If you have been reading my blog for a while, you’ve likely already gathered that I am head over heels in love with the Galápagos Islands.
These magical islands are unlike anywhere else on the planet, serving as a lovely reminder of how incredibly special and profoundly beautiful our planet really is.
A province of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are located about 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Created by a series of volcanic eruptions, this enchanting place is made up of 19 islands and countless islets.
Want to learn more? Read on for 10 interesting facts about the Galápagos Islands.
1. It’s The Most Biodiverse Place on Earth
A whopping 97% of the islands are considered a national park. The Galápagos National Park was established back in 1959 as Ecuador’s first national park.
Half of the land species (and 1/5 of the marine species) are endemic to the Galapagos. There are so many incredible feats of nature to see on these islands, the opportunity for interaction with the wildlife is endless!
2. They’ve Got Northern Penguins
Since adopting South Africa as my new home, I get to spy on these adorable little guys strutting the sandy shores of Boulders Beach. When it comes to seeing penguins in the Northern Hemisphere, however, you’ll only find them in the Galápagos.
3. There are Perfect Days and Nights
Owing to its location on the equator, the Galápagos Islands gets 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night all year long – so it’s a lovely year-round destination!
4. It’s Magical Under the Sea
There are a mind-blowing 800 species of mollusks and 400 species of fish swimming around the Galápagos Islands. If you are looking for a dream scuba-dive destination, look no further.
5. It’s Archipelago
The Galápagos Islands are made up of 20 islands, 42 islets and over 250 rocks. The oldest island, Espanola, is estimated to be 3.5 million years old, while the youngest, Fernandina, is still forming after 1 million years.
The Islands formed from various internal processes of Earth. They are a combination of converging tectonic plates and volcanic formation.
The Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean approximately 600 miles from mainland Ecuador. There are 180 land and marine destinations for travelers to visit.
6. Giant Tortoises
If you have seen photos of the Galápagos Islands before, you likely already know that the Galápagos are famous for their giant tortoises. They’re so famous, in fact, that the islands are named after these grand animals.
Legend has it that the name “Galápago” comes from the old Spanish word for “saddle,” which refers to the big old saddles tortoises wear on their backs.
7. It Changed the World
Charles Darwin spent five world-altering weeks in the the Galápagos Islands. Years later he presented his “On The Origin of Species,” which explained the theory of evolution.
The Galápagos were responsible for some of the most noteworthy scientific discoveries in history!
8. First Unesco World Heritage Site
In 1978 UNESCO designated Galapagos as the first World Heritage site! A World Heritage site is is a “landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties.”
This also means that there are no human inhabitants in the areas protected by Ecuador, and the Galapagos National Park charges an entrance fee from visitors
This site and its unique wildlife have been carefully preserved over the years, so you will experience pristine nature here.
9. Underwater Reptiles
Life really is different in the Galápagos! In fact, the local Galápagos Marine Iguana is the only lizard on the planet that has evolved to life in the sea.
10. It’s a Sea Lion’s Life
Forget about pushing through crowds of people at travel hotspots. The most common mammals that you will run into in the Galápagos Islands aren’t humans — they’re sea lions!
These adorable guys are always out soaking up the sun at the beach and exploring the seaside wonders.
My favorite Galápagos essentials!
READ NEXT: Tips on Getting to the Galápagos
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