Prehistoric Ecotourism – Holidays to the Galapagos
Holidays to the Galapagos are becoming rarer as the impact of tourism to these wonderous volcanic islands takes its toll. This is a good thing as too many places in the world are becoming tainted by tourist not respecting the environment to which they are not accustomed. Being an island archipelago the best way to reach these islands with a low carbon footprint is to catch a boat from mainland Ecuador. It takes approx 8 hours depending on the speed of your boat. Flight to the Galapagos depart daily from Guayaquil, but why fly when you can sail the open seas?
50 islands make up the Galapagos and all have been created by past volcanos spreading over 4500sqkm. Over 500miles from the mainland of Ecuador they are like a place stuck in time from thousands of years ago. They are awash with stunning wildlife and are not frightened of humans. Holidays to the Galapagos are usually similar in that once you get there you have a choice of islands to visit depending on what you want to see. Giant tortoises and land/sea iguanas are the poster animals for the Islands and are a must see. However there are some other amazing creatures including fur seals, blue-footed boobies, reef sharks
Island Tips for Holidays to the Galapagos
Genovesa (Tower) Island – Birdwatcher heaven
Perched on the cliffs are a huge population of birds, from the red-footed boobies to frigate birds. Watch as many birds swoop down to catch lunch in the clear waters rich in fish life. Its also a great place for snorkelling for that reason.
Bartolomé – A island most visited
This island is an extinct volcano and has a lunar landscape feel to it. It is famous for the pinnacle rock, a large column of hardened lava ash that has been weathered over a lifetime of years. Penguins, nesting marine turtles, seas lions and reef sharks are all residents here.
Fernandina (Narborough) – Third largest island
This island is untouched and remains true to its beginnings. As there have always been plenty of fish birds never needed to learn to fly, so all cormorants have small wings and feet, but are great swimmers, with fantastic fishing skills. It is also home to the largest colony of land iguanas, which are the highest in the food chain.
Española (Hood) – Sea Iguana island
At the southern most part of the archipelago lies Hood island the oldest of all 50 islands. It has the only marine iguanas in the world, which change colour when looking for a mate. Waved albatross come in numbers to breed as it has abundant fish stocks. Also in the stepped cliffs you will find huge colonies of mockingbirds, boobies, Darwin finches and doves. Sea lions play in the surf around the island enjoying the plentiful fish.
Isabela (Albemarle) – Volcanically active
Isabela is the largest of all the islands and is still volcanically active. This is hardly surprising when it is made up up 6 merged smaller volcanos. It is the one island where you can get a significant trek, albeit through a lunar landscape. The island does boast a cloud forest which is home to numerous species of tortoise.
South Plaza – Tiny island
Smallest island formed like the rest with lava and covered in plantlife giving it a red colour. This plantlife, provides food for the land and marine iguanas that live here, as well as a number of bird species.
San Cristóbal (Chatham) – Provincial capital
Chatham island is the provincial capital and has a great interpretation centre. It has a freshwater lagoon named El Junco and some cliffs that are home to Frigate birds. It is also known for kicker rock which is a 100 metre high split rock which rises from the ocean.
About the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO heritage site with wildlife as its most notable point. The islands and surrounding water are a biological marine reserve with many endemic plants and wildlife.
The islands are home to approx 23,000 human inhabitants, most of which speak Spanish, who appreciate and take time to work with all visitors and tourists.
The Galapagos were famously placed on the map when Charles Darwin came back from his adventures after studying many of the endemic species, which contributed towards the inception of Darwin’s Theory of evolution by natural selection, which at the time was fiercely opposed, as it could not be conceived by a creationist society.
Things to do and places to visit in the Galapagos Islands
Holidays to the Galapagos – Review of Sailing Yacht Cruise
There are many cruises and seas transport from the mainland of Ecuador to the Galapagos, but to do it in style would be to join one of the sailing yachts which offer an 8 days cruise to and around the islands.
Diving off the boat is available with some operators, but the majestic open waters and temperate climate offer a spectacular relaxing way to see the islands at their best. Being on the Equator the weather is generally very similar but January to March can see almost no wind so sailing by wind is not possible however the yacht all have engine so you will just have to do it with a slightly higher carbon footprint.
The tours often cover the large distances at night, so you get as much viewing time amongst the islands as possible.
There are different choices of sailing vessel depending on budget and the way you would like to travel. 12-32 berth yachts are the general offering, but trips can be tailored to your needs.
This is a pleasant way to see the Galapagos islands and if you are the sailing type you wouldn’t want to do this trip any other way.