The Galápagos Islands are situated 1000 kilometers west off the coast of South America. The archipelago consists of 20 islands plus several islets and there’s an overwhelming amount of sites to visit, some which can only be accessed by foot or boat. Although the islands are commonly known of, they are still shrouded in degree of mystery. Here are some basic facts about the region;
- The archipelago is made up of 18 main islands and lies directly on the Equator, 600 miles off the western coast of Ecuador, the nation it belongs to.
- The islands formed (and are still being formed) as a result of a geologic hotspot, a place where magma rises through and melts Earth’s crust, creating volcanoes (the islands).
- The geographic isolation of the Galápagos over millions of years means species evolved on certain islands that exist nowhere else on Earth, in some cases not even on neighboring islands in the same archipelago.
- It was this rich diversity of endemic species that contributed to the research of Charles Darwin in 1835 and was crucial to his later theory of evolution via natural selection.
- The Galápagos remains relatively pristine and retains its biological diversity to this day. The islands make up a national park, a World Heritage Site, a biosphere reserve, and a marine reserve.
- In recent years, as many as 185,000 visitors have traveled to the Galápagos annually. Visits to designated sites on the islands must be made with a certified naturalist guide.
Getting to the Galápagos isn’t easy, but here are some Instagram shots that will inspire you to visit right now.