Galapagos Information

The Galapagos Archipelago is located on both sides of the equatorial line approximately 970 km (600 miles) west from continental Ecuador.Local time is -6 GMT. It is formed by thirteen greater islands, six smaller islands, 42 islets and several rocks, which cover a total area of 7,850 km².

The largest island is Isabela, with a total area of 4,590 km² which presents the highest point of the archipelago, volcano Wolf, 1,690 meters. 97% of the total area of the isles belongs to the Galapagos National Park, the rest belongs to inhabited and developed areas like the island of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana, in addition to Baltra an island occupied by the Ecuadorian Armed forces.

The Galapagos Archipelago is also a province of Ecuador, whose capital is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on the island of San Cristobal. Puerto Ayora, on the island  of Santa Cruz, is the city with the highest tourist activity. The islands total population including floating population is around 16,109 inhabitants.

The Isles were formed around 4 or 5 millions years ago as a result of volcanic eruptions, emerging from the ocean surface. Today, the Galapagos are  considered one of the most active volcanic island groups in the world. Many islands are only the tips of some volcanoes and show an advanced state of erosion, others are completely immersed.

Recent eruptions as the Marchena in 1991 or Fernandina in 1995, are evidence that the other islands are constantly forming. Other islands like Baltra and North Seymour, have evidence of having been formed by tectonic movements, in which the bottom of the ocean was pushed towards the surface.

The Galapagos Islands form the most diverse and complex Archipelago in the world, in which the conditions remain relatively untouched. Due to its distance from the continent and because it was never attached to it, the existent flora and fauna evolved extraordinarily up to what they are today and have remained unchanged until man arrived to them for the first time.

The species of plants and animals inherent to the islands didn't have any predators for thousands of years of evolution, for which animals show no fear in the presence of humans and other animals. This is what makes Galapagos such a very special and fascinating place and of so much interest for science, tourism and photography. Visitors will never forget this experience with nature.

     
     
     

Meanwhile, this same particularity is the cause of its delicate and fragile balance, thus the importance of the control of the introduction and spreading of foreign species, as well as a strict tourism control and other extractive human activities such as fishing.

The management and protection institution on the isles is The Galapagos National Park with the collaboration of entities, as Charles Darwin Foundation and others. The wild life is made up mainly of birds, mammals and reptiles. There are no amphibians in the Galapagos. Its rich marine life makes this place an incomparable place and is one of the most important scuba diving destinies in the world.

At present, the animals introduced many years ago by settlers, as goats, pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and rats which, having no competitors they have expanded, becoming one of the main problems for the conservation of the islands fauna. The same occurs with plants, thus, the institutions involved in conservation are also taking care of control and extermination of plants and animals.

Wheather

Although located on the equator, the Galapagos Islands are not always humid and hot as other equatorial regions, due to its location on the Pacific dry area, where temperatures keep low par of the year by the influence of the Humboldt cold current coming from the Antarctica. This very particular air cooling phenomena, together with the Southeast Trade winds and occasionally the Niño influence, produce two climatic seasons in the year. The rainy season from January to May, distinguishes itself by hot temperatures between 23° and 27°C on sunny days.

     

The ocean is warmer and quite calm. This season can present rainy periods, which are generally scarce, but there could be years which  present excessive rain, like the ones provoked by the El Niño phenomenon. The cold season from June to December, with temperatures that decrease to at least 19C, is mainly provoked by the cold Humboldt current. 

The cold water makes the air temperature descend, bringing a rough wind with a wet mist and presents cloudy skies for several days. The cold season is generally dry, although a slight drizzle is present on high areas, which keeps them always humid. The result of this is that 7 different vegetation areas can be found on the bigger islands with altitudes higher than 500m, and each one of them with their own micro climate. The southern currents also bring large quantities of plankton, which together with cold water, provoke a distinct increase in marine life.

Entry Requirements

In order to enter the Galapagos islands all passengers need their passport. Even if you don't need vaccines to enter the isle, it is best to get protection against Malaria, Tetanus and Yellow  Fever if you require to travel to the Amazon rainforest or the Coast. Please find out about this and look for requirements and recommendations in relation to this, at your local health center. 

In order to enter the Galapagos you need to pay US$ 100 in taxes to the National Park, which need to be paid in cash at Baltra or San Cristobal airports. Children under 12 will pay US$ 50.  Transit control card for adult and children under 12  $10 Only 20 kilos and one baggage per person will be allowed on flights towards Galapagos.

Galapagos Packing check list

  • Small backpack (waterproof)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sneakers with rubber soles
  • Walking sandals
  • Shorts
  • Long pants
  • Cotton T-shirts
  • Long and short-sleeved shirts
  • Bathing suit
  • Wet suit (for snorkeling in cold months: Jul - Nov)
  • Socks
  • Hat or baseball cap
  • Underwear
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Windbreaker or light rain jacket
  • Binoculars (Water resistant)
  • Camera, lenses, lots of film and extra battery
  • Notebook
  • Zip-lock bags to keep your equipment dry
  • Snorkel, mask and fins (optional)
  • Any medicine you may be taking
  • Seasickness patches or pills
  • Book
  • Passport (with tourist card)
  • Insurance
     

What to see in Galapagos:

Venezuela N9-82 and Oriente
Quito - Ecuador
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