The Galapagos Islands, situated about 600 miles west of Ecuador, are a small archipelago consisting of 19 islands of various sizes. These islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. The islands of the Galapagos are where Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and, consequently, “Darwin’s Finches” stemmed from. I have had the amazing opportunity to spend 10 days on this archipelago, and consider it the most life-changing experience I have had to this day.
In order to protect the islands from the overflowing of visitors, the Ecuadorian government limits the amount of people that can visit the area each year. Furthermore, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is dedicated to conserve the Islands. WWF has been educating locals on things such as efficient and sustainable fishing, as well as creating new environmentally-safe landfills that are in the process of being built on one of the main islands.
The amount of diversity of animals and plants that is spread across the archipelago is remarkable. One of the reasons these islands are so unique is because different species of animals can be found in different parts of the archipelago. Red Footed Boobies, for example, can be found primarily in the northern islands.
[A National Geographic review of The Galapagos Islands]
There are three main islands in the archipelago. The mode of transportation is usually a ferry which takes around an hour and a half to get to each island. Some of the islands are only accessible by cruise ships, which are very common there. I have personally decided to stay on each of the main islands for a few days, and explore them on my own, rather than get on a cruise ship where the itinerary is preplanned and somewhat boring to me. I ended up enjoying every second I had on these islands as I snorkeled and discovered penguins, rays, sea lions and sea turtles, to name a few of the amazing wildlife found on the Galapagos.
Words and pictures alone can not describe the serenity and beauty that the Islands have to offer, and I will not be exaggerating when I refer to the Galapagos Islands as a Mecca for nature lovers. I highly recommend taking the time to do some research on these incredible islands, followed by a visit of your own.
-Written by Yuval Edrey