1. Bartolome Island;

  2. Darwin Biological Research Station with the Tortoises for breeding, Santa Cruz;

  3. Snorkeling / scuba diving;

  4. Swim with the Sea Lions in Loberia / Punta Estrada; Santa Cruz;

  5. Lava tunnels, Santa Cruz;

  6. Fish Market of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz;

  7. Marine Iguanas & Shark Canals at Playa de Los Perros, Santa Cruz;

  8. Watch the Galapagos Penguins at Chinese Hat and Isabella Islands;

  9. Dolphins;

  10. Waved albatrosses at Punta Suarez, Espanola Island;

  11. Opuntia Cactus Forest;

  12. Daisy forest at Los Gemelos twin craters sink holes;

  13. Swimming with Green Turtles at Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island;

  14. Blue Footed and Nasca Booby colonies;

  15.  Sierra Negra Caldera at Isabella Island, Galapagos.

There are no words that can describe the thrill of a visit to the Galapagos National Park of Ecuador, where animals appear unafraid of people like in Paradise. But don't be mistaken, that they are not concerned. Parenting animals are most certainly alarmed for their young when you get too close, so be considerate and keep a respectful distance. Always obey the instructions of your guide.


The Galapagos Islands are an extremely young geological formation with high geological activity, particularly volcanism and earthquakes, The 1,476 m high Fernandina had an eruption in 2009; while other volcanoes on Galapagos have been active in historical times, such as Cerro Azul, Marchena, Pinta, Santiago, Sierra Negra and Wolf.


Galapagos National Park, Last minute

Yachts, Hotels, Day trips, Island hopping

We can help you find the most suitable arrangement for your trip: Since we have no boat of our own, we don't try sell you our own boat, but instead we try to find you the best deal for your money, only taking a small commission for our mediation. Moreover, we coordinate it perfectly with our Amazon trip, your city program and whatever program you have on mainland Ecuador or elsewhere in South America.





Tourism and Conservation

Some are concerned that the Galapagos Islands are overrun by tourists. Indeed, visitation has grown considerably since the second half of the nineties. Nobody knows how many visitors the park can support. However, without visitors, Galapagos would have vanished as a park long ago, together with its Galapagos National Park animals. Much has been achieved thanks to income from ecotourism:

  • Wild pigs and goats have been eradicated from all uninhabited islands, allowing the original vegetation with their fauna to recover;

  • Most tortoise populations have recovered to levels where they can maintain themselves in the wild;

  • The Government recognizes conservation based tourism as a major source of income and not only protects Galapagos but all parks of Ecuador.

Don't listen to the critics, your visit really DOES help pay for its management and thereby contributes to its conservation.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Visitation statistics Galapagos National Park

Visitation growth over the period 1980 - 2010.


Natural highlights of Galapagos National Park of Ecuador


While the Galápagos Islands are most famous for their endemic plants and and animals, it is also a fascinating geological "hotspot" between the Nazca and Cocos tectonic plates. The hotspot started forming on the sea bottom some 20,000,000 years ago and over the millions of years, gradually rose to 6 main islands, 12 smaller islands, and about 50 islets and submerged rocks. 9 volcanoes are active, as about 70 eruptions have occured since 1800. The 26 May 2015 - eruption of Wolf after 33 years of dormancy, has been a major geological event. Besides volcanoes, different lava forms and basalt are interesting volcanic phenomena.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Bartelome Island at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Pahoehoe lava at Galapagos National Park

One of the most dramatic views of Galapagos National Park of Ecuador is the Pinnacle Rock from the top of the volcano on Bartolome Island.

Pahoehoe lava on the Galapagos Islands.



Lava tunnels are formed when a liquid lava core continues flowing while the exterior cools off and solidifies, like this one at Santa Cruz.

Sierra Negra Caldera at Isabella Island, Galapagos.


Galapagos biodioversity

As is the case on all minor islands in the world, the  level of biodiversity on Galapagos is extremely low. As the islands are so young, their biodiversity is even lower than on some other islands of the same size. And yet, the species on Galapagos are unique in many ways, due to the location of Galapagos right in the center of the Humboldt current, that bends west and passes by the islands. That facilitated the transportation of animals and plants from the mainland on the different island. On each island, the species that succeeded in establishing itself, developed separately from the same species on neighboring islands and from the originating species on the main island. Thus a variety of closely related but distinct species and subspecies could develop.


Galapagos National Park Animals

The "tameness" of their birds and mammals, many visitors love to see animals from close by who appear to be unafraid of them. Moreover, naturalists from all over the world like to see first hand where Darwin came to his evolution theory, which ultimately lead to the revolutionary publication the "Origin of the Species".


Galapagos National Park Birds

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Blue-footed Booby colony at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Bue-footed Boobies, Sula nebouxii, at Galapagos National Park

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Nazca Booby with Chick at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Close-up Blue-footed Boob, Sula nebouxii,@ Galapagos National Park

The Nazca Booby, Sula granti, is a common breeder on Galapagos and can be found along the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.

The Blue-footed Booby, Sula nebouxii, is a common breeding bird of Galapagos and many other tropical and subtropical islands of the Pacific Ocean.


They rarely leave the nest when approached by people, but that does not mean they are not disturbed. When people get close, their heart rates go up dramatically and they are very much alarmed. So always keep your distance, always watch out for unprotected eggs on your trail and strictly obey the instructions of your guide.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Equatorial penguins at Galapagos National parkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Penguin, Spheniscus mediculus, at Galapagos National Park

The only tropical penguin in the world, the Galapagos Penguin, which can always be seen at Las Tintoreras Islets.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Waved Albatross at Galapagos National Park

Waved or Galapagos Albatross courting, Punta Suarez, Espanola Island.

The Galapagos finches formed an essential part in the development of the evolution theory.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Darwin finches at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos Finch at Galapagos National Park

There are 15 Darwin's finches placed in the tanager family; most There are 15 species of Darwin Finches on the Galapagos Islands and one on Cocos Island of Costa Rica. The Galapagos specimens were first collected by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of the Beagle and were quite important for the development of the evolution theory.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Cactus Finch at Galapagos National Park, EcuadorGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos Hawk at Galapagos National Park

John Gould also dedicated some of his fantastic drawings to Galapagos Finches.

Another endemic species is the Galapagos Hawk.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Great Frigate Bird in Flight at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Male Great Frigate Bird with expandes throat at Galapagos National Park

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Great frigate bird with inflated bag at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Great Frigate Bird colony at Galapagos National Park

There are five species in the single genus Fregata of which the Magnificent Frigate Bird, Fregata magnificens and Great Frigate Bird, Fregata minor, roam  the skies of the Galapagos Islands as well as breed there in several colonies, particularly on Tower Island. They have long wings, tails and bills and the males have a red gular pouch that is inflated during the breeding season to attract a mate. They are pelagic piscivores (fish eaters) which obtain most of their food by chasing other birds until they throw up the fish they caught.


Galapagos National Park Vegetation

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Cactus prickley pear forest vegetation at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos Cactus trees

A Opuntia Cactus Forest on Santa Cruz.

Cactuses are an important food source for land iguanas and Galapagos Tortoises.


Prickly Pear of the genus Opuntia, Opuntia spp., is represented in Galapagos by six species and fourteen endemic varieties of cactus. It grows on the lower elevations of the islands where rainfall is low and is a staple food for the Galapagos Land Iguanas and Galapagos Tortoises. The cactuses are an important food source for the Galapagos tortoises, the Galapagos land iguanas, while they serve as nesting trees for the Galapagos cactus finches.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, forest grows at higher elevationsGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]:  Daisy forest.

At the higher elevations, there is so much fog and drizzling rain that actual forests can develop. With one species of tree, a kind of daisy; the Daisy Forest, with just 1 tree species, is rather species poor and yet unique. A good location to see them is on Santa Cruz, the Los Gemelos twin sink hole craters.


Galapagos National Park Reptiles

The Galapagos Islands are named after these old giant tortoises, Geochelone nigra, called "galapagos" in Spanish. They can live up to several centuries. During the early worldwide trading age, they were prized food as they can survive months without food and water. Sailors loaded their ships with hundreds of tortoises, thus decimating their numbers to levels in which extinction became almost inevitable. Thanks to half a century of captive breeding and conservation measures in cooperation between the Darwin Foundation and the Government of Ecuador, populations of most species are slowly recovering to levels that allow them to survive again in the wild on their islands on origin.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Giant Tortoise at Galapagos national parkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Tortoise nursery at the Darwin Center at Galapagos National Park

The extremely rare subspecies are bred in a breeding station at the Darwin biological station.

Young tortoises are kept in different cages for each subspecies. After they have grown large enough to have a high survival chance, they are released in the wild on their corresponding island.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Darwin Biological Research Station.GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Distribution map of the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra donfaustoi.

On 21 October 21015, a publication in "Nature" magazine announced the discovery of a new subspecies on Santa Cruz Island, the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra donfaustoi.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: The new subspecies, the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra donfaustoi.GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Recently discovered: Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra donfaustoi.


The new subspecies, the Eastern Santa Cruz Tortoise, Chelonoidis nigra donfaustoi. as they occur in the wild. With a population of 250 animals, they are considered vulnerable but not immediately threatened.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos Lava Lizard at Galapagos National Park

The Galapagos Lava Lizard is yet another endemic genus of reptiles with distinct species on different islands.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Land iguana at Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Male Land Iguana at Galapagos National Park



The Galapagos Land Iguana, Conolophus subcristatus, is a species of lizard in the Iguanidae family endemic to the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Land Iguana varies in size and coloration among different islands. There are two taxonomically distinct forms of Conolophus inhabiting the western part of the islands (C. rosada and C. pallidus) and one in the central part (C. subcristatus).


Galapagos Land Iguanas are typically unafraid of people and feed on the abundant Prickly Pear or Opuntia Cactus. It is always amazing how they devour a cactus leaf with prickles and all. Beware you don't get too close to these animals and never try to touch them. Their bite can be extremely painful!


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Sea Iguana Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos National Park Marine Iguana

Galapagos Marine Iguanas.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Enjoy the underwater world.GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Snorklers with a Green Turtle.

Getting to know the under-water world at Galapagos is a must if you are physically up to it.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: submerge a little and enjoy the colorful tropical fishes.GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Scuba Gear is available for rent, so you don't have to bring your own.

Even if you did not bring a mask, it still is fun to submerge a little and enjoy the colorful tropical fishes. The best of course if you are a scuba diver. Gear is available for rent, so you don't have to bring your own.



Green turtles surround the shore of the Galapagos Islands, particularly at Punta Vicente Roca, Isabela Island.


GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Orange Crab Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Red Rock Crab Galapagos Islands

The "Red Rock Crab" or in Spanish "Abuete Negro", Grapsus grapsus, is common along the entire Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico and nearby islands. It is one of the many charismatic species that inhabits the Galapagos Islands and occurring in great numbers along the water line, they are a charming colorful attraction to all the visitors of the islands and a thankful object for photographers.


Galapagos National Park Mammals

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Galapagos Sea Lion Zalophus WollebaekiGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Sea Lions Galapagos Islands

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Sea Lions Galapagos National ParkGALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Sea Lion Zalophus Wollebaeki, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Sea Lion, Zalophus wollebaeki, is an endemic species of Ecuador, only mating on the Galapagos Islands and Isla de la Plata. This playful Sea Lion is very common on the islands and during mating season the males round up large pack of females. It is great swimming among these young and curious animals at Playa de los Perros, but only away from the harems, as the heavy bulls are dangerous and are known to have attacked people that have come too close to their harem. Always follow the instructions of your guide.


Not only the islands are protected as Galapagos National Park animals, but also the surrounding sea in the Galapagos Marine Biological Reserve.

GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: mangrove beach.GALAPAGOS NATIONAL PARK [LAST MINUTE]: Bottle Nose Dolphin Galapagos National Park

The Garrapatero Beach, at Santa Cruz Island is 3 km of sandy beach surrounded with mangroves where you even may watch some flamingos.  Its has incredibly valuable coastal shallow water ecosystems, to enjoy on your Galapagos National Park last minute reservation.

Frolicking Dolphins are among the common marine mammals that inhabit the Galapagos Marine Biological Reserve.


While the lowlands of most islands are semi deserts, at some hidden locations, one finds some mangroves where wading birds and even some flamingos may find their habitat. But for extended Mangroves in Ecuador, one needs to visit the mainland, where some of the best mangroves of the Eastern Pacific Ocean can be found.


As the weather and climate in Ecuador vary greatly with elevation and region, you need different clothing for different regions. Depending on where you travel, you have to be prepared for hot weather in the western lowlands and Galapagos National Park, with thin shirts, shorts and light trousers. For the central Andes valley, the Andes flanks and Cuyabeno, be sure to take a light sweater or buy one locally, because the evenings may turn chilly. If you plan to go up in the highlands above 3500 m, be sure you bring adequately warm clothing, because - depending on elevation - temperatures may turn wintery cold. Be prepared for rainfall everywhere, so bring a nylon poncho and/or water-coated light rain jacket.


WARNING: You will be on the Equator. UV radiation is extremely high everywhere you go and you need to protect you adequately, even if you are dark-skinned. Always where a hat, not just a baseball cap, and please, don't wear sandals or bear feet when you come from abroad. I have seen such horribly painful feet on people who covered everything but their feet. Your feet get the most direct sunlight as they are exposed horizontally to the sun!


Always put on high grade sun block (don't forget the edges of your ears).  Accustom your skin to the sunlight by exposing it for no more than an hour the first day and add an hour everyday afterwards. Don't be fooled by an overcast sky, you can still get sun burn. Be particularly aware in the highlands, where the UV is even higher!; and on the water (Cuyabeno, Galapagos), because on the water, the UV effect is greater. Also beware of wind, as it also tends to increase the sun burning of your skin.


What makes us different from so many other tour operators?

Just look at the quality of our high resolution pictures. We took them all ourselves. We have thousands of high resolution pictures on this website, that you can see enlarged by clicking on them. These pictures show that we have been everywhere in the country of your interest and really know the details. We are professional explorers and biologists with MSc and PhD.


National Parks Tours Worldwide, a social responsibility and conservation company, is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA.


Phone USA:

(++)(1) 304 - 581 - 7740




Skype: ecotravelworldwide


Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature., He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador in the 1970s and he initiated the Cuyabeno Lodge in Ecuador's Amazon in 1985, making him one of the world's eco tourism pioneers. A speaker of 8 languages and having traveled to 80+ countries, Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil has is one of the world's greatest connoisseurs of nature and national parks in the world.