The Galapagos Islands scream out for nature documentaries to be made on their dramatic volcanic terrain about their history of piracy and unique wildlife. Vast numbers of unusual animal species, including the Land and Marine Iguanas, the Galapagos tortoise and the Vampire Finch are endemic to the islands and have been made stars by David Attenborough and The Discovery Channel.
128 named islands, only five inhabited by humans, make up this volcanic archipelago. The newest Galapagos Islands are still being shaped by volcanic activity and the hardened fresh black lava creates an unusual terrain, especially along the coastline to which cling jutting coral reefs. The last eruption in the area was in 2005.
The weather here is much milder than you would expect for a group of islands so close to the equator. This is because of the cool and nutrient filled water carried in by currents off the South Pole. The mild climate dictates the variety of wildlife that can call the Galapagos Islands home, and there are both polar species, such as penguins, and tropical species, such as flamingos, to be seen.
Charles Darwin’s famous studies of the area contributed to the development of his evolutionary theory, and due to destruction of the region’s native flora and fauna caused by the introduction (mostly by pirates) of alien species, the Galapagos Islands are heavily protected to prevent any more extinctions. Most of the region is now part of a national park and marine reserve.
If you visit the Galapagos Islands there are very strict rules to follow, you’re not allowed to take anything (not even a rock), you can’t touch or feed any of the animals and you have to remain on the paths and at a distance of two metres from all nests.
There are many ways you can visit the Galapagos Islands safely, such as on small cruises and guided trips, but visits to the area are more about the region's biodiversity than having a comfortable holiday so only the adventurous need apply.
Two weeks exploring Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
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