A destination on almost everyone’s travel bucket list is the astonishing islands of the Galapagos. Located around 500 miles to the west of Ecuador, a visit to these islands gives you access to unique endemic species of wildlife and flora on both the land and in the sea. There 13 main islands that make up the archipelago. You are guaranteed to see albatross, pelicans, cormorants, flamingos, tortoises, turtles, sea lions, iguanas, sea lions, sharks and whales on your adventure. However, it is the sheer number and degree of interaction with the animals that is astonishing. As these species have never been hunted by man, they have evolved not to fear us, meaning that unlike the plains of Africa where you need to keep your distance to ensure you don’t startle the animals, they carry on as normal in the company of man enabling you to frolic in the waves with sea lions and marine iguanas.
Made famous by Charles Darwin who sailed to the islands in 1835, it was the extraordinary flora and fauna that inspired his development of the Theory of Evolution and there have been barely any changes since this time.
- The highlights of any trip include:
- The Galapagos fur seals of Santiago Island
- The views from the peak atop of Bartolome Island
- The amazing snorkelling off the coast of Rabida Island
- Blue footed boobies and rare Galapagos Penguin found in the largest island, Isabella Island
- The lava fields of Fernandina Island, home to the prehistoric marine iguana
- The friendly Sea lions of Espanola Island
- Charles Darwin’s Research Station on the only populated part of the Galapagos, Santa Cruz Island.
Cruising the Galapagos Islands is by far and away the best way to not only see the unique islands, but also be immersed in the water to see the remarkable marine life that lives within these rich seas. There are a range of options from the rough and ready to the luxurious…all of which will give you access to one of the most amazing natural shows on earth.
You can fly from Ecuador, where it is well worth spending a few days before you embark your voyage. A ‘must see’ is Mitad del Mundo which marks the line which divides the southern and northern hemispheres. If you wish to journey a little further afield the Indian markets of Otavalo well known for their colour and diversity is well worth a visit.
As a year round destination the Galapagos is always popular. Luckily quotas on the number of visitors mean you will not be part of a throng of tourists. With David Attenborough’s recent series on the islands, 2013 is likely to be a very popular time for cruising the Galapagos Islands.