You’re dreaming of going to the Galapagos Islands. Many books can help you prepare for your explorations of these enchanting isles. Read them in the comfort of your home or toss a few into your suitcase.
A cornucopia of books about the Galapagos Islands’ natural history has been published over the years. Here we include nature guides, in addition to Galapagos expedition travelogues and works talking about the environmental issues the islands face.
Check at your local bookshop or on-line for these and other works. Or borrow them from your public library. (If it doesn’t have the works you wish to peruse, you can request them through interlibrary loan for a small fee.)
Galapagos Nature Guides
Many general guides on the Galapagos Islands’ unique environment are in print. Some give an overview of the archipelago’s environment, whereas others will aid you in identifying the wildlife and plants you will encounter.
Galapagos: A Natural History Guide
by Michael Jackson
The classic general guide about the islands, covering their geology, climate, fauna, flora and conservation.
Wildlife of the Galapagos
by Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter and David Hosking.
This is another excellent general guide. It is illustrated with 400 color photographs and includes visitor site maps.
Reef Fish Identification: Galápagos
by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach.
The best guide for identifying the denizens of the undersea world you explore while snorkeling. Extensively illustrated with color photos.
Galapagos Islands Birds Field Guide
by Rainforest Publications and Robert Dean
This compact fold-out guide covers 123 species of birds with beautiful illustrations. It is laminated (to keep it waterproof in ocean spray!) and is available in English, Spanish, French and German.
Flowering Plants of the Galápagos
by Conley McMullen and Ghillean Prance
The Galapagos Islands isn’t just about animals, though – it also has many unique plants. One of the best guides for identifying the flora is this color-illustrated work, covering over 400 species. It also includes a checklist for each visitor site.
Galapagos Expedition Travelogues
Centuries of pirate, whaling and scientific expedition travelogues brought the Galapagos Islands into sitting rooms around the globe. The 19th and 20th century naturalists, though, make for especially interesting and pleasant reading.
Although there are many editions of Darwin’s Beagle Diary have been published, the best is that produced by his grandson, R. D. Keynes, which is transcribed directly from Darwin’s notebooks, without edits and with many explanatory footnotes.
Galapagos: Worlds End
The 1923 New York Zoological Society expedition produced one the most influential books about the Galapagos. This work enticed Friedrich Ritter, the Wittmer family, the Conways and scores of others to settle on Floreana and other Galapagos islands.
Galapagos Environmental Issues
Efforts to preserve the Galapagos Islands’ unequaled natural beauty took off in the mid-20th century. With the establishment of the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park Service, conservation efforts have been more determined. Still the islands face many challenges.
Galápagos: The Noah’s Ark of the Pacific
by Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt
This scientist chronicles his work in calling upon UNESCO and IUCN to recognize the urgent need to preserve the Galapagos Islands, the environmental state of the islands in the late 1950s, and the establishment of a Galapagos scientific research station.
Galápagos at the Crossroads: Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin’s Cradle of Evolution
by Carol Ann Bassett
Bassett discusses the threats to the Galapagos Islands over the centuries, and the scientists and conservationists striving to save the archipelago’s environment.
Galápagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy
by Tui De Roy, Tui
Thirty top Galápagos researchers discuss their work, and the challenges and successes of conservation in the Galapagos Islands.
These photographic essays will inspire you to witness the islands’ tremendous natural beauty in person. They also make for beautiful coffee table books or gifts.
Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
by Tui De Roy
By the renowned nature photographer who lived in the Galapagos Islands for many years.
Galápagos, Both Sides of the Coin
by Pete Oxford and Graham Watkins
Another fantastic photographic journey to the Galapagos Islands. It also discusses the impact of humans on the islands throughout the centuries and issues of conservation.
Check out the other parts of Galapagos Travel Planner’s exclusive “Twelve Titles on Galapagos” series: Human History, For Children, and Videos. Did we include your favorite book? Share it in the comments below.
Photo credit: Arnie Papp