The Galapagos Islands

When it comes to bucket list destinations in South America, the Galapagos Islands are right up there with Machu Picchu, Patagonia, Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon Rainforest.

The islands famously inspired Charles Darwin, pushing him towards his theory of evolution by natural selection. “The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable;” he wrote, “it seems to be a little world within itself.”

And so it still seems to visitors who come from across the globe to visit this archipelago some 580 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Extensive environmental protection initiatives have meant that Galapagos is no longer on the World Heritage Committee’s list of endangered sites, and the animals who live there — whom Darwin noted for their “extreme tameness” — are able to survive despite the influx of humans.

For wildlife lovers, the biodiversity of the islands is something truly special, especially considering that many species are endemic to the archipelago. Galapagos iguanas, tortoises and turtles trundle about the islands, while flightless cormorants and Galapagos penguins hop along the rocks before launching themselves into the sea to hunt.

Many birdwatchers come to see the blue-footed booby, as well as great frigatebirds, Galapagos hawks, mockingbirds, and the waved albatross. Then there are the Galapagos sea lions, one of the archipelago’s most numerous, most playful and loudest inhabitants.

Despite the fragile ecosystem, humans have so far been able to live on the islands — and develop a thriving tourism industry — without destroying the delicate balance of the local environment. Cruise tours are still arguably the best way to see the islands, although a number of small hotels (and nearby restaurants) now cater to visitors on the inhabited islands.

Whether you’re a lifelong wildlife enthusiast or just someone who wants to see a very special and unique part of the world, a trip to the Galapagos is an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Learn more about this destination at Visit Ecuador.

Recommended Galapagos Tours

Galapagos Hotels

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Tours & Travel / Galapagos Tours & Cruises / Galapagos & Machu Picchu Tours / Ecuador FAQ / Ecuador Weather / Galapagos FAQ / Galapagos Weather / Galapagos Accommodations / Top Galapagos Activities by Land or by Sea / Galapagos Wildlife Calendar / Galapagos Packing List / Ecuador Blog Posts / Galapagos Blog Posts / Galapagos Islands Map

Top Ecuador Travel Destinations

Baños / Cuenca / Guayaquil / Otavalo / Quito / The Ecuadorian Amazon

The Main Galapagos Islands and Visitor Sites

Baltra Island / Bartolomé Island / Chinese Hat Islet / Eden Islet / Española Island / Fernandina Island / Floreana Island / Genovesa Island / Isabela Island / Mosquera Islet / North Seymour Island / Rábida Island / San Cristóbal Island / Santa Cruz Island / Santa Fe Island / Santiago Island / South Plaza Island

Galapagos Wildlife: 15 Iconic Species

American Flamingo / Blue-Footed Booby / Flightless Cormorant / Frigatebirds: Great and Magnificent / Galapagos Fur Seal / Galapagos Giant Tortoise / Galapagos Hawk / Galapagos Penguin / Galapagos Sea Lion / Land Iguana / Marine Iguana / Nazca Booby / Red-Footed Booby / Santa Fe Land Iguana / Waved Albatross

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