Six hundred miles west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, the Galápagos Islands contain birds, fish, reptiles and mammals not found anywhere else in the world.
One in four animal species is endemic – found only in the Galápagos. As many of the animals here have no natural predators, they’re virtually fearless and will frequently approach visitors.
Made famous for inspiring biologist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection, the islands provide tourists the opportunity to observe an abundance of wildlife without the aid of binoculars. This uniqueness has earned the Galápagos a place on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
As a visitor to the Galápagos, you can swim among playful sea lion pups and penguins as well as turtles and reef fish and view the marine iguana feeding on kelp. On land, you’ll find yourself sidestepping nesting Blue-footed Boobies, sea lions and the colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs.
There’s no inexpensive way to see the Galápagos Islands, but I recommend one of the many adventure cruises aboard small boats (15 people or less), as the smaller boats are able to travel closer to shore around the islands than the yachts or cruise ships.