Facts about the Galapagos Islands

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The Galapagos Islands are famous for the diverse plant and animal life found both on land and in the surrounding seas. With more than 400 species of fish, some of the most unique birds on the planet, and an iconic collection of other native and endemic Galapagos wildlife, visiting the islands can feel like you’re literally stepping into a National Geographic-style documentary. A visit to this remarkable archipelago may be a lot more viable than you think. Here are 20 interesting facts about the Galapagos Islands to pique your curiosity.

Taken from Cruise Critic’s article ‘So Far from Mass Tourism’: How the Galapagos Islands Could Help Restart Cruises:

“One company has already quietly restarted its operations in the Galapagos. Ecuadorian-based Metropolitan Touring resumed its first post-shutdown operations aboard the 48-passenger La Pinta on August 2, 2020, and has committed to operating every sailing — even if only one passenger is on board.”

Hiking the trail amongst the cacti

1. 97 % of the Galapagos is a National Park

These “Enchanted Isles”, located about 600 mi (970 km) off the coast of Ecuador, are incredibly significant in terms of scientific research. Thankfully, the Galapagos National Park, established over 60 years ago through presidential decree, has taken the lead in facilitating these important studies, whose conclusions have helped guide conservation and protection efforts in the region. This is a big deal because 97% of the islands land mass has been declared a national park, and the surrounding waters have been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Both the park and the marine reserve are protected by Ecuador and are largely uninhabited. The Galapagos National Park collects an entrance fee from all visitors to the islands (currently USD 100). The remaining 3% of land areas, outside of the national park, are home to roughly 30,000 people.

2. Galapagos has active volcanos

There have been several volcanic eruptions in the islands over the past 100 years; the most recent being that of the Sierra Negra volcano on the Isabela Island in 2018, raising concerns about the endemic species of pink iguanas found there. Fortunately, their habitat on the northwest side of the island appears to have been unaffected. Watching a volcanic eruption is one of the most thrilling and surreal experiences; it is an important part of island formation and one of the most fascinating examples of geology at work.

To Witness Incredible Volcanic Explosions Is A Unique Experience!
Map Of Galapagos.
Group Of Islands Part Of Galapagos.

3. The number of islands is up for debate

By most accounts, the Galapagos Islands are comprised of a total of 19 islands and dozens of islets. However, keep in mind that, due to continuous volcanic activity, the Galapagos Islands are in a constant state of change with new formations emerging or sinking, meaning new islands may very well be forming as we speak! Get to know more about the islands on our page Galapagos Top Visitors Site.

4. Three varieties of colorful boobies (seabirds)

Boobies belong to the gannet group (Sulidae). They are perhaps the most popular of all seabirds because they occupy some curious habitats and have colorful webbed feet. Red-footed boobies, use the branches of trees and bushes as nesting areas, while blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies nest along the ground, a little further inland. Their distinctive diets are responsible for the pigmentation in their feet.

Adorable Blue-Footed Booby.
Snorkelling next to some cute Galapagos Penguins!

5. Penguins in the Northern Hemisphere?

The Galapagos hugs the equator, which is why one might consider this place tropical. However, the islands’ climate is unique thanks to the intersection of various marine and air currents. A piece of the archipelago (along the northern coast of Isabela) happens to be the only place in the Northern Hemisphere where you can see penguins in their natural habitat. The Galapagos penguin is the second smallest species of its kind and is typically observed on the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina. Some colonies can be found within the central islands and as far south as Floreana.

6. Marine iguanas are excellent swimmers

Nearly 20% of the marine life in the islands is endemic to the area; this includes marine iguanas. These are the only lizards in the world who enjoy water so much that they’ve learned how to swim in it! They feed almost entirely on seaweed (algae).

Observe The Wonderful Marine Iguanas!
Enjoy The Beautiful Shade Of Green In Galapagos Hot Season.

7. Any time is a great time to visit

Located near the equator, the islands experience a year-round temperate climate. There are, however, two markedly different seasons: a hot season, which sees warmer, humid weather from December through May, and a dry season, which is slightly cooler and extends from June through November. Depending on the season, the islands are either lush, green, and tropical or slightly barren, colorful, and arid. The islands see more rainfall in the hot season, which also features calmer seas and slightly warmer ocean temperatures around 79°F (26°C). Meanwhile, the dry season experiences southeast trade winds, which provide a wonderful breeze and signal an increase in marine activity.

Any time of year is a great time to visit the Galapagos Islands. Sometimes there are some amazing deals on Galapagos packages and, occasionally, even some discounted rates. It’s always a good idea to examine what you get when booking a package as they can represent an important savings by including a number of accommodations, meals, transportation, and activities in Galapagos that, when purchased separately, can be far more expensive.

8. The amount of daylight remains the same all year-round

Another cool feature of the Galapagos Islands is that the days and nights are of equal duration, so you’ll have plenty of chances to see the diurnal and nocturnal animals. Because of its tropical location, there is no need for daylight savings. Throughout the year, the Galapagos Islands see an average of 12 hours of sunlight each day.

The dramatic landscape can be appreciated year round.
Discover Our Gentle Giants!

9. Long live the Galapagos giant tortoise

The average Galapagos giant tortoise can live for well over a century. Their longevity is the highest of any vertebrate on land. Seeing them in the wild is truly something unique.

10. Swimming with sea turtles

The green sea turtle is an ancient species. In fact, researchers believe that these turtles swam the ocean and walked the beaches along with dinosaurs.

Snorkel With Beautiful Creatures!
A dramatic Volcanic Eruption near Isabel Island

11. The intersection of three tectonic plates

The islands are formed by the juncture of three tectonic plates: the Pacific, Cocos, and Nazca. The result is infrequent volcanic activity and incredibly diverse landscapes—a spectacular visual feast!

12. The arrival of Charles Darwin to the Galapagos

Follow Charles Darwin’s footsteps by exploring the same islands and sites that he visited back in 1835. Galapagos National Park-certified naturalist guides teach visitors about how the theory of natural selection was first conceived here, and of course; they can take a selfie with Charles Darwin’s statue!

Charles Darwin
Experience The Colorful Upwellings In The Archipelago.

13. 800 species of mollusks and over 400 species of fish

Admirers of marine life will appreciate the vast number of mollusk species, including snails, octopus, cuttlefish, oysters, and squid, and a remarkable and colorful variety of fish species. You can see many of these firsthand when snorkeling in the Galapagos National Park.

14. The word "Galápago" and the Islands' iconic turtles

The term “Galápago” refers to the old Castilian word meaning “riding saddle”. The shell (carapace) of this giant tortoise certainly resembles a saddle, doesn’t it?

Our Iconic Tortoises In Their Natural Habitat
Galapagos Is A Year-Round Destination!

15. Enjoy comfortable temperatures throughout the year

While you would expect the temperatures on the islands to soar, given their proximity to the equator, they actually remain quite comfortable. Throughout the year, average land temperatures range between 79° and 86°F (26.1° to 30°C), while ocean temperatures along the island coasts hover between 71° and 78°F (21.7° to 25.6°C).

16. Less than 79,000 visitors tour Galapagos on liveaboards annually

The Galapagos Islands see about 79,000 visitors per year that travel on all sorts of liveaboard cruises and from Galapagos tours. This number of people is fewer than the number of folks in attendance at any given sold-out event at a typical professional football stadium in the U.S. So, you can expect to see other people during your visit, but you won’t have to worry about any excessively large crowds within the Galapagos National Park, as site visits are scheduled and approved by the park, and registered with the appropriate permissions. This limits the number of visitors to sites in any set window of time. Peak season in the archipelago is from June through August and mid-December to mid-January.

Also, when visiting the park, explorers must be accompanied by a Galapagos National Park-certified naturalist guide, and the ratio established by park rules is a maximum of 16 visitors per guide. Some Galapagos cruises offer even better ratios, averaging between only 8 to 12 guests per guide. Chatting with a destination expert can give you an even better picture of what to expect on your trip to the Enchanted Isles.

Have A Close Encounter With Wildlife!
Breathtaking Landscapes.

17. Geology is constantly in flux

The oldest islands are gradually sinking back into the ocean, but the youngest ones are on the rise.

18. Ocean currents are rather unpredictable

The islands are home to a convergence of currents. The Equatorial, Humboldt, Cromwell, and Panama currents converge in this region. For this reason, wave action here is unpredictable, and there can be some variance in water temperatures, visibility, and marine species due to upwellings. The weather in Galapagos is almost entirely dependent on ocean currents. El Niño originates off the coast of the Galapagos and can alter other ocean currents, weather patterns, and food availability in both marine and terrestrial environments.

Galapagos is one of the best places for snorkeling!
Enjoy The Friendly Company Of Wildlife (While Always Keeping a healthy distance)

19. Wild animals have little fear of humans

In the Galapagos, there is a lack of natural predators. Thus, the creatures found in the islands have very little natural fear of people. The Galapagos National Park has established key rules to help protect the animals and their habitats. Visitors must always remain at a minimum safe distance of 6.5 ft (2 m) from wildlife.

20. Leave your message in a barrel

During the 18th Century, on the island of Floreana, a barrel was used as a postal box by crew members traveling aboard various whaling ships in the region. This site became known as Post Office Bay and to this day, it remains a popular attraction for many visitors who wish to leave a letter or postcard or pick one up, if they believe they can deliver it to the addressee.

If you’re looking for an exciting and educational vacation opportunity to delight the entire family, the Galapagos Islands are just the thing. Home to many unique species and landscapes, visitors touring the islands on a live-aboard cruise can see a tremendous amount of wildlife and truly explore the Enchanted Isles. You can enjoy most of this highlights on our Galapagos tour.

Interested in learning more? Be sure to click here for more Galapagos Information.

Visit The Old Post Office Bay On Floreana Island.

Get inspired and start planning!

Galapagos Peguin Footer


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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