"Places and faces of the Galapagos" Top 5 Page for this destination Galápagos Islands by Quero
Galápagos Islands Travel Guide: 1,107 reviews and 4,784 photos
The Galapagos is an archipelago situated 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. It's not the sort of place that you just "discover" without expecting to--it takes time, effort and a decent budget. But it is worth every second, every frustration, and every penny.
I encountered animals so unafraid of people that I sometimes had to step over them to follow the trails mapped out on the islands. They would look me in the eye, seeming to challenge me to understand their place in the world, my place in the world, and the relationship between the two.
I found myself among sandy beaches, stony beaches, rocky shores, soaring cliffs, crater lakes, lava fields, submerged calderas, crashing waves, placid lagoons, sunsets and moonrises, and a microcosm of Earth in perpetual reinvention.
These names represent some of the violent forces and harsh conditions that have formed the islands and continue to make them what they are.
The Galapagos archipelago sits right on the Equator. You would expect it to be tropical like Hawaii or Bali, but in fact there is little rain, so the land is dry, and hardy plants like the prickly pear cactus trees are found all over. Moreover, during the winter months--the "garua" season--it's not even all that warm here, not what you would expect of an equatorial climate. Visitors are often taken by surprise and are unprepared for the cool nights and mild, overcast days.
The Humbolt and Cromwell ocean currents both bring cold water to the archipelago, making it an attractive place for certain cold-water animals such as penguins, and also for ocean going animals like schooling hammerhead sharks.
The Nazca plate, on which the archipelago rides, has a hotspot which has been creating the islands for at least 4 million years. The hotspot is still forming new parts of the archipelago, and the volcanos of the Galapagos are considered to be among the most active in the world. The pahoehoe lava fields of the most recent flows present eerie landscapes and biozones still in development.
No visit to the Galapagos is really complete without getting into the water to see the amazing diversity of life, including the endemic species the islands are home to. No visitor to the islands who has swum with sea lions or penguins ever forgets the experience.
Getting wet in the Galapagos is not for the faint of heart! The water is cold, and even snorkelers wear neoporene wetsuits. There are significant currents and surges, and at certain (though by no means all) sites, underwater photographers need to anchor themselves down with special hooks in order to have at least one hand free to shoot a picture.
The rewards are great, however. Any potential visitor to the Galapagos would be well-advised to get a fair amount of practice in snorkeling or diving before going to the islands, so that they are ready for this exciting aspect of the Galapagos.
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