For centuries the isolated and severe Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador have enchanted the minds and imaginations of scientists, adventurers, and nature-lovers of every stripe. Known for years as “las islas encatadas,” the Galápagos islands continue to live up to their name, even as their the basis of their appeal grows from mystery to scientific inquiry.

The island archipelago of the Galápagos was the first location to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list due to the rapidly declining populations of its rare species.

The Islands are largely famous for Galápagos tortoises and the land and marine iguanas, which are part of the Charles Darwin Research Center’s repopulation projects. Other species of note include the Galápagos penguin, frigatebird, Galápagos sea lion, blue-footed booby, a number of finches, the flightless cormorant and the Galápagos hawk.

Careful management and contamination control have allowed original ecosystems to regain their footing. After generations of protection, these animals will walk, waddle, or swim right up to visitors, initiating their own encounters. Many of the wild denizens of the Galapagos Islands can be found no where else on earth.

A cruise between the various islands of the archipelago will help you experience these and many other species of flora and fauna in their native environment. In addition, there are snorkeling opportunities around several of the islands that will allow you see up close the wonder of the Galápagos marine ecosystem. Expect a friendly sea lion to swim up for a closer look.

For those who choose to stay on the main land, day trips can be arranged to surrounding islands via private boat. Ask your Ker & Downey luxury travel consultant about the various ways to explore this unique and fragile place. We work with only the most responsible and ethical tour operators so that the only thing changed by your visit is the way you see the world.