Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands Edit History Compare

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4==Introduction==4==Introduction==
5[photo|176312]5[photo|176312]
6The [b]Galapagos Islands[/b] are an archipelago of volcanic islands around the equator, located about 1,000 kilometres west of Ecuador in the [[Pacific Ocean]] and were made famous by Charles Darwin. It is a heaven for people who wish to be witness of some of the most unusual animals in the world, all to be viewed from up close. It doesn't come cheap and a tour of 5 days including the return flight from mainland Ecuador will set you back at least a US$ 1,000, but probably more when you want to explore more islands and spend some decent amount of time at this magnificent place.
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7The [b]Galapagos Islands[/b] are an archipelago of volcanic islands around the equator, located about 1,000 kilometers west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and were made famous by Charles Darwin. It is a heaven for people who wish to be witness of some of the most unusual animals in the world, all to be viewed from up close. It doesn't come cheap and a tour of 5 days including the return flight from mainland Ecuador will set you back at least a 1,000 dollars, but probably more when you want to explore more islands and spend some decent amount of time at this magnificent place. 8The environment is fragile on the other hand and recently, the government of [[Ecuador]] has announced that less visitors are allowed on the islands at one time and a maximum number is allowed in one year. Also prices for the entry to the National Park are tripled which only adds extra costs. Still, if visited in the right way, it makes for an unforgettable trip!
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9The environment is fragile on the other hand and recently, the government of Ecuador has announced that less visitors are allowed on the islands at one time and a maximum number is allowed in one year. Also prices for the entry to the National Park are tripled which only adds extra costs. Still, if visited in the right way, it makes for an unforgettable trip!
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11Hopefully this stops some of the more rampant destructions and corruption that has plagued the Galapagos in the past. As recently as the 1990s the local mafia were trying smuggle animals out of the Galapagos Islands for a profit. Also many Ecuadorians view the islands as their frontier. Therefore many people move to the islands in order to find their fortunes in many different industries some very destructive to the fragile environment of the Galapagos Islands. Over fishing in recent years has been blamed for the reduction in the number of large whale sightings while on cruises.10Hopefully this stops some of the more rampant destructions and corruption that has plagued the Galapagos in the past. As recently as the 1990s the local mafia were trying smuggle animals out of the Galapagos Islands for a profit. Also many Ecuadorians view the islands as their frontier. Therefore many people move to the islands in order to find their fortunes in many different industries some very destructive to the fragile environment of the Galapagos Islands. Over fishing in recent years has been blamed for the reduction in the number of large whale sightings while on cruises.
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14==Geography==13==Geography==
15[Photo|145935]14[Photo|145935]
16The islands are located on the equator, in the Pacific Ocean and apart from [[Ecuador]] the closest islands are 500 kilometers north (Cocos Islands) or almost 2,000 kilometers south ([[Easter Island]]). As the Galapagos islands are on the equator, they are located in both the northern and southern hemisphere and with the equator line located exactly on the island of Isla Isabela. From north to south the islands are spread out about 220 kilometres. A nice affect of being located on the equator and at sea level is that a traveller can see every constellation year round while visiting the Galapagos Islands.15The islands are located on the equator, in the Pacific Ocean and apart from [[Ecuador]] the closest islands are 500 kilometres north (Cocos Islands) or almost 2,000 kilometres south ([[Easter Island]]). As the Galapagos islands are on the equator, they are located in both the northern and southern hemisphere and with the equator line located exactly on the island of Isla Isabela. From north to south the islands are spread out about 220 kilometres. A nice affect of being located on the equator and at sea level is that a traveller can see every constellation year round while visiting the Galapagos Islands.
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18The Galapagos Islands include 7880 square kilometers of land and 45,000 square kilometers of water. The largest of the islands is Isabela Island with about 4588 square kilometers, thus making up half of the total land area. The highest point is located on Isabela as well and Volcan Wolf has an altitude of 1,707 meters above sea level.17The Galapagos Islands include 7,880 square kilometres of land and 45,000 square kilometres of water. The largest of the islands is Isabela Island with about 4588 square kilometers, thus making up half of the total land area. The highest point is located on Isabela as well and Volcan Wolf has an altitude of 1,707 meters above sea level.
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20The Galapagos Archipelago consists of 16 main islands, 6 smaller islands, and 10 rocks and islets. The islands are located in a volcanic sensitive area and the oldest island is thought to have been formed between 5 and 10 million years ago. The most recent eruption was just back in 2007 and, as a consequence, younger islands like Isabela and Fernandina are still being formed and thus changed as we speak.19The Galapagos Archipelago consists of 16 main islands, 6 smaller islands, and 10 rocks and islets. The islands are located in a volcanic sensitive area and the oldest island is thought to have been formed between 5 and 10 million years ago. The most recent eruption was just back in 2007 and, as a consequence, younger islands like Isabela and Fernandina are still being formed and thus changed as we speak.
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49When visiting the islands you will likely take a boat trip between a couple or several of the islands. Every islands has its own specific environment and for specific species you have to visit as many islands as possible. All of the islands in the park officially open at sunrise and a great activity is to visit right when they open. Your group will be the only travellers on the islands and the animals will just be waking up. Also the soft light will help when taking great pictures. For more information on the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands please read the article: [[Wildlife In The Galapagos]].48When visiting the islands you will likely take a boat trip between a couple or several of the islands. Every islands has its own specific environment and for specific species you have to visit as many islands as possible. All of the islands in the park officially open at sunrise and a great activity is to visit right when they open. Your group will be the only travellers on the islands and the animals will just be waking up. Also the soft light will help when taking great pictures. For more information on the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands please read the article: [[Wildlife In The Galapagos]].
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51* [[http://www.darwinfoundation.org/|Charles Darwin Research Center]] is run by the Charles Darwin Foundation on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands. This is an excellent place to visit to learn more about the wildlife of the Galapagos including the famous [b]Lonesome George[/b], who is the last of his species. Most multi day tours include a half day at the center.50* [[http://www.darwinfoundation.org/|Charles Darwin Research Center]] is run by the Charles Darwin Foundation on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands. This is an excellent place to visit to learn more about the wildlife of the Galapagos including the famous [b]Lonesome George[/b], who is the last of his species. Most multi day tours include a half day at the center.
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53* [[Galapagos Scuba Diving]] is considered to be some of the best diving in the world. It is one of the few places in the world that you can dive with Sea Lions, Giant Turtles, Hammerhead Sharks, Penguins and Sea Horses all in one dive!51* [[Galapagos Scuba Diving]] is considered to be some of the best diving in the world. It is one of the few places in the world that you can dive with Sea Lions, Giant Turtles, Hammerhead Sharks, Penguins and Sea Horses all in one dive!
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69===By Plane===67===By Plane===
70Regular flights connect the islands with both [[Quito]] and [[Guayaquil]] but flights need to be booked well in advance because of its popularity. There are two airports servicing passengers arriving on the Galapagos Islands: one on Baltra and the other on San Cristobal. Pay attention when checking in for your flight: flights to Baltra are often described simply as "Galapagos" while flights to San Cristobal say, specifically: "San Cristobal". 68Regular flights connect the islands with both [[Quito]] and [[Guayaquil]] but flights need to be booked well in advance because of its popularity. There are two airports servicing passengers arriving on the Galapagos Islands: one on Baltra and the other on San Cristobal. Pay attention when checking in for your flight: flights to Baltra are often described simply as "Galapagos" while flights to San Cristobal say, specifically: "San Cristobal".
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72===By Train===
73There are no trains services to the Galapagos Islands.
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75===By Car===
76There are no bridges or roads to the islands.
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78===By Bus===
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80===By Boat===70===By Boat===
81There are cargo ships departing from from [[Guayaquil]] to the Galapagos Islands. The journey takes 3 to 4 days and booking passage aboard these boats is not common. These boats are only permitted to provide passage to residents of the Galapagos Islands - they are not allowed to take tourists on board.71There are cargo ships departing from from [[Guayaquil]] to the Galapagos Islands. The journey takes 3 to 4 days and booking passage aboard these boats is not common. These boats are only permitted to provide passage to residents of the Galapagos Islands - they are not allowed to take tourists on board.
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83Many people choose to arrive Galapagos aboard their own private boat. Either in transit or to tour the islands. Boats transiting the island are permitted to stay in one of the four ports (Baltra, Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo, Villamil or Floreana for a maximum of 21 days). They are not permitted to travel to other parts of the islands under this permit.73Many people choose to arrive Galapagos aboard their own private boat. Either in transit or to tour the islands. Boats transiting the island are permitted to stay in one of the four ports (Baltra, Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo, Villamil or Floreana for a maximum of 21 days). They are not permitted to travel to other parts of the islands under this permit.
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85Boats which wish to visit more than one island or to cruise the islands on board their own vessel may do so under special permission. These permits need to be obtained in advanced through a local licensed Galapagos Yacht Agency. The owner of the boat needs to be on board while in the Galapagos Islands and the boat can not be operating for commercial purposes. The special permits are expensive and many smaller boats prefer to arrive "in transit" then tour the islands aboard one of the regular cruises.75Boats which wish to visit more than one island or to cruise the islands on board their own vessel may do so under special permission. These permits need to be obtained in advanced through a local licensed Galapagos Yacht Agency. The owner of the boat needs to be on board while in the Galapagos Islands and the boat can not be operating for commercial purposes. The special permits are expensive and many smaller boats prefer to arrive "in transit" then tour the islands aboard one of the regular cruises.
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88==Getting Around==78==Getting Around==
99There is a company (Emetebe) which operates two twin-prop light aircraft (6 or 8 seats) on a regular daily schedule between Baltra, San Cristobal and Isabela. 89There is a company (Emetebe) which operates two twin-prop light aircraft (6 or 8 seats) on a regular daily schedule between Baltra, San Cristobal and Isabela.
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101===By Car and Bus===91===By Car and Bus===
102Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and, to a lesser extent Isabela, all have abundant taxis that will take you anywhere in town for a dollar. Travel outside town, such as to the highlands will be a few dollars more. There are daily buses to the airport on Baltra. San Cristobal's airport is on the edge of town and is a 5 minute taxi-ride. You can rent bicycles on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal (Isabela?) and you can ride considerable distances before finding yourself at the limits of the National Park, beyond which you will have to be accompanied by a Park guide.92Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and, to a lesser extent Isabela, all have abundant taxis that will take you anywhere in town for a dollar. Travel outside town, such as to the highlands will be a few dollars more. There are daily buses to the airport on Baltra. San Cristobal's airport is on the edge of town and is a 5-minute taxi ride. You can rent bicycles on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal and you can ride considerable distances before finding yourself at the limits of the National Park, beyond which you will have to be accompanied by a Park guide.
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104===By Boat===94===By Boat===
105There are many boat tours between the islands, but both prices and comfort vary a lot so shop around. You can go on a small sailing yacht and on big luxurious cruise ships, it all depends on what you like. This is a trip that is worth planning in advance due to cost. But a traveller can arrange a trip on short notice but it best to do that on the mainland. Remember if travelling alone to ask if your cabin will have a forced roommate and to require that the forced roommate be of the same gender as you. Note that during the rougher December to April period, [[seasickness]] is more prevalent when you are on the smaller ships.95There are many boat tours between the islands, but both prices and comfort vary a lot so shop around. You can go on a small sailing yacht and on big luxurious cruise ships, it all depends on what you like. This is a trip that is worth planning in advance due to cost. But a traveller can arrange a trip on short notice but it best to do that on the mainland. Remember if travelling alone to ask if your cabin will have a forced roommate and to require that the forced roommate be of the same gender as you. Seas are normally calmest from December through May although in the last couple of years (2010, 2011) it has been windier than normal. It is never really rough but outside these months you may be more comfortable on one of the larger boats.
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108==Eat==98==Eat==
99The Galapagos Islands were once a favoured source of giant tortoises to feed the crews of passing ships, particularly whalers, and the tortoise population was decimated even to the extent that some species are now extinct.
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101In the past, some species, particularly sea-cucumber and lobster, were seriously over-fished by the local population and are now restricted to a few months in the year. There are no quotas on other species and the local fishermen are not sufficiently numerous or well equipped to have much impact on fish stocks. The biggest problem now is that commercial boats from the [[Ecuador]] mainland and other countries fish the perimeter of the Marine Reserve and frequently make illegal incursions into the Reserve. The use of long-lines and shark-finning are both illegal but enforcement is problematic.
109In the past the Galapagos Islands were famous for sea food and in the 19th century it was famous for eating the giant tortoises. Today your not suppose to eat either. The giant tortoises almost went extinct because of ships stopping by the Galapagos Islands to pick them out and load them up in the bottoms of their ships. This gave the crew of the ships fresh meat for months.
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111More recently tourists demanding fresh sea food has lead to extensive over fishing near the Galapagos Islands. This has had a massive impact on animal populations because most of the birds, seals, dolphins, sharks and whales depend on the fish for their survival. The government in [[Quito]] outlawed fishing in the Galapagos Islands but [[Quito]] is very far away making the laws useless. Travellers are asked not to eat fresh seafood while in the Galapagos Islands in order to protect the animals.103There is no restriction on tourists eating seafood (in season of course) and the quantities involved have no material impact on stocks.
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114==Drink==106==Drink==
115Party time Galapagos! There are a few bars near the port in [b]Puerto Ayora[/b], some of which can be a little fun. Remember to bring booze with you on the boats because the private bars on the tours can get very expensive. Once you leave [b]Puerto Ayora[/b] there is no place to buy anything, other then the boat store. In the same breathe most boat trips have early morning hikes which are no fun with a hang over.107Party time Galapagos! There are a few bars near the port in [b]Puerto Ayora[/b], some of which can be a little fun. Remember to bring booze with you on the boats because the private bars on the tours can get very expensive. Once you leave [b]Puerto Ayora[/b] there is no place to buy anything, other then the boat store. In the same breathe most boat trips have early morning hikes which are no fun with a hang over.
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118==Sleep==110==Sleep==
139[Photo|69126]131[Photo|69126]
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141There are a few hotels in [b]Puerto Ayora[/b]. Although the vast majority of people sleep on their boats. Camping is not an option on any of the islands.133There are a few hotels in [b]Puerto Ayora[/b]. Although the vast majority of people sleep on their boats. Camping is not an option on any of the islands.
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136==External Links==
137* [[http://www.galapagospark.org|National Park Website]]
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