When I visited the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, I realized that I enjoy wildlife encounters more than any activities I do when traveling. It allows me to get acquainted with a different kind of connection between a human being as myself and an animal specie that’s unique of its kind, creating a stronger passion for travel.
The Galapagos Islands was accidentally discovered in 1535 by Tomás de Berlanga, the first Bishop of Panama, while sailing his way to Peru. The discovery was then reported to the reigning king of Spain at that time, Charles V. Included in the report were a description of the islands’ inhabitants such as the Galapagos tortoises, and notes regarding an array of bird species. A few hundred years later, the Galapagos has been famous globally for having not only tortoises and birds, but also a wide selection of other wildlife inhabitants such as the land iguanas, penguins, fur seals, blue-footed boobies, crabs and more. All thanks to the famous naturalist, Charles Darwin, for his observations that enlightened the civilization about how abundant the Galapagos archipelago is for having a such a rich biodiversity.
Location and How to get there:
The Galapagos Islands is situated in the equator around 600 miles west of Guayaquil in Ecuador, South America. Getting to the islands require air travel; whether you’ll be coming from Quito or Guayaquil, there are a number of flights daily that take travelers to the archipelago. TAME and AEROGAL are two of the airlines that operate these routes.
The best time to travel to the Galapagos is during its warm or dry season. The warm season starts from December through May while the dry season goes from May to December. This means that the Galapagos is a year-round destination.
The Galapagos consists of 13 major islands, three minor islands, and over a hundred rocks and islets. The first islands were formed around eight million up to 90 million years ago.
Travelers planning to go to this destination must know that only a number of selected islands are allowed to be visited. Some of the more fragile islands and sites are restricted to only small groups or limited to a number of visitors each month. You can expect these islands to have a wide selection of wildlife and plant life as well as active volcanoes and coastal scenery.
The islands are best explored with a professional tour guide, who will elucidate stories and important facts about the destination, its inhabitants, and activities you can try.
Activities to try:
There are tons of activities to do in the Galapagos, whether on land or in the water. Some of the fun things you can try are boat cruising, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, coastal wanderings, and wildlife encounters. For travelers who are fond of adventures and love animals, the Galapagos is the perfect destination for you.
For more adventurous activities, you may also want to try biking along extinct volcanoes, swimming with fishes and tortoises, and horseback riding.
The Galapagos is home to many wildlife species. During my travel, I was fortunate enough to experience one-of-a-kind encounters with its tame and unafraid inhabitants. For travelers who love animal, this is truly a haven for you because you get to see an animal society in its purest form.
Here are five of the most famous inhabitants found in the islands:
The Galapagos tortoises are one of the oldest and sought-after inhabitants of the islands. These giant tortoises can live up to 170 years. They are so famous that the islands were named after them. In Spanish, the word galapo means tortoise.
Galapagos Fur Seal
Another endemic specie in the Galapagos is the land iguana. Their appearance is quite similar to that of a dragon -- clawed feet, long tails, and spiny crests. These fearsome-looking, harmless iguanas spend most of their time basking under the sun to maintain their body temperature. When they get too warm, they move to another place where there is shade. They are known to have a yellowish skin with patches of brown, black, and reddish-brown.
The Galapagos penguin is one of the smallest of its kind and is the only penguin in the world that lives north of the equator. It is indigenous to the Galapagos and can only be found on its islands.
The blue-footed boobies are easily recognized by their signature, blue-colored feet. Fascinatingly, the blueness of their feet indicates their health; the bluer, the healthier, since the color comes from pigments retrieved from a diet of fresh fish.
Apart from these fascinating species, there are plenty more to explore. And to end my post, here are inspiring pictures of a colorful crab and sunset view which complement the beauty of nature. Until next time, I'm your friendly global traveler, Johnny.