A trip to the Galápagos is an unforgettable experience. As Charles Darwin put it: “The Natural History of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself”. The islands are world renowned for their fearless wildlife but no amount of hype can prepare the visitor for such a close encounter with nature. Here, you can snorkel with penguins and sea lions, watch 200-kg tortoises lumbering through giant cactus forest, and enjoy the courtship display of the blue-footed booby and frigate bird, all in startling close-up.
The Galapagos have never been connected with the continent. Gradually, over many hundreds of thousands of years, animals and plants from over the sea somehow migrated there and as time went by they adapted themselves to Galapagos conditions and came to differ more and more from their continental ancestors. Thus many of them are unique: a quarter of the species of shore fish, half of the plants and almost all the reptiles are found nowhere else. In many cases different forms have evolved on the different islands. Charles Darwin recognized this speciation within the archipelago when he visited the Galapagos on the Beagle
Lying on the Equator, 970 km west of the Ecuadorean coast, the Galapagos consist of six main islands: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, Santiago and Fernandina. There are also 12 smaller islands – Baltra, Santa Fe, Pinzon, Espanola, Rabida, Daphne, Seymour, Genovesa, Marchena, Pinta, Darwin and Wolf – as well as over 40 small islets. The Galapagos has been called the greatest wildlife show on earth but it is neither a theme park nor an oceanside resort. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is not cheap but is worth saving for and the high prices are one way of keeping the number of visitors within sustainable levels to ensure their survival as the world’s foremost wildlife sanctuary