Galapagos has fascinated explorers and scientists throughout time, starting with Charles Darwin, who was astonished by the uniqueness of the species he found here and their marked differences from island to island. His observations lead him to conceive his masterpiece: The Origin of Species, a book that would change the concepts of science forever.
First discovered in 1535, the Galapagos were not fully colonized until the 19th century although, in the meantime, they served as refuge for pirates, whaling station, and even as a penal colony.
The archipelago encompasses more than 50 islands and islets where plants and animals, brought here millions of years ago by a confluence of cross currents and trade winds from South America and the Indo-Pacific, have evolved and adapted to their surroundings in complete isolation. Volcanic in origin, Galapagos features incredible geological formations such as lava flows, spatter cones, a blowhole, tunnels, craters and beaches of all colors and shapes. Some islands feature imposing volcanoes that become active sporadically, offering spectacular views of incandescent lava rivers flowing into the ocean.
The Galapagos may be the only place on Earth where wildlife is not afraid of humans. This can lead to some once-in-a-lifetime encounters with fascinating animals such as marine and land iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, penguins, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and, of course, the giant Galapagos tortoise. On its waters one can watch whales, sharks, dolphins, manta rays, and huge schools of fish.
The archipelago is located on the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador (a two-hour flight from Guayaquil). Weather in Galapagos is largely determined by ocean currents. Normally from June to September, the cold Humboldt Current comes from the south and creates a cool moist fog called “garua”, which creates a cool, dry climate with temperatures averaging 72F.