Galapagos holidays - Islands cruises & tours - wildlife vacations

The Galapagos Islands

Galapagos is an archipelago comprised of 19 islands and located 1,000 km away from the coastline of Ecuador. It sits comfortably in a marine area where three ocean currents meet, which accounts for its vast marine ecosystem (one of the largest in the world today). There is also considerable seismic and volcanic activity in the islands.
The relative isolation of Galapagos has made it one of the most biologically diverse wildlife reserves in the entire world. It is home to unusual plant and animal life, including giant tortoises, marine iguanas, endemic trees and gigantic cacti, among others. In fact, the islands’ vast biodiversity contributed largely to Charles Darwin’s initial research about evolution and natural selection, way back in 1835.
This is why Galapagos is a popular itinerary for scientists and biologists—because it is unrivaled in terms of biodiversity and geological activity.

General Information

Located in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands are on the west coast of South America. The archipelago is 1,000 km. away from Ecuador, and was first discovered accidentally on March 10, 1535. Fray Tomas de Berlanga stumbled upon the islands during a voyage going to Peru. Not much is known about the earlier history of the islands, although some historians think that the islands could have been visited by Incans. However, no proof exists to back these claims, and they remain theories to date.

Galapagos Islands highlights

a) Isabela (Albemarle)

Isabela - Albemarle

Named after Queen Isabela, this island is the largest of all Galapagos Islands, with 4,640 square kilometers of land area. Shaped like a seahorse, Isabela Island was formed out of six large volcanoes. Isabela also houses the Puerto Villamil, one of the biggest human settlements of Galapagos. Isabela is also the home of a lot of endemic species, including the Galapagos tortoise.


b) Santa Cruz (Indefatigable)

Santa Cruz

The name of this island comes from the Spanish translation of the holy cross, while its other name, Indefatigable, comes from the name of the British HMS Indefatigable vessel. With an area of 986 square kilometers, Santa Cruz is the island which has the largest number of human population in the entire archipelago. The town of Puerto Ayora is found here, as are the Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS) and the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS).


c) San Cristobal (Chatham)

San Cristobal

San Cristobal is named after St. Christopher, the patron saint of sea voyagers, but its other name, Chatham Island, comes from the name of an English earl. This island’s area is 558 square kilometers, and it was the first island Charles Darwin visited in 1835. San Cristobal is rich not only in wildlife but also abundant in vegetation and trees. It is also where Laguna El Junco (the largest lake of Galapagos) is located. The capital of the province, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, can also be found here. As one of the main islands of Galapagos, San Cristobal is the only other island which has an airport, along with Baltra













Information for tour operators


The Galapagos Islands or Archipelago of Colon was declared in 1978 as an UNESCO Natural heritage. That is due to the magnificence of the flora and fauna in these volcanic islands. Charles Darwin used this place as a laboratory for his discovery of the Theory of Evolution and the Origin of Species. There are endemic species unique in the world. There are only three out of 19 islands inhabited, the rest of them have no human involvement. Galapagos was declared a National Park. It possesses a unique biodiversity. The archipelago is also known as the Enchanted Islands.


Galapagos as well as being a natural treasure in fauna and flora, offers the tourist adventure tours which include snorkeling, trekking, diving and others. Galapagos is the best tourist place for biologists, environmentalists and for nature lovers. If the voyagers want tranquility and peace isolated from the city’s noise and pollution, Galapagos is the best place from adventure and leisure inside nature.


Direct international flights are not available. However, there are flights from Quito then a scale in Guayaquil and finally to Galapagos; or there are direct flights from Guayaquil to Galapagos. There are two airports in Galapagos in Baltra and San Cristobal. There is as well a local airport at Isabela, only internal flights from Baltra or San Cristobal can be done.


• UIO: Quito
• GYE: Guayaquil
• GPS: Galapagos


• $100 entrance fee is required in cash on arrival in Galapagos National Park.
• INGALA Transit Control Card costs $10.
• The VAT in Ecuador is: 12%
• US Cash mostly low denomination bills ($5 to $20)


Darwin Foundation:
Ecuador travel website:


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