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|Galapágos Islands, Ecuador|
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Also on Traveling Latin America:
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
The pristine beauty and wonders of the flora and fauna are the bait that lure most visitors to the Galápagos archipelago. Here you can see a humongous tortoise that tops 400 pounds, or a tiny finch that cannot be found in the wild anywhere else in the world. As the name implies, the Galápagos are comprised of several islands, about a dozen large and many smaller ones. Though the Galápagos Islands belong to Ecuador, they lie 600 miles from that country's coast. The Galápagos Islands were named a World Heritage Site in 1978.
Darwin and the Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands were critical to Charles Darwin's research developing his theory of natural selection. He studied groups of finches and mockingbirds on the islands, discovering that the birds had slightly different characteristics depending on which island they were from.
Sierra Negra Volcano
The rocky landscape created by the lava from this volcano and
Be aware that most tours of the Sierra Negra volcano involve a great deal of hiking on muddy and rocky terrain - around 10 miles or more. You can ride horseback part of the way, but to reach the crater you must complete the trip on foot. Make sure to bring drinking water and wear sturdy shoes and comfortable clothes.
Galápagos Under the Sea
Not only do the Galápagos Islands offer stunning sighst on land, but in their waters as well. Colorful sea creatures, water plants, penguins, manta rays and even hammerheads can be spotted off the coast, and snorkeling and scuba diving are popular past times for visitors. Cousin's rock, Wolf Island and Darwin Island are popular Galápagos diving locations.
Charles Darwin Research Centre
The researchers at this center are devoted to studying and preserving the flora and fauna of the Galápagos Islands. The center is home to a variety of indigenous creatures. The giant tortoises are a popular feature of the Charles Darwin Research Centre, particularly Lonesome George, the last known Pinta Island giant tortoise. This attraction is free to visitors.
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