Charles Darwin made the Galapagos Islands known to the world, but it was not until 1959 that the archipelago became a National Park. Since then, hundreds of people travel to these islands of Ecuador to enjoy a unique ecosystem in the world. And it is that as soon as you see the turquoise waters from the air, one already begins to count the minutes until the plane lands and to be able to go out and explore that very special world.
Here we present 10 things to do in Galapagos.
1. Walk alongside the largest turtles in the world
Surely, when the Galapagos Islands are mentioned, you think of a huge tortoise. In fact, the image of the Galapagos is the portrait of George, a giant tortoise that died in 2012 and became the symbol of the islands. For this reason, spotting these species of turtles is the main objective of all those who wish to travel to the Galapagos Islands.
Most of these tortoises live in the forests, and touring the trails and farms next to them is an experience that must be done in the Galapagos Islands if you want to live the emotion of being in front of an animal that is unique in the world.
2. Swim with sea lions
What makes the Galapagos Islands so special (besides its tortoises), is that most of the animals that inhabit it do not run away when they see humans nearby. This is especially the case with the sea lions, who you can find sleeping peacefully in the town’s main square; but the best thing is to see them in the water.
There are several tours that offer excursions to different uninhabited Galapagos islands so you can snorkel alongside them in a peaceful environment. We assure you that seeing them swim with you is an emotion that you will never forget.
3. Diving with the hammerhead shark
Diving lovers have their place in the Galapagos Islands, especially at a point called “sleeping lion”. In the crack of this incredible rock you can have the experience of one of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. The reason is that around it there are a good number of different marine species, including the hammerhead shark. On a sunny and lucky day, you can even see it snorkeling.
4. Meet the blue-footed booby
The blue-footed booby is another of the emblematic animals of the Galapagos Islands. Together with the turtles, his portrait has become a stamp on t-shirts and other souvenirs. On Isabela Island or North Seymour you will be able to see up close that its legs are an intense light blue color.
5. Say hello to the only penguins in the northern hemisphere
The Galapagos Islands are not a permanent residence for penguins, but when food and water temperatures allow it, you will find them lounging on lava tunnels or even swimming swiftly by your side. Although it is difficult to see them in the water since they move very quickly, seeing them in action is another one of those experiences that you must do in the Galapagos Islands.
6. Peek into the entrances of a lava tunnel
Hundreds of years ago, the Galapagos Islands had frequent volcanic activity. Its surface was covered with several rivers of lava that reached the sea. Of these rivers now only their magmatic “bark” remains, cold and hard as a stone. It is possible to visit several of them on the Isabela and Santa Cruz islands.
7. Camping next to a volcano
Being a National Park, the Galapagos Islands have very restricted camping areas whose reservations must be made one or two days in advance. One of those areas is the base of the Chico volcano, in Isabela. Few know this fact, so sleeping at the base of a volcano in the Galapagos is an almost lonely experience.
8. Snorkel with white tip sharks
They are also called blue sharks and you can find them on many of the beaches of the inhabited Galapagos islands. The star places to see them and swim with them are the Isabela Tunnels and the Bahía Tortuga beach in Santa Cruz. If you come across one, don’t be afraid! They are totally harmless. Also, seeing them swim so close to you is pure adrenaline.
9. Sail with dolphins
To see dolphins in the Galapagos Islands you have to have a little luck, since no tour guarantees your sighting. It may be that during your transfer from island to island, or on one of the tours, the dolphins decide to swim near the boat. So when you book a Galapagos Islands tour, keep your fingers crossed and ask for the dolphins to show up.
10. Sunbathe next to an iguana
Marine iguanas are found in every corner of the inhabited Galapagos islands. Like the giant tortoises, they are an endemic species, so you won’t see them anywhere else in the world. In addition, they are so sure that Galapagos belongs to them, that they will come up and swim with you on any Galapagos beach.
As far as security is concerned, you can rest easy and not worry when moving around the islands, since it is the safest destination in Ecuador. Of course, currently the islands have a single and very basic hospital. Due to the high prices of medical care in this paradise, and the possibility of suffering some type of injury in the different activities that can be carried out there, it is essential to travel to the Galapagos Islands with the best travel insurance.