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An introduction to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Secondary Categories: Galapagos IslandsGuide

With silly sea birds tripping over their own blue feet, sea lions covering the shore like a crowd of plump sunbathers, and lava lizards indifferent to your presence, the Galapagos Islands are a living display of pure awesome.

Located 600 miles from mainland Ecuador, this volcanic archipelago consists of 13 islands and 6 islets famous for their unusual wildlife. There are two ways to visit the Galapagos: an island-hopping tour or a Galapagos cruise. Either way, you’ll have to start your adventures in the mainland cities of Quito or Guayaquil, as they’re the only places that operate flights to the Galapagos.

Once you arrive to the islands, prepare to be amazed. Thanks to limited human encroachment and a lack of large predators, the Galapagos wildlife developed and evolved in a distinctive environment. The islands are close enough to the mainland that animals were able to survive a sea journey (for example upon driftwood), but far enough away that the animals were primarily isolated once they arrived. This set of circumstances created several endemic species and dazzling display of evolution and natural selection. The Giant Tortoise, the Galapagos Sea Lion, the Flightless Cormorant, and three types of iguanas are just a sampling of animals that live only in the Galapagos Islands.  And unlike creatures found elsewhere, Galapagos critter are unafraid of humans, allowing you to get closer to wildlife here than anywhere else in the world.

Photo - Paul Krawczuk

But it’s not just the wildlife you’ll find surprising. The islands themselves are an unusual mix of volcanic rock, sandy beaches, and human settlements. During a Galapagos tour you can navigate lava tunnels, hike to a massive volcanic crater, watch flamingos at a fresh water lagoon, and visit an 18th century post office once used by whalers.

You can visit the Galapagos Islands year round. From December until May the weather tends to be warmer with afternoon showers and the sea will be at its calmest, while June through November you can expect colder weather with less rain but cloudier skies and slightly rougher seas.

Have we convinced you yet? Speak to a Destination Expert about curating a tailor made Galapagos itinerary just for you, or check out our most popular Galapagos tours here.

Thanks to Sophs74 for the title image of this blog.

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