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Despite the Galapagos Islands usually welcoming over 250,000 tourists per year, not many people know about this unique corner of the world. In fact, there are a lot of myths about the Galapagos. Rumours that you can’t visit at all are commonly heard, as is the claim that no one actually lives there. So what is the Galapagos Islands actually like to visit?
The reality is that the Galapagos is a mesmerising archipelago placed with perfection in the azure embrace of the Pacific Ocean. Just a short flight from the Ecuadorian coastline, the islands are packed with culture and blessed with an otherworldly allure. For nature-lovers, these islands make for a great holiday destination.
Created by underwater volcanoes, their existence is thanks to volcanic eruptions which took place over millions of years. Today, some extraordinary wildlife roams across the volcanic earth, captivating the hearts of nature enthusiasts from across the world. From iconic giant tortoises over a hundred years old, to vibrant marine life dancing beneath crystalline waters, the Galapagos Islands are blessed with wildlife unlike anywhere else on the planet. But the truth is, there’s so much more to see and do there!
Curious about what it is like to visit? We don’t blame you. In this article, we cover six surprising facts about a holiday to the Galapagos Islands.
Six surprising facts about a holiday to the Galapagos Islands
97% of the islands are protected
You might be surprised to find out that a huge 97% of the land area of the Galapagos Islands is protected as the ‘Galapagos National Park’. This fiercely protected space is monitored to preserve the unique and fragile ecosystems of the islands. In these areas, guests must follow certain rules and should always be accompanied by a guide. On the remaining 3% of the islands, visitors can explore towns, beaches and plenty of interesting natural landscapes.
Only a number of islands can be visited
There are 127 islands that make up this tropical archipelago. However, during a visit, you’ll only be able to visit 20 of them. What’s more, only four have major populations. Having said this, in reality, either with a cruise or on a self-planned trip, you’ll visit only a handful of the most popular islands.
The most common way to explore is by cruise
Due to a myth that the Galapagos Islands are too remote and uninhabited to explore without a tour, visitors often book cruises. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you choose a tour with a sustainable company. Tours offer guests to the islands a great way to see lots of different sites, and engage in all kinds of activities, including boating, swimming, kayaking, hiking and more. However, it’s also totally possible to visit the islands without a cruise or package. Land-based tourism in the Galapagos Islands has increased in recent years. These kinds of trips can help you to save money, practice sustainable travel, spend money locally, and explore at your own leisure. The choice is yours!
There’s a whole society and culture to uncover
This magnificent place boasts a culture that is a product of a fascinating amalgamation of influences. With a small population comprising both indigenous residents as well as immigrants from Ecuador, the islands are super diverse. During a visit, you’ll also find that Galapagos culture is also intricately intertwined with the natural environment, placing a significant emphasis on conservation. So it’s not only about wildlife here; a whole load of historic and cultural experiences await the curious!
It’s a haven for water activities – like surfing
Although many people know about the Galapagos’ potential for diving and snorkeling, you can also hit the waves here! You might even be lucky enough to surf amongst the sea lions. San Cristobal Island is particularly known for its outstanding waves, with at least four world-class breaks. Plus, other islands like Isabela and Santa Cruz also have good surf conditions. Head here between December and February and surf in one of the most unknown and incredibly unique surfing destinations in the world. Since this is the warm season, you’ll be okay without a wetsuit, but make sure you throw on something for sun protection. Don’t forget to put on a cropped rash guard to prevent skin chafing and board rash.
It’s great for solo travel
A solo trip to the Galapagos can be an incredible and eye-opening adventure. Thanks to its safe conditions, ease of travel, short distances, low crime rates and world-class natural beauty, the islands are well-suited to those looking for independent adventures. Don’t be afraid to visit alone!
Ready for the trip of a lifetime?
A journey to the Galapagos Islands is a true trip of a lifetime. Immerse yourself in a realm where the term “untouched wilderness” takes on a whole new meaning. Brace yourself for captivating encounters with world-famous wildlife, where giant tortoises roam freely and fearless marine iguanas bask in the sun. Explore pristine landscapes that have defied the passage of time, leaving an indelible mark on your memory. Uncover a culture with a diverse history.