Are the Galapagos Islands still on your bucket list of places to go?
Why not make these volcanic isles 1,000 kilometers (650 miles) from Ecuador’s mainland and populated by unique animals, your dream destination in 2017?
Here are five reasons to come this year!
1. Lonesome George has come home!
Lonesome George (called Solitario Jorge in his homeland) has returned to the Galapagos Islands. He was the last giant tortoise of the Pinta Island species and became the icon for conservation in the Galapagos. When Lonesome George died without heirs in 2012, he was sent to New York to be preserved. He now resides in a climate-controlled chamber at the breeding center in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island). Your tour will include a stop to visit him, or you can get there on your own.
2. Ruta de la Tortuga
Also awaiting you at the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island is a new route, the Ruta de la Tortuga. It includes five stations explaining giant tortoise breeding, evolution, Charles Darwin, and the environmental importance of these gentle reptile giants. This will be a popular stop for both tours and independent travelers.
3. El Niño
El Niño affected much of the Pacific Ocean basin, including the Galapagos Islands, in 2015-2016. This climate phenomenon raises water temperatures, affecting rainfall amounts and food supplies for wildlife. In May 2016, sea temperatures began to drop, making food more abundant for marine iguanas and sea birds. In March of 2017, the Eastern Pacific (including the waters around the Galapagos Islands) has begun to warm again, leading scientists to believe there is a 50% chance another El Niño may develop by the end of 2017. If it does, you can expect warmer, wetter weather in the Galapagos, with clearer waters for snorkeling and scuba diving.
4. Dive with Sharks!
Is part of your Galapagos dream to dive with hammerhead and other sharks? A handful of yachts are authorized to offer live-aboard scuba expeditions to the far-flung islands of Darwin and Wolf, in the northwest corner of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In March 2016, the Ecuadorian government declared a special marine reserve around these islands, to protect 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) where the world’s highest concentration of sharks can be found. The seas around Darwin and Wolf are home to over 34 species that include hammerhead, whale and Galapagos sharks.
5. Meeting the Galapagos Island’s Inhabitants
Each month offers different events in the Galapagos Islands. Perhaps you want to see the mating dances of the gigantic Waved Albatross – found only on Española Island – or of the humorous Blue-footed Boobies. Or maybe you’re more interested in spotting sharks, whales and dolphins migrating through the archipelago. If you’re a marathon runner and looking for an enchanting place to win a prize, the three major islands offer competitions throughout the year. You can use Galapagos Travel Planner’s calendar to plan precisely when you come to the Galapagos.
So, start making your plans for visiting the enchanting Galapagos Islands in 2017. It is sure to be the Trip of a Lifetime!
Photo credit: Lucy Rickards