The Enchanting Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands were named after the giant Galapagos tortoises. This enchanted place on earth is
composed of 19 islands and more than 40 islets with white sand beaches,
dark and solid rocks, unique landscapes and deep crystal clear waters. You can
enjoy swimming with playful sea lions around you or watching friendly
sharks cruise six feet under you. All this wonderful nature
you feel as if you are part of it all.
It has a world record of special titles and management categories: the
islands are Ecuador's first National Park; UNESCO World natural heritage
Site, both the terrestrial Park and the Reserve, (the second largest and
possibly the most unique in the world); Biosphere Reserve and a Whale
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS LOCATION
This alluring complex ecosystem is located 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off
the coast of Ecuador, northwest of South America in the Pacific Ocean.
Some of the most unusual and fascinating species
in the world, both terrestrial and marine, are found in the Galapagos
islands. Here most of the surface (96%) is a National Park, surrounded by a
protected Marine Reserve, both UNESCO World Heritages Sites.
On Santa Cruz island, the Giant tortoises can be seen at the Charles Darwin
Research Station (including famous Lonesome George, the only remaining
tortoise from "Pinta" island) and also in the wild, in the highlands of this
Galapagos island. There are 15 sub-species of giant tortoises
prefer the upland zones of the large islands because of humidity, grassy
pastures and small ponds to drink and stagger about. Others prefer
with low elevations, dry terrain, and with lots of prickly
vegetation like cactus. The largest populations are found in Alcedo Volcano
on Isabela Island
, and in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
Tortoises keep growing for 30 or 40 years to almost 5 feet (1.5 m.) and
weigh about 500 pounds (230 kg.). It is worth mentioning that no one knows
exactly how long giant tortoises live, but it seems they can easily reach
A total of 140 species of birds have been registered in
Galapagos. About half of the resident birds cannot be seen anywhere
else in the world.
You can observe shore and lagoon birds such as ducks,
stilts, herons, warblers, pelicans and frigates all easily approachable,
just like all the Galapagos animals.
Eight species of Darwin's Finches are found on Santa Cruz island; most of
which can be observed all around the island. Charles Darwin's concepts were
founded by modern evolutionists by studying the different beaks of these
SNORKELING AND DIVING
The Galapagos islands are considered a world
premier destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. The protected waters of
its Marine Reserve have been well preserved, nearly untouched by external
sources. Here the crossroads of marine currents has resulted in a unique
Although the islands are tropical, there are two markedly different seasons
: the warm, humid and sunny season from December to May and the dry, windy
and not-so-sunny season from June to November. Transitional months are
January, April and May. The Warm Season offers hardly any wind (so the sea
is usually very calm) and the visibility tends to be better. In the Dry
Season there is more wind, sometimes the sea tends to be choppy and the
Surprisingly, its water temperatures range from 16°C (61°F - 80°F); divers use full wet (6mm) suits all year around and
hoods in the cold season. Regardless season, a thermocline is commonly
found below 12-15 meters (37-45 feet)
THE MEANING OF GALAPAGOS
Amongst the first groups that came to Galapagos, many were of Spanish
origin. In traditional Castilian language, the word "Galapago" was used to
describe the frontal piece of the riding saddle. Upon seeing the many
tortoises the islands had in earlier years, but more important, the shape of
their carapace (shell), they named this archipelago "Islands of the
Galapagos". And this is the official story of the name of these islands.
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