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Land vs. Sea
Cruises around the Galapagos Islands started in the 1960s. A decade later, the Islands began to establish themselves as a tourist destination within the Galapagos National Park’s strict controls on tourism and greater emphasis was placed on expanding land-based facilities rather than on the more expensive and ecologically-sensitive cruises.
It also gave visitors to the Island the chance to explore and be based on land rather than on one boat.
New activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, diving, surfing, hiking, biking and horseback riding in the highlands and even camping (with a permit) were developed to offer a more interactive Galapagos experience.
Visitors could out to different Islands rather than have a strictly cruise-based itinerary which is not able to encompass the variety of experiences the Galapagos has to offer.
Location History and Inspiration
The Galápagos Islands sit astride the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles / 926 km west of their sovereign country, the Republic of Ecuador in South America.
These tiny islands are actually the tips of ancient volcanoes (many of which are still active) and consist of 13 large islands and 6 smaller ones plus 42 islets; the total land surface is 8,000 km².
Legend has it that the Incas first discovered the Galapagos Islands in the 15th century but, as they did not have a written language and no ruins have been discovered, the legend cannot be substantiated.
The first recorded discovery was in 1535, by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the fourth Bishop of Panama, originally from Soria in Spain who happened upon them accidentally while sailing from Panama to Peru.
North Seymour (Spanish: Isla Seymour Norte) is a small island near Baltra Island in the Galápagos Archipelago. It was formed by the uplift of a submarine lava formation. The whole island is covered with low, bushy vegetation.
The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour. North Seymour Island has an area of 1.9 square kilometers (0.73 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 28 meters (92 ft). This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls. It hosts one of the largest populations of magnificent frigatebirds (Fregata magnificent) and a slow-growing population of the Galápagos land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus).
North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.
North Seymour is an extraordinary place for breeding birds and is home to one of the largest populations of nesting blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigate birds. Pairs of blue-footed boobies can be seen conducting their mating ritual as they offer each other gifts, whistle and honk, stretch their necks towards the sky, spread their wings, and dance—showing off their bright blue feet.
Bartolomé (Bartholomew) Island – Bartolomé Island is a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island in the Galápagos Islands group. it is one of the “younger” islands in the Galápagos archipelago.
This island, and neighboring Sulivan Bay on Santiago (James) island are named after a lifelong friend of Charles Darwin, Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, who was a lieutenant aboard HMS Beagle.
The most-photographed of all of these Galapagos postcard views without a doubt is the view from the top of Bartholomew Island. It is in many ways the quintessential Galapagos photograph: smiling visitors, with the unmistakable Pinnacle Rock and lava formations in the background, all framed against a tranquil Galapagos sea.
Today Sulivan Bay is often misspelled Sullivan Bay. This island is one of the few that is home to the Galápagos penguin which is the only wild penguin species to live on the equator. The green turtle is another animal that resides on the island.
South Plaza (Spanish: Isla Plaza Sur) is a small island off the east coast of Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Islands. It has an area of 0.13 km² and a maximum altitude of 23 meters.
South Plaza was formed by lava up streaming from the bottom of the ocean. Despite its small size, it is home to a large number of species and known for its extraordinary flora. The sea bluffs hold large numbers of birds, such as nesting red-billed tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, and offer wide vistas.
The prickly pear cactus trees (Opuntia echios) are noteworthy, as is the large colony of Galápagos land iguanas. Furthermore, the territory and breeding season of the Galapagos land iguana overlap only on South Plaza Island with those of the marine iguana, giving rise to a unique population of hybrid iguanas
Depending on the season, the Sesuvium ground vegetation changes its color from green in the rainy season to orange and purple in the dry season.
Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe Island (Spanish: Isla Santa Fe), also called Barrington Island after Admiral Samuel Barrington, is a small island of 24 square kilometers (9.3 sq mi) which lies in the center of the Galápagos archipelago, to the southeast of Santa Cruz Island.
Geologically it is one of the oldest; volcanic rocks of about 4 million years old have been found. The vegetation of the island is characterized by brush, palo santo trees, and stands of a large variety of the prickly pear cactus Opuntia echios.
Santa Fe is home to two endemic species and two endemic subspecies: the Barrington land iguana (Conolophus pallidus), the Barrington leaf-toed gecko (Phyllodactylus barringtonensis), the Santa Fe marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus trillmichi) and the Santa Fe rice rat (Aegialomys galapagoensis bauri).
The visitor site is a wet landing located in Barrington Bay on the northeastern side of the island. Large numbers of sea lions are found on the beaches in the bay, occasionally hindering access to the two trails leading from the beach.
Santa Cruz Island is one of the biggest Galápagos Islands with an area of 986 km2 (381 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 864 meters (2,835 ft). Situated in the center of the archipelago, Santa Cruz is the second largest island after Isabela.
Its capital is Puerto Ayora, the most populated urban center in the islands. On Santa Cruz, there are some small villages, whose inhabitants work in agriculture and cattle raising. This island is a large dormant volcano. It is estimated that the last eruptions occurred around a million and a half years ago.
There is a gigantic lava tunnel that is over 2000 meters long on the island that many tourists visit and walk through. As a testimony to its volcanic history, there are two big holes formed by the collapse of a magma chamber: Los Gemelos, or “The Twins”. Named after the Holy Cross, its English name (Indefatigable) was given after a British vessel HMS Indefatigable.
Santa Cruz hosts the largest human population in the archipelago at the town of Puerto Ayora, with a total of 12,000 residents on the island
Tortuga Bay is located on the Santa Cruz Island, a short walk from the center of Puerto Ayora where you can view marine iguanas, birds, Galapagos crabs and a natural mangrove where you can spot white tip reef sharks and the gigantic Galápagos tortoises.