Galapagos Islands National Park
The Galapagos Islands National Park was established 1959 as Ecuador's first National Park, and in 1979 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The National Park, which makes up 97% of the land area of the Galapagos Islands is situated in the Pacific Ocean around 1,000 km (620 miles) from the South American continent. These 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique 'living museum and showcase of evolution'.
When you visit the Galapagos on one of our tours you'll learn first-hand from our local guides how the islands were formed and why they're a 'melting pot' of marine species. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents and isolated from the rest of the world, the islands provide a unique habitat for unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch. These animals inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835.
All of our tour guides are local to the islands and have completed four years of study to become official Galapagos Islands National Park naturalist guides. This role is held in high esteem and often you'll find numerous members of a family, including different generations, all joining the park service. Their enthusiasm for the conservation of the Galapagos Islands is contagious and they play an integral role in educating locals and visitors alike.
Galapagos National Park Wildlife
More than 1,900 of the 5,000 species found in the Galapagos Islands are endemic (not found anywhere else on earth). We firmly believe that the best way to see and experience wildlife, such as the iguanas, tortoise and birds of the Galapagos Islands is on a land-hopping tour. Rather than arrive by cruise and stay offshore, our Galapagos tours use local island accommodation and provide a mixture of land and marine-based activities, allowing our guests the chance to connect with the islands on a deeper level. You'll see seals lounging on the streets of San Cristobal, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and see Giant Tortoises in the highlands, in their natural habitat. Offshore you'll kayak, snorkel and dive with marine iguanas, black-tipped reef sharks, manta rays and turtles, both at famous sites like Kicker Rock and in secluded bays near the main islands.
Your guides will brief you on what's expected of visitors to the Galapagos National Park, but you can also find a full list of the park rules here.