Located about 972 kilometres west of continental Ecuador close to the Equator, the Galapagos Islands is one of the most isolated places on earth.   This unique environment is home to some of the most interesting species in existence.   From iguanas to giant tortoises, finches and boobies to seals, many species are found nowhere else on earth.   It is the Galapagos islands and its inhabitants that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.
The Galapagos islands first appeared about 5 million years ago from volcanic activity, and new islands are still being formed.    There are currently 18 islands with the youngest two islands still actively being created.    Of all the islands, only five are inhabited, with Isla Santa Cruz being the largest.   Other major islands include San Cristóbal (Chatham) Island, Isla Bartolome with penguins and striking landscape, Isla Española and Isla Fernandina.
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Questions answered about visiting Galapagos Islands
Anyone did some volunteer work in the Galapagos? I want to go but not sure what's the best way to find a job/volunteer position
What is the cheapest way to get from Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands) to Bartolome Island?
Which islands in the Galapagos have flamingos? And where on the island can I find them?
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Travel Tips from people who've been to Galapagos Islands
After landing in Baltra (Airport) you can take the free shuttle to the canal - takes about 5 min.
Cross the canal by ferry (50 cents) and take there a bus to Puerto Ayora - about 45-60 min. (1.80 USD)
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The Angelique is highly recommended for 4 or 8 day cruises. Lovely refurbished wooden sailing boat with great food and comfy ensuite cabins.
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If you are elderly, overweight, disabled, have mobility issues . . . the Galapagos is a great place for you to visit nature.  However, if you can walk a mile or hike a trail, and if you think of seeing nature as a walk in the woods or exploring mountains or the jungles of Costa Rica, then the Galapagos will be the biggest sucker move you will ever make.  Let's help you get started on learning why this trip is awful for anyone who has snorkeled in the Carribean, Australia, Honduras, etc. or who has even been to Sea World.  First off: Over touristed.  This is a HUGE money maker for the Ecuadorian government, and they know it.  Air fare is government regulated and a minimum $450 a pop as of May (off season) 2012.  Next, you probably will want to book a boat tour before going, because NOTHING says "sucker" like paying bucks for air fare and hotel, only to find all the boats are booked.  Slap on a grand or two for that.  Now, here's where the money comes in- take a look at the photo of the plane disgorging two stairfuls of tourists.  There are five of these per day.  And no . . . they are not spread over a large area, as you'll soon see.
As I said, this is for people with cash to burn and who can't be more active.  However, for what you pay, you'll soon learn below that it's a better deal to go to the zoo or an aquarium than the Galapagos.  Tourists flood this place with huge suitcases to go around like Disneyland.  Heck, on some of these boats I'm sure there's dinners like a Carnival cruise.  Just what you expected when going to see nature, eh?
Now, the good part.  You're thinking maybe that you go to Galapagos, hike around the islands, get to interact with birds, sea lions, etc.  Wrong!!  This thing is regulated like you can't imagine.  You go to an island, your "guide" (actually a policeman) makes sure you stay on the 1.5 meter wide path for the designated 200 meters, before turning right around and coming right back.  That's right- it's like walking around Sea World tanks.  No exploring, just do what you're told.  Think it's any better for snorkeling?  Guess again: there are 10 times more areas where you CANNOT snorkel/dive than where you can, and even those areas are restricted.  Check out the photo, you and a few other groups are all going around in your regimented troupes, and you are NEVER the only ones on the islands.  You'll see plenty of this along with the birds.
Oh, wait!  Think if you go by a cruise boat you'll avoid the rush hour?  Think again- you will NEVER be the only boat docked on an island.  There's too much money to be made, so there's always LOTS of tourists and boats around to keep you company.  What a wonderful way to see nature, just like Darwin. (not).
Speaking of Darwin, do you really think that 5 day cruise package is 5 days?  Then you're a total sucker.  Day 1: Going to the Darwin center, a 50 year old poorly maintained zoo where they have captive land turtles (the only ones you'll see) penned up.  Want to see baby turtles?  Look in the box they keep them in.  Just like Sea World.  Oh, except you dropped thousands of dollars first.  Sucker. Day 5: check out, just like a Carnival cruise!  Except with Spartan food and accommodations.  Suckered again.
I've got a great photo of the cement stairs they put on one island so all the folks with knee arthritis can explore the island on the 200 meter path.  You stick to what they give you, and the ranger cop is ALWAYS with you.  You are NEVER unsupervised here.  Just like prison.  Fun, huh? The only thing you'll see more of are the posts showing where you can walk and the STOP signs showing where you can't walk.
Oh, and when you're done, check out the trinkets you can get flooded with at the airport and in town (yup, there's a nice big city with folks living there who've never been to any islands).
Look, this is a scam.  I'm not blaming the Ecuadorean government, they're trying to make a buck and protect the environment here.  But unless you are so immobile you can't see nature other ways, stay away from the Galapagos.  Total scam.
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Galapagos Islands Travel Guide
Recent Updates for Galapagos Islands
What's there: Galapagos, History, Museum
What's there: Lunch, Smoothies, Sweets
Red H. wrote a tip on Galapagos Islands
1 year ago
This is a wildlife wonderland. Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island is crowded, I'd.. (More)
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