Galapagos Islands, detailed information and photos

Which state does the Galapagos Islands belong to?

The Galapagos Islands stand out for their original landscapes and diversity of fauna. The most famous are the elephant tortoises and iguanas, which have become the symbols of the archipelago.

Galapagos Islands (Islas Galápagos) or Archipiélago de Colón are located in the Pacific Ocean. They are of volcanic origin and consist of 19 islands. Their total area is 8010 km 2 , and the population – about 25 thousand people. The Galapagos Islands are a province of the same name in the South American country of Ecuador, separated from the mainland by 972 kilometers of ocean.

Colón’s climate is divided into dry and wet seasons. From June to November, the weather is cool and windy. The rest of the months, considered the high season, are relatively hot and rainy. Despite its proximity to the equator, the Galapagos climate is comfortable due to the coastal cool ocean current.

Located away from civilization, the archipelago offers spectacular scenery, an amazing variety of wildlife, and excellent conditions for recreation. Warm water and excellent sandy beaches can be combined with walks on the protected islands, which are a natural zoo and botanical garden. The Galapagos Islands are very attractive for nature lovers, animal and bird lovers, diving and surfers. Much of the fauna is endemic.

History of discovery of the islands

Galapagos appeared on the world map in the XVI century. The first European who reached the archipelago in 1535 was Spanish priest and traveler Thomas de Berlanga. He and his companions went astray while traveling from Panama to Peru. On the islands they were met by giant tortoises, which the Spaniards called galapagos (“elephant tortoises”).

For the next three centuries, the Colón archipelago actually served as a pirate residence. In 1832 it was annexed by Ecuador. Three years later, a scientific expedition led by Charles Darwin arrived on the islands. Away from civilization, the protected islands with their rich fauna were the perfect place for the research of the future author of the theory of the origin of species.

In 1936, the archipelago was designated a national park of Ecuador. In 1978, Colon was included on the UNESCO list and in 1985 became a Biosphere Reserve of World Importance.

List of all Galapagos Islands

The most famous islands, arranged in descending order of size:

Isabela Island

Isabela Island (named after the queen of Castile) has the highest volcano on Colón at 1,707 meters. The crater of another volcano, Sierra Negra, is the second largest in the world. When Volcan Chico erupted in 2005, lava overflowed and gave the local landscape an ethereal appearance. Not far from Alcedo volcano is Urbina Bay with a black sandy beach. Isabela also has its own “Wailing Wall” (El muro de las Lagrimas). In the mid-twentieth century, it was built under very difficult conditions by the prisoners of the penal colony located here.

There are practically no hiking trails on this island. There are only 2,500 inhabitants in the small settlement of the island, mainly engaged in fishing. Tourism here is based only on visiting the yachts of dignitaries and cozy picturesque corners of the island. These include the reef, near which the white sharks live and the turtle breeding center.

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island is the most populated and developed in tourist terms. Here is the main Galapagos port of Puerto Ayora. On the road to it on both sides are the craters of Los Gemelos (“Twins”). Between them you can see unusual vegetation and rare bird species. The flora is represented by the giant cactus opuntia and mangroves.

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Near the port is the beach of Tortuga Bay, the center of the giant turtles and the national park. On the island, tourists can go scuba diving, swimming, bird watching from a yacht. You can also explore the island on horseback or bicycle. For lovers of the unexpected types of leisure provides kayaking.

You can stay in the hotels. And the price policy here is diverse, ranging from the cheapest rooms of economy class to expensive presidential suites. From the port of Ayora you can rent a boat and start traveling to the other islands of the archipelago.

Santa Cruz Island is home to Darwin’s largest research center. Its work is aimed at preserving the nature of the Galapagos. The center employs not only famous scientists, but also students, teachers, in general, all those who care about the environmental situation on the islands and in the world. Now one of the most important issues concerning the importation of pets on the territory of the archipelago is being resolved here.

San Salvador Island

On the island of San Salvador is another famous beach – Puerto Egas. It was formed from volcanic tuff. It is believed that the black sand has curative properties in diseases of the musculoskeletal system. San Salvador has the only permanent source of fresh water on Colón – a lake in the crater of the volcano El Junco.

Fernandina island

On the island of Fernandina is the most active volcano of Colon, La Cumbre. It “shoots up” every few years. The bay of Urbina contains one of the rare coral reefs in the archipelago.

San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal Island represents all the diversity of Galapagos flora, from desert to pampa (subtropical steppes). It is also home to the archipelago’s capital, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This is the second most populous point of the Galapagos Islands. Visit here should be a museum of Interpretation, created in alliance with the Spaniards. It will tell you about the islands, their magmatic origin and the peculiarities of nature. Near the center there is also a small park with sea lions.

Santa Maria Island

Santa Maria Island is named after one of the Columbian caravels. Its original name was La Gallega (“The Galician”). Like Columbus’s other ships, she was named after the port prostitutes the sailors liked on their way to America. It cost Columbus great difficulty to persuade the captain of La Gallega to change her name. The nautical belief paid off: the new name brought bad luck to the ship. The Santa María ran aground.

Isla Española

The southern volcanic island of the Galapagos, is uninhabited.

Island of Bartolomé

Bartolome Island (Santiago) On one of the island’s black shores you can watch iguanas, herons, gulls and other animals. After numerous walks, swimming with dolphins and penguins is the best way to relax. And once you’ve climbed to the highest point on the island, you’ll have a spectacular view of the surrounding scenery.

Animal world of the islands

The Santa Cruz Research Center and the Darwin International Foundation are working together to preserve the unique fauna and flora of the Galapagos Islands. Their main goal is to protect native animals and plants from those introduced from other places, first by pirates and Spaniards and then by South Americans.

Seemingly harmless cattle ravage the local habitat, and the cute pussycats are very fond of Darwin’s finches and native birds. Pigs are constantly digging the ground destroying turtle nests, iguanas, and unique vegetation. Black rats are enemies of small turtles. On the islands of Isabela, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Floreana, native flora has all but disappeared, giving way to avocados, citrus fruits, blackberries, and guaiavas.

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The Galapagos or elephant tortoise

Among the local fauna, the elephant tortoises, which gave the islands their name, are the most famous. They reach a length of 1.8 m and weigh up to 400 kg. Their lifespan is more than a century, and in captivity – even 170 years. The turtles look up to this respectable age. They eat local shrubs and grasses, and some of them are poisonous to other animals.

The turtles living on Colon vary in size and shape of their shells, as well as their relative size depending on their sex. On the larger, wetter islands, the reptiles are larger and their shells are domed. And turtles living on shallow arid islands have a saddle-shaped shell. Males are twice as large (up to 54 kg) as females.

Before the advent of humans on the archipelago, there were a dozen and a half subspecies with a total population of 250 thousand. By 1970, their population had dropped to a threateningly low 3,000. This was caused by human encroachment on natural habitats, the spread of pigs, goats and rats. The turtles’ ability to go months without eating or drinking brought to life their barbaric use by sailors as “living canned food”.

Toward the end of the 20th century, people began to realize this. To reverse the negative trend, several thousand captive-bred cubs were released on the islands. Now the number of elephant turtles has reached 20,000, mostly settled on Isabela Island, especially around the Alcedo volcano, and in the mountainous part of Isla Santa Cruz. Nevertheless, the species continues to be classified as vulnerable.

The second symbol of the archipelago is the iguana sea lizards, found everywhere. The number of individuals reaches up to 300 thousand. Almost all the time they spend in the water, and crawling out to bask in the sun, they start … to blow their nose. That’s how they remove the excess sea salt. The largest colony of marine iguanas on the planet can be observed on the peninsula Punta Espinoza on Fernandina. And land yellow iguanas resembling miniature dinosaurs can be seen in the Urbina Bay of Isabela Island.

Galapagos penguins gravitate to the relatively colder islands Isabela and Fernandina. Here also nest unflown (because of undeveloped wings) cormorants, jumping between the rocks. The lake Lago Balthazar on Isabela is interesting because its shores are inhabited by many red flamingos. Unique Galapagos albatrosses can be seen on the island of Española.

The best place to watch the large birds, the frigates magnificent, is Fragata Bird Hill on San Cristóbal Island. And Cabo Pitt Cape is the nesting place of all 3 species of Colonel’s seals.

Most seals live on the island of San Salvador. There are many other animals and birds such as chameleons, iguanas, sea lions, dolphins, doves, buzzards.

Even more animal encounters will be on Colón for scuba diving enthusiasts. Many experienced divers call these islands the best place to observe the beauty of the underwater world. Here you can see more than 300 species of beautiful colorful fish. Most seals are in the grotto on the island of San Salvador. Popular among divers and rocks Corona del Diablo (“Crown of the Devil”) near the island of Santa María. Here you can swim close to sharks and rays, though, given the undercurrents are not uncommon here.

The cost of recreation in the Galapagos Islands

Russian citizens do not need a visa to visit (for up to 90 days) Colon.

How to get to the Galapagos Islands? You may only fly here. There are no direct flights from Russia to Ecuador. Your first flight to Ecuador will take you to a capital city in Europe or to the United States (Miami) and then fly to Guayaquil. The price of an average ticket picked up on aviasales is 65000 RUR.

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At the local airport you will be charged 10 USD. From there to Colon, AeroGal, LAN, and Tame operate flights. The approximate cost for a two-hour flight is between 200 USD and 250 USD.

You will land at one of the two airports, Aeropuerto de San Cristobal or Aeropuerto Seymour, located on the island of the same name. There is a one-time holiday fee of 100 USD payable upon arrival.

A common way to visit is by cruise, always starting at Santa Cruz. The cost depends greatly on the class of the room on the ship, as well as the number of days – 4, 5, or 8. Prices range from 600 USD to 5000 USD.

If you travel around the islands on your own, you can take the boats that ply between Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristobal islands. They leave twice a day. The cost of the ticket is 25 USD – 30 USD. From the same points are organized day trips between them and to the other islands. The widest selection is on Santa Cruz. Here, the prices are the highest – up to 180 USD.

Hotel services are relatively well developed on Santa Cruz, especially in Puerto Ayora. They range from modest single rooms at USD 15 to suites at USD 130. Wealthy companies can even rent a mansion with a pool and its own marina for 350 USD.

The Colón Archipelago is a protected national park. Solo travel around the islands is not welcome, as a rule, tourists are accompanied by a guide who leads them on paved trails and observation sites.

Galapagos sights

Galapagos Islands Española Island Santa Cruz Island Isabella Island Volcano Sierra Negra Island Floreana Island Fernandina Island Santa Fe

This site compiles Galapagos Islands attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to questions: what to see in Galapagos Islands, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands (photo)

The Pacific Galapagos Islands, belonging to the Republic of Ecuador, are also called Turtle Islands, because “turtles” is Spanish for “galapagos. Not surprisingly, this animal has become a symbol of the archipelago, because there are a lot of giant sea turtles. But of course, the turtles are not the only pride of the islands. There are many plants and animals that are not found anywhere else, such as sea iguana, endemic species of seals and Galapagos seal.

It is impossible to leave such a rich natural heritage without protection, because most of the rare animals today are close to extinction. Galapagos National Park includes almost all the islands of the archipelago. The islands are diverse: some of them are covered with dense tropical vegetation, while others have a deserted “lunar” landscape.

The Galapagos Islands are marvelous and wildlife lovers come here to watch rare creatures and enjoy the wonderful views.

Coordinates : -1.02790600,-91.24049300

Isla Española

Island of Española in Galapagos (photo)

The island of Española is also known as Hood. Española island was named after Spain. The area of the island is about 60 square kilometers and the maximum height of 206 meters above sea level.

The age of the island is estimated at 3 and a half million years. This is the oldest and most southerly island of the entire archipelago. Geographically, it is the most classic example of a shield-shaped volcano, which was formed by a single caldera in the center of the island. Over time, the island shifted away from the hot spot, then the volcano subsided, and erosion began.

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The remoteness of the island from the main group of islands has contributed to the development of a large number of endemic inhabitants, which are adapted exclusively to the local natural resources.

The Galapagos albatross, a rare bird species, lives here. The steep and impregnable cliffs of the island are wonderful for these large birds to take off. The Hooded Mockingbird, a bronze-haired, fearless bird, is also endemic to the island.

In addition, visitors can find brightly colored sea iguanas, gulls, lizards, boobies, and finches. And the large expansive bays attract great numbers of sea lions.

Coordinates: -1.37436100,-89.67249600

Which Galapagos sights did you enjoy? There are icons next to the photo, by clicking on which you can rate this or that place.

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz island in Galapagos (photo)

Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos archipelago. On it is the largest city of the archipelago, Puerto Ayora, you can find all the benefits of civilization. But the main attractions of the island, of course, are natural sites, of which there are many, because almost all of its area is occupied by the Galapagos National Park.

There is an amazing place on Santa Cruz: Tortuga Bay, located near Puerto Ayora, which is a long beach with white sand, which is characterized by relatively strong waves. This is where surfers can practice their favorite sport and swimmers can rest easy at the end of the beachfront, where surfers are no longer present. Here you can explore the mangroves, watch mockingbirds, pelicans, marine iguanas or swim in the company of sharks.

In the southwest of the island is the bay of Las Ninfas with calm waters, surrounded by rocks in tropical greenery, the nearby tunnel of Bellavista is known for the fact that it is home to sea turtles, various species of fish, rays and sharks. There are many places worthy of a detailed description on the island of Santa Cruz, but it is better to see them with your own eyes.

Coordinates: -0.64131400,-90.33724600

In photo mode, you can view the sights in the Galapagos Islands by photo only.

Isabela Island

Island of Isabella on the Galapagos (photo)

Isla Isabella. was named after the Queen of Spain. It is the largest island of the Galapagos Islands. The discoverer of the island was Christopher Columbus.

The area of the island is about 4640 square kilometers, a length of 100 kilometers, and its shape resembles a figure of a sea horse. At the moment there are five young active volcanoes on the island, of which two are on the equator.

The island is very rich in its flora and fauna. This is an amazingly beautiful place! Sea iguanas, penguins, crabs, pelicans, Galapagos tortoises, boobies and other inhabitants live here. From the island you can watch the Galapagos whales, of which there are 16 species.

The local population of the island is only about 2200 people. This area is the most important nature reserve in the country because more than 60% of the flora and fauna species are concentrated here.

Coordinates : -0.81845400,-91.13749700

Sierra Negra Volcano

Volcano Sierra Negra (photo)

Sierra Negra is an active volcano on Isabela Island and has a crater with a diameter of 11 kilometers. The height of the volcano is 1,124 meters. Tourists are attracted by its size and beautiful scenery surrounding the volcano.

Sierra Negra is an active volcano, whose last eruption was in 2005. The volcano is quite large in size with a striking crater – a huge crater with a diameter of 11 kilometers! Tourists are invited to climb and walk around the edge of the crater on horseback, during which you can not only see the crater, but also the birds and animals that live on the slopes of the volcano.

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Coordinates : -0.83000000,-91.17000000

Floreana Island

Island of Floreana in the Galapagos (photo)

Floreana is an island in the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The island is also known as Santa Maria or Charles Island. It is the sixth largest island of the Galapagos Archipelago. Its area is about 173 square kilometers.

The island of Floreana was named after the first president of Ecuador, Juan José Flores, under whose rule the Galapagos Islands came under Ecuadorian jurisdiction. Before that, the island was called Santa Maria, in honor of one of Christopher Columbus’ caravels.

The main attraction of the island is the extraordinarily beautiful pink flamingos, which took over the lagoon at Cape Punta Cormorant. Here you can find the beach where the large sea turtles lay their eggs.

At Cape Punta Cormorant tourists will find black sandy shores, which, thanks to the inclusions of the mineral peridot, shimmer with green crystals. These specks are the evidence of strong volcanic eruptions.

Coordinates: -1.30623000, -90.43160800

Fernandina island

Island of Fernandina (photo)

Fernandina Island in the Galapagos Archipelago is located in the waters of the Pacific Ocean and was named after the King of Spain who supported the great discoverer Columbus on his expedition.

In the center of the island there is an active volcano La Cumbre, so the journey through Fernandina poses some threat to tourists. There you can also see the depression formed by the collapse of the top of the volcano, at the bottom of which shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow volcano lake. Tourists are not allowed here, so we have to be content with walking along the coast, admiring the vast expanses of the Pacific.

Flora is not rich, the only thing that can survive in the harsh natural conditions of the laurel cacti, of which there is a great many, and mangroves along the coast.

A pleasant surprise may be a meeting with cormorants, marine iguanas, and, of course, the famous Galapagos penguins. And on the shore of the ocean, sea lions bask in the hot sun, sometimes uttering a loud voice that overrides the enchanting sound of the surf.

Coordinates: -0.37353300,-91.56372100

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Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe island (photo)

Santa Fe Island is located in the middle of the Galapagos Archipelago and has an area of 24 square kilometers. It attracts tourists with one of the most beautiful bays on the islands and a variety of flora and fauna.

The bay of the island is its main attraction, is protected from winds and storms and attracts with its clear turquoise waters. Tourists can also see the various animals that live on the island and in its waters – sea lions, turtles, stingrays, iguanas and many others. There are also interesting walks away from the shoreline where you can look at a variety of cacti and other exotic plants.

Coordinates : -0.81699500,-90.06069700

The most popular attractions in the Galapagos Islands with descriptions and photos for all tastes. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Galapagos Islands on our website.

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