- Declared an endangered World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- From Warm to Dry Season, the islands provide great weather all year round.
- Wildlife remains tame to this day, animals have little instinctive fear of man.
- 970 km West of the Ecuadorian coast, The islands are accessed by Ecuador only.
- The Galapagos Islands are moving south-east, at a rate of 5 cm per year.
- Originated by Hotspots, newer islands continue to form in the West, while the oldest ones can be found in the East.
- Strategically located in the Pacific Ocean, the merging of currents in the islands provide a huge diversity in sea life.
- With over 60 visit points throughout the islands, visitors can appreciate their surroundings-within defined trails, and minimize impact in these fragile environments.
Galapagos Islands species varies per island, as recognized by Charles Darwin. The Archipelago has never been connected with the continent, thus the majority of the willdlife, plants & shore fish are endemic & unique to the islands.
SAIL YACHTS, CRUISES, CATAMARANS & SHIPS
Cruise your way through the islands, live-aboards offer you the best Galapagos experience, taking you to the most remote locations in the archipelago, otherwise not accessible via other methods, and make the most of your visit. With different itineraries across a wide variety of ships, you will surely find something that adjusts to your budget and needs.ALL CRUISES
HOTEL PACKAGES & ISLAND HOPPING
Land based tours are a great approach to the islands, with Hotels strategically located in the main islands, (Isabela, Santa Cruz, Floreana & San Cristobal) many activities are arranged in the surroundings of the Hotels such as biking, horseback riding, snorkeling & kayaking. Island Hopping will connect you through different Hotels for a more in depth and adventurous tour.ALL LAND BASED
LIVE-ABOARDS, LANDBASED, DAILY DIVES & COMBINED TOURS
Among the top favorite diving destinations in the world. The Galapagos is home to a huge variety of sealife, going from reef fish to whalesharks, hammerheads, dolphins, flocks of different species of manta rays,and much more! Approaches to diving in the islands are limited to daily dives or live-aboards, what are you waiting for, come experience a unique diving experience.ALL DIVING
Fictional Drawings to Recreate Events
The early human history of the islands was not kind with its resources, buccaneers and whalers had little regard for the exceptional wildlife and fauna the archipelago held, leading some races of giant tortoises to extinction, and introduced species largely affecting the native flora, its accelerated reproduction remains one of the greatest threat to the Galapagos to this day.
Gerardus Mercator & Abraham Ortelius -1570
The Galapagos made it’s first official appearance on a map approximately in the 1570’s by Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortlelius, both recognized cartographers. Having the elusive and bewitched islands in drawing would catapult the islands as an operation base for buccaneers. During the cold war between Great Britain and Spain, from the 1500’s to the 1600’s, the islands served as a haven where buccaneers would repair their vessels, recover and stock up on food. This would be the beginning of the slaughter of the giant tortoises as a food resource.
Ambrose Cowley – 1684
William Ambrose Cowley would be the first one to draw a navigational map of the islands, naming each of the islands mainly after English kings and nobleman that helped his cause, a few examples would be, King Charles (Floreana), King James (Santiago), Duke Albermarle (Isabela) and Admiral Narborough (Fernandina). A few of the islands were also named after some of his fellow buccaneers. Most of these names have been replaced with spanish official names, yet their old english names are still mentioned in current maps and widely used among ecological researchers.
James Colnett – 1793
James Colnet was a British officer for the royal navy, sent to investigate the possibility of whale fishery in the region. Reaching the Galapagos, he led the developing of whaling and the archipelago was set as a base for whalers who had their operation in the pacific ocean. In 1794 a “post office barrel” was set on Floreana, whalers would be away for years, so they would leave their letters in the barrel, and ships heading back to England would have them delivered to port. The barrel may still be seen to this day in Floreana. The islands also represented a source of fresh meat, once they learned the giant tortoises could be kept alive for months without food and water in ships. Whalers had the biggest footprint in the archipelago, the arrival of dozens of ships each year had a devastating effect on the tortoises, over 200,000 were taken, some races quickly became extinct.
David Porter – 1813
Commanding the U.S.S Essex, American Captain David Porter nearly destroyed the British whaling fleet which had set base in the Galapagos, in times when Britain, France and the U.S were at war with each other. Upon reaching the islands he kept a careful chronicle of the events that took place in his log, including the only recorded historic eruption of Floreana. He also noted the distinctive patterns of giant tortoises that originated from different islands, predominantly in the shape of their shells . According to history Porter released several goats to graze near shore when anchored in James Bay, after a few days the goats disappeared deep into the islands, although unintended by Porter, this would be the beginning of goats been deliberately introduced in the islands for the following years as a source of meat. The goats multiplied at an incredible pace reaching numbers over 100,000 on Santiago and other islands, which in return had a devastating effect in the native flora, the main food source for herbivores.
The Galapagos would be changed forever with the visit of Charles Darwin. Seeing the islands for what they truly were and captivated by the distinctive features of animals across different islands would lead him years later to formulate a ground breaking theory of Human Evolution, catapulting the islands to their recognition status as an evolving natural paradise.
H.M.S Beagle – 1831
Charles Robert Darwin, an English naturalist that originally had begun his studies as a medical student, showed an avid interest in Geology, and partook on a 4 year surveying mission under the command of Commander Robert Fitz Roy. The voyage had no financial gain and was rather an opportunity to visit different countries. After 3 years of sailing through the South American coast they reached San Cristobal. The Beagle spent 5 weeks in the Galapagos carefully charting the Archipelago.
Evolution Theory – 1835
Even though he was limited to landing on 4 islands only, (San Cristobal, Floreana, Santiago & Isabela), Darwin made careful observations about the islands geology and biology. One thing that particularly struck him was the difference between the inhabitants of the different islands, which are now known as subspecies. Upon his return to England he published several books about his voyage in the years to follow, but it would be 25 years later, when he had developed enough evidence to support his idea, that his best work would be published.
The Origin of Species – 1859
Darwin’s greatest contribution to science would be what he called: Natural Selection, solving the mystery of why and how evolution occurred. The idea sparked in him by 1839. The essence of his idea was that individuals born with certain characteristics which made them better suited for their environment were the ones most likely to survive and most likely to successfully reproduce. His book: (The Origin of species), was an immediate sensation, and created much debate among the scientific community, the issue was settled within 10 years in favor of evolution and natural selection, Darwin came to be a recognized and eminent scientist, with many species and locations named after him.
The Origin of Species – Extract
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.
Fictional Drawings to Recreate Events
The Archipelago clearly portrays the complexity of humans throughout the history of colonization in the islands. Colonists originating from different parts of the world provides us with a different prospective of the islands,and adds an interesting layer of history to the enchanted islands.
Patrick Watkins- 1807
The first human settlement that took place in the islands was by an Irishman-Patrick Watkins, marooned in Floreana for about 8 years, His days in the islands went by raising vegetables and trading them with visiting whalers and hunting for a living. According to history, he left the islands by stealing an open boat and navigating to mainland in Guayaquil – Ecuador
Jose De Villamil – 1832
The General First Governer of Galapagos was Jose Villlamil, when the islands became oficiallly annexed by Ecuador. With the creation of a Prision Colony in Floreana primarily used for convicts, followed by political prisioners & common criminals, the settlement became a succesful project that lasted until mids of the twentieth century, due to its remote and desolate location.
Manuel Cobos – 1869
“El Progreso” was a prison colony under the leadership of Manuel Cobos based in San Cristobal. Cobos established a sugar plantation & milling operation that was labored and operated by convicts under harsh and inhumane conditions. The slavery of prisoners eventually led to the mass mutiny and murder of Cobos and his men several years later. The Colony survived and San Cristobal is the governing island in the Archipelago today.
Antonio Gil – 1897
On the opposite side of the Archipelago, Antonio Gil formed two settlements on Isabela Island, Villamil on the coastline, and Santo Tomas 20 km inland on the slopes of the volcano now called Sierra Negra. Coffee plantation, sulfur mining, lime production by burning coral, fishing and cattle ranching were the common affairs of the towns that were founded. The better ways of Gil had no slavery involved, and the founding towns remain to this day.
Europe, America and Ecuador – 1924
Interest for the islands was in part triggered by William’s Beebe, an American naturalist that expeditioned the islands and published his chronicles, further supporting the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin in his booked titled, Galapagos: World’s End. Small waves of Europeans settlers arrived in the islands, the most notorious group were the Norwegians that settled in Floreana, but were quickly disappointed and returned to their homeland, others dispersed to settlements in San Cristobal & Santa Cruz. A few years later other settlers arrive to the islands, all seeking for a simpler life. Originating from Europe, America & Ecuador, among them the four Angermeyer brothers from Germany. These early settlers were provided with free land, the right to fish and hunt freely on all uninhabited islands in compliance with the governing laws of Ecuador at the time.
Floreana – 1930’s
Floreana witnessed events in the island that remained unexplained to this day. Among the first settlements are Dr. Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch from Germany, followed by the Wittmer family from Germany as well, and Austrian Baroness Wagner de Bosquet accompanied by her 3 lovers, (Robert Philippson, Rudolf Lorenz, and Felipe Valdiviseo). After the arrival of the self-proclaimed Baroness, tension grew with her presence among the other residents and disputes broke. The Governor of the Galapagos islands arrived to settle the reports of theft among other claims. A series of deaths took place that have been subject to much speculation ever since. The Baroness along with Philipson disappeared to never be found, shortly after Lorenz turned up dead in Marchena, later that year Ritter died of food poisoning, and many other unexplained deaths and disappearances followed, leaving Margaret Wittmer as the only survivor of the early colonist of Floreana
U.S Navy – 1942
During World War II, the U.S Navy was granted permission by the Ecuadorian government to set a Navel Base in Baltra, and a radar station on the north end of Isabela. The islands location provided a way to moniter any approach to the Panama Canal and to patrol the Pacific for enemy submarines. After the war ended, the airbase was given to the Ecuadorian government and eventually transformed into a commercial airport.