About Puerto Ayora
The Galápagos consist of 13 large islands and six small, which were formed by oceanic volcanoes some three to five million years ago.
Visitors come to the islands to see the unparalleled variety of wildlife that flourishes due to the remote location and temperate climate. The most famous residents are the giant tortoises after whom the islands are named, although other common species include iguana, dolphins, boobies and cormorants.
Straddling the Equator 1,000km (622 miles) off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are famous for being the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Visiting the Galápagos Islands on a budget is difficult. Tourists pay a $100 entrance fee to the National Park authorities on arrival. Make sure you have cash when you land; cards are not accepted.
Visitors arriving at the Galapagos by cruise ship will realise just how remote these volcanic specks straddling the Equator in the Pacific Ocean are. It is this isolation which makes the islands so special. Around 50% of the islands’ species are found nowhere else in the world.
The Galapagos is an attraction in its own right and most people hop on a boat to view the marine wildlife or explore the volcanic landscape of this archipelago, the whole of which is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the residents live in Puerto Ayora, which is the main access point for visitors to the Santa Cruz Island. Some of the other islands have small fishing villages.
• Wildlife (including giant tortoises, seals, blue footed boobies and iguanas)
• Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz (white sand beach)
• Lava Tunnels, Santa Cruz (volcanic landscape)
• Galapagos National Park Visitor Centre, San Cristóbal (www.galapagos.gob.ec)
Galapagos Chamber of Tourism
Avenida Charles Darwin y 12 de Febrero, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Tel: +593 5252 6609.
Shopping in the Galapagos consists mainly of souvenirs including T-shirts, cuddly toys and keepsakes depicting the wildlife of the islands.
There are plenty of places to pick up a snack in the main tourist areas, although many of the day tours include lunch. Food has multi-cultural influences. Obviously fish and standard South American fare feature highly on the menus.
When to go:
The dry, cool months from June to November are the best times to see nesting birds. Hot and humid December to May is best for giant tortoises, snorkelling and diving. There’s usually a cooling breeze and sea temperatures never get too warm.
2.3km (1.4 miles).