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Galápagos

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GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
There are 13 major islands which make up the Galápagos Archipelago and lie about 970 km (600 miles) from mainland Ecuador.  This incredibly unique place is home to plant and animal species which are studied and admired by the whole world.

In 1959, with the intention to preserve the original ecology and to control the introduction of new and potentially harmful species, 90% of the land surface and all of the ocean out to the national limits was designated a national park, known as the Galápagos National Park.

Climate
What are the Galápagos like?
Orginizations Protecting the Islands
What to Expect on a Cruise
Diving
When to Go
Native fauna lives luckily without natural predators. Birds and other animals are virtually fearless.  Visitors can walk along trails and pass within inches of the wildlife.

To minimize your impact on the fragile ecosystem of the Galápagos, park authorities have come up with rules which visitors must follow. These are always clearly explained upon entering the park.  On land, trails have been established and visitors are expected to not wander from these trails.  Please respect all of the rules that you will be told about when you arrive.

Climate
The weather in the Galápagos Islands is largely determined by the ocean currents. Normally from June to December, there is a cold current rising from the south which creates a cool misty fog called a garúa, making the climate rather cool and dry. In December, the wind has less force, the ocean is calm and the currents change, surrounding the islands in the warm Pánama current from the north. These currents create a definable weather pattern of hot sunny mornings followed by clouds and occaisional showers in the afternoons. Needless to say, this is usually the favorite time to visit.
Based on all of this information, it would be safe to say: from June to December it's cool, cloudy and dry. From December to June it's warm, sunny and rainy.

When to Go
Although directly on the equator and with tropical weather year round, there are still better times than others to visit the Galápagos Islands. The months of June, July and August (and into September) tend to be characterized by cool garúa (mist) and temperatures averaging 24ºC (72ºF). This time of the year the sea is at its roughest (but still relatively tame), the highlands tend to be dry, and the palo santo trees leafless.

If possible, it is better to visit the islands between January and May, when the climate is classically tropical: hot air temperatures, wide stretches of blue sky and occasional - but brief - downpours. The rain brings wet richness to the highlands, making them velvety green and flowery.

Tourist traffic is at its peaks during summer and holiday months. These months can get so crowded that even finding a berth on a boat may prove difficult. Prices are also higher and flights need to be booked in advance. March, April and May, with few tourists and great weather are the ideal months to visit the islands.

Average Temperature in Galapagos Islands (Farenheit)

 
Air
Temperature
Water
Temperature
January
60 - 80
71 - 74
Febrary
60 - 85
72 - 75
March
65 - 90
71 - 74
April
60 - 85
70 - 75
May
60 - 80
69 - 74
June
60 - 75
65 - 73
July
60 - 75
63 - 70
August
60 - 70
62 - 66
September
60 - 75
59 - 67
October
60 - 75
62 - 70
November
60 - 75
65 - 71
Decenber
60 - 80
66 - 72


What are the Galápagos like?
When Charles Darwin arrived to the islands in 1835, he admitted being a bit horrified by the thousands of iguanas that he encountered.
"One doesn't get used to their hideous appearance, one is never entirely free of a sense of unease. Some say they look like guardians of Hell or condemned spirits or dragon spawn." - Charles Darwin

The inhabitants of the Galápagos are survivors of a unsettled landscape, an volcanic archipelago 900 miles away from the rest of the world. And because of their isolation from humans, both land and sea animals remain more or less fearless and unaffected by visitors. As a visitor to the Galápagos, you will be amazed at how close you are able to get to the creatures of these enchanted islands. On land you will find yourself watching your step, amongst all of Darwin's hideous beasts (iguanas), as well as nesting blue-footed boobies, sea lions and who knows what else.
These islands are uniquely positioned inbetween 3 ocean currents, creating a climate unlike any other in the world. This is why, about one forth of the animals on the Galápagos are only found on these islands.


Orginizations Protecting the Islands
There are a few organizations designed to support the preservation of the archipeligo. The main one is the Charles Darwin Foundation who also manages the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is the operative branch of the foundation. Other organizations include Galápagos Conservation Trust,a UK based charity and Galápagos Coalition, a group of scientists and lawyers with expertise in environmental law, whom are interested in the understanding of the relationship between the conservation of Galápagos and human activities.


What to Expect on a Cruise
On most cruises you sleep on board, traveling between the islands at night and visiting the islands during the day.

Boats are organized into three classes - Economic, Tourist and Luxury.  The reality however is that a good economic boat will be better than a poorly run but more expensive luxury boat, so these distinctions can mean very little.  It is really important to get accurate information about the choices available.

Tours vary in length from eight days, seven nights to as short as four days, three nights. Because two of these days are spent getting to and from the islands an eight day trip will give you six full days in the islands whereas a four day trip will give you only two.
Usually not included in the tours are the park entrance fee of $100, the air ticket to the islands (378usd*), life and accident insurance, gratuities to the crew ($15-$30) per cabin, any alcoholic beverages or soft drinks.
*Air fares and taxes are subject to change without notice.


Diving
Some of the best diving in the world is available here to experienced divers. The minimum of Open Water Diver certification is required and your log book showing that you have made some dives within the previous 12 months. In addition you must bring a medical certificate showing that you are fit to dive. Sea conditions can include strong currents and open, cold waters.

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