The Galapagos — By Solar Tours | TravelResearchOnline

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The Galapagos — By Solar Tours

Approximately 600 miles off the coast from Guayaquil is the Columbus Archipelago (often referred to simply as The Galapagos Islands), home to Galapagos National Park. The Galapagos is one of the most popular sites in Ecuador and home to giant turtles, prehistoric iguanas and a variety of other unique species.

The area is heavily vegetated and is comprised of 13 large volcanic islands, 6 smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets. For many, it’s a true paradise with natural beauty such as gorgeous white-sand beaches, lava tunnels and animals that are unique to the area. The islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have been nicknamed “The Enchanted Isles”.

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60-Second Geography

The Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are famous for a variety of unusual creatures, from marine iguanas to blue-footed boobies. You will get closer to the wildlife than you would anywhere else in the world. The archipelago lies 600 miles off the coast of South America and is reached via a short flight from Quito, Ecuador. The isolation and late discovery by humans, along with a historical lack of predators has set the stage for a unique environmental experiment and developed into perhaps the greatest showcase for evolution to be witnessed anywhere. Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and step ashore and discover it for yourself!
  • Santa Fe (Barrington) Island. This island stretches over an area of 9.3 sq. mi. where you will find a forest of the archipelago’s largest cacti. Among the island’s land species are the land iguana and lava lizard. In addition to admiring nests in seaside cliffs, visitors can snorkel alongside seals in the turquoise waters of the picturesque lagoon.
  • Floreana (Charles) Island. With a surface area of 67 sq. mi., this island was named after Juan José Flores, the first president of Ecuador, whose administration took possession of the archipelago in 1832. Between December and May, pink flamingos and green sea turtles nest here. At the “Devil’s Crown” underwater volcanic cone, visitors can observe unique coral formations.
  • Genovesa (Tower) Island. Stretching over 5.4 sq. mi., Genovesa Island is the remainder of a large submerged crater. It is also known as “Bird Island” due to the population of swallow-tailed gulls, which are the only nocturnal hunters of the species. Visitors will also see blue-footed boobies, lava gulls, swallows and other tropical birds.
  • Baltra (South Seymour) Island. Baltra Island covers an area of 10.4 sq. mi. and is the site of the archipelago’s main airport, built during World War II by the United States military. The military barracks can still be seen there today. The arid island is populated with wild desert flora, mostly cactus, and offers excellent spots for surfing, snorkeling and diving.
  • Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island. Spread over an area of 381 sq. mi., Santa Cruz is home to the archipelago’s largest settlement, the town of Puerto Ayora. Its highlands are famous for their lava tunnels while Black Turtle Cove is one of the area’s best beaches. The crystal-clear waters are ideal for snorkeling and surfing.
  • Bartolomé (Bartholomew) Island. This island is a mere 0.4 sq. mi. across. Here, visitors will find Pinnacle Rock, a stone tower in the shape of an obelisk reminiscent of the archipelago itself. At Bartolomé Island, visitors can see the Galapagos penguin, seals, lava formations and recently-formed volcanic cones.
  • Isabela (Albemarle) Island. This island is home to Galapagos penguins, marine and land iguanas, boobies, pelicans, Sally Lightfoot crab, Galapagos hawks and Galapagos doves, in addition to lush and interesting vegetation. On the southern tip of the island, Puerto Villamil is the archipelago’s third largest human settlement.
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