Galápagos National Park

Galápagos National Park is a conservation area of 7,995 sq kilometers which was established in 1959 and started operating in 1968 in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, where Ecuador's Government assigns 97% of the island's land area as a national park, while the remaining 3% is distributed among the inhabited areas Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Baltra, Floreana and Isabela.

Galápagos is a volcanic archipelago scattered on both sides of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean and is known for the large number of endemic species that Charles Darwin had learned during the second voyage of HMS Beagle. Observations and collections contribute to Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection.

Xvlor Galápagos National Park Galápagos National Park

Volcanism has continued in the Galapagos Islands for at least 20 million years where the Nazca plate is moving eastward at a speed of 51 kilometers per million years has spawned a 3-kilometer high platform beneath the chain of islands and seascapes. The islands are characterized by many contemporary volcanoes with magma and asthenosphere sources from the young and thin oceanic crust.


The first protection laws were enacted in 1930 and additions in 1936. In 1955, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature organized a mission to the Galápagos. In 1957, UNESCO collaborated with the Ecuadorian government to send another expedition to study the conservation situation and choose a location for a research station.

In 1959 as a hundred-year-old Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, the Ecuadorian government declared 97.5% of the land area is a national park, with the exception of human-populated areas. The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) was established in the same year and is managed by international NGOs to conduct research and provide research findings to the government for the management of the Galápagos.

CDF built the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island in 1964. Conservation programs include the eradication of imported species and the protection of native species. In 1986, at least 70,000 sq kilometers (27,000 sq mi) of ocean around the islands were declared as marine reserves. In 1990, the archipelago became a whale shelter.


Important species within the park area include Galapagos land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus), marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), Galápagos tortoise complex (Chelonoidis nigra), green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), flightless cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi), great frigatebird (Fregata minor), magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens).

Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii), Galápagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus), waved albatross (Phoebastria irrorata), Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis), sharp-beaked ground finch (Geospiza difficilis), woodpecker finch (Camarhynchus pallidus), Galápagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki), and lava cactus (Brachycereus nesioticus).

Location: Flights to San Cristóbal Airport on San Cristóbal Island or Seymour Airport on Baltra Island. Both airports must transit via Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito City or José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil City.

Routes and public transport: Galápagos Province, Ecuador.

Contact: Parque Nacional Galápagos
Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz Galápagos - Ecuador
Phone: 593-5 252-6189

Advice: In June 2017, the Ecuadorian government announced all travelers must present documents before entering the Galapagos Province including flight tickets, hotel reservations or cruise tours must match the date of return flight ticket, invitation letter to enter as guests of permanent or temporary residents in the Galapagos Islands not more than 60 days per year, and Transit Control card issued by the Galapagos Governing Council at Quito airport or Guayaquil airport.

All bags will be inspected by Galapagos Biosecurity Agency quarantine staff and provide Transit Control card for US$20 (April 2018). Arriving in the Galapagos, you have to pay an entrance fee in cash to Galapagos National Park for US$100 for non-Ecuadorian adults and US$50 for children.

All visitors are expected to act responsibly and treat the environment with respect. Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) makes at least 14 rules for all visitors:
  1. Visitors to any protected areas within the Galapagos National Park must be accompanied by a naturalist guide authorized by the GNPD.
  2. Travel only with tour operators and/or boats authorized to work in the protected areas of Galapagos.
  3. Remain on marked trails at visitor sites and respect signs at all times for the protection of wildlife, and for your safety.
  4. Maintain a distance of at least six feet (two meters) from wildlife to avoid disturbing them, even if they approach you.
  5. Never feed wildlife, as this can cause health problems.
  6. Flash photography is not permitted when taking photos of wildlife. Professional photography and videos recorded for commercial purposes must be authorized by the GNPD.
  7. Camping is only allowed in a few authorized areas in the Islands. Request authorization to camp at the Galapagos National Park’s offices at least 48 hours in advance.
  8. It is your responsibility not to introduce food, animals, or plants into the Archipelago. Cooperate fully with all environmental inspection and quarantine officials during your visit.
  9. Do not take or buy any products or souvenirs made from banned substances, including black coral, shells, lava rock, animal parts, or any native wood or vegetation prior to leaving Galapagos. This is illegal and must be reported.
  10. Practice “leave-no-trace” principles in order to maintain the beauty of the environment.
  11. Pack out all trash and dispose of or recycle it in the populated areas or on your tour boat.
  12. Smoking and/or campfires are strictly prohibited within the Galapagos National Park, as fires poses a serious risk to the flora and fauna of Galapagos.
  13. Fishing is only permitted on recreational tour boats authorized by the GNPD.
  14. Motorized aquatic sports, mini-subs, and aerial tourism activities are not permitted in the Galapagos National Park or Marine Reserve.

December to May has an average water temperature of 76F/25C and an air temperature of 72F/22C up to 86F/30C. The sea is calmer and rain shorter every day, but the rest of the day tends to be very bright and high humidity. Flowers bloom, mating birds and sea turtles nest on the beach.

June to November has Humboldt Current where water temperature is 72F/22C and air temperature is 66F/19C up to 79F/26C). Fish and seabirds arrive in Española, penguins easier to find, and breeding season for blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii). The rain is foggy, the wind is stronger and the sea is a bit more wild. Galápagos National Park

Xvlor Galápagos National Park

Cruise tours carry 12-110 travelers typically for 4 days to 12 days and are divided into four service categories are economy, tourism, first class, and luxury. If you have a group of 12 or more might consider chartering an entire boat that could actually be cheaper per person than join an organized tour and allow for customization of the tour.

Another option is to stay in a hotel on one of the inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal or Isabela and take a day trip to nearby uninhabited islands. This option is more economical and provides an interesting perspective, but the range of islands that can be visited is limited by distance and some animal species are unlikely to be found on a day trip.

Tourists are permitted to explore certain sites only with certified naturalist guides. Galapagos is a world-class destination for scuba diving to watch sharks, sea lions, seals, sea turtles, mantas, sea iguanas, and reef fish. GNPD has granted permission to selected tour providers. You need to ask your operator to make sure the company is authorized for this activity.

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