There is no other place like these islands on earth! This unmatched archipelago is a world away from the mainland, yet it also helps define the identity of Ecuador. The Galápagos Islands captured the imagination of Charles Darwin and provided the catalyst for developing his theory of evolution, forever altering the written history of life on earth. Ever since the old pirate days, when the islands were referred to as the Enchanted Islands, the Galápagos have lured the inquisitive traveler with an unearthly beauty uniquely its own. Lying more than 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos have evolved in relative isolation. The wildlife is majestic and friendly, with very little fear of people. Don't expect palm trees, white-sand beaches, and margaritas here. Expect jutting cliffs, volcanic moonscapes, emerald coves, and desert islands. Expect giant tortoises, swimming iguanas, friendly sea lions, and a rainbow of tropical fish. The Galápagos are often called the Islands Born of Fire. The older exposed islands are approximately four to five million years old, created by underwater volcanoes that are still active today. Thus, the archipelago is relatively young and continues to evolve. There are nearly 60 exposed landmasses that are currently named in the Galápagos. Thirteen are large islands, six are considered small islands, and more than 40 are islets. The largest is the 80-mile-long Isabela Island, with over half the archipelago's total land area. All told, the islands extend for more than 267 miles. It would take quite some time to visit them all. This guide covers all the islands, from Floreana to Baltra, with details on where to stay, what to see, the wildlife, tour guides and even where to eat.
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