Galapagos Islands Travel
Galapagos Islands travel is designated in conjunction with the National Park to offer travelers with the best experience while minimizing the effect that tourism has on the islands
When weighing the different alternatives of Galapagos Islands Travel one of the important factors to consider is the itinerary. You want an itinerary that offers you the broadest range of diversity after all that's why you decided to travel to Galapagos in the first place?
The Galapagos can be divided into four different areas within the archipelago: Western, Southern, Northern and Central. Each region has distinguishing features showcasing both the geological features and the wildlife that lives there. Many islands have their own endemic wildlife - species found there and nowhere else in the world. It is in visiting the Galapagos you will witness firsthand how these animals evolved differently from each other can observe Darwin's Theory of Evolution up close.
THE WESTERN GALAPAGOS ISLANDS TRAVEL
When you travel to the western islands you will visit the youngest of the Galapagos Islands - Fernandina and Isabela. These islands are still in the process of formation and are home to the only active volcanoes in the chain. Visiting the area you'll learn about how the islands were born of fire and how they developed over the years. Stark black lava fields cover much of these islands only pioneer plants such as cactus and mangroves that require little nutrients or soil survive.
Here near the western islands the ocean has the most nutrients due to upwelling. The marine life is abundant and the wildlife that lives on these islands is dependent on the sea. The western islands are the best place in the Galapagos for whale and dolphin encounters. Much of the wildlife that lives in the western islands is endemic to Galapagos. These species adapted to survive in the harsh conditions. Over 95% of the Galapagos Penguin population lives in the western islands and this is the only area to see flightless cormorants.
THE SOUTHERN GALAPAGOS ISLANDS TRAVEL
The Southern Galapagos Islands are the oldest of the chain. Born millions of years ago from the Galapagos Hot Spot, over the millennia the plates shifted and the islands drifted further away. As years progressed the volcanoes became extinct. Without the constant influx of new lava the wind, rain and sun began to erode the rocky surface and mineral rich soil began to take its place. Fertile soil allowed new plant species to take hold allowing new animals to survive.
San Cristobal, Espanola and Floreana are home to a diverse selection of both plants and animals. Due to the great distances between these islands many of the species evolved differently creating endemic species found only on that island. This is evident both by the tortoise and the mockingbird each of the southern islands has its own endemic species.
The varied plant and animal life as well as the relatively easy landings made the Southern Islands a favorite among early sailors and settlers. However human impact had a negative impact on the wildlife originally found here. Today scientists are working to restore many of these species. Espanola is the only nesting area in the world for the Waved Albatross and has the most diverse wildlife in all of Galapagos. Both San Cristobal and Floreana offer a mixture of wildlife and the history of man in the Galapagos. The Southern Islands are some of the popular islands for cruises.
THE NORTHERN GALAPAGOS ISLANDS TRAVEL
Visiting the north will make one of the most unusual island arrivals in Galapagos. Unlike the other islands with a looming central volcano at Genovesa the caldera has collapsed. The highest point of the island is now a mere 250 foot above the sea and your yacht sails into the island's belly. To protect the area cruises holding over 40 passengers are prohibited by the National Park.
Genovesa is touted as the birders islands with more species of birds on this island than any other. You'll find colonies of red-footed, blue-footed and Nazca boobies, storm petrels, great frigates, swallow tail gulls, short eared owls and Darwin Finch just to name a few.
THE CENTRAL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS TRAVEL
The Central Galapagos Islands are those surrounding Santa Cruz. These islands are younger than those to the south and older than those to the west. These islands were created in two ways either from a single volcano like Santa Cruz and Santiago or from geological uplift like Plazas and North Seymour.
The central islands retain the dry rugged look similar to the western islands while being able to support a more complex mixture of plants and animals similar to the southern islands.
Colonies of boobies, frigate birds and sea lions are common sites. Land Iguanas can be seen in forests of opunita cactus. For many visitors, a trip to the highlands of Santa Cruz is their only opportunity to see the Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the wild. Santa Cruz is home to Puerto Ayora the most popular island based destination for Galapagos Island Travel.
The Galapagos Islands is a wonderful destination for nature lovers and those who enjoy outdoor water sports. Whether enjoying a cruise, diving or a tour there are numerous Galapagos Islands Travel options for every taste and budget.
About the Author
Teresa is a contributor to travel guide and text books for two decades. She has developed and operated Galapagos travel programs for a various tour companies including Galapagosonline.com, pecializing in the Galapagos Travel and Galapagos Cruises.