Exploring the world's greatest eco reserve
There's an interesting scientific theory that suggests that if all insect species vanished all life as we know it would be extinct within 50 years, but if all humans vanished, just about every other species on Earth would thrive. Incredibly, we don't need to rely on our imagination to see what that scenario would look like; there's a near 'human free' biosphere some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador - it's called The Galapagos Islands. 

Born of fire, this volcanic archipelago was made famous by Charles Darwin; his five weeks on the islands in 1835 providing much of the evidence for his theory of evolution. Preserving that discovery (and the local wildlife) some 97% of the landmass is now a National Park, allowing visitors to walk among giant tortoises, catch lizards sunbathing, and swim with bottlenose dolphins; every walk is like a David Attenborough documentary!

Scroll down for our guide to this truly unique destination.
When, How & For How Long?
Because of the island's unique position near the equator the seasons are far from normal, in fact there are really only two; a cool and dry period from June - November and a warmer but wetter period from December - May. The latter is generally the better choice as the calmer seas make for better underwater visibility (which you'll really appreciate when you dive in!)

In order to make the trip really worthwhile we'd recommend at least ten days (two of which you'll spend travelling). With a couple of nights in South America en route that then leaves a full five or six days days to explore the islands, which we suggest you do by boat or yacht. 

Note we didn't say SHIP... Here you won't find any 3000+ passenger liners, just smaller vessels with capacity for perhaps 100 or so guests (with different budgets) offering a plethora of opportunities to explore on shore - more about that below. 
What's Unique? What ISN'T???
There are more than 400 species of fish and an abundance of mammals found solely on the Galapagos Islands, making it the definitive 'bucket list' trip for any biologist or naturalist:
The Blue-footed Booby
A marine bird which only lands to breed but is regularly seen on the Galapagos Islands. As the name suggests, these distinctive birds have bright blue feet! With brown wings and a white body and head, the contrast is striking. If you visit the Galapagos Islands during mating season, you might get to see their spectacular dancing skills. They alternately lift each blue foot and strut around the female, trying hard to grab her attention.
The Magnificent Frigate Bird
The Magnificent Frigate Bird definitely lives up to its name – the males especially! Their black feathers have an iridescent purple tint when sparkling in the sun. In the mating season, their red throat pouches puff up to an incredible size, attempting to attract a mate. Other birds need to guard their supplies around them as they have a tendency to steal! They’ve been caught snatching food from others mouths and even eating their newly born chicks!
The Marine Iguana
These scale clad reptiles are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. They aren’t very agile on land but are great swimmers and the only lizard in the world who can forage at sea! There are 6 subspecies of Marine Iguanas, each one living on a different island. Normally a dark black colour but in mating season that all changes. The iguanas turn red and black on Santa Cruz, pinky-red and dull green on Fernandina, and on Española and Floreana they turn a brilliant bright green and red!
The Galapagos Giant Tortoise
The Galapagos Islands are home to the largest living species of tortoise in the world. They can weigh up to 417 kg and grow up to 6 feet long! The Galapagos tortoise are best spotted on Santa Cruz but can easily be found on most islands. Did you know that the islands are actually named after the Galapagos tortoise? When discovered by the Spaniards in 1535 the tortoises were absolutely everywhere, sothey d the group of islands ‘Galapagos’ – Spanish for tortoise.
What To See & Do
One of the most photographed landmarks in the Galapagos Islands, Pinnacle Rock sits sandwiched between two sandy beaches, a snorkeling site (where fish, penguins and friendly sea lions play) and the lunar hinterland of Bartolome.
To step upon Sullivan Bay is to find yourself atop the surreal swirls of one the planet’s younger lava flows (a mere century old), which is known as panoehoe (Hawaiian for ‘rope’) or ropey lava for the rope-like shape that it solidifies into. 
Essentially motorized dinghies or ribs, these highspeed fishing boats are used to ferry visitors from mangroves to coves, from caves to yachts and back again without complaint. They’re also great at getting into smaller corners that larger boats baulk at, as well as in and amongst the sun fish, dolphins and sea turtles – so you can sail at the heart of some of nature’s most spectacular displays.
Combining the cuisines of the South American coast with local fare, visitors love Galapagian food. This is because it’s mostly based around simple, light dishes that focus on fresh fruit and even fresher seafood. Favorites include tree tomato, shrimp, lobster and sea cucumber, but even the humblest dishes are usually a hit, from locro (a cheese and potato soup) to bolones (a plantain dumpling breakfast).
Fun Fact: Here There Be Stars!
Unobscured by light pollution, the night skies over the Galápagos are some of the most dazzling on the planet. Straddling the Equator, the archipelago also offers a rare opportunity to view the constellations of the both the Northern & Southern Hemispheres at the same time.

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