unique places on earth.

It is an archipelago of volcanic islands scattered around the equator in the Pacific Ocean just off the continental country of Ecuador in South America. This is where Darwin’s theory of evolution occurred. The Galapagos is known for its wildlife that live without fear, living in an Eden-like environment, the largest and most dominant land mammal being the famous Giant Tortoise! Under the water there are three major ocean currents bringing in a mix of nutrient rich upwelling’s allowing different species to inhabit the islands, expect to swim with penguins darting alongside tropical spotted eagle rays and reef sharks.

Other unique animals of the islands include Galapagos Sea Lion, Marine Iguana, Schools of Hammerhead Sharks and Waved Albatross plus much more!

Santa Cruz

Located near the center of the archipelago, this island is where all the tourism is and is really accessible. You can find all types of resorts, hotels and tours here. It is home to the Galapagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station. 

San Cristobal

Also known as Chatham, it is the oldest and the easternmost island with a highly developed tourism infrastructure.  With several beaches right in town and several very close dive sites, San Cristobal has a very laid-back feel  

Isabela

Isabela is the largest of all the islands, its rich animal, bird, and marine life is beyond compare. Isabela is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands. Although this island is one of the most volcanically active places on earth (5/6 active volcanoes) it is remarkably beautiful. A must see is Puerto Villamil, often considered the most beautiful site in the Galapagos with its long white sand, palm lined beaches. Behind Puerto Villamil are several blackish water lagoons hosting pink flamingos and other birds. 

 

Islands

Santa Cruz
A highly developed tourist infrastructure. It has a great number of hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, dive centers and tour agencies. Puerto Ayora is the place on the Galapagos to buy souvenirs or stock up on supplies. The Charles Darwin Research Station is located in Puerto Ayora, and is an excellent place to learn more about the conservation efforts.

This island is also an excellent place to see the famous Giant Tortoises, head up to the grassy highlands, specifically to the easily accessible El Chato Reserve to see them in their natural habitat. The island hosts a number of beautiful sites which can be accessed without a guide. Tortuga Bay is a white sand beach and protected swimming area with excellent surfing opportunities. Laguna Las Ninfas is another safe place to swim and for wildlife observation.

San Cristobal
One of the most visited islands in the Galapago’s, due to the fact that is has an airport, a wide variety of visitor sites and a highly developed tourist infrastructure. You can find many white sand beaches which hold fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving, great surfing with exciting wildlife observation points.

The biggest town on San Cristobal is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the unlikely capital of the Galapagos Province. It is a highly developed area with shops, hotels and restaurants, and features the only fresh water lake in the Galapagos. Cerro Brujo is a beach known for its exotic wildlife and home to creatures such as sea lions, and the famous marine iguanas.

Isabela
It is a favorite to the locals and also the largest of all the islands, although a relatively young island, Isabella was formed by five volcanoes (which many are still active). Volcan Alcedo is the most popular because of its huge caldera and numerous steam vents. It is also home to a colony of Giant Tortoises.

The biggest town on Isabela is Puerto Villamill, a small beach town full of fisherman with a calling centre, bank, post office, police station and hospital. Another popular site on Isabela is Punta Tortuga; you can spot a variety of birds such as flamingos in Darwin Lake (a pristine saltwater lagoon on the island).

Fernandina
Located on the western side of the Galapagos Islands, it is one of the youngest and continues to be one of the most volcanically active. This island hosts many great hikes through recently formed lava fields and is also home to wildlife such as penguins, sea lions, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas and pelicans.

Santa Maria
When Charles Darwin came to the island in 1835, it was already inhabited by Ecuadorian prisoners. Many specials that used to roam Santa Maria including the Giant Turtles have since disappeared because of the human activity on the island. One of the best locations for snorkeling in the entire archipelago is Devil’s Crown, a half submerged volcanic cone. The main town on the island is Puerto Velasco Ibarra, you can find few hotels, restaurants and shops – it is a small town with fewer than two hundred residents!

Genovesa
The northeastern Island of Genovesa has two official visitor sites. One being Prince Phillip’s Steps, which consists of a series of cliff trails and rocky paths where you can observe red-footed boobies, frigate birds, short-eared owls, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels and Galapagos doves.

Espanola
Espanola is the oldest island known in the group. This island is known for its abundance of large waved albatross birds and is home to the Christmas Iguana, a type of marine Iguana that turns red and green during the mating season.

Bartolome
Best known for its 115 meter Pinnacle Rock, which visitors can climb for the spectacular views at the top! The beaches here which surround Pinnacle Rock is also a worthy site. Here you may encounter penguins, turtles, sharks and tropical fish making it a fantastic snorkeling site.

San Salvador
One of the most popular tourism sites is the black sand and lava beach of Puerto Egas which is a nice place to relax or to explore the underwater world. Nearby, there are trail leading to lava pools and caves where creatures like sea lions, lava lizards and seabirds congregate.

Rabida
This interesting island has distinct dark red beaches where sea lions and pelicans live. The island has a lagoon filled with flamingos, here you can go on a walking trail which offers excellent views of the island’s sole volcanic peak an the turquoise ocean below.

Sombrero Chino
A tiny island in the apparent shape of a “Chinese Hat” as the name translates. There is a 400 meter trail that winds around the island and passes through white sand beaches and blue water coves.

Seymour and Mosquera
Mosquera Island is a mere sandy spot in between Baltra and Seymour. Seymour is a bit bigger and often serves as the final destination for boat tours.

Darwin & Wolf
These outer islands can only be accessed by boat and scuba tours, the snorkeling here is amazing, you can see whales and sharks which are commonly spotted in the surrounding waters.

The Daphnes
Both Daphne Major and Daphne Minor are also only accessed by a limited number of researchers and scientists but there is the opportunity to scuba dive in the surrounding waters.

Pinta
Once the home of Lonesome George, this island is only open to permit-holding scientists and researchers.

Marchena
There is no visitor sites on this island, visitors can only hope to catch a glimpse of it from offshore boats.

Baltra
The only time visitors are likely to set foot on Baltra is enroute to and away from the islands at the Baltra Airport.

Climate

The Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator, so there is no chance of cold weather on your visit! The Islands offer an agreeable climate all year-round, but January to May is regarded as warmer. This is also the mating season for land birds and sea lions, as well as nesting season for turtles. If you are a novice naturalist, keep in mind that migration of bird and sea mammals coincides with the changing seasons. If you are travelling to see the albatross or humpback whales, for example, plan to visit while these animals make their stops in the Galápagos (April-December for the albatross, June-September for the whales).

Flowers bloom from February through April, and is a lot more humid but the waters are calmer and easier to snorkel and scuba, with visibility at its peak from January through March. However, there is also less to see below the surface. From June through December, the Humboldt Current brings in nutrients and plankton, and with that seabirds, albatrosses, penguins, colorful fish, and even schools of hammerhead and whale sharks. This time of the year is also when the island’s famous Blue-footed boobies perform their beguiling “sky point” love dance.

Average Temperature
Summer: 86F maximum (30°C) 77F minimum (25°C)
Winter: 73F maximum (23°C) 70F minimum (21°C)

Average Water Temperature
Summer: 77F maximum (25°C) 73F minimum (23°C)
Winter:
71F maximum (22°C) 70F minimum (21°C)

Cool/Dry Season
July – December

Wet/Humid Season
January – June

Additional Information

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