Ah, the Galápagos. These islands 1000km off the coast of Ecuador were once a source of inspiration for Darwin's theories. Nowadays they are a top travel destination for nature and wildlife lovers, being one of those rare destinations that can make a human feel outnumbered by its animal inhabitants.
Giant tortoises, flamingos, penguins, sea lions, whales, dolphins and iguanas. Those are just some of the animals that roam these islands, and most likely a lot of your time spent in this region of Ecuador will be on a boat, chasing all the best spots to get up close and personal with them. Go to Las Tintoreras on Isabela Island to hang with the penguins, or to Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz to see the iguanas, or to... you get the idea. Best thing of all is that the animals here are mostly pretty tame.
And it's not just birds, reptiles and mammals that you will be looking for here, as the often moon-like landscape with its volcanoes, sinkholes and rugged coasts is no less spectacular. And while we say rugged coasts, let's not discount the fact that the islands have some spectacular beaches too!
Your starting point of any trip to the Galapagos will be the island of Santa Cruz, from where you can organise a tour with one of the many agencies that organise these. We won't point you in the direction of any in specific, other than saying that Google and "Galapagos Cruise" is your friend here. [Review by travelindicator]
- Galapagos is a region in Ecuador. It is situated at an altitude of 495ft and the best airport to fly into is GPS (Baltra, Galapagos Island)
- The currency used in Ecuador is the US dollar (USD)
Historical average maximum temperature per month (℉):
Historical average rainfall per month (inches):
- After spending some time on reading up on it, we can safely conclude that you need to book your cruise around the islands well in advance. Some places state that at least a year in advance is desirable!
- A helpful list of types of animal species found per island can be looked up over here.
- Santa Cruz: home to Puerto Ayara, the archipelago's main city, home to good restaurants, shops and most importantly luxury hotels (something hard to come by elsewhere). In the interior of Santa Cruz you find the lushly green highlands, and elsewhere on the island you can make your way to the Charles Darwin Station to observe tortoise breeding.
- Bartolome: most famous for its volcanic landscape and Pinnacle Rock.
- Isabela: the largest and most volcanically active island of the lot (home to five active volcanoes!). Home of the giant tortoises.
More Galapagos travel resources
Start off with the lengthy Wikitravel page, followed by Lonely Planet and Frommers with an excellent island-by-island guide. Next, head over to the Galapagos Conservancy and read these articles by the Telegraph and NY Times. In the world of bloggers, we liked the Travelblog (really, that's what it's called!), Fathom Away, Nomadic Matt and 2 backpackers.