600 miles off the coast of Ecuador lies an archipelago of islands so remote, many of the species are endemic to the islands. The lack of natural predators on the Galapagos Islands gives the wildlife a sense of security and visitors are rewarded with friendly and playful sea lions, marine iguanas, marine turtles, and penguins who will happily interact with you. Don’t be surprised to find yourself face to face with a sea lion while you are snorkeling around many of these incredible islands.
The Galapagos Islands were the first world heritage site created by UNESCO in 1978 and the Galapagos Marine Reserve was created in 1998. The islands are well-known as the center of Charles Darwin’s theory of “The Origin of the Species”. Darwin spent time in the Galapagos, as part of a five-year journey, studying the natural flora and fauna of the islands before he published his groundbreaking book, “The Origin of the Species” in 1859.
Thanks to its geographical position north of the Equator, the Galapagos Islands stays warm all year round. The islands have two distinctive seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season brings cooler temperatures from June-November and the rainy season between December to April brings warmer temperatures.
The best way to see the Galapagos Islands is by a small ship expedition where you cruise around the archipelago consisting of approximately 19 islands. Each of the islands possesses its own wildlife and unique landscapes – some are extinct volcano craters inhabited by endemic bird species, while others are sandy beaches where the sea lions bask in the sun or sally lightfoot crabs dig their way through the sand.
Most ships leave from Baltra, the main port of the Galapagos Islands. They alternate between different routes that last 7 days, traveling either northward or southward. There are stringent laws about the itineraries which are governed by the Galapagos National Park. The routes are created to reduce crowds and environmental stress, not only on the animals but also the flora, fauna, and coral as well.
It’s important to know what you want to see before you go, as not all wildlife can be found on each island. So, if you have your heart set on seeing the red cormorant or the waved albatross, it’s crucial to know which itinerary will allow you to see these species.