The Galapagos Islands, a wildlife paradise Uncover South America

Ecuador | Blog Take Wildlife Viewing to New Heights With a Visit to the Galapagos Islands

July 3, 2022

Situated off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands is an archipelago that is home to the most diverse plant and animal species in the world. Made famous by Charles Darwin after he spent 19 days studying the island in 1835, he later wrote a book called ‘On the Origin of Species’ that introduced the island to the world. Named as the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, it is to this day considered the go-to space for those wanting to see how nature and animals thrive when the impact with humankind is kept to a minimal. 

There are many animals that are endemic to the island while also being considered endangered or rare. It is truly a treat to be able to visit this incredible island and witness its beauty and conservation work. The incredible conservation work by the local community and scientists have enabled the animals to thrive with little to no impact from the outside world. 

Your visit to the Galapagos Islands promises to be a memorable one with many things to do such as witnessing the incredible biodiversity, following in the paths of history and meeting with locals to learn about the culture of the island. 

Hike Up The Many Volcanoes

The Galapagos Islands sit on a large number of tectonic plates that are constantly moving and changing the landscape of the archipelago. This means that no two visits to the island are ever the same as landmasses are constantly shifting and the occasional erupting of volcanoes adds to this change. A fun fact is that 13 of the 21 volcanoes on the island are active which makes the changes of you witnessing an eruption very likely. 

One of the most popular volcano hikes is the Sierra Negra volcano on Isla Isabela. The hike might be a little challenging at the summit towers at 1490m above ground but the hike is well worth the effort. The Sierra Negra has the second biggest caldera on the world and the view from the top f the basalt surroundings is well worth it.

Surf’s Up on San Cristobal Island

Due to the protected environment on the Galapagos Island many of the beaches and nature reserves are closed off to visitors. However, the crystal clear waters of San Cristobal are open to tourists so you can make the most of one of the best surfing spots in the world. It is possible to surf year round in the Galapagos Island though it is best to check ahead of time as the swells can fluctuate throughout the year. 

Put Your Helmet On and Explore the Lava Tunnels

Due to the large numbers of volcanoes on the archipelago lava tunnels are a common natural wonder. On the small island of Santa Cruz, the lava tunnels are so large that it is possible for humans to enter and crawl sometimes even walk through them. It is an incredible experience to be in this underground hideaway, a true testament of the might of nature. 

Bird Watching on Isabela Island Wetlands

If you enjoy birding, the Isabela Wetlands is the best place to head to for a peak at some of the rare birds that make the island so special. The most abundant bird here remains the flamingoes who converge along the estuaries looking for food. The Wetlands is also a great place to hike and discover the incredible landscape for the island. During your hike you might end up at the Muro de las Lagrimas also known as the ‘Wall of Tears’ a place of historical significance in the Galapagos. During the years of 1945 to 1959 prisoners were sent to the island to build a wall out of the volcanic rocks that are found throughout the area. The difficult conditions led to the death of countless prisoners whose cries and tears can apparently still be heard to this day. 

Swim in the deep blue sea

If water based activities are what you enjoy then a trip to Los Tuneles, a short boat ride form the town of Puerto Villamil will be the place for you. This snorkelling spot is made of lava formations that created small tunnels and rocky outcrops where mangroves and coral reefs thrive. The spot is ideal for encountering many of the most popular fish and water mammals that are found around on the island. Some of the most popular of these animals are: sea lions, manta rays, white-tipped sharks and turtles. 

Visit El Chato Tortoise Reserve

The most famous animal found on the island is the Giant Galapagos Tortoise. The best place to see these grandiose animals while respecting the conservation efforts of the island is to visit the tortoise reserve in El Chato. There are more than a hundred tortoises kept in this 12 hectare reserve filled with mud pools and sunny stretches of green grass. These tortoises that can weigh up to 250 kilos are the namesake of this island and can only be found here. 

Tortuga Bay

The white sand beach by excellence, Tortuga Bay is the place to head to if you are looking for a relaxing day. If you are looking for a quiet day spend in a paradisiac setting this is for you. Here you snorkel in the shallow waters, relax in the water or walk along the beach in perfect seclusion. Be aware however, that it is not possible to swim from the main beach as the current is too strong instead head to one of the nearby coves that provide shelter from the main pull of the sea. 

The island also has strange inhabitants such as the long-tailed iguanas and the red throated lava Iizards. The first can often be found strolling down the beach while the former lounge in the dry bush further back from the sea. 

Walk in the footsteps of Charles Darwin

The Charles Darwin Research Station operates many programs that help with the conservation initiatives on the island. Over 200 scientists and volunteers work here to make sure that the wildlife on the island is carefully and properly looked after. One of the main tasks of the research station is the breeding program for giant tortoises. You can walk through the enclosure and witness some of these baby-tortoises before they are put back into the wild. Other programs include the restoration of the iguana population which had been threatened in the past. An afternoon spent here will no doubt educate you on the work that is being done to preserve this delicate environment and its animals. It will for sure make you appreciate more the importance of a thriving wildlife for the continuation of our species. 

Try the unique cuisine of the Galapagos

Due to the Galapagos being surrounded by the sea and home to the most diverse marine ecosystem, its cuisine is mainly fish and seafood based. The variety of fish is plentiful and always fresh making it perfect for dishes such as ceviche which is made with locally caught fish, shrimp, octopus and crab. If you want to see the behind the scenes of thriving fish industry on the island then head to the Santa Cruz Fish Market where local restaurant owners and inhabitants alike head here to buy their ingredients and choose the best catch of the day. 

Another popular dish on the island is Encebollado, a fresh soup made out of onion and yucca topped with tuna. Typically served for breakfast, this dish can be found in all the restaurants and enjoyed at any time of the day. 

The island also provides a large variety of exotic fruit and vegetables that make for a varied diet and perfect to indulge in during the hot days. Popular fruits include guava, naranjilla and babaco. Plantain is the most eaten side dish with it being include in many of the dishes in a variety of different ways such as chips or mashed. 

The Galapagos Islands is a bucket list trip that is bound to make a lasting impact on you. It’s formidable flora and fauna will win you over and have you coming back for more. Visiting these islands is a true disconnection from the hustle and bustle of city life and will allow you to reconnect with nature. Holidays in the Galapagos are unforgettable. 

Please get in touch with us to organise your trip to the Galapagos Island or to add it to your itinerary. We create customisable trips to suit all of your needs for a memorable trip. 


Alexandra Coeln


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