Lying 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the 19 islands and 107 small islets of the Galapagos continue to excite the most well-travelled of visitors.
Sitting astride the Equator, this remote, spectacular and utterly unique destination is blessed by three currents, which provide the islands with a rich and diverse underwater fauna. In addition and unlike many other destinations, visitors get to admire the abundant and tame wildlife at very close range as the giant tortoises, blue and red-footed boobies, marine iguanas, colonies of sea lions and frigate birds often show no fear of humans.
The best way to see this naturalist paradise is by boat. There are 3, 4 and 7 night itineraries available, with bookings being taken up to 12 months in advance. Choosing the best itinerary is essential as each island offers something very special and very different to the next. The time of year to visit is also critical. Sea lions have their pups from August to October and it is possible to swim with juvenile sea lions all year except October. Albatrosses nest and mate on Espanola Island from April to November but if you plan to travel in September, you may want to consider a different month as the seas tend to be choppy and many boats take the opportunity to go in to dry dock for maintenance.
Given the distinctive geography, geology and huge variety of wild species of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, little wonder Charles Darwin was inspired to write ‘The Origin of the Species’ following his five week stay on the islands back in the 1800s.