Every year, the Galapagos Islands is flooded by tourists that are eager to see its otherworldly landscapes and creatures.
However, there are many interesting facts about this place that are unknown to many people, even the ones that have visited them. Here are some interesting facts about the Galapagos Islands:
Charles Darwin and the Galapagos
While the famous scientist and theorist, Charles Darwin, did not discover Galapagos, the islands became his main source of study in 1835, when his ship the HMS Beagle, was blown off course.
During his five-week stay on the Galapagos Islands, the research he made there gave him the basis of his paper, The Origin of the Species, and the theory of evolution.
Amazing Volcanic Landscape
The overlapping of three tectonic plates, the Pacific, Cocos, and Nazca formed the Galápagos Islands. This leads to the occasional volcanic activity and the formation of islands with landscapes you’ve never seen before.
It was actually the volcanoes that created the Galapagos Islands, four million years ago, when they rose from the sea after erupting from the Earth’s crust. In the past two centuries, there have been around sixty eruptions from active volcanoes, with the most recent one happening in May of 2015.
Seeing how a volcano erupts is exciting and surreal as well. It’s like actually showing you how the islands were created. But don’t do this on your own, take one of the many Galapagos Islands tours to enjoy this amazing phenomenon and stay safe as well.
The Giant Galapagos Tortoise
When most people think of Galapagos, they think of the giant tortoise species. And it’s only normal, as the name Galapagos is derived from the old Spanish word galápago, which means “tortoise”.What makes these tortoises so impressive is that they can reach a lifespan of 170 years and weight of 417 kg (919 lb). Can you imagine a turtle that weighs almost half a ton?
As the Galapagos tortoise can live well over a century, this makes it the longest-lived vertebrate on Earth. Seeing the largest living species of tortoise in a Galapagos Islands tour is an experience you will never forget.
Another extra fun fact is the interaction Darwin had with these tortoises. According to his journal, when he got near them, they would retreat into their shells, so he would climb on top of the tortoise when it started to move again. So, basically, the greatest theorist of all times tried riding a giant tortoise. He mentioned that it was very difficult to maintain his balance while the reptile moved.
Best Place to Dive and Swim with the Wildlife
Around the islands, there are around 30 diving sites which can be accessed by taking a day trip or by a Galapagos Islands cruise. Twenty percent of the marine life, which live in these waters are endemic to these islands, and can only be found here.
If you get to dive or swim there, you will come into contact with many colorful species of fish, playful sea lions, White-tipped reef sharks, and occasionally hammerhead sharks and whale sharks. You can also see the green sea turtle, which is an ancient creature, as its species is believed to have lived at the same time when dinosaurs existed.
Most of the Galapagos Islands make up a Giant National Park
Due to its biological and scientific importance, 97 percent of the islands’ land was declared a national park. While most of the protected areas are uninhabited by people, there are actually 25,000 people who live in small communities spread across the islands.
Best Travel Destination to Visit all Year Round
Due to its proximity to the Equator, the islands have stable weather throughout the year, meaning that you can go on Galapagos Islands tours any time of the year.
Another advantage from its tropical location, is that the Galapagos Islands has around 12 hours of daylight every day of the year, so you’ll get to spot both diurnal and nightly faunae.
The Most Biodiverse Place on Earth
The Galapagos archipelago is home to the largest assortment of species that can be found on Earth. In this huge national park live many diverse species, half of the land species and one-fifth of the marine species being unique to the Galapagos.
One this is for sure: whether you take a Galapagos Islands cruise on the water or any Galapagos Islands tours on land, the unique volcanic scenery and abundant wildlife are something worth seeing.