The mythical islands and Ecuador’s national park dazzles visitors today just as they once did with Charles Darwin, a natural paradise is not always careful, but still has another chance to be preserved.
The Galapagos Islands are now part of the territory of the Republic of Ecuador, whose mainland coast a thousand miles distant. Every day aircraft arrive there with their full load of tourists. The vast majority of Americans and Europeans, as were also the first explorers who the predators to fear.
Today there are other times and are other dangers. Tourism pressure doubles the amount of visitors that the authorities consider sustainable for a very delicate ecosystem. And while travelers tend to have a religious profile and respectful by nature, has coincided with over-exposure indirectly by local people and other companies involved.
For now, most of the archipelago has been converted into a national park, including many areas totally restricted income. There are foundations that also work for habitat conservation. Still, the Galapagos still retain the magic of a fantasy setting, a sort of theme park at the time of Adam and Eve. Not that they are not as extravagant as many species of animals and plants. What is striking is the great ecology. There is something curious is that both birds, sea lions, reptiles and giant tortoises that give name to the archipelago ignore humans who approach them. And even seem to pose for the cameras with some exhibitionism.
How to get to visit the Galapagos?
There are two basic ways to visit the Galapagos. The most complete and expensive is on board a cruise. Dozens of boats of varying size, including sailboats, make multi-day tours around the islands, with some landings.
The other option is a land stay in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, where there are several hotels of good standard. In general, hosting packages include dinner and daily excursions by boat to various locations nearby, with lunch on board. In both cases, except souvenirs and drinks, extra expenses are few.
Tours, transfers and more…
Metropolitan Touring is one of the largest companies that organize tourism to Galapagos. It has several big boats and operates the Finch Bay hotel, close to Puerto Ayora.
This hotel deserves a separate paragraph because it is one of the best resorts all over Ecuador. The only hotel in Galapagos with all services and private beach, and although it lies just a few hundred meters from the port, its only access is by water, completely isolating the movement of people. You get in the boats of the hotel or taxi boat to a small pier where begins a long catwalk leading through the mangroves to the cabins.
Admission to the archipelago is usually made through the Baltra Island airport, where several flights arrive daily from Quito and Guayaquil on the mainland. The visitor must undergo a strict review to prevent the entry of polluting local habitat and pay the entrance fee, amounting to U.S. $ 50 (double for non-Hispanic). A bus will take you to a nearby jetty where a boat will cross the Santa Cruz Island. Again on a bus across the island from north to south to Puerto Ayora where you take the cruise or you will arrive at the hotel.
This town is a small town whose center can be covered in a free moment. Hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants spread out along the avenue Charles Darwin. Deserves a walk as it may be something of local life: teenagers playing volleyball in the Coastal or commercial fishermen cleaning the fish just brought for sale, surrounded by pelicans waiting to throw them a discard, like dogs waiting for a bone .
That crossing of Santa Cruz is an excursion in itself. From the coast up into the center of the island, a few hundred meters above sea level, where the temperature is lower and the showers are common. We visit two craters and endangered endemic forest. Depending on the time of year, you may be visiting an area inhabited by turtles.
The capital of the province of Galapagos Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. It can be reached at sea or by air. It also has hotels and tourist services.
Visiting sites approved by the National Park is spread by several of the islands and are strictly regulated in terms of possible activities, such as watching and diving animal colonies. Even the private boats are restricted in where to navigate. Agencies and hotels organize excursions, and there is little that can be done on their own.
The Pacific Ocean archipelago is truly magical!