The Galapagos Islands are some of the most remote, exotic and famous islands in the world. Immortalized by the scientist Charles Darwin in the 19th century, the Galapogos is practically where Naturalism was invented, and where the Theory of Evolution was first conceived. For many who study the natural sciences, a visit to the Galapagos is nothing short of a pilgrimage to see one of the world’s most unique ecosystems. No visit here is complete without paying homage to the islands’ iconic residents, the Galapagos turtles.
Few wildlife reserves boast as famous as the Galapagos Islands. First visited by European explorers in the 16th century, these remote islands made it onto the world stage thanks to Charles Darwin, who visited the islands in the 1830s. As a scientist aboard the HMS Beagle, he took the opportunity to study the islands, noting similarities and differences between species on different islands. This visit inspired his world-shaking work, the Origin of Species. In 1978 the islands were listed as a world heritage site.
The Galapagos Islands are among the most isolated islands in the Americas. Wildlife developed independently on the islands over many ages, with species even evolvling differences on different islands within the chain. Common island residents include a multitude of species of birds, crustaceans and iguanas. The multitude species of Finch were an important inspiration to Darwin’s work. The most popular animals on the island by far are the Giant Tortoise, and people travel from around the world to see these ancient, magnificent creatures.
The Galapagos Islands are territory of Ecuador. There are over a dozen islands spread out over more than 8,000 square km approximately 700 miles west of the capital of Quito and the mainland. Most access to the area is through the islands of San Cristobal and Baltra. The islands are inhabited, and ecosites are spread out all over the chain, including over sixty dive sites. The islands are, for the most part, an open site. There may be costs of admission to privately-developed areas. Web: www.galapagos.org (official website)