A young Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835 on board HMS Beagle. He spent three weeks collecting specimens of animals no one had ever seen, and scientists have been going back ever since to explore the place that inspired Darwin’s radical theory of natural selection. 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work 'On the Origin of Species'. What better way to celebrate than a visit to the Galapagos Islands? Now it’s your turn to do a little exploring!
The volcanic Galapagos Archipelago, also known as ‘The Enchanted Isles’ is made up of 13 main islands and six smaller ones lying about 600 miles (970km) from the mainland on the equator. It is the second largest marine reserve in the world, spread over 19,500 square miles (50,000 sq km) and was made a National Park in 1959.
The Islands are a living laboratory of evolution where birds and animals have no fear of man. It is possible to pass within inches of mating iguanas, walk between nesting frigate birds, stand beside blue-footed boobies feeding their chicks, gawk at fur seals and watch thousands of brightly coloured Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttling across the black volcanic rocks. In the sea visitors can swim, snorkel and dive with sharks and turtles, and come mask to face with sea lions and penguins. Also to be seen are albatrosses, lava lizards, flamingos, giant tortoises, masked boobies and Darwin finches. Anyone interested in natural history, wildlife and ecology will find a Galapagos Islands tour a truly memorable experience!
Although the islands are volcanic and largely bare of vegetation, they have different geological features that make them dramatic and strangely beautiful. These include a 30-foot (10m) high cactus forest, exquisitely twisted lava flows, spatter cones and lava tunnels, bizarre rock formations, and red, black or white sand beaches.
The magical Galapagos Islands can be enjoyed via day trips from the main island of Santa Cruz, by sailing around the islands in superior motor yachts catering for between 20 and 40 passengers, or by private yacht charter. Wonderful World will talk you through the ideal requirements for you and your party and make all the necessary arrangements.
If you would prefer to spend your time on land, walking in the Galapagos is also possible. “Galapagos…the path less travelled” is an innovative land-based program exploring the charms of the largest, most interesting and relaxed of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela. From Puerto Villamil, visitors enjoy options of horseriding or hiking on an active volcano, trekking with giant tortoises, swimming with sharks, snorkelling with turtles, and kayaking amongst flamingos.
Isabela, the largest most volcanically active and most interesting island of the chain, is also the least visited and the most relaxed. It is four times the size of the next largest island, yet has only 20% of the entire Galapagos population. Here the more adventurous traveller can observe the very source of the islands spectacular genesis. Five active volcanoes and the second largest volcanic crater in the world, Sierra Negra, can be seen and explored. Your time in Isabela is flexible. You can either stay for a week or more and take the island at your own pace, or if you prefer, we can provide you with a shorter program (at least 2 nights) before or after your Galapagos cruise.
However you decide to approach your trip, you will certainly never forget your time on these fascinating islands.