Galápagos islands history started three to five million years ago, when the first tips of the Galapagos volcanoes first raised above the sea surface.
The archipelago is composed almost exclusively of volcanic rock, located in one of the most active volcano regions on Earth known as the Nazca Plate. Wolf volcano - in the northern tip of Isabela island - is the highest point, at an elevation of 1,707 m (5,600 ft) above sea level.
Nothing or little happened here for hundreds of thousands of years - until 1535 - that marked the official discovery of the archipelago by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, bishop of Panama.
Hideout for buccaneers in the long history of rivalry and hostility between the Spanish Armada and British Navy, they left their imprint on the archipelago: Buccaneers Cove in Santiago island.
Apart from being their base, Galapagos islands provided them with fresh water and food.
They discovered that giant tortoises could live up to one year without food so they carried them alive and stacked them upside down to keep a fresh supply of meat on board.
Later, in the 1800s, whaling ships came regularly hunting the population of sperm whales almost to extinction.
The Galapagos archipelago lies 960 km (600 miles) from the coast of Ecuador and it's composed by 61 islands and islets, with a total land area of 7,880 sq. km (4,897 sq. miles).
The main islands are...
For nature and wildlife lovers, adventure travel Galapagos islands is something not to be missed, it will provide you with the most exotic and unique Ecuador holidays.
Truly a trip of a lifetime.
Another interesting fact about Galápagos Islands is their location, at the confluence of two ocean currents: the cold Humboldt Current and the warm Panama Current. Due to this, Galapagos islands are a "melting pot" of marine species, an incredible mix of polar and tropical species.
The most distinctive of all Galápagos Islands animals is the giant tortoise. A full grown adult can weigh over 300 kilograms (661 lb) and measure 1.2 meters (4 ft) long, with a life expectancy in the range of 100-150 years.
The myriad of species conforming Galápagos islands fauna include land and marine iguanas, dolphins, whales, rays, sea turtles, penguins and fur seals.
Cormorants, petrels, pink flamingos, lava lizards, geckos and snakes, plus 120 species of crabs, 300 of fish, 200 of starfishes and urchins, 13 of finches (also known as Darwin finches).. and the list goes on.
Adventure travel Galápagos islands will let you swim, snorkel or dive like no place else on Earth. What will provably strike you more is the sheer fearlessness of the wildlife, due to the lack of natural predators.
You can actually dive eye to eye with sea wolves and other marine creatures.
Visit Ecuador Adventure Travel to learn more about recommended places for diving. Some spots are reserved to professional divers only.
Galápagos islands plants are equally fascinating in this enchanted archipélago, from the giant pear and candelabra cacti,on the shores, to orchids, bromeliads and tree daisies on the highlands.
This laboratory of evolution, with such a variety of species, inspired Charles Darwin to write "The Origins Of Species" in 1859, which put forward the concept of evolution by natural selection.
To find out more about his life and work refer to The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online.
Galápagos national park was founded in 1959.
A few years later, The Charles Darwin Research Station was opened and these two bodies regulate the do(s) and don't(s) in the archipélago, from regulating boats to implementing trails for visitors.
Before coming here, please review and get acquainted with Galapagos National Park Rules.
An entry fee of around U$S 110 will be charged upon arrival to Galapagos airport, otherwise it will be included in the price of your Galápagos island tour if booking through a tourist operator/Agency.
To take a Galápagos island cruise is another fantastic way to reach the archipélago.
In fact, the list of Galápagos islands cruises to choose from is broad and varied, here's one to get you started: Galasam Yacht Cruises.
Galapagos islands are one of the world's greatest natural treasures, not only a superb destination for your Ecuador holidays but definitely the most unique South America travel experience of a lifetime...
Have you been there already?..
If so, please take a minute and share the highlights of your vacation in Ecuador.
Baltra is currently and Ecuadorian Naval Base outside the limits of Galapagos National Park.
San Cristobal instead is located just outside Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, actual capital of the archipelago.