The mysterious and fascinating Galapagos Islands are located approximately 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland. Fray Tomas de Berlanga, who was the Bishop of Panama in 1535, was the first documented official discoverer of the islands. The bishop and his men sent word of their exploration back to the King of Spain (Carlos V), telling him about the strange wildlife, including the vast amounts of giant tortoises (Galapagos). In the late 16th century, the islands appeared on the map as the "Insulae de los Galopegos."
Ecuador declared this archipelago of 13 islands as its first national park in 1959. The Charles Darwin Research Station, which is located at Puerto Ayora on the Isla Santa Cruz, works together with the park offices to conduct research and implement policies to protect and preserve the islands by carefully regulating tourism. Ecotours to the Galapagos Islands are now available from us here at GreenTracks.
The intriguing volcanic geology and the multitudes of diverse animal species on the islands are among their biggest attractions. Each of the islands has its own unique appeal and history. For example, the Isla Isabela is the largest island, but was actually formed by six volcanically active smaller islands. The Isla Santiago invites you to hike a trail leading from the sandy beach to a rich black lava flow.
From the beaches of the most volcanically active island, Isla Fernandina, you can watch whales and dolphins, and Isla Rapida offers red beaches and a lagoon paradise filled with captivating flamingos. The islands are home to numerous species of land animals including giant tortoises, tropical penguins, iguanas, and the Galapagos green turtles. Birdwatchers will marvel over the flights of albatross, boobies, brown pelicans, heron, swallow-tailed gull, mockingbirds, hawks and frigates. The islands are also home to sea lions and marine iguanas, and in the waters you can catch a glimpse of of hammerhead sharks, rays, sea turtles and endless rainbows of fish.
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