The Galápagos Islands is a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. It's considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing. A province of Ecuador, it lies about 1,000km off its coast. Its isolated terrain shelters a diversity of plant and animal species, many found nowhere else. Charles Darwin visited in 1835, and his observation of Galápagos' species later inspired his theory of evolution.
There have been 13 volcanic eruptions among the islands over the last 100 years. The most recent eruption in May of 2015 raised concerns about the endemic species of pink iguanas that are found on Isabela Island. Fortunately, the iguana’s habitat on the northwest side of the volcano seemed to be unharmed. Watching a volcanic eruption is one of the most thrilling and surreal experiences; it is the true fabric of island formation, and the most primeval show of how evolutionary biology works.
The Galapagos is the only place in the northern hemisphere where you can see penguins in their natural habitat. They’re the second smallest species of penguin, and they’re typically found on the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina, although some colonies are found within the central islands and some as far south as Floreana Island. What in the world is a penguin doing in the tropics?
Nearly 20 percent of the marine life around the islands is endemic to the area, and this includes marine iguanas. These are the only lizards in the world who enjoy water so much that they’ve learned how to swim in it and feed almost entirely on seaweed (algae).
- Located near the equator, the islands experience stable weather throughout the year. There is no cold weather, so you can visit any time of the year. There are two markedly different seasons, in spite of being right at the Equator, and these two seasons turn the islands either into a green lush tropical lands or a barren tropical desert. The hot season, the only time the islands see a bit of rainfall, lasts from December through May, but it produces a calmness in the ocean that you may appreciate, as well as ocean temperatures ranging about 26C (79F). The dry season lasts from June through November and it is here when the southeast trade winds bring a more fresh and dry outlook to the islands.