A Galápagos Islands visit is an unparalleled personal experience with the natural world, best uncovered by an expeditionary Galápagos cruise or private charter.
Ten million years ago, the volcanic peaks that make up the islands formed. Today, the islands host a range of prehistoric rarities that have changed the course of scientific history. Off Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, the 13 main islands, six minor islands, and scores of rocks and islets that comprise the archipelago boast the highest rate of endemic species in the world. In many cases–found only in one place. The archipelago is inhabited by a mind-blowing multitude of flora and wildlife that–untouched by the continental world–possess a unique lack of fear for human audiences and are known to welcome visitors into their natural paradise.
Flightless cormorants—the only of their kind that have lost the ability to fly, the world’s northernmost penguin, playful sea lions, the last existing marine lizards on Earth, and multitudes of giant tortoises responsible for the naming of the islands all abound. Many of these animals having evolved into different species from their continental relatives. And the topography is just as strikingly diverse: from marble, white sands and tunnels of lava; to peaks of rugged terrain and vibrant marine habitats. In fact, it was this very “living laboratory” that inspired the ground-breaking conclusions of English naturalist Charles Darwin who, after a 5-week visit in 1835, would share his theory of evolution as detailed in The Origin of Species.
How to get to the Galápagos: To travel to the Galápagos Islands, you must fly into the cities of Quito or Guayaquil in Ecuador. Most of the flights from Quito or Guayaquil to the Galápagos are usually scheduled in the early to mid-morning while return is mid-morning to early afternoon.