Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the western Pacific Ocean. The islands are quite remote and isolated, lying some 1000 km (620 miles) west of the South American continent. The Galapagos archipelago consists of 13 main islands and 6 smaller isles, which together embrace some 50,000 sq km (19,500 sq miles) of ocean.

The Galápagos Islands offer some of the best wildlife viewing in the world and are best known for their giant tortoises, penguins, the famous blue-footed boobie, sea lions, mockingbirds and the Galapagos Marine Iguana among many others. Charles Darwin was the first geologist to explore the Galapagos, his observations led him to propose a theory of natural selection, that revolutionized the way scientists think of life. The unique thing about the Galapagos Islands is that the wildlife is virtually fearless as large predators failed to evolve here.

Things to see and do

* Giant Tortoise breeding centre at the Charles Darwin Research Centre on Santa Cruz.
* Hill on Bartolome for the classic Galapagos view
* Snorkelling and scuba diving
* Galapagos penguin and Galapagos flamingo on Floreana

Cruise Season – Jan - Dec
Currency – US dollar (USD)
Language – Spanish
Land Area - 7882 square kilometers
Population – 14,000,000 approx Ecuador
Electricity – 2 pin round pins European style and 2 perpendicular flat pins USA style or with a round pin below
Time – GMT minus five hours
International Country Telephone Code – +593

Port Location – Puerto Ayora is the best and probably the only place on the islands to arrange a boat trip. It is located on the southern side of Santa Cruz island, and is connected by road and ferry to the airport on Baltra island.

Transport Links - Flights to the Galapagos are relatively easy to arrange and depart from Quito and Guayaquil on a daily basis for the Isla Baltra airport, about two hours by public transport from Puerto Ayora, the main settlement of the Galapagos, on the central island of Santa Cruz. There are also daily flights to San Cristóbal. The airport is a 20 minute walk from the center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Seeing the sites and wildlife of the Galapagos is best done by boat. Boat tours can also be arranged from Guayaquil, Quito and Puerto Ayora.

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