Have you ever dreamed of being in a wildlife documentary? Are your fantasies narrated to the voice of David Attenborough? Do you find yourself whimsically picturing the swift and playful movements of penguins, sea lions or manta-rays, as they twirl, spin and play in the ocean? Do you live and breathe nature in all of its forms - sky, land, sea and centre-of-the-earth lava-like stuff included?
Well then, what if we told you there was a place more extraordinary than any fantasy or fiction you could ever conceive, where natural beauty exists in its purest form; an ancient landscape full of rare inhabitants located 1000 km’s from the South American mainland, but a world apart from anywhere else on Earth. Yes, this places really does exist, and it goes by the name, the Galapagos Islands.
Nature lover or not, you’ve definitely heard of Darwin’s Dreamland, aka The Enchanted Islands, aka The Islands of Fires. But what makes this isolated group of volcanic islands so special? Simply put, it’s the Galapagos Islands complex ecosystem that has given it an almost mythological status, boasting biodiversity you simply cannot find anywhere else in the world. If you’re hoping for a Galapagos Island tour that will have you snorkelling archipelagos teeming with marine life, hiking volcanoes and learning about the Origin of Species, you won’t be going home disappointed.
A trip to the Galápagos Islands is a once in a lifetime opportunity that will change the way you look at the planet, and the forces that shape it. Diving into the azure waters and exploring the volcanic terrain of this region, you’ll never be far from giant tortoises, flightless cormorants or marine iguanas, all living side by side with fur seals and penguins. This is a land that has mercifully escaped the footprint of mass tourism, leaving its landscape and inhabitants protected and preserved. A visit to the Charles Darwin Research Centre is essentially for any Galapagos travel; after all this is the land that informed perhaps his greatest ever work and discoveries.
Aside from standing around with your jaw on the floor, it’s little surprise to know that most activities you’ll likely do on a Galapagos Islands trip are water based. Kayak your way around the chain of underwater mountains, or snorkel and become one with your surroundings, in the company of sea lions and penguins of course. Colonies of sea lions will be your sunbathing companions on San Cristobal Island, or opt to get active with a surf or swim, surf at Tortuga Bay. Feeling peckish? The Ecuadorian inspired cuisine offered by the cute cafes on San Cristobal Island and beyond will appease rumbling tummies.
Convinced this is actual paradise and want to know more? Read on...
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While giant tortoises and marine iguanas are the first things that spring to mind when you catch yourself dreaming of a trip to the Galápagos Islands, wildlife isn’t the only thing on the agenda when you visit here. There are a number of museums scattered across the inhabited parts that focus on the anthropological background of the Ecuadorian archipelago. Along with a smattering of local art, these museums give you an insight into the people behind the conservation of the world’s most diverse ecosystem.
The newest museum to open its doors on the Galápagos Islands, Maprae (Augmented Reality Museum of Pre-Columbian Art) showcases 55 archeological pieces that tell the story of Santa Cruz and its inhabitants. To understand a place, one must understand its people, and Maprae tells the story of continental Ecuadorian history in the remoteness of the Galapagos Islands, in the most wonderful way.
The supreme Galapagos National Park covers more than 7,500 square km’s, but only 1% is accessible to visitors. To get a full understanding of the sheer effort it takes to protect this enormous but diverse slice of the planet, a visit to the Interpretation Centre on San Cristobal Island is a must. The museum goes through the natural and human history of the islands, chronologically narrating the most significant events, finally exposing the problems and struggles the people face to conserve their beloved Galapagos.