The Amazing Galapagos Island National Park by Jenelle Gonsalves
Declared a national park by the Ecuadorian government in 1959, the Galapagos Islands offer a fantastic opportunity to see nature at its most pristine. What makes these tiny equatorial islands so incredible is that it was here that Charles Darwin found evidence to prove his 'Theory of Evolution.' Home to some of the most rare, endangered and unique wildlife in the world today, these islands are now playing a pivotal role in helping us understand how our planet is evolving.
A great vacation destination for nature lovers and naturalists alike, the Galapagos Islands lets you come face to face with nature. Here the animals have no fear of man and are in fact more curious to see their often awestruck visitors. Situated roughly 1000 km from Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, this volcanic island chain is made up of over 123 islands and islets.
Formed over four million years ago, an interesting aspect of the Galapagos is that these islands were never part of the mainland. Rather they were formed by marine volcanoes erupting and rising to the surface of the water. A relatively young archipelago in terms of the how old the earth is, the Galapagos today sits apart as a distinct 'World Heritage Site.'
Officially claimed by Ecuador in 1832, for many years the Galapagos was used as a prison colony. However, by 1934 the importance of these islands were recognized and they were declared wildlife sanctuaries. After it was made a national park, the Charles Darwin Research Station was set up on Isla Santa Cruz and began to extensively investigate and research the giant Galapagos Tortoises. The national park service began operating in 1968 and by 1986 the government gave the islands increased protection by establishing the Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve. Presently the Galapagos Island National Park covers 97% of the Galapagos Islands and includes 133,000 sq km of the ocean surrounding it.
One of the best ways to tour this national park and take in spectacular scenery along the way is to go for organized cruise tour. Here you stay on board a boat, while you travel from island to island, exploring the unusual landscape on hand. Most cruise operators also provide a bilingual guide to help you spot the various indigenous plants and wildlife that you see as you sail by. Snorkeling trips, sea kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, and sightseeing tours are also arranged so that you can enjoy the full Galapagos experience.
Swim with dolphins, whales, sea lions and Hammerhead sharks or go for a bird watching tour and take in the delightful boobies, the magnificent frigatebirds, the incredible Waved Albatrosses, the cute Galapagos Penguins and the fascinating Flightless Cormorants. If you like you can go for a walk alongside the gentle Galapagos Tortoises and enjoy views of the huge iguana colonies as you walk by. With so much to see and do out here it's plain to see why these islands are such a breathtaking destination. An amazing national park, a visit to the Galapagos is a must for one and all.
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For more on this national park, visit www.govisitgalapagos.com/information/galapagos-national-park.asp. A leading website on Galapagos travel, www.GoVisitGalapagos.com offers detailed destination guides to see the very best of this tiny island chain. Dedicated to providing up-to-date and relevant information, www.GoVisitGalapagos.com also lets you check out climate information and geology details as well as cruises and other tour details.