The Galapagos Islands
"The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention"
Charles Darwin, October 8th 1845
Lying almost 1,000 km off the Ecuadorian coast, the Galapagos Islands, or the "Bewitched Isles" as the Spaniards called them, are home to many unique species of animals that live nowhere else in the world. The rare and endangered giant tortoise, lava lizards, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, and of course, Darwin's finches live only in the Galapagos. The surrounding waters teem with life: sea lions, dolphins, and the only species of penguin in the world to be found in tropical waters. This is one of the planet’s natural paradises; its barren, volcanic landscape is unrivaled in its haunting beauty. The islands' shores are fringed with unending white beaches, unique flora and fauna, and incredible tunnels of lava, making the Galapagos the most visited National Reserve on Earth.
The giant tortoise is the best known creature in the Galapagos. Once a common food source, they were hunted to near extinction by whalers and sealers during the 19th century. Another fascinating animal species found here is the marine iguana, a descendant of land iguanas that evolved the ability to hunt for food underwater.
The Galapagos is also an eco-marine paradise for divers. Certain areas are perfect for both deep and shallow dives. Here you’ll find pristine coral reefs, whale and hammerhead sharks, sting rays, turtles, and many other marine creatures. In the depths of the ocean you'll encounter strong ocean currents and lava tunnels with lava still flowing. Nature lovers shouldn't miss the Galapagos Islands, for they offer a close-up view of a wondrous natural world, virtually unchanged since Charles Darwin’s historic advent here in 1831.