Learning and Education at the Galapagos Islands

Few island getaways will offer the flush variety, learning opportunities, and spectacular sights of the Galapagos Islands. Although learning doesn’t necessarily top the list of most popular things to do while on vacation, you’ll soon discover that the Galapagos has a way of teaching valuable lessons in biology, history, and geology without compromising your relaxation or entertainment. Every nook and cranny in this isolated archipelago is rife with history; from its unique biological diversity, to its famed connection to Darwin, to its mysterious European inhabitants, the Galapagos are sure to wonder your senses and challenge you in ways you hadn’t expected.

Why embark on a journey that is both entertaining and educational? If you’re travelling as a family, the benefits of taking your children to a place as intriguing and full of history as the Galapagos are beyond measure. Besides getting to enjoy the many activities available, your family will explore the vast educational opportunities on offer, enhancing their knowledge of a wide range of subjects and developing new academic interests. We’ve condensed some of the most attractive educational experiences in the Galapagos into this short blog; take note and keep your ears, eyes and nose open during your trip!

Biology: Education and Animals

Charles Darwin.
The Famous Charles Darwin.

The biological diversity of the Galapagos Islands is recognized in textbooks worldwide. This is mainly due to the historical importance of the islands in the development of the theory of natural selection and evolution; it was in the Galapagos Islands that Charles Darwin was inspired to develop these theories. Darwin chiefly focused on the archipelago’s finches, and how their beaks differed from island to island. He proposed that the finches’ varied beak shapes and sizes responded to an evolutionary adaptation; depending on the food available in each island, the finch evolved over time to develop a beak more suited to its feeding preferences.

Marine Iguana On A Rock.
The Unique Marine Iguana Of The Galapagos Is Part Of The Archipelago’S Biological Diversity.

Learning about biology in the Galapagos, however, goes much farther than Darwin. Hundreds of endemic species inhabit the Galapagos, many of developed quirky adaptations to suit the islands’ rugged habitat. Take, for instance, the marine iguana: this peculiar reptile is the only iguana in the world that forages for food on the seafloor. Blue-Footed Boobies also provide an excellent example of environmental adaptation; their brightly-colored feet vary in brightness depending on the bird’s health, thus ensuring that other birds will choose the healthiest booby (with the brightest feet) as a mate (click here to learn more about the Galapagos’ Big15 most amazing animals).


Trail In Charles Darwin Research Center.
Visit The Charles Darwin Research Center And Explore The Galapagos’ Scientific Side.

Throughout your tour, you’ll be able to discover interesting traits about the local fauna. Whether you’re exploring the islands by land or discovering the colorful depths of the ocean while snorkeling, we’re sure you’ll enjoy and learn a lot throughout your journey. Our tour guides have all been instructed on the basics – and if you get the chance to visit the Charles Darwin Research Center, you’ll be provided with a much more in depth analysis of the characteristics that make the animals of the Galapagos so unique.

Geology: Learning About The Islands’ Volcanic Origins

Galapagos Map.
Learn Some Fascinating Geological Facts Of The Archipelago.

The geological nature of the Galapagos Islands is as fascinating as it is intriguing. Geologists believe that islands were formed by a natural hot spot: a hole in the Earth’s crust that spews out a constant flow of lava, slowly building up volcanoes as years go by. Because this hotspot occurs deep in the Pacific Ocean, it slowly built up the entirety of the archipelagos.

So, ¿why are there so many islands around a single hotspot?

You’ve probably heard about the phenomenon of Plate Tectonics. Different plates are constantly moving, rubbing against, or being subdued under other plates. The Galapagos Islands are on the very top edge of the Nazca Plate, which is slowly being subdued under the South American Continent. As the plate moves, the hotspot stays in place, spurting out lava and creating more islands as the plate slides away. This is why the oldest islands in the Galapagos are the closest to South America (and the least volcanically active).

Lava Flow At Night In Galapagos.
Lava Flows Across An Island In The Galapagos.

There’s a lot more to learn about the geological characteristics that created the Galapagos Islands and you’ll certainly have plenty of opportunities to discover more throughout your trip.

History: Learning About The Islands’ Human History

The history of the Galapagos is one that’s deeply tied to colonization, pirates, English whalers and the United States’ military. Although they were discovered by pre-Columbian tribes such as the Incas, the Galapagos weren’t populated until much later. Their strategic position off the coast of South America made it an ideal place for pirates to plunder Spanish ships loaded with gold, and so they became a haven for piracy. Later on, after the islands’ were discovered to harbor a large population of sperm whales, the Galapagos received a great influx of whaling ships.

The Galapagos were claimed by Ecuador in the 1800s, but didn’t experience a spurt in population until several decades after. In the 1930s, one of the islands’ European settlements were rocked by several disappearances (and possible murders). Later on, with the dawn of the Second World War, the islands played a key strategic role; they were used by the United States as an army base meant to protect the Panama Canal.

During your trip to the Galapagos, you’ll discover much more about their rich human history. Can you solve one of the Galapagos’ many mysteries?

Updated:May 10, 2023

Published:April 10, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



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Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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