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Journey to the Middle of the World: The Galapagos

May 25, 2013

Once again time to pack up and head south to explore a new part of the planet. This expedition will take us to Peru to journey to the legendary and magical Inca ruins of Machu Pichu and on to Ecuador for some time in one of the earth's greatest natural laboratories: The Enchanted Islands of Galapagos. Lying 970 km (600 miles) west of the Ecuadorian coast on the equator, the Galapagos Islands consist of 6 main islands, 12 smaller islands and over 40 small islets.

 

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands that originated about 10 million years ago. Since their formation 10 million years ago, to their discovery in 1535 by Thomas de Berlanga, the Spanish Bishop of Panama, the Galapagos Islands were completely isolated from the mainland. Throughout the millennia, a large number of birds, reptiles, insects, and plants drifted or flew to its shores, creating the unique flora and fauna found in the Galapagos today.

 

he Islands have never been connected to a continent, therefore, over time, species have developed and adapted to the unique ecosystems of the Islands. Many species continued on and soon began to differentiate from their continental ancestors resulting in the development many endemic species (not found anywhere else) on the Islands. Until recently, the animals on the Islands had no exposure to humans and therefore never learned to fear them and remain extremely tame in human presence. At the culmination of his journey around the world with the HMS Beagle (1831-1836), the English scientist Charles Darwin, arrived at the Galapagos Islands in September 1835. The scientific findings he made during his stay at the Galapagos built the basis of his essay "Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection" that completely changed the course of biological science.

 

When you visit the Galapagos Islands you will quickly understand why the Spanish pirate Diego de Rivadeneira named the Islands "Las Islas Encantadas" (The enchanted islands). The Islands are filled with prehistoric looking land iguanas, 11 different species of giant tortoises, which give the Island their name (galapago means tortoise in Spanish), mocking birds pecking at your shoe laces, curious sea lions playing with you while you snorkel. There are 13 species of endemic finches (the famous Darwin's finches), moon like landscapes and mist-covered volcanic peaks, red sand beaches, strange forests of prickly pear cactus, the world's pinkest flamingoes (!), the biggest breeding-colony of albatrosses in the world, blue-footed boobies performing their "sky pointing" dance, and hunting penguins swimming around your legs. These Islands are truly enchanting. The Galapagos Islands are famous for the rare species found on the islands. All the reptiles, half of the plants, and 40% of the birds are endemic to the Galapagos.

 

Peru's Machu Pichu - Fullfilling a life long dream to witness and walk in this incredible landscape in the high Andes.

 

 

 

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