The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern 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 archipelago is world-renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife- much of which was inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection. The islands are therefore very popular amongst natural historians, both professional and amateur. Giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, marine iguanas and different bird species can all be seen and approached. The landscape of the islands is relatively barren and volcanic, but beautiful nonetheless. The highest mountain amongst the islands is Volcán Wolf on Isla Isabela, 1707 m (5600ft) high.
The Galápagos were claimed by newly-independent Ecuador in 1832, a mere three years before Darwin’s visit on the Beagle. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the islands were inhabited by very few settlers and were used as a penal colony, the last closing in 1959 when the islands were declared a national park. The Galapagos were subsequently listed as a World Heritage Site in 1978.
Strict controls on tourist access are maintained in an effort to protect the natural habitats and all visitors must be accompanied by a national park-certified naturalist tour guide.
The Galapagos Islands have a highly variable climate, as does Ecuador’s mainland. There are two seasons in the islands: the hot/rainy season, from December to June, when humidity is high and average temperatures are in the 80s F (26°-30° C). There may be occasional showers, but the days are generally warm and sunny. Seas are generally calm.
From June to November, you can expect cool winds, occasionally bringing with them a light misty-type drizzle called “garúa.” Temperatures average in the 70s F (20°-24° C) during the day and lower at night. Winds can cause choppy seas, especially in open water between the islands.
Each month brings unique climate variations and wildlife viewing opportunities. Peak season for naturalist tours is typically December through May when the seas are the calmest and the weather the warmest. However summer months June, July and August are also very popular as the animals are more active. September through November is typically low season when most boats will leave the islands for dry dock. For divers peak season is from July – November when whale sharks can be found at Wolf & Darwin.
The Islands of Galapagos Islands
- Baltra (an airport)
- Darwin & Wolf
- Isabela – the largest island
- North Seymour
- San Cristobal (an airport and military base)
- Santa Cruz – the main island and population centre
- Santa Fe
- South Plaza
Some interesting Wild Life Photos…
- Galápagos tortoise on Santa Cruz Island (Galápagos)
2. Blue footed Booby on North Seymour Island Galapagos
3. North Seymour Island in the Galapagos, a bird in flight
4. Frigate bird
5. School of scalloped hammerheads, Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands
6. A Galapagos Land Iguana on the North Seymour Island in the Galapagos
7. Galápagos Sea Lion
8. Panorama from the West of San Cristóbal Island
9. Walking path to Tortuga Bay with the Pacific Ocean in view