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The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago in the eastern Pacific Ocean and are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful islands in the world. They are geographically located on the equator, around 1,000 kilometers west of the Ecuadorian coast of South America. The Galapagos Islands are politically part of Ecuador.

The archipelago can be reached via the island of Baltra or the island of San Cristobal, by daily scheduled flight, either from the capital Quito or from Guayaquil.

The extraordinary and globally unique flora and fauna of the Galapagos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These rare and endemic species are protected by the Galapagos Islands National Park.

The entire archipelago consists of 13 islands, each with an area of more than 10 square kilometers, plus over 100 smaller and several tiny islands, including the far northwest islands of Darwin and Wolf.

The five populated islands include Santa Cruz, Baltra, Isabela, San Cristobal and Floreana. However, there is no normal resident population on the island of Baltra, only a military base.

The Galapagos Islands are entirely of volcanic origin and even today there is still volcanic activity on the islands of Isabela and Fernandina.

Due to their long distance from other land masses, the Galapagos Islands are characterized by a large number of endemic animal and plant species. The most famous creatures on the archipelago include the famous Galapagos giant tortoises, the unique marine iguanas and the Galapagos land iguanas. Other common species include penguins, geckos, lava lizards, red rock crabs, druzyheads, sea lions, pelicans and countless different species of birds.

Tourism is now the most important source of income on the Galapagos Islands, but at the same time it is also the greatest threat to the archipelago's sensitive ecosystem and rare wildlife. The flow of tourists has been very closely controlled and directed since 2009; a new system was introduced for this purpose, with the so-called control card.

The most important port cities for cruise tourists include Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (capital on the island of San Cristobal) and Puerto Villamil on the island of Isabela. Almost 250,000 visitors now come to the remote island groups every year.

In December 2017 I traveled to the incomparable Galapagos Islands for the only time so far. I reached the island of Baltra from Quito with the airline Avianca, after a flight of around two hours. During my four-day stay on the island of Santa Cruz, I also spent the atmospheric turn of the year there, in the main square of Puerto Ayora.

The famous beach of Tortuga Bay in Puerto Ayora, with all its unique creatures, was definitely a unique and spectacular experience for me. Surrounded by countless tame marine iguanas, various other iguanas, flying pelicans, funny seals and red cliff crabs, this visit to the beach was of course particularly fun.

My trip to Ponte Rosa, to see the free-living Galapagos giant tortoises, will certainly always be a lasting memory.

The Galapagos Islands are definitely a worthwhile and incomparable travel destination, even if the journey via Baltra was a bit difficult and time-consuming. After arriving at the airport, we first took a short bus ride to the ferry and then, after the 15-minute boat ride, took the bus again for a one-hour ride to the hotel accommodation in Puerto Ayora.

After a fantastic stay on the Galapagos Islands, I continued my four-week South American tour via Quito to the Peruvian capital Lima.