What happens when three tectonic plates and three ocean currents converging near the equator exist in near isolation for millions of years? The most unique collection of animal and marine species thriving on planet earth, on the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador.
This volcanic archipelago’s unique set of geologic and marine conditions has created a similarly unique ecosystem of terrestrial and marine life inspiring enough to prompt English naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
The Galápagos isn’t just another wildlife preserve. Exploring the island wildlife is a far different experience than that of a nature preserve or zoo. Lack of natural predators has created a fearlessness in the animal inhabitants, so don’t be surprised if a hike or swim around these animals results in no reaction at all to your presence!
Location: The Galápagos islands are an archipelago situated about 1,000 km from continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. 97% of the islands are classified as a national park, and only 3% of the islands are inhabited.
Things to do: Walks, snorkeling, nature watching in a pristine environment, hiking volcanoes, white sand beaches, guided cruises and tours featuring naturalists and environmental experts to point out the uniqueness of the landscape ensure the trip is not simply a tropical getaway.
Be ready to pay a fee to enter most preserves and parks. It’s a price well worth it, as the fees allow for protection and upkeep of the sites. The biggest cost will be traveling by air between islands, and depending on the type of tour guide you’re looking for (if any) you can have a trip that’s as well planned out or as free form as you like.