A little more than 900 km west of continental Ecuador lie the Galapagos Islands, the archipelago made famous by Charles Darwin. His observation of the differences in animal species from one island to another led to his theory of natural selection, explained in his well-known book The Origin of Species. The diversity of life on the islands is just one of many reasons why they are one of the top destinations for tourists all over the world.
The Natural Beauty Of The Islands Is Preserved
Because 97% of the land in the Galapagos Islands is a national park, tourism is strictly controlled in order to protect the natural environment. Only a certain number of people can visit the island each day, and they must follow guidelines regarding where they can go and what they can bring. The rule of thumb is to "leave nothing but your footprints" behind. These rules ensure that the flora and fauna of the islands are safe from human interference. Thus, when tourists visit, they are able to enjoy a pure and healthy ecosystem, including flora and fauna that don't exist anywhere else on earth.
The Biggest Tortoises In The World
Weighing up to 550 pounds, the giant Galapagos tortoises are the largest in the world, and sadly, their numbers are dwindling. They are native to seven of the islands and most populous on Isabela Island. The name of the archipelago actually comes from the Spanish word for tortoise, galapago. Unlike sea turtles, these giant tortoises live entirely on land and feed on grasses, leaves, cacti, and other vegetation.
Exquisitely Beautiful Beaches
The beaches of the Galapagos Islands feature blindingly white sand or black lava and clear turquoise water with areas that are perfect for snorkeling. Instead of hundreds of other tourists, visitors can share the beach with sea lions, Galapagos penguins, or even a flock of flamingos instead. Tortuga Bay Beach on Santa Cruz Island and Gardner Bay Beach on Espanola Island are two of the most famous and most beautiful beaches in the archipelago.