Galapagos Islands Guided Tour
The Galapagos Archipelago is situated 800 kilometers west of the Ecuadorian coast and lie directly on the equator. The archipelago encompasses over 50 islands of volcanic origin that are spread out over an area of about 4, 500 square kilometers. The volcanic Galapagos platform originated probably not more than 15 million years ago and the oldest island not more than 2.4 million years ago. Volcanic eruptions still occur in the islands. Isla Fernandina and the Sierra Negra volcano on Isla Isabela have erupted within the past 10 years.
According to legend... the Inca Tupac Yupanqui set sail from the coast of Ecuador in the late 1400's with 20, 000 men on balsa rafts. On his journey he discovered and named two islands - Ava Chumbi (Outer Island) and Nina Chumbi (Fire Island) . Some historians believe these islands were the Galapagos.
In 1535, a Spanish captain, Thomas de Berlanga rediscovered the Galapagos archipelago.
Puerto Viejo April 26, 1535: "The ship sailed with very good breezes for seven days, and the pilot kept near land and we had a six-day calm; the currents were so strong and engulfed us in such a way that on Wednesday, the tenth of March, we sighted an island; and, as on board there was enough water for only two more days, they agreed to lower the life-boat and go on land for water and grass for the horses. And once out, they found nothing but seals, and turtles and such big tortoises that each could carry a man on top of himself, and many iguanas that are like serpents."
1794 Map of the Galapagos Islands
They were later used by Spanish and English buccaneers, whaling fleets, and fur sealers.
USS Essex in Galapagos c. 1813
Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835 and made them famous in Origin of Species.
scientific collection expedition of The California Academy of Sciences in 1906 also helped bring the Galapagos to attention of scientists and the public. Galapagos National Park was established in 1959 to protect the unique flora and fauna of the islands. That same year the Charles Darwin Research Station was founded in Academy Bay on Isla Santa Cruz. In 1979, the Galapagos Islands were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The best way to learn about the islands is with a guide