Ecuador’s first national park, Galapagos National Park covers 97% of the Galapagos Islands. The park is made up of lava ruins and contains cactus forests. Its topography is diverse which is breathtaking. There is lush greenery, sparkling bays and pristine beaches. Apart from the beautiful scenery, the national park is abundant in both flora and fauna. Wildlife is seen almost in abundance here, making it a paradise for any nature lover. Activities at Galapagos National Park include hiking trails, snorkeling and scuba diving for adventure buffs.
Galapagos National Park Facts
Animals of Galapagos National Park: Sea turtle, leatherback turtle, sei whale, green turtle, whale, marine iguana, giant tortoise and Galapagos penguin
Area: 300 square miles of land and 53,000 square miles of ocean
Galapagos National Park Map
Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee
All tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands are charged an entrance fee which depends on their age and nationality.
How to reach Galapagos National Park
By air: The only way to reach the Galapagos from mainland Ecuador is by plane. There are no direct international flights to reach the Galapagos Islands. One can fly to Guayaquil or Quito, from where there are flights to Baltra Island and San Cristóbal Island.
Best time to visit Galapagos National Park:
There is no best time to visit Galapagos National Park as it is a year-round destination for its travelers. The rainy season in the Galapagos lasts from December to May and is a great time for snorkeling and swimming. For wildlife lovers, they can easily spot sea lions and turtles at this time of the year. The dry season on the islands begins in June and lasts until November. The temperature ranges between 24°C to 16°C. This is a good time to watch birds and dive underwater. Spot penguins and albatrosses during these months.
Places to Visit in Galapagos National Park
Galapagos National Park is full of natural beauty, adventure and wildlife. Here are the places you should definitely visit on your visit to this national park:
1. Wolf Island
It is a small island in the Galapagos Islands. It is the remains of an extinct volcano. Being a protected area of the national park, it does not allow tourists to land here but the island is a popular diving site. One can enjoy sightings of schooling hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, whale sharks, green turtles, manta rays and pelagic fish.
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2. Turtle Bay
This is a beautiful bay with real white sand beaches in the Galapagos National Park. It is about a 20-minute walk from the water taxi dock in Puerto Ayora. The bay is rich in unique biodiversity of flora and fauna. Here marine iguanas can be seen along the beach and in the water. This is a great place to enjoy snorkeling. Whitetip reef sharks are often seen here.
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3. Floriana Island
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Floriana is a carpet forest area with tall trees and huge rocks. Amidst this, wildness flourishes in nature. Floriana is a treasure trove of exotic wildlife. Enjoy diving, wading and swimming with sea lions here. Experience seeing giant tortoises up close here. Marine iguanas can be seen sunbathing on the rocks here and to enhance your wildlife experience you may get the chance to swim with sea turtles.
4. Charles Darwin Research Station
When you visit Galapagos National Park, it is not complete without visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station. It is located in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Here you can see the famous Galapagos tortoise in all stages of its development from unhatched egg to fully grown adult. Also find out about the great conservation efforts being made to protect wildlife here.
5. Darwin Bay Beach
If you are a bird watcher then this is a place you should not miss. This beautiful coral beach bay has some of the most beautiful hiking trails that lead to sea bird colonies like red-footed and masked boobies. You can enjoy nature to the fullest on the way as you will cross various rocks and tide pools on the way.
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Where to stay in Galapagos National Park:
There are very few camping sites in the Galapagos National Park which require authorization due to it being a sensitive wildlife area. Here are the places where one can stay:
1. Royal Palm Hotel
It is a small private estate nestled in the lush highland forests of Santa Cruz Island. It is a beautiful construction with warm wooden interiors. This place is great to stay as it is close to the national park. It also has a wonderful restaurant and bar for its guests. For more convenience, the hotel also offers tailor-made adventure packages for its guests.
2. Semila Verde Boutique Hotel
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Semila Verde is a beautiful property where one can enjoy nature and wildlife firsthand. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is a place where you can spot giant turtles in the hotel’s seasonal ponds and birds like Darwin’s Finches, Yellow Warblers, Dark-billed Cuckoos and Galapagos Mockingbirds can be seen throughout the year. The property has single, double and triple occupancy rooms along with guided tours and yoga retreats for a complete experience of the place.
Galapagos National Park Rules
Galapagos, being a World Heritage Site, has certain rules that must be followed by all its visitors.
- A guide authorized by the GNPD is expected to escort visitors to protected areas
- Follow signs and stay on marked routes
- Feeding wildlife is prohibited
- Camping is allowed only in authorized areas and requires prior permission
- Smoking and campfires are prohibited due to fire danger
Keep these little things in mind about the park and you’re good to go!
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