Galápagos: The Enchanted Islands
The Galapagos Islands are not just any destination: there was the beginning of everything. Huge turtles, iguanas, sea horses, pelicans, sea lions, all a few meters away, make our visit a unique experience. But also its volcanic landscape shows us how the universe had to evolve over the centuries. Traveling to the Galapagos, therefore, is primarily a spiritual exercise.
They constitute an archipelago of the Pacific Ocean located 972 km off the coast of Ecuador. It consists of thirteen large islands with an area larger than 10 km², six medium-sized islands with an area of 1 km² to 10 km² and another 215 small-sized islands. The name of these due to the great variety and quantity of turtles that were in them.
They were declared a World Heritage Site in 1978 by Unesco.
Galápagos is the second archipelago with the highest volcanic activity on the planet. From there, we see in its geography the multiple scenarios that exist as a result of eruptions.
Its beauty is precisely in that aspect, previous to time.
The islands are known for their numerous endemic species and for the studies of Charles Darwin, scientist and biologist. They are called, touristy, the Enchanted Islands, denomination that the archipelago won in the sixteenth century for its great biodiversity of flora and fauna, inheriting the name for generations.
Something curious, and what Darwin wrote is what has made the Galapagos famous, its fauna. Or better yet: the proximity of this. Centuries have passed, but the behavior of the animals of the archipelago remains the same, and that produces an incomparable fascination in us.
Sea lions, dolphins, finches, turtles, sea horses, pelicans or even sharks are within reach, do not shy away from closeness. Iguanas crowd the roads, giant sea turtles swim with tourists who practice snorkeling and beautiful blue-footed boobies court in the presence of visitors. That absence of fear is what amazes the Galapagos, which makes it a unique place in the world.
But nothing is completely removed from civilization. Both Puerto Ayora and Puerto Villamil, the capitals of the islands, have a bustling life that revolves around tourism. In Puerto Ayora, for example, there is a row of overcrowded tables every night in Charles Binford Street where you can eat lobster or fish stewed in the island style.
The recommended way to visit the Islands is through a cruise, although it is also possible to do it by land or diving tours offered by the agencies. Given the growing popularity of the Galápagos, the options of boats to visit them have also increased, from simple boats to luxurious air-conditioned yachts and medium-sized cruisers.
The best trips to Galapagos are those that last at least 6 days. Here is a short list of islands that we can not miss:
Isabella: is the largest of all the islands that make up the Galapagos. We live a volcano route, snorkel among lava tunnels, walks in lagoons where pink flamingos live and splendid sunsets on a kilometric beach.
Española: it is the oldest of all. One natural wonder after another, from the huge geyser or the thousands of blue-footed boobies nesting, to the largest waved albatross colony in the world.
Floreana: With thousands of secrets and mysteries, like the Inca face carved on top of the island by past civilizations. We will see the Crown of the Devil, the flamingos, the beach of "harina".
Bartolomé: This island offers some of the most beautiful landscapes of the archipelago. The island is an extinct volcano and has a variety of red, orange, green, black and bright volcanic formations. Bartolomé has a volcanic cone that is easy to climb and offers excellent views of the other islands.
Santa Cruz: it is, in fact, a great sleeping volcano. It is the second largest island of the archipelago. Among the main attractions are the Bahía Tortuga beach, a white sand coral arena, which gets its name because it is the nesting site of the black turtle. We will enjoy the sea exclusively in a protected natural pool, known as "playa mansa", where you can snorkel and surf safely.
Las Grietas is another attractive space that presents a very special natural phenomenon. It offers two layers of water: fresh water on the surface, and salt water that enters from the sea at depth. Here we observe the impressive features and marine iguanas, hawks of the Galápagos, short-eared owls, woodpeckers, stingrays, sea lions, among many others.
San Cristóbal: we will see hammerhead sharks in the León Dormido rock, to which we will arrive by boat.
By: Andrea Cuello Navarro