This well-known yet rare archipelago 906 kilometers from continental Ecuador was once so isolated that it wasn’t accessible by anything but a private or chartered vessel until 1969.
Not exactly a Ryanair destination at present day, the islands now count 116 visitor sites (54 land, 62 scuba diving or snorkeling) that make up one of the rarest tourist experiences this side of outer space.
Here are 8 reasons to visit the Galapagos Islands.
Yes indeed, these cigar shaped marine birds with dagger-like bills and colourful feet are one of the most emblematic animals of the island, the peculiar name coming from the Spanish word bobo (‘fool’ or ‘clown’).
The man who changed the world with his Theory of Natural Selection is perhaps the first word association made with the islands. It was here in the 1830’s that he observed island to island similarities between creatures with slight adaptations depending on environment.
Post Office Bay
This incredibly rare method of post delivery differs from the traditional post office in one key area – the post is delivered by other travellers!
Originally a system for whalers spending years at sea to reach loved ones back home, today you can drop off your postcard and leave it up to another traveller heading back to your part of the world to hand deliver it.
The Giant Tortoises
The largest living species of tortoise in the world was almost eaten into extinction after the permanent settlement of the Spanish in the 16th century. They have a lifespan of over 100 years and today have a population of about 19,000 – up from the low of 3,000 in the 1970’s.
You Can Snorkel with Sea Lions
These charming, sun-tanning sea mammals can grow up to 2.5 meters in length and weigh 250 kilograms. The Galapagos are one of the few places on earth you can see them torpedoing around in vodka-clear water and maybe even get a chilling whisker brush to the arm.
On Bartolome Island sits one of the most iconic landmarks of the archipelago – Pinnacle Rock. This entirely upward pointing rock formation overlooks a bay hosting some of the most eclectic marine life in the world like stingrays, sharks, and marine iguanas.
There’s Nowhere Else Like It
97% of reptiles and land mammals, 80% of birds, 30% of plants, and 20% of marine species in the Galapagos Islands can’t be found anywhere else on earth.
The Galapagos Penguins
This tiny 2 kilogram penguin is the only species of its kind found north of the equator. WWF estimates put the remaining population at fewer than 2000 making it an incredibly rare and treasured sight.