Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands Edit History Compare

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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.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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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.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 kilometres, 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 metres above sea level.
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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.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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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.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.
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!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!
52* [b]Vivencial Fishing[/b] is a relatively new activity for vistors to the Galapagos Islands. While sport fishing, [i]per se[/i], is prohibited, the Galapagos National Park has issued a limited number of licences to local fishermen to offer [i]Pesca Artesanal Vivencial[/i] or [i]Artisanal Vivencial Fishing[/i]. On a properly licenced Vivencial Fishing boat, you can fish offshore for big-game like marlin or inshore for tuna, wahoo, grouper and other permitted species. [u]All[/u] marlin must be released but a limited amount of other fish can be kept for personal consumption. You may not fish for sharks or rays. If you want to fish in the Galapagos be aware that both the fisherman and his boat require the special licence. [[http://www.galapagospark.org/nophprg.php?page=re serva_marina_manejo_pesquero_pesca_vivencial&s et_lang=en|The Galapagos National Park]] publishes a list of licenced boats and owners.
53* [b]Hiking[/b] is often included as part of organized cruises or tours of the highlands. Although you will often see fewer animals during these tours, you will often gain a greater understanding of the difference in terrain and vegetation as well as the formation of the islands. Hiking is restricted in all National Park land; however, several sights, like the Wall of Tears on Isabela and Cerro Tijeras on San Cristobal can be hiked independently. The rules are that a guide must accompany all groups of more than eight people in the National Park.
54* [b]Biking[/b] provides quicker access to far sites from the ports. Bike rentals are available on Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz for around $15 per day.
55* [b]Kayaking[/b] allows you to navigate more of the water without a boat. Kayaks can be rented at Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz and the port at San Cristobal to navigate the nearby beaches. Fish and sea turtles can often be seen while kayaking; however, conditions should be checked before renting.
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54==Events and Festivals==58==Events and Festivals==
59* [b]January[/b] - The green sea turtle arrives to lay their eggs and land iguanas begin reproducing on Isabela.
60* [b]February[/b] - Flamingos start nesting on Floreana, Bahamas pintails begin their breeding season and nesting season of the Galapagos dove reaches its peak.
61* [b]March[/b] - Marine iguanas nest in Fernandina and on the 21st, the summer equinox signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española.
62* [b]April[/b] - Hatching season begins for the green sea turtle and the land iguana.
63* [b]May[/b] - The blue footed boobies begin their courtship and waved albatrosses start to lay their eggs on Española.
64* [b]June[/b] - June in the Galapagos marks the beginning of the cold garúa season (dry winds that hit the slopes of the Andes creating a low-level cloud cover). Giant tortoises begin nesting.
65* [b]July[/b] - Whales are more likely to be spotted off the Western coast of Isabela and lava lizards begin their mating ritual which runs through November.
66* [b]August[/b] - The Galapagos hawks court on Española and Santiago, while mask boobies and swallow tail gulls nest on Genovesa.
67* [b]September[/b] - September is the peak of cold season which sees more active penguins, sea lions and marine birds throughout the beaches of the Galapagos.
68* [b]October[/b] - The Galapagos fur seals begin their mating period and giant tortoises lay eggs.
69* [b]November[/b] - Sea lion pups are born and brown noddies begin breeding.
70* [b]December[/b] - The rainy season begins, causing the whole area to be bathed in greenery. Green sea turtles begin mating and giant tortoise eggs start hatching.
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57==Weather==73==Weather==
65==Getting There==81==Getting There==
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67===By Plane===83===By Plane===
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". 84Regular 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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70===By Boat===86===By Boat===
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.87There 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.
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.108Santa 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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94===By Boat===110===By Boat===
111Seeing the sites and wildlife of the Galapagos is best done by boat. Most people book their place well in advance (as the boats are usually full during the high season). Booking a boat tour with a company in your home country is usually the most convenient, but is often considerably more expensive.
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113There are a VAST number of companies that can book accommodation on a Galapagos tour either in Puerto Ayora or from Guayaquil or Quito. While it is possible to get a last-minute deal, be aware that many budget tours may spend extra time in Puerto Ayora, might not have the best boats, and may only visit the inner islands. Last minute 4-day cruises can be organized in Puerto Ayora for around $400–1800.
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115When looking for a tour consider the following:
116* [b]Number of passengers[/b] - The national park restricts the size of the boats allowed to cruise the islands, with some islands such as Genovesa being limited to boats with no more than forty passengers. Though the maximum size boat permitted to cruise the islands is 100 passengers, as you might imagine 100 people showing up on a beach all at the same time can be overwhelming to the local wildlife. All passengers will be divided up into a maximum group size of 16 passengers per naturalist guide. Therefore it is generally best to travel on a boat with fewer passengers (between 16 and 32 passengers is ideal).
117* [b]Itinerary[/b] - The National Park sets all of the cruise itineraries. Each itinerary is designed to have a mixture of habitats and show case the diversity of the islands by combining the Southern Espanola and Floreana, Central, Western Fernandina, Isabela or Northern Genovesa Islands. Most boats will visit 2 or 3 of these areas during a week.
118* [b]Availability[/b] - Most of the best cruises are booked up months in advance, so best to book early.
119* [b]Level of activity[/b] - Visits to the islands are only permitted during the twelve hours of daylight 6:00am to 6:00pm. Typically a cruise will have two excursions each day, a morning and an afternoon that will be a combination of shore and water excursions. Walks are generally at a slow pace offering plenty of time for interpretation and photos. The landings may be slippery and some trails can be rocky, which makes them difficult for people with mobility or balance problems, but in general the walks are easy. Water excursions may include snorkeling, kayaking, panga rides (rides in local dinghies) as well as rides in a glass-bottom boat, depending on your cruise. Life under the water is more diverse than that on shore and snorkeling with sea lions is frequently the highlight of the trip for many visitors.
120* [b]Additional costs[/b] - Many tours do not include the $100 park entry fee or the cost of a flight from the mainland to the islands (about $400 from Quito) as well as a $20 INGALA Tourist Control Card. Additionally less-expensive boats will charge for beverages, use of snorkel equipment, wetsuits and kayaks.
121* [b]Time spent in the islands[/b] - The cruise length includes the day you arrive and the day you depart the Galapagos. Flights typically arrive the islands around noon time or in the early afternoon and leave the islands about the same time. On your first day you will typically have one excursion, and on the day you leave you may or may not have an excursion. In addition, all eight-day cruises are required to visit the town of Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research. Many itineraries will combine this day with a visit to see the tortoises in the wild in the highlands of Santa Cruz. Shorter cruises will take advantage of the close proximity of the Baltra airport to Puerto Ayora and let passengers who boarded the cruise in San Cristobal leave the cruise in Santa Cruz or vice versa.
122* [b]Type of boat[/b] - Quality of boats varies widely. Less-expensive tours use boats that may not be capable of traveling as quickly between islands, be as comfortable, or be as well-maintained.
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124Note that while the majority of the islands will be off-limits without a guide, it is possible to travel via speed boat between the towns on San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz and Isla Isabela; trips to Floreana can also be arranged. Speed boats cost $30 one-way, or $50 both ways with an open return date. Each of these islands offers the possibility of joining organized local daytrips or of traveling on your own while within the town limits.
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126From Santa Cruz it is possible to book day trips to the uninhabited islands of North Seymour, South Plazas, Santa Fe and Bartolome. Advance reservations are normally required; however, on occasion you can find space due to a last-minute cancellation the night before.
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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98==Eat==129==Eat==
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106==Drink==137==Drink==
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.138There 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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110==Sleep==141==Sleep==
142Hotels and hostels are available on each of these islands from $10–$500+, while hotels along the water are generally full especially in Santa Cruz. During peak season (Christmas & Easter weeks) as well as during special events, all hotels are frequently sold out well in advance. However, if you are traveling at other times of the year, you may be able to find availability by just showing up.
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144There 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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147==Rules and Regulations==
148The park is strictly regulated. Outside of the towns visitors must be accompanied by guides, and visitors are only allowed on land from sunrise until sunset. Itineraries must be registered with the park prior to embarking on a trip, and animals should never be disturbed; while the wildlife in the Galapagos will usually ignore your presence, a general rule of thumb is that if an animal notices your presence, then you are too close. Two meters is generally given as a minimum distance to keep away from animals; you will find that if you are calm and respectful that many animals will walk right up to investigate you.
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150One of the greatest dangers to the islands is introduced species. The park service is trying to eliminate goats, rats, cats, dogs, and introduced plant species on many of the islands, but it is a difficult battle; after evolving for thousands of years without predators, the Galapagos wildlife is not adapted to handle these new species. When traveling to the islands, do not bring any plant or animal life with you, and be sure to always clean your footwear when traveling between islands to avoid accidentally transferring seeds.
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152Illegal fishing is another threat to the park. Although park officials may deny it, illegal fishing for sharks and sea cucumbers occurs on a massive scale. The number of fishermen has increased rapidly over the last few years, while the number of fish have plunged. Due to ongoing tensions between fisherman, tourism, and science, the level of enforcement of fishing laws can vary greatly, but even when policies are put in place to limit fishing, enforcement is difficult due to the resources required to patrol the vast park area.
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154Another big threat to the park is the growing population. Although new rules make it impossible for people arriving from the mainland to live and work on the islands, the rules are poorly enforced, resulting in many people immigrating from the mainland to make quick money on the islands.
112{| Accommodation
113|-
114!TPID!!Property!!Address!!Type!!Latitude!!Longitud e
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116|25879||Los Pinguinos||Barrio Escalesias Puerto Ayora||Guesthouse||-0.7349802000000||-90.310921600 0000
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118|60842||Hostal Casa de Laura||Galapagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno Callejon 2, Avenida Armada Nacional||Guesthouse||||
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120|62049||The Jungle Hostal||Ave. Antonio Gil, Via Centro Crianza de tortugas Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela, Galapagos||Guesthouse||||
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122|62169||Casa Hospedaje Germania||Calle Juan Montalvo y Moises Brito Street Isla Santa Cruz / Puerto Ayora||Guesthouse||||
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124|62661||The Wooden House Hotel||Via al Embarcadero||Hotel||||
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126|62720||Hotel Verde Azul||Calle Petrel y Marchena Barrio Residencila, El Eden||Hotel||||
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128|64982||Caleta Iguana (Casa Rosada)||Av. Antonio Gil. Puerto Villamil - Isabela||Hotel||||
129|}
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131[Photo|69126]156The codified park rules are:
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1581. To visit the National park you must always be accompanied by a certified Galapagos National park guide.
1592. Galapagos is a unique and fragile environment. Take only photographs and video. Professional shooting needs authorization from the National Park.
1603. Please stay within the limits of the walking trails, for your safety and that of the flora and fauna.
1614. To avoid affecting the wildlife's natural behavior please avoid getting closer than two meters to the animals.
1625. Camping is only allowed in specific sites. If you wish to camp, you must first obtain a permit from the Galapagos National Park.
1636. Help conservation by cooperating with the authorities in their inspection, monitoring and control duties. Report any anomalies to the National Park.
1647. Do not introduce foreign organisms to the islands, as these can have a negative impact on the ecosystem.
1658. Please do not buy souvenirs which are made from black coral, sea shells, sea lion teeth, tortoise shell, volcanic rock or endemic woods.
1669. Galapagos animals have their own feeding behavior. Never feed the animals. Feeding them can be detrimental to their health.
16710. Galapagos landscapes are beautiful and unique. Do not spoil them by writing or etching rocks or trees.
16811. Do not litter while on the islands. Always dispose of rubbish in a safe and appropriate way.
16912. Smoking or making camp fires in the national park areas is forbidden and can cause devastating fires.
17013. Fishing is strictly forbidden, except on those boats specifically authorised by the Galapagos National Park.
17114. Jet skiing, submarines, water skiing, and aerial tourism are all forbidden.
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==174==External Links==