The Archipelago consists of 13 major volcanic islands and 7 smaller islands with unique wildlife, geography, and human history. Located around 600 miles (926 km) west off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the Islands have always been surrounded by an aura of mystique due to its remoteness and pirates legends. These tiny islands are actually the tips of ancient volcanoes, many of which are still active today and remain one of the most active oceanic volcano areas on Earth. The Galapagos are known principally for the natural beauty of their flora and fauna. Many species are endemic, meaning that they are uniquely found on this islands and nowhere else on our Planet. Due to the absence of natural predators, the wildlife has never learned to fear man which allows you a very close contact with animals. The travelers immediately feel the connection with nature and that makes the Galapagos such a unique and exciting place to visit and discover either by cruise or hotel based land tours, this last option is arguably considered a better eco-friendly alternative to reduce the impact on the Islands and support the local communities. You can see more information: link Why land-based tours
Additionally, the Marine Reserve with 14000000 acres full of flora and fauna are the most concrete proof of why The Islands have been declared Natural Heritage World Site. The National Park and Marine Reserve were also created to guarantee the responsible use of natural resources by the local inhabitants, being Tourism the most important economic activity on the Islands with more than 200.000 visitors being received every year. There is this need to use sustainable practices that pursue the balance between the requests of the Tourism industry and the preservation of pristine and unspoiled habitats.
The geology of the Ecuadorian islands is a unique wonder since it starts at the sea bottom with the merging of three important tectonic plates Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific, making it easy to admire the biological process below and above sea level. The largest Island in the Galapagos is Isabela, an interestingly young island with less than a million years of existence, followed by Fernandina, the youngest and west-most Island. Also, there are older islands for more than three million years of existence such as Española and San Cristobal Island. Although every island share similar volcanic compositions, climate, and environment, each of them has its own particularly set of species where you can identify the evolution process, compared with any other Island around the world.
Galapagos Flora and Fauna
The flora and the fauna on the Galapagos are easy to identify as they are abundant and diverse. This happens due to a lack of natural predators that threaten their existence in the islands. For example, you will find the land and marine iguanas, giant tortoises, flightless cormorants, a great diversity of marine species and many more animal species, as well as endemic vegetation per island. Species such as finches grew short or long beaks depending on the Island they inhabit as well as their diet, whether they ate fruits or insects. The same happened to the tortoises, they evolved short shells with long necks to reach up the bushes and trees, and other ones evolved short necks and big shells to feed from the grass.
Galapagos flora, fauna and the evolutionary history are known through one of the most important naturalist scientists of all times, Charles Darwin. On his investigations, he explains how the islands are an important worldwide model of how ecological, evolutionary and biogeographic elements stimulate the fauna and flora to change according to the needs of the environment. Species of and species of flora have had to continuously adapt in order to survive.
Besides these elements that influence the evolutionary process in Galapagos, there is another important cause which is the confluence of three important Currents at the Pacific Ocean, one of them is El Niño that brings different marine species to the Islands and also the weather change condition impact on the evolution of the species. You will find more information about Charles Darwin`s studies through his publication, “Voyage of the Beagle”, a recommended read, if you are planning to travel to the Archipelago. For our suggested reading list in the Galapagos Islands click here.
In 1535 the Islands were discovery by Tomas de Berlanga Friar the Panama´s Bishop, who accidently discovered the Galapagos on his journey to Peru after his ship was carried west by the currents. Years later they were visited by pirates and whalers who used them as a hiding place and source of fresh food. However it wasn’t until the Charles Darwin investigation in 1835 that the Islands became known and got the interest of many conservationists and scientists who helped to identified Galapagos as one of the most important biological places in the world. With all this world significance, the government of Ecuador created the Galapagos National Park In 1959 to protect The Islands and their unique natural resources. In 1970s, the human settlements started to increase as well as their activities such as agriculture and fishing, these activities had a strong impact over the Islands, so in order to prevent the water to contaminate from agricultural runoff and urban waste The Terrestrial Management Plan of the National Park was written on 1974, which recommended the protection of two nautical miles of sea around each of the 19 main islands.
Also to prevent a growing population in the Islands, the Galapagos Special Law was established on 1998. This Special Law had the purpose to regulate the population on The Islands in order to preserve them. The authorities have increased their controls to avoid a growing population of new residents that began to affect the well-being of the Islands. Other controls, such as a strict Hotel regulations that consist of the prohibition on build new hotels in the areas due to the limited permits to enter constructing materials to the Islands. As well as a strict control to the ones that are already operational by making them follow sustainable requirements, one of them is that all kinds of Construction must occupy the 3% of the Island outside the National Park. Another requirement is that every Tourism involved company must support the development of the local community and the Islands.
The weather in the Islands is easy to identified with two seasons: the warm season that starts from January until June, with minimum temperatures around 72/73°F (22/23°C) and maximum temperatures around 84/86 °F (29/30 °C), and a relatively cool season starting at July until December, named Garúa, with minimum temperatures around 64/66 °F (18/19 °C) and maximum temperatures around 75/77 °F (24/25 °C). This is the season when there are several mists that cause condensation turning into tiny precipitations. In the warm season there are hot sunny mornings until early in the afternoon, while later in the afternoon there might be a cloudy sky with some rains because of thermal inversion of the sea current due to its temperature.
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Hiking, kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP), biking, and snorkeling, provide incredible opportunities for selective wildlife encounters. Our adventures are certified in safety, social responsibility and environmental friendliness.
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GALAPAGOS STAND UP PADDLE (SUP) EXPEDITION
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