Named after the species of water turtles that live here, the Galapagos Islands are located in the east of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, almost 1000 km west of mainland Ecuador. The archipelago of volcanic origin (by the way, very recent by geological standards) consists of 13 large islands and 6 smaller islands, and let Wikipedia count just a trifle. We are interested in its main islands in terms of tourism, all as one – with Caribbean-Spanish names that excite the traveler’s imagination: Isabela, Santa Cruz, Fernandina, San Salvador, Santa Maria and Espanyola. According to populationmonster, Isabella is one of the largest cities in Ecuador.
Isabela (Albemarle) is the largest island in the archipelago. It is decorated with many picturesque lagoons inhabited by flamingos, pelicans, frigatebirds, hawks, cormorants and penguins, and coastal waters abound with sharks, killer whales and other marine life.
Attractions: Urbina Bay – large multi-colored iguanas, penguins and the largest colony of giant tortoises live there, Punta Morena impresses with the diversity of flora in mangroves, Wolf volcano – the highest point of the Galapagos Islands, Sierra Negra volcano – one of the largest craters in world (diameter 10 km.)
Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) is the second largest and most populous island in the archipelago. It is here that the largest city in the Galapagos is located – Puerto Ayora, which is a tourist center with a well-developed infrastructure (which is a rarity in this region). Attractions: research station im. Charles Darwin (its most important task is to control the breeding of turtles, of which there are 11 species on the island), twin craters located in one of the highest points of the island (unusual vegetation grows in the space between the craters and many rare species of birds live). In addition, the numerous bays of the island are interesting, each of which is unique in its own way.
Fernandina (Narborough) is the third largest island located in the westernmost part of the archipelago. Interesting places of the island are La Cumbre volcano, Punta Espinosa (the world’s largest colony of marine iguanas, as well as pelicans, and flightless cormorants), Urbina Bay is famous for its beautiful coral reef, and Elizabeth Bay serves as a habitat for penguins and pelicans.
San Salvador (Santiago, James) is a small island, the entire coastal zone of which is black rocks of volcanic origin. On the island of San Cristobal (Chatham) are the capital of the archipelago of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and the airport. All the vegetation zones of the Galapagos are represented here – from the undersized desert to the luxurious pampas, in addition, this is the only island in the archipelago on which there is an inexhaustible source of fresh water (a lake in the crater of the El Junco volcano). The island is home to giant tortoises, fur seals, boobies and frigate birds. And Punta Pitt has beaches perfect for snorkelling, diving or just swimming.
Santa Maria (Floreana, Charles) is an island located in the southern part of the archipelago. Its main attraction is the Devil’s Crown, the crater of an extinct volcano, divided into three prongs and partially submerged in water. The surroundings of the crater are ideal for diving. In addition, sperm whales, killer whales and dolphins are found in the coastal waters of the island, and in Shark Bay, which washes the shores of the town of Punto Cormoran, both relatively harmless reef sharks and whale sharks are found. Turtles lay their eggs on the white sands of the local beach from December to May, pink flamingos and a variety of water and land birds also live here.
Hispaniola (Hood) is a medium-sized island in the south of the archipelago. This is the only place in the world where wavy albatrosses nest. Sea lions, seals, iguanas and mockingbirds have chosen the local beaches.
- Which hotel to choose in the Galapagos Islands
How to get there
From Quito, you can get to the Galapagos Islands by Aerolineas Galapagos flights with a stopover in Guayaquil. The flight duration from Quito to the Galapagos is 3 hours, from Guayaquil to the Galapagos is 1.5 hours.
Weather in the Galapagos Islands
Weather in the Galapagos Islands is determined by the nature of ocean currents and winds. There are two main seasons: the rainy season (December-April) and the dry season (July-October). From December to June it is the hottest, from July to November the temperature drops slightly. The average annual temperature is around +24 °C.
In the Galapagos, the level of solar radiation is very high: it is easy to get burned here in a matter of hours. Therefore, it is recommended to use sunscreen and hats, this is especially true from December to April.
National parks of the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands National Park is the first and largest park in Ecuador. The main inhabitants of this unique place are giant tortoises, boobies, cormorants, albatrosses and marine iguanas.
Currently, about 90% of the territory of the archipelago is under protection, so tourists should follow strict rules for visiting. Firstly, you should only walk on permitted trails (there are 62 permitted sites and trails between them). Secondly, all visitors must be accompanied by a guide from the park service. It is also forbidden to perform any actions that can harm wildlife, ranging from loud noises to making fires.
– paid (currently the cost is about 100 USD for adults and 50 USD for children). Payment is made only on the spot, directly upon arrival in the Galapagos, and only in cash.