Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos are a wonder not to be missed. Where else can you swim next to a hammerhead shark, penguins, sea lions and hundreds of tropical fish, and go to bed – on top of a volcano? The Galapagos archipelago, lying in the waters of the Pacific Ocean 1000 km west of the Ecuadorian coast, consists of 13 main, 17 small islands and many single rocks, occupying an area of ​​​​more than 50,000 square meters along with adjacent waters. km (the area of ​​the islands themselves is almost 8 thousand sq. km).

These are islands of volcanic origin, they have a highly dissected volcanic landscape, replete with ancient volcanoes, the highest of which is Wolf, which reaches a height of 1707 meters located on Isabela Island.

The islands became part of Ecuador in 1832, and after 3 years the Beagle ship anchored in the local waters, on which the man who created the glory of the Galapagos, Charles Darwin, arrived. It was he who, having described the unique ecosystem of the archipelago, gave rise to their mass visit. In the 3-5 million years that have passed since their emergence from the waters of the ocean, an amazing natural world has formed here, and the isolation of the islands has preserved it to this day in almost unchanged form. Long used as a penal colony, the islands were declared a National Park in 1959, and in 1978 were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as “a unique living museum and a clear example of evolution.”
The ecosystem of the islands is truly unique. The main plant in the Galapagos is the prickly pear cactus, which grows to gigantic sizes. Since not a drop of rain falls on the islands for 8 months a year, this desert dweller has practically no competitors here. Ten-meter cacti even have a real trunk covered with tree bark. There are only 9 species of mammals here, but they are all found exclusively in the Galapagos. Marine iguanas, similar to fossil pangolins, live here and get their food in the sea, sometimes at a depth of up to 10m. They are adjacent to sea lizards and the main decoration of the islands – giant Galapagos tortoises that live for 200 years or more.

There are as many as 60 species of birds on the archipelago, and half of them live only here.
Most of the animals are so accustomed to humans that here you can absolutely freely approach turtles, swim with penguins and sea lions, watch birds hatch their chicks or feed iguanas.

The Galapagos Islands are large and widely spaced, and travel between them can take anywhere from two to fourteen hours. There are hotels and airports on only 3 islands: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. Therefore, the most convenient way to get acquainted with the amazing diversity of the islands is to cruise on a yacht (in a week of such a trip you can see much more than making daily trips from island hotels).

The largest island of the archipelago (4588 sq. km) with five active volcanoes, one of which is Wolf (Wolf) volcano is the highest point of the Galapagos Islands (1707 m). Urbina Bay, located in the central part of the west coast of the island, between the Darwin and Alquedo volcanoes, is home to large multi-colored iguanas, penguins and the largest colony of giant tortoises. The island has many small lagoons, generally similar to oases with birds of paradise, including flamingos, pelicans, frigatebirds, hawks. Sharks, killer whales, ray fish, hammerhead fish, eels live in the waters. The island has the best beach in the entire archipelago.

Santa Cruz
The second largest and most populated island – 986 sq. km. It houses a research station. Charles Darwin, founded in 1959. One of the most important programs of this station is the control of the breeding of turtles, of which there are 11 species on the island. The island, overgrown with prickly pear and mangrove trees, is home to marine iguanas and finches.

The third largest island (642 sq. km) is located in the westernmost part of the archipelago. The smoldering La Cumbre volcano makes you feel its strength and power with light jolts. At Punta Espinosa, among mangrove forests stretching out to sea, solidified black lava flows host the world’s largest colony of marine iguanas, as well as pelicans and flightless cormorants. Urbina Bay has one of the few coral reefs in the archipelago.

San Salvador
On an island with an area of ​​585 sq. km, the entire coastal zone is made up of black, volcanic rocks that form underwater corners in which small multi-colored fish find refuge from enemies. For scuba diving, this place is truly unique. Herons, finches, hawks, golden eagles live on the island. Black and black and yellow Galapagos corals, marine iguanas, reef sharks, killer whales, sea lions, sea horses and sea turtles are regulars in coastal waters.

San Cristobal
On an island of 580 sq. km is the capital of the Puerto Baquerizo Moreno archipelago and the airport of the same name. The island is home to giant tortoises, fur seals, boobies and frigatebirds.

Santa Maria
The coast at Point Cormorant is full of olivine crystals, and in the neighboring lagoon there are many pink flamingos. Shark Bay washes the shores at Point Cormorant. Relatively harmless reef sharks are found here, as well as whale sharks, up to 15 m long. Turtles have chosen the snow-white sand of the local beach, arranging nests here from December to May.

On this small, moon-shaped island (1.2 sq. km), two sparkling horseshoe-shaped bays are separated by a narrow strip of rainforest. One of the most beautiful places in the archipelago is Pinnacle Rock with a stunning view of the beautiful coffee-colored sandy beaches. The base of the rock is a favorite place for Galapagos penguins, sea lions, sea turtles (from January to March), lizards. And near the town of Puerto Egas, seals and killer whales frolic, swimming through an underwater tunnel between the open sea and two small bays with clear water.

The island, medium in size (61 sq. km), is located in the south of the archipelago. Hispaniola is the only place in the world where wavy albatrosses nest. And the snow-white beaches were chosen by sea lions, seals, iguanas and mockingbirds.

Island is called a bird island – thousands of different birds live in Darwin Bay, formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. In the center of the island is a crater flooded with water. The rest of the island is fairly flat.

Climate The
rainy season lasts from December to May (the warmest time of the year); during this period, the water warms up to its maximum, the most comfortable conditions for diving are created, but a greater variety of marine life can be found during the cool season from June to November (this is the best time for watching whale sharks); In the Galapagos, the level of solar radiation is high all year round. The best time to visit is all year round.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Pace. air, C 25 26 28 28 25 24 22 21 21 22 23 24
Pace. water, C 25 26 26 25 25 24 23 22 22 22 23 24
Precipitation, mm 68 91 94 72 34 23 14 6 6 6 7 30

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador