There are no words that can describe the thrill of a visit to
the Galapagos National Park of Ecuador, where animals
appear unafraid of people like in Paradise. But don't be mistaken,
that they are not concerned. Parenting animals are most certainly
alarmed for their young when you get too close, so be considerate
and keep a respectful distance. Always obey the instructions
of your guide.
Galapagos Islands are an extremely young geological formation
with high geological activity, particularly volcanism and earthquakes,
The 1,476 m high Fernandina had an eruption in 2009; while other
volcanoes on Galapagos have been active in historical times,
such as Cerro Azul, Marchena, Pinta, Santiago, Sierra Negra
Galapagos National Park, Last minute
Yachts, Hotels, Day trips, Island hopping
Tourism and Conservation
Some are concerned that the Galapagos Islands are overrun by
tourists. Indeed, visitation has grown considerably since the
second half of the nineties. Nobody knows how many visitors
the park can support. However, without visitors, Galapagos would
have vanished as a park long ago, together with its Galapagos
National Park animals. Much has been achieved thanks to
income from ecotourism:
Wild pigs and goats have been eradicated from all uninhabited
islands, allowing the original vegetation with their fauna
Most tortoise populations have recovered to levels where
they can maintain themselves in the wild;
The Government recognizes conservation based tourism as
a major source of income and not only protects Galapagos
but all parks of Ecuador.
Don't listen to the critics, your visit really DOES help pay
for its management and thereby contributes to its conservation.
Natural highlights of Galapagos National Park of Ecuador
Galápagos Islands are most famous for their endemic plants and and animals, it
is also a fascinating geological "hotspot" between the Nazca and Cocos tectonic
plates. The hotspot started forming on the sea bottom some 20,000,000 years ago
and over the millions of years, gradually rose to 6 main islands, 12 smaller
islands, and about 50 islets and submerged rocks. 9 volcanoes are active, as
about 70 eruptions have occured since 1800. The 26 May 2015 - eruption of Wolf
after 33 years of dormancy, has been a major geological event. Besides
volcanoes, different lava forms and basalt are interesting volcanic phenomena.
of the most dramatic views of Galapagos National Park
of Ecuador is the Pinnacle Rock from the top of the volcano on
Pahoehoe lava on the Galapagos Islands.
Lava tunnels are formed when a
liquid lava core continues flowing while the exterior cools
off and solidifies, like this one at Santa Cruz.
As is the case on all minor islands in the world, the
level of biodiversity on Galapagos is extremely low. As the
islands are so young, their biodiversity is even lower than
on some other islands of the same size. And yet, the species
on Galapagos are unique in many ways, due to the location of
Galapagos right in the center of the Humboldt current, that
bends west and passes by the islands. That facilitated the
transportation of animals and plants from the mainland on
the different island. On each island, the species that
succeeded in establishing itself, developed separately from
the same species on neighboring islands and from the
originating species on the main island. Thus a variety of
closely related but distinct species and subspecies could
Cactuses are an
important food source for land iguanas and Galapagos Tortoises.
Prickly Pear of the genus Opuntia, Opuntia spp., is represented
in Galapagos by six species and fourteen endemic subspecies. It grows on the lower elevations of the islands where
rainfall is low. The cactuses are the main food source for the Galapagos Land
Iguanas and Galapagos Tortoises, while they serve as nesting trees for
At the higher elevations, there is so much fog and drizzling
rain that actual forests can develop. With one species of
tree, a kind of daisy; the Daisy Forest,
with just 1 tree species, is rather species poor and
yet unique. A good location to see them is on Santa Cruz,
the Los Gemelos twin sink hole
at Santa Cruz Island is 3 km of sandy beach surrounded with mangroves where you
even may watch some flamingos. Its has incredibly valuable coastal shallow
The most common mangrove species is the Red Mangrove,
which may vary in size from low bushes to trees.
While the lowlands
of most islands are semi deserts, at some hidden locations,
one finds some mangroves where wading birds and even some flamingos
may find their habitat. But for extended
Mangroves in Ecuador,
one needs to visit the mainland, where some of the best
mangroves of the Eastern Pacific Ocean can be found.
Galapagos National Park Animals
The "tameness" of their birds and mammals, many visitors
love to see animals from close by who appear to be unafraid
of them. Moreover, naturalists from all over the world like
to see first hand where Darwin came to his evolution theory,
which ultimately lead to the revolutionary publication the
"Origin of the Species".
Galapagos National Park Birds
is a common breeder on Galapagos and can be found along the
tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.
Sula nebouxii, is a common breeding bird of Galapagos
and many other tropical and subtropical islands of the Pacific
They rarely leave the nest when approached by people, but that
does not mean they are not disturbed. When people get close,
their heart rates go up dramatically and they are very much
alarmed. So always keep your distance, always watch out for
unprotected eggs on your trail and strictly obey the instructions
of your guide.
The only tropical penguin in the world, the
Galapagos Penguin, which can
always be seen at Las Tintoreras Islets.
finches formed an essential part in the development of the evolution theory.
There are 15 Darwin's finches placed in the tanager family;
most live on the Galapagos Islands and one on Cocos Island of Costa
Rica. The Galapagos specimens were first collected by Charles
Darwin during the second voyage of the Beagle and were quite
important for the development of the evolution theory.
John Gould also dedicated some of his fantastic drawings to
species is the Galapagos Hawk.
five species in the single genus Fregata of which the
Magnificent Frigate Bird,
Fregata magnificens and Great
Fregata minor, roam the skies of the
Galapagos Islands as well as breed there in several
colonies, particularly on Tower Island. They have long wings, tails and bills and the
males have a red gular pouch that is inflated during the
breeding season to attract a mate. They are pelagic
piscivores (fish eaters) which obtain most of their food by
chasing other birds until they throw up the fish they caught.
Galapagos National Park Reptiles
The Galapagos Islands are named after these old giant tortoises,
Geochelone nigra, called "galapagos" in Spanish. They can live
up to several centuries. During the early worldwide trading
age, they were prized food as they can survive months without
food and water.
Sailors loaded their ships with hundreds of tortoises, thus
decimating their numbers to levels in which extinction became
almost inevitable. Thanks to half a century of captive breeding
and conservation measures in cooperation between the Darwin
Foundation and the Government of Ecuador, populations of most
species are slowly recovering to levels that allow them to survive
again in the wild on their islands on origin.
rare subspecies are bred in a breeding station at the Darwin biological station.
are kept in different cages for each subspecies. After they have grown large
enough to have a high survival chance, they are released in the wild on their
On 21 October
21015, a publication in "Nature" magazine announced the discovery of a new
subspecies on Santa Cruz Island, the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis
The new subspecies, the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra donfaustoi. as they occur in the wild.
With a population of 250 animals, they are considered
vulnerable but not immediately threatened.
The Galapagos Lava Lizard is yet another endemic genus of reptiles
with distinct species on different islands.
The Galapagos Land Iguana, Conolophus subcristatus, is
a species of lizard in the Iguanidae family endemic to the Galapagos
Islands. The Galapagos Land Iguana varies in size and coloration
among different islands. There are two taxonomically distinct
forms of Conolophus inhabiting the western part of the
islands (C. rosada and C. pallidus) and one in
the central part (C. subcristatus).
Galapagos Land Iguanas are typically unafraid of people and
feed on the abundant Prickly Pear or Opuntia Cactus. It is always
amazing how they devour a cactus leaf with prickles and all.
Beware you don't get too close to these animals and never try
to touch them. Their bite can be extremely painful!
Getting to know the under-water world at Galapagos is a must
if you are physically up to it.
Even if you did not bring a mask, it still is fun to
submerge a little and enjoy the colorful tropical fishes.
The best of course if you are a scuba
diver. Gear is available for rent, so you don't have to
bring your own.
Green turtles surround the shores of the Galapagos Islands,
particularly at Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island.
Galapagos National Park Mammals
The Galapagos Sea Lion, Zalophus wollebaeki, is an endemic
species of Ecuador, only mating on the Galapagos Islands and
Isla de la Plata. This playful Sea Lion is very common on the
islands and during mating season the males round up large pack
of females. It is great swimming among these young and curious
animals at Playa de los Perros, but only away from the harems, as the heavy bulls are
dangerous and are known to have attacked people that have come
too close to their harem. Always follow the instructions of
Not only the islands
are protected as Galapagos National Park animals, but
also the surrounding sea in the
Garrapatero Beach, at Santa Cruz Island is 3 km
of sandy beach surrounded with mangroves where you even may watch some
flamingos. Its has incredibly valuable coastal shallow water ecosystems, to enjoy on your
Galapagos National Park last minute reservation.
Endemic species of arthropods and other lower animals are
less commonly known, with land snails among the most common
The most conspicuous arthropod is
the "Red Rock Crab",
grapsus, or in Spanish "Abuete Negro", which
is not even endemic.
It is common along the entire Pacific coast of Central
America and Mexico and nearby islands. It is one of the many
charismatic species that inhabits the Galapagos Islands and
occurring in great numbers on the rock along water line. They are a
charming colorful attraction to all the visitors of the islands
and a thankful object for photographers.
For detailed information on climate and weather conditions
As theweather andclimate in Ecuador vary greatly
with elevation and region,
you need different clothing for different regions. Depending
on where you travel, you have to be prepared for hot weather
in the western lowlands and
with thin shirts, shorts and light trousers. For the central
Andes flanks and
be sure to take a light sweater or buy one locally, because
the evenings may turn chilly. If you plan to go up in the
highlands above 3500 m, be sure you bring adequately warm
clothing, because - depending on elevation - temperatures
may turn wintery cold. Be prepared for rainfall everywhere,
so bring a nylon poncho and/or water-coated light rain jacket.
WARNING: You will be on the Equator. UV radiation is extremely
high everywhere you go and you need to protect you adequately,
even if you are dark-skinned. Always where a hat, not just
a baseball cap, and please, don't wear sandals or bear feet
when you come from abroad. I have seen such horribly painful
feet on people who covered everything but their feet. Your
feet get the most direct sunlight as they are exposed horizontally
to the sun!
Always put on high grade sun block (don't forget the edges
of your ears). Accustom your skin to the sunlight
by exposing it for no more than an hour the first day and
add an hour everyday afterwards. Don't be fooled by an overcast
sky, you can still get sun burn. Be particularly aware in
the highlands, where the UV is even higher!; and on the
water (Cuyabeno, Galapagos), because on the water, the UV
effect is greater. Also beware of wind, as it also tends
to increase the sun burning of your skin.
BEST GALAPAGOS DEALS is
owned by PARKS &
TRIBES Cia Ltda