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Galapagos: Facts and Figures

  • Galapagos Fauna

  • Galapagos Flora

  • Galapagos Landscapes

Facts and Figures

The islands emerged about five million years ago, as a result of violent volcanic action. In geological terms, this should be considered a recent event.

As the young islands were cooling off, some two million years later, some species gradually arrived. They were live organisms riding on “rafts of vegetation” from the shores of Central and South America. Unusual climatic events, like flooding, can take lots of vegetation rafts eventually to the ocean and picked by marine currents. Therefore, it is pure chance that allows a raft to eventually reach Galapagos. These early immigrants had to adapt to a peculiar new environment, and in order to survive, were forced to evolve (through slow and complex processes) in a different direction from their continental ancestors, to adapt to the new environment. And, wonders of nature, they developed into species unique to the islands, with features not seen in their past ancestors nor, in many cases, anywhere else on earth.

In fact, when Darwin published his book On The Origin Of The Species, the nineteenth-century thinkers confirmed long held suspicions that species were not immutable, and ranked the archipelago as the world’s greatest living observatory and laboratory of evolution.

OFFICIAL DISCOVERY

The first officially recorded human visitor in the Galapagos was Tomás de Berlanga, a Spanish bishop who was navigating close to the shores of Central America on an apostolic mission in February of 1535. His boat had been stilled by calm winds, and the Panama Current pushed it southward, leading him and his crew to some mysterious islands, which had no evident charms. “Birds are so silly,” he wrote the King of Spain, Charles V, “they know not how to flee”. The islands had been officially discovered. It was March of 1535.

Eventually, the bishop’s party sailed back to the continent with the first encouraging breeze. The islands were reported to Spain, but no effort was made to colonize them based on the somewhat uninviting descriptions from Berlanga.

Anyway, having arrived less that 500 years ago, humans are some of the newest “living organisms” inhabiting the Galapagos.

ISOLATED AND REMOTE

Sometimes the Galapagos become invisible, almost illusory at short distances, particularly in the dense veil of early morning. Remember the waters surrounding the islands are a bit cold for tropical standards. This produces a fine mist (locally called “garúa”) as cool air invades warmer patches of air. Thus, an early fog can be quite deceiving at telling what’s ahead. This is how the islands picked up the name of “Enchanted”; islands that suddenly appeared, as the mist evaporated, and islands that disappeared as the mist engulfed them.

Then, in 1570, a map of the Spanish New World drawn by a Flemish cartographer circulated in the Caribbean, showing the elusive islands, for the first time, with the non poetic name of Islas de los Galapagos (Islands of the Giant Tortoises). This map, in buccaneer’s hands, was used to maraud up and down the Pacific in the 1600’s.

During the 17th century and a good part of the 18th, the astute pirates found in the Galapagos a safe place to hide, repair their vessels, map future raids and stock up on fresh meat, killing giant tortoises by the thousands. But they apparently left no buried treasures and eventually decided that the Caribbean was more challenging after all.
Late in the 18th century came the whaler fleets that made the archipelago a center of operations, but after a number of years the whalers, too, left when the profits weren’t worth the costly, lengthy routes. The whalers are, indeed, the human group that leaves the first devastating impact on the islands: thousands of giant tortoises were killed at the same time as domestic animals were introduced, left to multiply and become feral. These events will prove later the reasons for having a strong conservation campaign in today’s Galapagos.

In sum, the Galapagos archipelago was not claimed by anyone until 1832. On February 12th, Colonel Ignacio Hernandez, of Ecuador, with instructions from General Jose de Villamil, planted the Ecuadorian flag on Floreana Island, and took possession of what he named officially Las Islas Galapagos on behalf of the government of Ecuador. Sixty years later, in 1892, most of the islands received a Spanish name, all related to the Columbus’ expedition which led to the Discovery of the Americas.

Galapagos Tourism Today

The Galapagos Islands were named after the giant Galapagos tortoises.  The archipelago, 600 miles (1000 Km.) off Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, originated from undersea volcanic activity, six million years ago.  The archipelago’s 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and scores of islets are all part of Ecuador’s National Park system.

In 1835, the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited the islands and discovered this “living laboratory” which inspired his writings on the Theory of Evolution.  Many of the animals on the Galapagos Islands have developed into different species from their continental relatives, and because they have never experienced man as a predator, they show no fear of humans.

Climate of Galapagos (Usual Patterns)

Hot Season (warm-rainy) – From December through May

  • Air Temperature: Average air temperature in December is 77°F (25.4°C) , while in May is 80°F ( 26.8°C ). Peak month is March with 84°F (29.1°C). Humidity fluctuates between 65% to 80%.
  • Water Temperature: Average surface water temperature in December is 74°F (23.2°C), while in May is 76°F (24.5°C). Peak month is March with 78°F (25.5°C). Visibility of the water ranges from 30 to 80 feet. In unusually warm years (like El Niño years) waters can even reach 84°F (29°C).
  • Precipitation (rainfall): ranges from 38 mm (December) to 62 mm (May), with its peak rainy at 87 mm (March).
  • Overall pattern: while this season is the one that gives rain to the islands, it should not be sold as the “rainy” season. Tropical showers are not too overwhelming, and a typical day may include a shower or two that will only last for an hour or so. There are times where for a whole week not a raindrop is experienced. The ocean is generally calm due to the absence of the south east trade winds.
  • Biological implications: all species which are land-based (like finches, mockingbirds, lizards, land iguanas, tortoises) will reproduce at this time of the year since there are plenty of food sources available: plants for insects, seeds for finches, flowers for iguanas, etc. Perhaps one of the few exceptions to this rule are the Great Frigate birds on Tower Island which being seabirds reproduce during the hot season.
  • Snorkeling conditions: since the water temperature reaches the “true” tropical range, one can expect generally calm waters, virtually no strong currents, and high chances of good visibility. Daily activities will be arranged in such a way that guests spend a great amount of time snorkeling as our way to add enjoyment to this marine resource. Most snorkeling times will be of no less than 90 minutes.

Dry Season (windy-dry) – From June through November

  • Air Temperature: Average air temperature in June is 77°F (25.2°C), while in November is 76°F ( 24.4°C ). Peak month is September with 74°F (23.1°C). Humidity fluctuates between 35% – 60%.
  • Water Temperature: Average surface water temperature in June is 74°F (23.3°C), while in November is 73°F ( 22.8°C ). Peak month is September with 70°F (21.6°C) . Visibility of the water ranges from 15 to 50 feet. In unusually dry years (like La Niña years) waters can even reach 61°F (16°C).
  • Precipitation (rainfall): ranges only from 35 mm (June) to 13 mm (November), with its peak dry at 9.9 mm (September).
  • Overall pattern: this season is the one that gives the islands their totally non tropical look: dry, windy, barren. Even though the term “cold” season is sometimes applied, remember that such term does not sell a destination that is geographically tropical. There’s hardly any rain, but the islands may seem somewhat moist as an early mist called “garua” covers the sky. Usually this layer of fine drizzle burns off by mid morning. The seas are moderately strong; surge, choppy waters and some waves should be expected. This is all due to the active presence of the south east trade winds.
  • Biological implications: all species which are land-based, but depend entirely upon the ocean’s productivity (food available, like plankton) will reproduce during this season. This includes blue-footed boobies, waved albatrosses, sea lions.
  • Snorkeling conditions: since the water temperature reaches the “untrue” tropical range, one can expect generally waters with some current, and a slight decrease in visibility due to the amount of plankton particles suspended in the water column. This is the snorkeling season where a shortie wet suit is more likely to provide higher comfort in the water for our guests. Note that shortie wet suits are available for rent on some of our vessels.

Discover the many plants and animals of the Galapagos Islands. Travel to Galapagos to experience the beauty of Galapagos nature and wildlife firsthand!

Galapagos Sperm Whale. The nutrient-rich Galapagos waters are the appropriate habitat for several species of whales to be found, whether as seasonal migrants, occasional transients or eventually as resident species. One of the most common species of whales found in the Galapagos Islands is the Sperm Whale.

Galapagos Giant Tortoises . The Galapagos Giant Tortoises are, unquestionably, the most representative and best known animals among those who inhabit the famous islands, which bear their name. They are a symbol of the Archipelago and they actually give the name to the Archipelago.

Galapagos Yellow-Crowned Night Herons. One of the most intriguing, and to some extent attractive birds to be found in the Galapagos Islands is the Yellow-Crowned (also known as Yellow-Crested) Night Heron. It is one of the three species of herons which live in the islands as permanent residents and, in this case, it has been considered as an endemic subspecies, unique to the Archipelago.

Galapagos Dolphins. The marine life in the Galapagos Islands is as abundant and unique as the one found on the terrestrial part of the Archipelago. One of the greatest joys for travelers visiting these Islands is to see the different species of Dolphins which can be found on its waters.

Galapagos Audubon’s Shearwaters. A common sight while cruising the Galapagos waters, and often from coastline cliffs, is that of the fast flying Audubon Shearwater Birds. These seabirds are widely found in tropical seas around the world. However, the resident population of Audubon Shearwaters in the Galapagos Islands is considered as an endemic subspecies, unique to the Archipelago.

Galapagos Brown Pelicans. A common sight around the entire Galapagos Archipelago is the one of the Brown Pelicans. These large sea birds are found throughout the islands, whether skimming over the water, low altitude plunge-diving or resting on mangrove trees and coastal bushes.

Eels in Galapagos. The underwater realms of the Galapagos Islands are just as unique (or even more) than the land fauna and flora. No wonder, the Galapagos Marine Reserve, the second largest in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia), is, independently from the terrestrial Galapagos National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Galapagos Manta rays. The Galapagos waters are the perfect venue for viewing several species of one of the most fascinating marine creatures: the Rays. Their smooth swimming; their diamond-shapes and many legends generated around them, make these usually peaceful animals the source of interest and emotion, when sighted from the shore, from boats or actually when swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Galapagos Black Necked Stilts. A fairly common view in and around the salty lagoons and shores, throughout many of the Galapagos Islands, is the one of an attractive wader bird, the Black-Necked Stilt. Usually found in pairs, individuals or small groups, they attract the visitors with their contrasting colors, the very conspicuous long legs and the long, pointed and straight beaks, of a rosy-red coloration.

Galapagos American Oystercatcher. A relatively new breeder in the Galapagos islands, compared with other sea or shore birds, is the pretty American Oystercatcher, nowadays a fairly a common sight on the sandy beaches, rocky shorelines and salt water lagoons on most of the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Shark. The marine fauna in the Galapagos Islands is as extensive and unique as the terrestrial fauna, one more reason for being a protected Marine Reserve and, in fact, as such, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, in addition to the terrestrial Galapagos National Park.

Galapagos Dark Billed Cuckoos. Among the less common and non-endemic land bird species to be found in Galapagos are the Dark Billed Cuckoos. However, these mid-sized birds do have a fully resident population in the Galapagos Islands and can be seen on several of the islands, mostly around the shrubbery of the lowlands as well as on the wetter upper parts of the bigger islands.

Galapagos Great Blue. Among the shore birds of Galapagos, one which attracts the eye of all visitors is the Great Blue Heron. These tall, slender and nicely colored birds, are frequently seen on most of the islands, usually waiting motionless along the rocky coastline or other locations next to wetlands where they can find their primary sources of food: small to mid-sized fish.

Galapagos Short Eared Owls. The Short-Eared Owl is the only other owl which nests in the Galapagos Islands, along with the Barn Owl. Neither of the two are endemic to the islands, but they are resident breeders and nesters on several parts of the Archipelago. Short-Eared Owls are found in open country and grasslands, or hovering over lava fields.

Galapagos Storm Petrels. The smallest of the sea birds living and breeding in the Galapagos Islands, also the ones about whom less is known and little attention paid by residents or visitors, are the Storm Petrels. Nevertheless, these birds occur in the Islands in significant numbers and do have interesting life facts

Galapagos White-Cheeked Pintail Ducks. The White Cheeked Pintail Ducks are a dabbling duck found in the Caribbean, South America and, a distinct subspecies, found precisely on the Galapagos Islands. These birds are usually good divers, even though they prefer to feed by means of dabbling or tipping instead of actual submerging.

Galapagos Green Sea Turtles.  Green Sea Turtles are among the most common species of marine turtles found in tropical and subtropical waters, around the planet. However, the species found in Galapagos is recognized to be a subspecies, exclusive to the Archipelago, and one that only nests in these Islands.

Galapagos Red Billed Tropic Birds.  One of the aesthetically most beautiful birds to be found in the Galapagos Islands is the Red-billed Tropic bird…. These magnificent seabirds, belonging to the pelicaniforme family, can also be found in the tropical latitudes of the eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as on the Caribbean Sea.

Galapagos Frigate Birds. One of the most popular and abundantly seen sea birds in the Galapagos are the two species of Frigate Birds: the Great Frigate Birds and the Magnificent Frigate Birds. These birds are widely found, particularly around the world’s tropical belt, on the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as on parts of the Caribbean Sea.

Galapagos Brown Noddy Terns. Among the seabirds found in the Galapagos, there are the ones which are the center of attraction, due to their color, size, special characteristics, evolution, endemism or other peculiar elements and, there are several other species which, not being all that “special” or attractive, they are part of the avian fauna in the Archipelago and frequently seen on several or some of the islands.

Galapagos Yellow Warblers.  The Galapagos land birds, less numerous than the sea birds, in terms of numbers of species, are generally not colorful, prevailing instead gray and brown tones on the majority of them. The two most notorious exceptions are the brightly red Vermillion Flycatcher (already described in this section), and the Yellow Warbler.

Galapagos Waved Albatross. One of the most spectacular representatives of the avian fauna in Galapagos is the “Waved Albatross”, also known as “Galapagos Albatross”, because it is “endemic” to the Archipelago, and thus a species unique and exclusive to these islands.

Galapagos Flycatchers.  the Galapagos Islands so truly unique, is the fact that practically all species of land birds are “endemic”, thus exclusive to these islands. Land birds are defined as such when they feed on sources found on land, as opposed to the sea.

Galapagos Sea Lions. Perhaps the most popular representatives of the Galapagos fauna, among the vast majority of the thousands of visitors from around the world who visit the Archipelago every year, are the “Galapagos Sea Lions”.

Galapagos Fur Sea Lions. In all their uniqueness, the Galapagos fauna has few species of mammals and, amongst them, the marine mammals prevail. This is the case with the Galapagos Sea Lions and the Galapagos Fur Sea Lions.

Galapagos Penguins. Penguins have always been associated with the Antarctic and the polar and sub Antarctic surroundings. Thus, the idea of finding these birds on the Equator sounds bizarre for a start. However, it is not only a possibility, but an actual fact, where else in the world…?? Of course, in the unique Galapagos Islands

The Unique Swallow Tailed Gulls.  One of the biological peculiarities of Galapagos, and certainly one that attracts thousands of nature interested and loving voyagers and explorers is the high concentration of “endemic species”, those that only inhabit on this remote archipelago and nowhere else on earth… This is the case of the Swallow-tailed Gulls…

Sally-Lightfoot Crabs.  When visitors make their first landing on a Galapagos island shore or even at the harbors and docks, one of their first eye-catchers and matter of admiration will usually be the dozens of red and blackish crabs, teeming on the dark lava coastline… Their colors, movements and uniqueness create one more element of curiosity to the already magic environment….

Galapagos Lava Lizards. One of the most outstanding features which make the Galapagos Islands so special is the existence of such a large number of species, known as “endemic”, meaning that they live exclusively on the “Enchanted Archipelago”. Thus, the word “unique” is a perfect synonymous for Galapagos…. The case applies for many or most of the land and sea birds, reptiles, mammals, fishes and land or marine invertebrates….

Galapagos Mockingbirds.  Amongst the unique fauna of the Galapagos Islands there are four species of mockingbirds, all members of the same family of smallish and somewhat noisy land birds. As opposed to sea birds (who feed on the ocean); land birds feed on land products of all sources. The name “mockingbird” derives from the fact that they frequently mimic or reproduce the sounds of other birds, either as a distracting tactic or, eventually, as an amusing genetic trait…..

Galapagos Land Iguanas. The Galapagos Land Iguanas are “endemic” to the Archipelago, thus they are a species which is different from their continental relatives and they only live and breed on these islands…They must have arrived, thousands of years ago, like many of the non-avian fauna, most likely, floating on “rafts of vegetation” and intertwined debris, carried by the ocean currents towards Galapagos…

Red Footed Boobies. Red-footed boobies are among the most famous and peculiar attractions of the unique and fantastic fauna of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. These sea birds (meaning they feed at sea and their diet is strictly fish), belong to the “Sulidae.” family, also known as “gannets”. Their cousins in the islands are the popular blue-footed boobies and the sparkling white “Nazca boobies”.

Galapagos Hawks.  The Galapagos Islands are famous for their unique fauna and flora and this trend could not be the exception when it comes to natural predators. This is the case with the Galapagos Hawk, a magnificent bird of prey, who is at the top (the King, so to speak…) of the food chain on land within the islands.

Galapagos Snakes.  When thinking or talking about Galapagos fauna, most everyone will tend to mentally envision blue footed boobies, frigate birds, iguanas, sea lions and the most common and iconographic species like the giant tortoises which give the islands their name…

Galapagos Flightless Cormorants.  If there is one perfect rarity in the world of avian fauna, it is the case of a sea bird, one that feeds in the ocean, yet does not fly… This is the unique Galapagos Flightless Cormorant, of course “endemic” to the islands and thus not found anywhere else in the planet…..

Galapagos Doves. The Galapagos land birds are as unique and fascinating as the sea birds… Most land birds are generally smaller than sea birds in terms of size (with a few exceptions) and, of course, what makes them “land” birds is their feeding habitat and supplies. While sea birds capture their food almost entirely at sea; land birds capture their food only on land.. This is the case with the Galapagos Doves….

Galapagos Lava Gulls.  While there are dozens of sea-gull species around the world, the Galapagos Islands only have two species of them, both entirely unique and exclusive to the Archipelago, thus fully “endemic” to the islands. We already featured one of the two species, the Galapagos swallow tailed gulls. Now it is the turn for the Galapagos Lava Gulls.

Galapagos Nazca Boobies.  The third permanently resident species of “gannets” (“Sulidae” familiy) in Galapagos is the Nazca Boobie. The gannet family of birds is formed by several species of mid-to-fairly large sea birds, thus ocean feeders, who plunge dive from, sometimes considerable heights, directly underwater in order to capture their main food source, fish, utilizing for this purpose their long, strong and pointed beaks.

Ecuador offers you a wide variety of natural and cultural attractions in its four natural geographic regions, our country’s richly diverse “Four Worlds”. We invite you to know more about them.

Baltra (South Seymour). Most arrivals and departures from mainland Ecuador are to this island’s airport. During WW II, from 1941 to 1948, this island was known as Beta. It was occupied by the US Air Force and the US Navy as a Military Base. Back in those days, this airport had the largest airstrip in South America. This uplifted island is a great visual introduction to Galapagos.

The pier is a 5-minute drive from the air terminal. If you happen to start your voyage in Puerto Ayora, you will take a bus ride to the Itabaca Channel, cross it by ferry towards Santa Cruz Island, and then an interesting ride, across the island to the extreme north to the extreme south will take yo from the lowlands up to the highlands and down again to the lowlands. The changes in vegetation that guests will experience will be a rewarding way to start your Galapagos Expedition.

Barrington (Santa Fe). A walk through Opuntia cacti and Palo Santo forests. You can see land iguanas (endemic to Barrington), lava lizards and sea lion colonies. Great swimming and snorkeling.

Bartolome. Perhaps the most photographed location on the entire archipelago. Climb up a wooden staircase to the summit for a stunning view of two beautiful bays. You can observe fascinating formations of lava flows and spatter cones. Many have called this island “an open Geology textbook”. Sea lions and penguins can be seen around Pinnacle Rock. There is a sandy beach with great swimming and snorkeling. This is one of those selected locations where seeing penguins in tropical waters can be a revealing discovery.

Fernandina (Narborough). The youngest island of the Galapagos group. The landing point is Punta Espinoza. Walk among  hundreds of marine iguanas on black lava rocks. See flightless cormorants, penguins, pelicans, sea lions and mangrove forests. The walking grounds will reveal the beautiful shapes of lava once it has cooled off. At this location, few rocks are older than 400 years of age. Fernandina’s colossal dome shape can enchant anyone who visits, perhaps the most remote and pristine island of the Archipelago .

Floreana (Charles) – Post Office Bay.
Visit the famous barrel, a do-it-yourself postal service set up in the 18th century by whalers. Cruise by “Lobería” islet with its sea lion colonies, opuntia cacti forests and sea birds.

Point Cormorant: has an olivine-crystal beach and pink flamingos inhabiting a secluded lagoon. A short walk away is a white-sand beach where sea turtles nest (December to May).

Nearby is Devil’s Crown with beautiful coral formations and great snorkeling.

Española (Hood) – Gardner Bay.
A coral white-sand beach with sea lions and mockingbirds. Swimming and snorkeling at the beach and nearby islets.

Punta Suarez: Walk on lava rocks along a trail dotted with nests of blue-footed boobies and masked boobies, a colony of marine iguanas (endemic to Hood), waved albatrosses and a blow hole. There are also sea lions, Galapagos doves and Darwin’s finches.

Isabela (Albermarle). The largest island in the Archipelago. It is the result of six large volcanic domes fused together.

Tagus Cove: is a natural harbor where centuries ago whalers and pirates left their ship’s names painted or carved on the rocks. A walk uphill takes you around Darwin’s Crater salt-water lake for a superb view. A dinghy ride along the shoreline lets you see penguins, flightless cormorants, boobies, pelicans and Sally Light foot crabs.

Urbina Bay: is located at the central-west coast of Isabela Island at the foothills of Volcanoes Alcedo and Darwin. Land on a dark volcanic sand beach. Highlights include large and colorful land iguanas, since the inland area includes excellent nesting grounds for them. Good possibilities of seeing giant tortoises in the wild (all year, numbers may vary according to seasonal conditions). Along the rocky shoreline, possible sightings of flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, penguins and large marine iguanas. Quite impressive is the coral uplifting from 1954.

Punta Moreno: is located in the central-south western coast of Isablea Island. Spectacular vies of volcanoes Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. Highlights: impressive lava flows from eruptions years ago. Desolate, extremely pristine landscape. A textbook of pioneer plants, extraordinarily varied and unusual arid-zone vegetation. The main attraction is a compound of small brackish lagoons very much like a desert oasis with lagoon birds, including seasonal flamingos. Ideal place for observing the rare and reclusive gallinules. Frequent sights of frigates, pelicans and other sea birds doing salt cleansing dives to the lagoons’ surface.

Punta Vicente Roca: a magnificent landscape shows the uniqueness of the western volcanoes of Galapagos. We are now looking at the youngest geological features of the archipelago, and we are at the northern tip of the Galapagos’ largest island, Isabela. This area is part of Ecuador Volcano, where a collapsed caldera floor is revealed after a major sinking of half of the whole volcano structure. The anchoring place lies in front of tuff-stone layers of a parasitic cone, next to the slopes of the host volcano. Lava intrusions, called sills and dikes, reveal the relatively recent volcanic activity of this area. Since there is no landing site at this location, our outing will include coastal exploration by dinghy where our Naturalists will commit to explaining the dramatic geology of the area. Wildlife here will definitely surprise everyone; few hours before we crossed the Equator and yet this tropical area can have surprises like dolphins, whales, sea lions, sea birds, turtles, and more. Where is all this life coming from? The answer is the Cromwell Current; a deep submarine current that surfaces right at the volcanic platform of the western islands. These cool nutrient-rich waters attract plenty of sea-depending species which include brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, noddy terns, shearwaters, and the only tropical penguin on Earth, the Galapagos penguin. Depending on sea conditions (current and visibility), we will schedule a snorkeling outing too.

Santiago (James).

Sullivan Bay: Dry landing on the area that had James’ latest volcanic activity in 1897. Fantastic lava formations. A good spot for snorkeling where pioneer marine species should be expected.

James Bay: Landing takes place at a black sandy beach where the shoreline walk will reveal a great assortment of marine-related species. Particularly good for migratory species of birds. Great swimming and snorkeling. An easy stroll, observing Darwin’s finches and eventual Galapagos hawks lead to the dramatic black lava rock formations, home to a fur sea lion colony.

Rabida (Jervis). Behind the island’s red-sand beach, frequented by sea lions, is a flamingo lagoon. Pelicans and boobies nest in the vicinity. Nine species of finches have been spotted here.

North Seymout. Palo Santo trees, colonies of blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and magnificent frigate birds. On the other side of the island, the waves crash onto the rocks and sea lions play in the surf.

Plaza. A small island packed to its steep-cliff shoreline with fascinating natural life: sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cactus, and vegetation that changes color with the seasons.

San Cristobal. Follow the route of Charles Darwin and visit his first-ever island in Galapagos. Visitor sites include the Interpretation Center at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, as well as Isla Lobos. A walk up in the highlands is arranged for guests who take the week expedition. Great landscape photography. Site of the Archipelago’s second airport where some tours start and/or end.

Santa Cruz (Indefatigable). Academy Bay and Puerto Ayora: The Finch Bay Eco Hotel is located here, as well as the Charles Darwin Research Station. Giant tortoises are seen here and seasonally in the highlands where they graze on the pastures of local farms. Up in the highlands, the Pit Craters (Los Gemelos) is an outstanding area for bird watching, and observation of flora of the highlands. It is up here where amazing encounters with woodpecker finches have occurred. Moist conditions keep this epiphyte-laden environment with a fresh green look. Visit the bustling and picturesque town of Puerto Ayora.

Genovesa (Tower). Darwin Bay.- formed after a caldera collapse. Its steep cliffs dominate the island. It is called “the bird island” because it is home to thousands of frigate birds, red-footed and masked boobies, noddy terns, lava gulls, tropic birds, doves, storm petrels and Darwin’s finches. Good snorkeling along the amazing cliff-sides.

Prince Philip’s Steps.- Walk on lava rocks. A Palo Santo forest full of nesting birds. There is a good possibility of seeing the unique Short-eared owl. Nazca boobies, great frigate birds, red-footed boobies, and flycatchers are outstanding representatives of the avian life forms on this island. Outstanding sunsets from here.

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