Islands located more than 950 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador-
are an obsession and an inescapable destination for the explorers
and travellers that yearn getting closer with nature.
Considered like an outdoors laboratory, this
archipelago of the Pacific Ocean has 125 islands and small barren
islands of volcanic origin, that have emerged from the bottom of
the sea about 3 to 5 million years back. Its total surface is of
8,009 square kilometers, 97% of which comprise the National Park
Galapagos. It was in these islands, discovered in 1535 by the
Spanish clergyman Fray Tomas de Berlanga, where the famous
naturalist Charles Darwin found the foundations that sustained the
theories of his revolutionary the origin of the species, book
published in 1859, 24 years after the author disembarked for the
first time in Galapagos.
Genovesa (Tower): Tower Island is formed
by the remaining edges of a large crater this is now mostly
submerged: it is also known as “bird island,” and it certainly
lives up to its name. Darwin Bay Beach is filled with frigate
birds and their bustling activity. Along the trail are pairs of
swallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal gulls in the world; and
red-footed boobies, with their contrasting red feet and blue
Bartolome: This island has a moonlike
panorama where, after a dry landing, a 600 meter visitor's path
takes you to the 114 mt. summit of the island. Here is where one
has the most dramatic view of the islands looking onto Sullivan
Bay and Pinnacle Rock. You can find the Galapagos Penguin between
January and March, and the marine tortoises that come to nest on
the sandy beaches.
Cruz: Is the second largest island in the Galapagos. A road
crosses the island from north to south, giving a good opportunity
of seeing some of the highland interior. The small town of Puerto
Ayora is the economic center of the Archipielago, with the highest
population and greatest number of tourist facilities. Most
visitors stay in Puerto Ayora while arranging a boat or sometimes
anchor in the harbor of Academy Bay during their cruise. The
Charles Darwin Research Station is based on Santa Cruz.
Plazas: This is one of the
smallest island, encompassing only 12 hectares, but perhaps the
most picturesque in the archipelago. Visits are on the eastern
part of one of two small adjoining islands uplifted from the sea
through differential faulting. After a wet landing, admire a sea
lion colony waddling on the rocks. Here you can also find land
iguanas, red-billed tropic birds, colonies of blue-footed boobies,
swallow-tailed gulls and a not so abundant vegetation of
criptocarpus and sesuvium bushes and opuntia cacti.
Santa Fé: Has an area of 24 km² and a
maximum altitude of 259 metres. Santa Fe hosts a forest of Opuntia
cactus, which are the largest of the archipelago, and Palo Santo.
Weathered cliffs provide a haven for swallow-tailed gulls,
red-billed tropic birds, shear-waters petrels. Santa Fe species of
land iguanas are often seen, as well as lava lizards. There is a
picturesque turquoise lagoon and calm waters where snorkeling can
be done along with sea lions.