Located more than 1000km from mainland South America, the volcanic Galapagos Islands are arguably the foremost destination for wildlife enthusiasts. A UNESCO world heritage site, around 97% of the Island area is a national park. The inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution, today a trip to the Galapagos is a unique opportunity to see plants and animals which can’t be found anywhere else on the planet.
The exquisite natural beauty of the Islands extends way beyond the shoreline: 70,000 square miles of ocean surrounding the Islands is a marine reserve. Boat trips are the best way to get close to much of the marine wildlife. Why not swim alongside Galapagos penguins, or see brightly coloured marine iguanas on a snorkelling tour? For more intrepid travellers, there’s the chance to dive with whale sharks!
On land, there’s the chance to meet giant tortoises, climb the Sierra Negra volcano (on Isabela Island) or post a letter at the quirky Post Office Bay! Possibly the most well-known mating dance of all time, the blue-footed booby’s funky footwork is not to be missed.
If you don’t fancy a cruise, you can base your trip at Puerto Ayora, a well-known town on the Galapagos Island of Santa Cruz. Visitors can enjoy everything from a walk through lava tunnels to a swim and sunbathe at the Las Bachas beach.
A popular choice as part of a cruise itinerary, a visit to the Galapagos Islands can also be combined with time spent on the Ecuadorian mainland. Quito, Cuenca, Otavalo and Guayaquil are all worth a visit or wonder at the Amazon scenery as you take a boat tour through the humid depths of the rainforest.