Ecuador’s first national park, Galápagos National Park comprises 97% of the Galápagos Islands. The park is made of lava ruins and has cactus forests. It has a varied topography which is breathtaking. There is lush dense greenery, bays with sparkling waters and surreal beaches. Apart from the beautiful scenery, the national park is abundant in both flora and fauna. The wildlife almost seems to overflow here making it any nature lover’s paradise. The Galápagos national park activities include hiking trails, snorkeling and scuba diving for the adventure junkies.
Galápagos National Park Facts
Galápagos National Park Animals: Sea Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Sei Whale, Green Turtle, Whale, Marine Iguana, Giant Tortoise and Galápagos Penguin
Area: 300 sq miles of land and 53,000 sq miles of ocean
Galápagos National Park Map
Galápagos National Park Entrance Fee
An entry fee is charged for all the tourists visiting the Galápagos Islands which depends on their age and nationality.
How To Reach Galápagos National Park
By Air: The only way to reach Galápagos from mainland Ecuador is through an airplane. There are no direct international flights to reach the Galápagos Islands. One can fly to Guayaquil or Quito, from where there are flights for Baltra Island and San Cristóbal Island.
Best time to visit Galápagos National Park:
There is no best time to visit the Galápagos National Park as it is a year-round destination for its travelers. The rainy season in the Galápagos lasts from December to May and it is a great time to go snorkeling and swimming. For the wildlife enthusiasts, they can easily spot sea lions and turtles during this time of the year. The dry season on the islands begins from June and goes on to November. The temperatures range from 24°C to 16°C. It is a great time to go birdwatching and underwater diving. Spot penguins and Albatrosses during these months.
Places To Visit At Galápagos National Park
The Galápagos National Park is all about natural beauty, adventures, and wildlife. Here are the places you should definitely visit on your trip to this national park:
1. Wolf Island
This is a small island in the Galápagos Islands. It is the remains of an extinct volcano. Being the national park’s protected area, it does not allow tourists to land here but the island is a popular diving site. One can enjoy the sights of schooling hammerhead, Galápagos sharks, whale sharks, green turtles, manta rays, and pelagic fish.
2. Tortuga Bay
This is a pretty cove in the Galápagos National Park with surreal white sand beaches. It is about a 20-minute walk from the water taxi dock in Puerto Ayora. The bay is rich with unique biodiversity of flora and fauna. One can spot marine iguanas along the beach and in the water here. It is a great spot to enjoy snorkeling. The whitetip reef shark is often spotted here.
3. Floreana Island
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Floreana is a carpeted forest floor with tall trees and huge rocks. Amidst this nature thrives the wild. Floreana is a treasure trove of exotic wildlife. Enjoy the sea lions diving, twirling, and swimming here. Experience watching the giant tortoises up close here. The marine iguanas can be seen sunbathing at the rocks here and to add on to your wildlife experience you might just get to swim with a sea turtle.
4. Charles Darwin Research Station
When you take a trip to the Galápagos National Park, it isn’t complete without visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station. It is located in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Here you can view the famous Galápagos tortoise in all its stages of development from unhatched eggs to fully grown adults. Also get insight into the great conservation efforts that are being carried out to protect the wildlife here.
5. Darwin Bay Beach
If you are a birdwatcher enthusiast then this is the place you shouldn’t miss. This beautiful coral beach bay has some of the most beautiful hiking trails which leads to seabird colonies like the Red-footed and Masked Boobies. You can fully enjoy nature on the way as you’ll be crossing various cliffs and tide pools along the way.
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Where to stay at Galápagos National Park:
The Galápagos National Park has very few camping sites which need authorization owing to it being a sensitive wildlife area. Here are the places where one can stay at:
1. The Royal Palm Hotel
This is a small private estate nestled in the lush highland forests of Santa Cruz island. It is an elegant construction with warm wooden interiors. The place is perfect to stay at as it is close to the national park. For its guests, it also has an amazing restaurant and bar. For further convenience, the hotel also provides for its guests tailor made adventure packages.
2. Semilla Verde Boutique Hotel
Semilla Verde is a beautiful property where one can enjoy nature and wildlife firsthand. Away from the city humdrum, this is a place where you can see giant tortoises visiting the seasonal ponds of the hotel and the birds like Darwin Finches, Yellow Warblers, Dark Billed Cuckoos and Galápagos Mockingbirds are a year-round sight here. The property has single, double, and triple occupancy rooms along with guided tours and yoga retreats for a complete experience of the place.
Galápagos National Park Rules
Galápagos, being a World Heritage Site, has some rules which are needed to be followed by all its visitors.
- A guide authorized by the GNPD is supposed to escort visitors to protected areas
- Follow signs and stay on marked trails
- One is prohibited to offer food to the wildlife
- Camping is permitted in authorized areas only and one needs to take prior permission
- Smoking and campfire are prohibited due to the risk of fire
Keep in mind these small things about the park and you are good to go!
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