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TOURISM GALAPAGOS

 

 

 

Galapagos islands tourist information

     
Galapagos Island Info

The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km (525 nmi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site: wildlife is its most notable feature.

The Galápagos islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of around 23,000.

The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.

The first crude navigation chart of the islands was done by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684. He named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after the English noblemen who helped the privateer's cause. More recently, the Ecuadorian government gave most of the islands Spanish names. While the Spanish names are official, many users (especially ecological researchers) continue to use the older English names, particularly as those were the names used when Charles Darwin visited

 
Galapagos islands map
Galapagos Islands location
 
 
 
 
Galapagos Islands Information :

 
 
Getting there

Due to the fact that the Islands are situated 970 km west of the Ecuadorian coast most people choose to go by plane. The national airline TAME ("Transportes Aereos Militares del Ecuador") flies to the archipelago twice a day. The plane leaves Quito and continues via Guyaquil to (the airport on the isle..wuerde ich vielleicht weg lassen) Baltra or (the airport of) Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. So before you leave make sure you've checked your itinerary or have gathered enough information about those two islands to know which one you'd like to go to. A hint: Most cruises start from (the airport isle) Baltra

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Accomodations
Galapagos Island Hotels ,hostels,lodging,guest house,apartment info ...
Location: Puerto Villamil
Name: Hostería Isabela del Mar
Class: Segunda
Address: Conocarpus
Tel: (593) 05 2529303
Fax:
E-mail: isabela@ga.pro.ec
Web: www.hosteriaisabela.com.ec
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hotel Finch Bay Hotel
Class: Primera
Address: Punta Estrada
Tel: (593) - 05 2529297 - 1526298
Fax: (593) - 05 2526283
E-mail: finchbayhotel@gpsinter.net
Web: www.finchbayhotel.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hotel Ninfa Galápagos
Class: Primera
Address: Barrio Las Ninfas
Tel: (593) - 05 2526127 - Quito: 02 2223124 / 25 /27
Fax: (593) - 05 2526036 - 02 2235452
E-mail: galaven@ayora.ecua.net.ec
Web: www.ninfatour.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hotel Red Booby
Class: Primera
Address: Av. Plaza y Charles Binford
Tel: (593) - 05 2526482
Fax: (593) - 05 2526486
E-mail: info@hotelredbooby.com.ec
Web: www.hotelredbooby.com.ec
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hotel Silberstein
Class: Primera
Address: Charles Darwin y Piqueros
Tel: (593) - 05 2526277
Fax: (593) - 05 2527015 Quito: 02 2269626, 2250553
E-mail: galextur@uio.satnet.net
Web: www.hotelsilberstein.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hotel Sol y Mar
Class: Primera
Address: Charles Darwin (junto al Banco del Pacífico)
Tel: (593) 05 2526281
Fax: (593) 05 2527015
E-mail: info@hotelsolymar.com.ec
Web: www.hotelsolymar.com.ec
Location: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Name: Hotel Orca
Class: Primera
Address: Playa de Oro
Tel: (593) - 05 2520233 - Quito: 02 2548985
Fax: Quito: 593 - 02 2555467
E-mail: operaciones1@etnoturonline.com
Web: www.galapagosvision.com.ec
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Fernandina
Class: Primera
Address: Av. 18 de Febrero y Piqueros
Tel: (593) 05 2526499 / 7326
Fax: (593) 05 2526122
E-mail: hotelfernandina@islasantacruz.com
Web: www.hotelfernandina.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Galápagos
Class: Primera
Address: Av. Charles Darwin y 12 de Febreto
Tel: (593) - 05 2526330
Fax:
E-mail: hotelgps@gpsinter.net
Web: www.hotelgalapagos.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Lobo de Mar
Class: Primera
Address: Charles Darwin y 12 de Febrero
Tel: (593) - 05 2526188
Fax: (593) - 05 2526569
E-mail: lobodemar@uio.satnet.net
Web: www.lobodemar.com.ec
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Red Mangrove Adventure Inn
Class: Primera
Address: Charles Darwin y Las Fragatas
Tel: (593) 05 2526564 / 7011
Fax:
E-mail: info@redmangrove.com
Web: www.redmangrove.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Royal Palm
Class: Primera
Address: Vía Baltra Km 18
Tel: (593) - 05 2527409
Fax: (593) 05 2527408
E-mail: info@royalpalmgalapagos.com
Web: www.royalpalmgalapagos.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Mainao
Class: Segunda
Address: Calle Matazarnos e Indefatigable
Tel: (593) 2527029 / 7117 / 4128
Fax:
E-mail: info@hotelmainao.com, mainaomist@hotmail.com
Web: www.galapagosnet.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Hostal Tortuga Bay
Class: Primera
Address: Seymour Norte y Piqueros (El Edén)
Tel: (593) - 05 2527341 - Quito: 02 2908433
Fax:
E-mail: reservacinoes@hoteltortugabay.com
Web: www.hoteltortugabay.com
Location: Puerto Ayora
Name: Apartamentos Casa del Lago - Lodging House
Class: Primera
Address: Calle Moises Brito y Juan Montalvo esq.
Tel: (593) - 09 8514015
Fax:
E-mail: galapagoscultural@hotmail.com
Web: www.galapagoscultural.com
Location: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Name: Hostal Galápagos
Class: Segunda
Address: Frente a Playa de Oro
Tel: (593) - 05 2520157
Fax:
E-mail: info@galahost.com
Web: www.galahost.com
Location: Puerto Villamil
Name: La Casa de Marita
Class: Primera
Address: Vía al Embarcadero y Conocarpus
Tel: (593) 05 2529238 - 2529301
Fax: (593) 05 2529201
E-mail: hcmarita@ecua.net.ec
Web: www.galapagosisabela.com
Location: Puerto Villamil
Name: Pensión The Wooden House
Class: Primera
Address: Isla Isabela
Tel: (593) 05 2529484
Fax: (593) 05 2529484
E-mail: thewoodenhouse@hotmail.com
Web: www.thewoodenhouse.com
Location: Santa Cruz
Name: Galápagos Safari Camp
Class: Primera
Address: Sector Salasaca - Via al Chato
Tel: (593) 091794259
Fax:
E-mail: info@galapagossafaricamp.com
Web: www.galapagossafaricamp.com
 
Galapagos Island Hotels ,hostels,lodging,guest house,apartment, galapagos island hotels information.
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Visa :

Most nationalities will need a visa to enter Ecuador. You can get a tourist visa at the airport or the border. Depending on your nationality, you will get 60 or 90 days. You can get an extension at the migration office at Calle Amazonas 2639, Quito or in Galápagos only in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal. You can also get a work, student, business or residence visa, which is more complicated and expensive. Because chances are that you will be asked to show your passport at a checkpoint, it is not advisable to overstay your visa. However, the official fine for overstaying your visa is only 40 cents. .

 
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Puerto Ayora :

The city is situated on the isle Santa Cruz, which is about 986 sq km big. It is the most developed town on the Galápagos Islands and has about 15.000 inhabitants. There you'll have the choice of many different restaurants and activities to join in. You can visit art galleries, surf on the Internet (but it's rather expensive), go scuba-diving or go on a tour to explore the other islands. So it is not surprising that Puerto Ayora is the tourism center of the archipelago. The Charles Darwin Research Station gives you a good introduction of the Galápagos Islands and we recommend to visit it as early in the morning as possible or late in the afternoon, because of the many tourists. It is opened every Monday-Friday from 8-12 and 13-16 and on Saturdays from 8-12. This station consists of a national park information center, a museum (with slideshows in English, German, French and of course Spanish) and a very cute baby tortoise house. Also you'll be able to take a look at the giant old tortoise called "Lonesome George" ("Jorge Solitario"). He is the last survivor of his species from the island Pinta and he is over 50 years old. And until now the scientists have not found a female for him, so when he dies someday, there will be one species less on earth. After the visit you'll be in the right mood to walk to Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay). They say that it is one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. And you wouldn't want to miss such a attraction, would you? Another place to take beautiful photos is the Academic Bay. It is a natural harbor where you'll be able to observe all kinds of ships because of the many circumnavigators who stop in Puerto Ayora before they go on sailing around the world. But enjoy in on your own!

Post office
It is located by the port, on the right side of the Pro Insular Supermarket and does not look like a post office, so keep your eyes open! And aks for special stamps!

Money matters
Most boats accept Traveler's checks. But the only accepted credit card on the archipelago is Mastercard. But most places don't take credit cards at all.

Banco del Pacífico

Cirrus ATM and cash advance on Mastercard.
Change of Traveler´s checks with 5% fee
Address: Av. Charles Darwin by Pelican Bay
Opened: Monday - Friday from 8 - 15.30
Saturday 9.30 - 12.30

 
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Puerto Baquerizo :

One of the oldest islands of Galápagos, San Cristóbal, is the home of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It is the secong largest city after Puerto Ayora and has about 8.000 inhabitants. But it has still kept its charm of a fishing village, from years before. Although it is the provincial capital of the archipelago, it seems very calm and cosy. The town is named after Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno, who was the first Ecuadorian president who ever visited this island in 1916. Its airport, which was opened in 1988, is quite new and you'll have more than enough opportunities to buy souvenirs for your friends at home. If you want to have a good insight into the history and the fascinating flora & fauna of Galápagos, the information center ("Centro de Interpretación") is the right place for you. They show videos and displays to give you an understanding of Galapagos. At times you'll also be able to enjoy theatre, exhibitions or workshops in the evenings. There is also a small natural history museum to visit as well as a cathedral on Avenida Northia with painted mural paintings of Galapagos themes.(Entrance fee US$2). Another highlight would be the possibility of camping down at the local beach... And this is the only place on the whole archipelago where you can do this legally!
Post office
It is situated at the Malecón, Av.Charles Darwin y 12 de Febrero, at the opposite of the little watersidepark. Do not forget asking for special stamps!

Money matters
Most boats accept Traveler's checks. But the only accepted credit card on the archipelago is Mastercard. But most places don't take credit cards at all.

Banco del Pacífico
Cirrus ATM and cash advance on Mastercard.
Change of Traveler´s checks with 5% fee
Address: Malecón Charles Darwin y 12 de Febrero (by the waterfront)
Tel: 520365/366
Opened: Monday - Friday from 9 - 16

 
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Galapagos islands geography :

The islands are located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, 973 km (525 nmi; 605 mi) off the west coast of South America. The closest land mass is the mainland of Ecuador to the east (the country to which they belong), to the north is Cocos Island at 720 km (389 nmi; 447 mi) and to the south is Easter Island and San Felix Island at 3,200 km (1,730 nmi; 1,990 mi).
The islands are found at the coordinates 1°40'N–1°36'S, 89°16'–92°01'W. Straddling the equator, islands in the chain are located in both the northern and southern hemisphere with Volcan Wolf and Volcano Ecuador on Isla Isabela being directly on the equator line. Española the southernmost island and Darwin the northernmost island are spread out over a distance of 220 km (137 mi). The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) considers them wholly within the South Pacific Ocean, however. The Galápagos Archipelago consists of 7,880 km2 (3,040 sq mi) of land spread over 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) of ocean. The largest of the islands, Isabela, measures 4,640 km2 (1,790 sq mi) and making up half of the total land area of the Galápagos. Volcán Wolf on Isabela is the highest point with an elevation of 1,707 m (5,600 ft) above sea level.
The group consists of 15 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets. The islands are located at the Galapagos Triple Junction. It is also atop the Galapagos hotspot, a place where the Earth's crust is being melted from below by a mantle plume, creating volcanoes. The oldest island is thought to have formed between 5 million and 10 million years ago. The youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption in April 2009 where lava from the volcanic island Fernandina started flowing both towards the island's shoreline and into the center caldera

 
 
Main islands in Galapagos :

The 18 main islands (with a land area larger than 1 km2) of the archipelago (with their English names) shown alphabetically:

Baltra Bartolomé Darwin Española Fernandina Floreana Genovesa Isabela Marchena
North Seymour Pinzón Pinta Rábida San Cristóbal Santa Cruz Santa Fé Santiago Wolf

Baltra (South Seymour) Island:
Also known as South Seymour, Baltra is a small flat island located near the center of the Galápagos. It was created by Geological uplift. The island is very arid and vegetation consists of salt bushes, prickly pear cacti and palo santo trees.
Until 1986, Baltra Airport was the only airport serving the Galápagos. Now there are two airports which receive flights from the continent, the other located on San Cristóbal Island. Private planes flying to Galápagos must fly to Baltra as it is the only airport with facilities for planes overnight.
Arriving into Baltra all visitors are immediately transported by bus to one of two docks. The first dock is located in a small bay where the boats cruising Galápagos await passengers. The second is a ferry dock which connects Baltra to the island of Santa Cruz.
During the 1940s scientists decided to move 70 of Baltra's Land Iguanas to the neighboring North Seymour Island as part of an experiment. This move had unexpected results for during the military occupation of Baltra in World War II, the native iguanas became extinct on the island. During the 1980s iguanas from North Seymour were brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station as part of a breeding and repopulation project and in the 1990s land iguanas were reintroduced to Baltra. As of 1997 scientists counted 97 iguanas living on Baltra; 13 of which were born on the islands.
In 2007 and 2008 the Baltra airport is being remodeled to include additional restaurants, shops and an improved visitor area.

Bartolomé (Bartholomew) Island:
Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island in the Galápagos Islands Group. It is one of the "younger" islands in the Galápagos archipelago. This island, and Sulivan Bay on Santiago island, are named after naturalist and life-long friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, who was a Lieutenant aboard HMS Beagle. This island is one of the few that is home to the Galapagos Penguin which is the only wild penguin species to live on the equator. The green turtle is another animal that resides on the island.

Darwin (Culpepper) Island:
This island is named after Charles Darwin. It has an area of 1.1 square kilometers (0.4 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 168 meters (551 ft). Here fur seals, frigates, Marine iguanas, Swallow-tailed Gulls, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, Red-footed and Nazca boobies can be seen.

Española (Hood) Island:
Its name was given in honor of Spain. It also is known as Hood after Viscount Samuel Hood. It has an area of 60 square kilometers (23 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 206 meters (676 ft).
Española is the oldest island at around 3.5 million years and the southernmost in the chain. The island's remote location has a large number of endemic fauna. Secluded from the other islands, wildlife on Española adapted to the island's environment and natural resources. Marine iguanas on Española are the only ones that change color during breeding season.

The Waved Albatross is found on the island. The island's steep cliffs serve as the perfect runways for these large birds which take off for their ocean feeding grounds near the mainland of Ecuador and Peru.
Española has two visitor sites. Gardner Bay is a swimming and snorkeling site as well as offering a great beach. Punta Suarez has migrant, resident, and endemic wildlife including brightly colored Marine Iguana, Española Lava Lizards, Hood Mockingbirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Blue-footed Booby, Red-Footed Booby and Nazca Boobies, Galápagos Hawks, a selection of Finch, and the Waved Albatross.

Fernandina (Narborough) Island:
The name was given in honor of King Ferdinand II of Aragon, who sponsored the voyage of Columbus. Fernandina has an area of 642 square kilometers (248 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 1,494 meters (4,902 ft). This is the youngest and westernmost island. In May 13, 2005, a new very eruptive process began on this island when an ash and water vapor cloud rose to a height of 7 kilometers (23,000 ft) and lava flows descended the slopes of the volcano on the way to the sea. Punta Espinosa is a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of Marine Iguanas gather largely on black lava rocks. The famous Flightless Cormorant inhabits this island and also Galápagos Penguins, Pelicans and Galápagos Sea Lions are abundant. Different types of lava flows can be compared and the Mangrove Forests can be observed.

Floreana (Charles or Santa María) Island:
It was named after Juan José Flores, the first president of Ecuador, during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the archipelago. It is also called Santa Maria, after one of the caravels of Columbus. It has an area of 173 square kilometers (67 sq mi) and a maximum elevation of 640 meters (2,100 ft). It is one of the islands with the most interesting human history and one of the earliest to be inhabited. Flamingos and green sea turtles nest (December to May) on this island. The "patapegada" or Galápagos Petrel is found here, a sea bird which spends most of its life away from land. At Post Office Bay, since the 18th century whalers kept a wooden barrel that served as post office so that mail could be picked up and delivered to their destination mainly Europe and the United States by ships on their way home. At the “Devil's Crown”, an underwater volcanic cone, coral formations are found.

Genovesa (Tower) Island:
The name is derived from Genoa, Italy where it is said Columbus was born. It has an area of 14 square kilometers (5.4 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 76 meters (249 ft). This island is formed by the remaining edge of a large crater that is submerged. Its nickname of “the bird island” is clearly justified. At Darwin Bay, frigatebirds andswallow-tailed gulls, the only nocturnal species of gull in the world, can be seen. Red-footed boobies, noddy terns, lava gulls, tropic birds, doves, storm petrels and Darwin finches are also in sight. Prince Philip's Steps is a bird-watching plateau with Nazca and red-footed boobies. There is a large Palo Santo forest.

Isabela (Albemarle) Island (Ecuador):
This island was named in honor of Queen Isabela. With an area of 4,640 square kilometers (1,792 sq mi), it is the largest island of the Galápagos. Its highest point is Wolf Volcano with an altitude of 1,707 meters (5,600 ft). The island's seahorse shape is the product of the merging of six large volcanoes into a single landmass. On this island Galápagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, Marine Iguanas, pelicans and Sally Lightfoot crabs abound. At the skirts and calderas of the volcanos of Isabela, Land Iguanas and Galápagos Tortoises can be observed, as well as Darwin Finches, Galápagos Hawks, Galápagos Doves and very interesting lowland vegetation. The third-largest human settlement of the archipelago, Puerto Villamil, is located at the south-eastern tip of the island. It is the only island to have the equator run across it. It is also the only place in the world where a penguin can be in its natural habitat in the Northern Hemisphere.

Marchena (Bindloe) Island:
Named after Fray Antonio Marchena. Has an area of 130 square kilometers (50 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 343 meters (1,125 ft). Galápagos hawks and sea lions inhabit this island, and it is home to the Marchena Lava Lizard, an endemic animal.

North Seymour Island:
Its name was given after an English nobleman called Lord Hugh Seymour. It has an area of 1.9 square kilometers (0.7 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 28 meters (92 ft). This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. It hosts one of the largest populations of frigate birds. It was formed from geological uplift.
Just north of the Baltra Airport is the small islet of North Seymour. North Seymour was created by seismic uplift rather than being of volcanic origin. The island has a flat profile with cliffs only a few meters from the shoreline, where swallowtail gulls and tropicbirds sit perched in ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for rain to bring them into bloom. The island is teeming with life. Visiting the island you may have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana. Flocks of pelicans and swallow-tailed gulls feed off shore and seasonally Nazca boobies can also be seen.
North Seymour is an extraordinary place for breeding birds and is home to one of the largest populations of nesting blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Pairs of blue-footed boobies can be seen conducting their mating ritual as they offer each other gifts, whistle and honk, stretch their necks towards the sky, spread their wings, and dance—showing off their bright blue feet. Magnificent frigatebirds perch in low bushes, near the boobies, while watching over their large chicks. The frigates are huge, dark acrobats with a 90-inch (2.3 m) wingspan. Male frigates can puff up their scarlet throat sacks to resemble a giant red balloon. Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Boobies are excellent hunters and fish in flocks. The frigates by comparison are pirates, they dive bomb the boobies to force them to drop their prey. Then the acrobatic frigate swoops down and picks up the food before it hits the water.

Pinzón (Duncan) Island:
Named after the Pinzón brothers, captains of the Pinta and Niña caravels. Has an area of 18 square kilometers (7 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 458 meters (1,503 ft).

Pinta (Abingdon) Island:
Named after the Pinta caravel. It has an area of 60 km2 (23 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 777 meters (2,549 ft). Sea lions, Galápagos hawks, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and dolphins can be seen here. Pinta Island was home to the last remaining Pinta Tortoise, called Lonesome George. He does not live on Pinta Island any longer but at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island where scientists are attempting to breed him.

Rábida (Jervis) Island:
It bears the name of the convent of Rábida where Columbus left his son during his voyage to the Americas. Has an area of 4.9 square kilometers (1.9 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 367 meters (1,204 ft). The high amount of iron contained in the lava at Rábida gives it a distinctive red color. White-Cheeked Pintail Ducks live in a salt-water lagoon close to the beach, where brown pelicans and boobies have built their nests. Up until recently, flamingos were also found in the salt-water lagoon, but they have since moved on to other islands, likely due to a lack of food on Rábida. Nine species of Finches have been reported in this island.

San Cristóbal (Chatham) Island:
It bears the name of the Patron Saint of seafarers, "St. Christopher". Its English name was given after William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham. It has an area of 558 square kilometers (215 sq mi) and its highest point rises to 730 meters (2395 ft). This is the first island in the Galapagos Archipelago that Charles Darwin visited during his voyage on the Beagle. This islands hosts frigate birds, sea lions, giant tortoises, blue- and red-footed boobies, tropicbirds, marine iguanas, dolphins, swallow-tailed gulls. Its vegetation includes Calandrinia galapagos, Lecocarpus darwinii, and trees such as Lignum vitae.The largest fresh water lake in the archipelago, Laguna El Junco, is located in the highlands of San Cristóbal. The capital of the province of Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, lies at the southern tip of the island.

Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island (Galápagos):
Given the name of the Holy Cross in Spanish, its English name derives from the British vessel HMS Indefatigable. It has an area of 986 square kilometers (381 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 864 meters (2834 ft). Santa Cruz is the island that hosts the largest human population in the archipelago at the town of Puerto Ayora. The Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service are located here. The GNPS and CDRS operate a tortoise breeding center here, where young tortoises are hatched, reared, and prepared to be reintroduced to their natural habitat. The Highlands of Santa Cruz offer an exuberant vegetation and are famous for the lava tunnels. Large tortoise populations are found here. Black Turtle Cove is a site surrounded by mangrove which sea turtles, rays and small sharks sometimes use as a mating area. Cerro Dragón, known for its flamingo lagoon, is also located here, and along the trail one may see land iguanas foraging.

Santa Fé (Barrington) Island:
Named after a city in Spain, has an area of 24 square kilometers (9 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 259 meters (850 ft). Santa Fe hosts a forest of Opuntia cactus, which are the largest of the archipelago, and Palo Santo. Weathered cliffs provide a haven for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropic birds, shear-waters petrels. Santa Fe species of land iguanas are often seen, as well as lava lizards.

Santiago (San Salvador, James) Island (Galápagos):
Its name is equivalent to Saint James in English; it is also known as San Salvador, after the first island discovered by Columbus in the Caribbean Sea. This island has an area of 585 square kilometers (226 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 907 meters (2976 ft). Marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals, land and sea turtles, flamingos, dolphins and sharks are found here. Pigs and goats, which were introduced by humans to the islands and have caused great harm to the endemic species, have been eradicated (pigs in 2002; goat eradication is nearing finalization). Darwin Finches and Galápagos Hawks are usually seen as well as a colony of Fur Seals. At Sullivan Bay a recent (around 100 years ago) pahoehoe lava flow can be observed.

Wolf (Wenman) Island:
This island was named after the German geologist Theodor Wolf. It has an area of 1.3 square kilometers (0.5 sq mi)and a maximum altitude of 253 meters (830 ft). Here fur seals, frigatebirds, Nazca and red-footed boobies, Marine Iguanas, sharks, whales, dolphins and swallow-tailed gulls can be seen. The most famous resident is the vampire finch, which feeds partly on blood pecked from other birds and is only found on this island.

 

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Minor Islands in Galapagos :

Daphne Major:
A small island directly north of Santa Cruz and directly west of Baltra, this very inaccessible island appears, though unnamed, on Ambrose Cowley's 1684 chart. It is important as the location of multi-decade finch population studies by Peter and Rosemary Grant..

South Plaza Island (Plaza Sur):
It is named in honor of a former president of Ecuador, General Leonidas Plaza. It has an area of 0.13 square kilometers (0.05 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 23 meters (75 ft). The flora of South Plaza includes Opuntia cactua and Sesuvium plants, which forms a reddish carpet on top of the lava formations. Iguanas (land and marine and some hybrids of both species) are abundant and there are a large number of birds that can be observed from the cliffs at the southern part of the island, including tropic birds and swallow-tailed gulls.

Nameless Island:
The small islet is used mostly for scuba diving. .

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Weather in galapagos :

Although located on the Equator, the Humboldt Current brings cold water to the islands, causing frequent drizzles during most of the year. The weather is periodically influenced by the El Niño phenomenon which brings warmer temperatures and heavy rains.
During the season known as the "Garua" (June to November) the temperature by the sea is 22 °C (72 °F), a steady and cold wind blows from South and Southeast, and frequent drizzles (Garuas) last most of the day, along with dense fog which conceals the islands. During the warm season (December to May) the average sea and air temperature rises to 25 °C (77 °F), there is no wind at all, there are sporadic though strong rains and the sun shines.
Weather changes as altitude increases in the large islands. Temperature decreases gradually with altitude, while precipitation increases due to the condensation of moisture in clouds on the slopes. There is a large range in precipitation from one place to another, not only with altitude but also depending on the location of the islands, and also with the seasons

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Galapagos islands Politics :

The islands are administered by a provincial government. It was made a province by presidential decree by President Guillermo Rodríguez Lara on February 18, 1973. The province is divided into cantons, each covering certain islands. The capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Galapagos islands demographics
The Galápagos Islands is one of the few places in the world without an indigenous population. The largest ethnic group is composed of Ecuadorian Mestizos, the mixed descendants of Spanish colonists and indigenous Native Americans, who arrived mainly in the last century from the continental part of Ecuador. There is also a large number of whites, mostly of Spanish descent. Some descendents of the early European and American colonists on the islands also still remain on the islands.
In 1959, approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people called the islands their home. In 1972 a census was done in the archipelago and a population of 3,488 was recorded. By the 1980s, this number had risen to more than 15,000 people, and 2006 estimates place the population around 40,000 people.
Five of the islands are inhabited: Baltra, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz.

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Galapagos islands conservation :

Though the first protective legislation for the Galápagos was enacted in 1934 and supplemented in 1936, it was not until the late 1950s that positive action was taken to control what was happening to the native flora and fauna. In 1955, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature organized a fact-finding mission to the Galápagos. Two years later, in 1957, UNESCO in cooperation with the government of Ecuador sent another expedition to study the conservation situation and choose a site for a research station.
In 1959, the centenary year of Charles Darwin's publication of The Origin of Species, the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the archipelago's land area a national park, excepting areas already colonised. The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) was founded the same year. The core responsibility of CDF, an international non-governmental organization constituted in Belgium, is to conduct research and provide the research findings to the Government of Ecuador for effective management of Galápagos. CDF´s research efforts work began with the establishment of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island in 1964. During the early years conservation programs, such as eradication of introduced species and protection of native species, were carried out by research station personnel. Now much of that work is accomplished by the Galapagos National Park Service using the research findings and methodologies developed by CDF.
In 1986 the surrounding 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 sq mi.) of ocean was declared a marine reserve, second only in size to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In 1990 the archipelago became a whale sanctuary. In 1978 UNESCO recognised the islands as a World Heritage Site, and in 1985 a Biosphere Reserve. This was later extended in December 2001 to include the marine reserve. In July 2010, the World Heritage Committee agreed to remove the Galapagos Islands from its list of precious sites endangered by environmental threats or overuse.[9]

Noteworthy species include:
•Galápagos land iguanas, Conolophus spp.
•Marine Iguana, Amblyrhynchus cristatus, the only iguana feeding in the sea
•Galápagos tortoise (Galápagos Giant tortoise), Geochelone elephantopus, known as Galápago in Spanish, it gave the name to the islands
•Galápagos Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas agassisi, a subspecies of the Green Turtle.
•Sea cucumbers, the cause of environmental battles with fishermen over quotas of this expensive Asian delicacy.
•Flightless Cormorant, Phalacrocorax harrisi
•Great Frigatebird and Magnificent Frigatebird
•Blue-footed Booby, Sula nebouxii, popular among visitors for their large blue feet which they show off in courtship
•Galápagos Penguin, Spheniscus mendiculus, the only living tropical penguin
•Waved Albatross, Phoebastria irrorata, the only living tropical albatross
•Galápagos Hawk, Buteo galapagoensis, the islands' main scavenger and "environmental police"
•4 endemic species of Galápagos mockingbirds, the first species Darwin noticed to vary from island to island
•13 endemic species of tanagers, popularly called Darwin's finches. Among them is the Sharp-beaked Ground Finch Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis which is sometimes called the "Vampire Finch" for its blood-sucking habits, and the tool-using Woodpecker Finch, Camarhynchus pallidus
•Galápagos Sea Lions, Zalophus wollebaeki, closely related to the California Sea Lion, but smaller

 

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Galapagos Islands activities :

WILDLIFE OBSERVATION
Some of the most unusual and fascinating species in the world, both terrestrial and marine, are found in the Galapagos Islands. Here most of the surface (96%) is a National Park, surrounded by a protected Marine Reserve, both UNESCO World Heritages Sites. On Santa Cruz Island, the giant tortoises can be seen at the Charles Darwin Research Station (including famous Lonesome George, the only remaining tortoise from "La Pinta Island) and also in the wild, in the highlands of this Island. See Beautiful Galapagos Island Pictures here

BIRDWATCHING
A total of 140 species of birds have been registered in Galapagos. About half of the resident birds cannot be seen, "anywhere else in the world". You can observe shore and lagoon birds such as ducks, stilts, herons, warblers, pelicans and frigates all easily approachable, just like all the Galapagos animals. Eight species of Darwin's Finches are found on Santa Cruz island; most of which can be observed all around the Island. Charles Darwin's concepts were founded by modern evolutionists by studying the different beaks of these finches.

VISIT THE CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH STATION
The Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, conducts research for Galapagos conservation, focusing on two major areas: management of invasive species and restoration of the native biodiversity and ecosystems. The Giant Tortoise Breeding Program is the best chance for you to spend some time with the long-lived reptiles.

GIANT TORTOISE RESERVE
Hiking or biking from Puerto Ayora to the Reserve takes about two hours through dense and low growing vegetation. Here you can observe the Giant Galapagos Tortoises (in season) in their natural habitat. Also, once in the highlands, you can visit Los Gemelos Pit Craters, just off the road towards the Baltra airport. The highlands are also great for observing the Darwin's Finches, special attention should be given to the woodpecker finch, one of the few tool-using birds in the world.

SNORKELING AND DIVING
The Galapagos islands are considered a world premier destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. The protected waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve have been well preserved, nearly untouched by external sources. More About Galapagos Diving Here the crossroads of marine currents has resulted in a unique marine ecosystem. Finch Bay Hotel provides snorkeling gear for Free and Scuba diving programs are available for a small fee.

SEA KAYAKING
Devine bay located at Santa Cruz island, is an excellent location to explore by kayak.
Here you can get an up close look at sharks, sea turtles, rays, fish and a variety of marine birds. More About Galapagos Kayak here June is the month when sea-dependent wildlife (sea birds, sea lions, sea turtles, fish, etc) will actively engage in looking for a mate. Courtship rituals are remarkable highlights of this month, and will be only seen throughout June. Earlier than June, wildlife is not fully engaged in courtship rituals (waters have not cooled enough for plankton to be blooming at high levels), while later than June most individuals have found suitable mates and nesting locations. Without any doubt "June" is a month of perhaps the highest wildlife activity of the whole year.

 
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Galapagos islands natural events :

Sea bird communities are very active (breeding), specially the Blue footed boobies on Espanola Island. Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina.
If you walk along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island) you could find American oystercatchers nesting. Lava Lizards initiate mating rituals until November.
Cetaceans (whales & dolphins) are more likely to be observed, specially off the western coast of Isabela Island. Water temperature does not reach more than 23°C (76°F)

  
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