One of the main reasons why I travel is to learn about the world we live in. I could easily travel around the world for travels sake and not learn about the world but that doesn’t sit right with me.
I was talking to my dad about my trip to the Galapagos on the phone and he said to me that I’ve never really been able to give him a straight answer to the question “if you had one place in the world you think people should go to, where would it be?” So he said I guess we know the answer to that question and I think he’s right.
Couple weeks ago I was on a trip with Contiki to the Galapagos. Here’s what I learned about the islands.
There are many islands
I thought Galapagos was one giant island but there’s actually 13 major islands, 6 smaller ones, and more than 40 islets. Three of the most popular islands are Isabela, the biggest one and San Cristobal, the capital of Galapagos and Santa Cruz. All three have major airports.
Land of volcanic islands
Thanks to the discovery of tectonic plates, we now know how the Galapagos was formed. Galapagos is located inside the Nazca plate. The Nazca plate pushes against the South American plate. This collision has caused the rise of the Andes and the Galapagos. The bigger island Isabela is about 7 million years old and San Cristobal is only 4 million years old. As time passes, we’ll continue to see Galapagos grow and form new volcanos from below.
People live there and it’s developed.
I have never seen a picture of the villages or people of Galapagos. It’s usually of all the animals. I thought that Galapagos was uninhabitable and it only had animals running around all over the place. I was way wrong. There’s hotels, hospitals, schools, restaurants, nightclubs, and everything else a typical small town would have. In fact, there are over 25,000 people who live in the Galapagos.
Opening a business is difficult.
In order to open a business in the Galapagos, you need to be FROM the Galapagos. You have to had been born in the Galapagos. The law also applies to mainland Ecuadorians. The only way around this is if you married someone from the Galapagos but they’re very strict about this too and you’ll definitely get spied to ensure the marriage was legitimate.
I suspect they do this to protect too many people coming to the islands.
Ecuador held prisoners there.
When I first heard this, I thought their life must’ve been pretty damn good being in paradise for prison but it was the total opposite. Prisoners were given the meaningless task of building a rock wall for no apparent reason from 1945-1959. It was only used to keep the prisoners busy. Being directly under the equator, I burned in just a few hours outside with sunscreen on but the prisoners had very little to protect themselves from the sun so they had it even worse. They worked in the brutal sun everyday. Many of the prisoners died during the hard labor. The prisoners then decided to use their bones as part of the wall and kept on stacking rocks on top of the bodies within the walls. Legend has it if you’re there at night, you can listen to the dying men crying hence the name Wall of Tears.
Species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world.
It’s hard to imagine that a place so far and so small can have so many unique animals that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Because the islands are so remote, these animals have found paradise where they have so few predators. This has allowed for a growth and eco-system that has been around since the pre-historic times. There are animals on the Galapagos that we have no idea how they ended up there. Some say that a few of the animals simply drifted on a piece of log from mainland South America and ended up in paradise for future generations.
Contiki provided a comped trip to the Galapagos in which I had the most amazing time of my life. All opinions are obviously my own.