Galapagos Main Facts
A group of 13 large islands and many small ones spread across the Equator in the Pacific about 1000 km west of Ecuador.
The islands originated around 4-5 million years due to tectonic movements forming mountain ranges of volcanic material. Some of the peaks of these volcanoes form the islands.
Hawaii and Galapagos are the islands with the most volcanic activity and they are considered “hot spots”. The most recent islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still in process of formation registering recent volcanic activity (2009).
The Galapagos were hide outs for English pirates waiting to attack Spanish boats carrying gold and silver from South America to Spain. And also used by whale and seal hunters.
Now considered the 2nd biggest Marine Reserve in the World and declared by UNESCO in 1978 of Human Heritage.
Famous for their remarkable wildlife and many unique species not found in any other part of the world, an example of this are the Darwin´s or Galapagos finches with their diversity of beaks adapted to specific types of food.
This is what inspired Charles Darwin to come up with his theory of evolution consolidated in 1835 in his famous book “On the Origin of Species”.
A small flat island near the centre of Galapagos. Until 1986 it located the only airport of the archipelago. Now there are 2 airports that receive flights from the continent, the other airport is on San Cristobal Island.
Baltra island has a dock where tourists can take a boat to cruise the Galapagos.
Named after Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, a lifelong friend of Charles Darwin who sailed with him aboard the HMS Beagle.
This island is home to the only specie of penguin found north of the Equator, the endemic Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus).
One of the smallest islands with an area of just 1 square kilometre. A top destination for scuba divers with a diverse marine life, attracting white sharks, hammerheads, manta rays, green turtles and dolphins. It also has a large bird population including frigate birds and red-footed boobies.
One of the oldest islands, 3.5 million years. Uninhabited island with a great number of interesting species such as lava lizards, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and the endemic Spanish mockingbird (Mimus macdonaldi). It is also the only island where the Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorate) nests.
The most recent and westernmost island. A good place to observe the different lava flows and areas of mangrove forests.
Punta Espinoza is a narrow stretch of land with black lava rocks where hundreds of marine iguanas gather to enjoy the sun.
The Flightless Cormoran (Phalacrocorax harrisi) inhabits this island with penguins and fur seals.
An island that served in the 19th century as a Post Office for whalers. There was a wooden barrel where boats passing by on their way home picked up the mail to be delivered either in Europe or the United States.
Flamingos and sea turtles nest on the island, and a small population of Galapago penguins and the endemic Floreana Mockingbird (Mimus trifasciatus) can be seen.
The walls of a collapsed volcano cone form Darwin Bay and give the island the shape of a horseshoe. Known as “Bird Island” with a great number of Frigate birds (Fregata magnificens), Lava gulls (Larus fuliginosus), Noddy terns (Anous stolidus), Storm Petrels (Oceanodroma tethys), Red-footed boobies (Sula sula), Nazca boobies (Sula granti) and Darwin finches.
It is also the home of Swallow-tailed gulls (Creagrus furcatus), the only fully nocturnal gull in the world.
There is a magnificent natural plateau called Prince Philip´s Steps ideal for bird watching.
The largest of the Galapagos Islands and the only island crossed by the Equator line. Its shape is due to the merging of 6 large volcanoes into one land mass.
It is the 3rd largest human settlement but still rich in fauna. You can observe flightless cormorants, boobies, flamingos, Galapagos hawks (Buteo galapagoensis), Galapagos doves (Zenaida galapagoensis) and finches. Giant tortoises and iguanas are common on the island.
Not a visited island but a possible place to dive. The Galapagos hawk is often seen in the area and the endemic Marchena lava lizard (Microlophus habelii) is reported on the island.
North Seymour Island
An island with one of the most important nesting areas of Frigatebirds, but also an important number of blue-footed boobies and Swallow-tailed gulls.
A good number of land iguanas, introduced in the 30´s from Baltra island, can be seen sunbathing on the rocks. These iguanas flourished on the island and curiously had to be re-introduced to Baltra after they had gone extinct due to the hunting done by US soldiers during the Second World War.
Nearly the geographical centre of the archipelago. Even though there are not frequent visitors on the island as a special permission is required, the main activity is snorkelling.
This island suffered in the past an invasion of black rats and whalers killed off all the tortoises so since the 1960s they are trying to restore the tortoise population.
Home to one of the most active volcanoes.
The last remaining Pinta tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) named “Lonesome George” was moved from the island to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island to try and breed from him. In June 2012, George died without offspring, making the Pinta subspecies extinct.
This island has a distinctive red colouring due to the high content of iron in the lava.
Its highlight is a salty lagoon where pelicans and boobies nest. A great number of Darwin’s finches, 9 species have been registered on Rabida island.
The first island visited by Darwin and now the Capital of the Galapagos Islands.
The small town of Puerto Baquerizo has a very interesting Natural History Museum and an Interpretation Centre with information about the geographical and cultural origins of the archipelago.
Laguna El Junco, the biggest freshwater lake is found in the south of the island.
It’s the only island where 3 different species of boobies nest.
The most important human settlement is found on the island in the town of Puerto Ayora. It also hosts the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park Service. They operate a breeding centre to raise tortoises and the re-introduce them to their natural habitat.
Santa Cruz island has many lava tunnels, mangroves and areas like Black Turtle Cove used by sea turtles, rays and sharks to mate. It has a unique specie of tree called “Daisy Tree” (Scalesia spp).
Considered one of the oldest islands in the archipelago. It has the most important forest of pear cactuses called Opuntia cactus and Palo Santo trees. There is a lovely turquoise lagoon used to snorkel with sea lions.
The cliffs of the island are a good nesting site to a great number of birds. This island has some endemic species like the land iguana and the other, one of the few terrestrial mammals of Galapagos, the Galapagos rice rat (Aegialomys galapagoensis)
In the past Santiago island was used by pirates and whalers as a stop off point to gather water, wood and turtles to feed on. Then hoping to settle human population a great number of domestic animals were introduced causing a great damage to the endemic species, even though nowadays they have been eradicated.
Sea lions, fur seals, dolphins and sharks are found. Many land and sea turtles, Darwin’s finches and Galapagos hawks (Buteo galapagoensis) are often spotted.
Not an island visited much by tourists due to its distance from the rest, but a good option for divers as it offers incredible underwater scenes.
A great number of seals, turtles and birds can be seen, but the distinctive resident is the Vampire finch (Geospiza septentrionalis) with its unusual diet. It often feeds from the blood of other birds using its sharp beak. It’s probably a way to supplement its diet when the island is short on seeds and insects.
Famous for its biodiversity of flora and fauna this archipelago is made up of 2 protected areas
- The Galapagos National Park
- The Galapagos Marine Reserve
7.000 species of native and endemic plants and animals, some of them not found in any other part of the world.
- 9000 species
- 500 vascular plant species (180 endemic)
- 12 native terrestrial mammal species (11 endemic, with 10 threatened or extinct)
- 36 reptile species (all endemic and most considered threatened or extinct) including the only marine iguana in the world
- 2909 marine species (18,2% endemic)
The Galapagos islands have a Subtropical climate with a marked influence of the ocean currents. There are two particular seasons
- The Warm Season: from January to May with a hot and relatively rainy climate.
- The Garua Season: from July to November cool, dry, cloudy and misty.
Rain is scarce and determined by hight. At sea level the rainfall is of 400 mm but it can raise to 2000mm in higher areas.
Wolf Volcano is the highest point of the Galapagos Islands with 1707 meters
Tours for Galapagos coming soon!
These tours give you a starting point for what your trip to Argentina could entail. They cover routes we’ve found work particularly well and feature some of our favourite places to stay. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.