THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, a unique volcanic archipelago comprising of 19 islands and over 40 smaller islets, is one of the most favoured sailing areas in the world. The Galapagos are known the world over for their tame and unique wildlife, sea lions, birds and iguanas, living amidst a barren volcanic scenery.
In 1535 the islands were discovered accidentally by Thomas de Berlanga, and later visited by buccaneers and pirates. The Galapagos are located in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles off the west coast of South America, Ecuador and the Panama Canal. Ocean currents have created this geological, zoological, and biological wonder. This convergence made way for one of the planet’s most compelling compilation of endemic flora and fauna.
All of the archipelago’s reptiles, half of the birds, one third of the plants and a quarter of the fish are endemic to these islands. Named one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World, the Galapagos Marine Reserve is the second largest reserve in the world.
Large schools of harmless Hammerhead Sharks, Manta Rays, and frequent Whale Shark sightings are perhaps some of these island’s main attractions; but snorkelling with penguins and enjoying the awesome underwater ballet of the Sea Lions are two of the most memorable experiences one can have. On dry land, visitors are spellbound while observing seemingly unbothered Albatross and the quirky Blue Footed Boobies carrying on their courtship rituals.
Visitors can ride horseback back in time to visit the gigantic Galapagos Tortoises in their natural and “dinosaur like” environment. The islands are one of the 22 provinces of Ecuador and the Ecuadorian authorities take their custody of this wildlife sanctuary seriously, with 97% of the land proclaimed as protected National Park, and 100% of the waters as Marine Reserve.
The Galapagos is becoming a very popular superyacht cruising destination and stopover point for superyachts sailing from Panama to the Marquesas and on to the South Pacific. There is a process to undergo in order to obtain the necessary permits to cruise in the islands’ protected areas and this is best managed by one of the main superyacht agents that are experts in providing visiting superyachts the information, support and services they require.