Galapagos Islands

Blog posts about IE's Galapagos tours, as well as news and ecotourism.
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When you consider some of Latin America's greatest landmarks, it's no surprise that it's such a playground for the adventure seeker. Arenal Volcano, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef are just a few of the most notable landmarks.

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The passion flower is one of the few hundred endemic plant species of the Galapagos Islands. Passion flowers can be found in South American, but only those growing on the Galapagos are white — others are purple or red. The white flowers that bloom on the islands are the most common variant of the species, which has earned them the title of the official flower of the Galapagos.

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The Galapagos Islands are legendary for their population of curious, approachable wildlife, and South Plaza island — one of the smallest in the chain — is a great place to see many of the Galapagos' endemic creatures.

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Lonesome George, the giant tortoise that became perhaps the best-known resident of Galapagos Islands passed away this past Sunday in his pen at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Scientists estimate that he was around 100 years old.

According to Galapagos National Park officials, Fausto Llerena, George’s keeper for 40 years, found him dead in his corral. With George’s passing, the Pinta Island subspecies of giant tortoise is now considered extinct.

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The Galapagos Islands are known for the diverse array of plants and animals that call the archipelago home and few are more powerful than the Galapagos hawk. This predatory bird is one of the few animals that prey on other large creatures on the islands, and is the only raptor living on the Galapagos Islands. The hawks are also active during the day, which means you're likely to see them circling the skies during International Expeditions’ small ship cruises to the Galapagos.

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Dear Traveler,

Just a few days ago, someone asked me to really define what kind of journeys International Expeditions offers. The terms we so commonly use — like nature travel and ecotourism — did not seem descriptive enough. So I came up with a statement focusing less on who WE are and more on what YOU experience.

IE guests discover the world through small group experiences where they are immersed in the nature and local culture of Earth’s greatest wilderness regions.

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When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos, he was repulsed by the marine iguanas, famously referring to them in his journal as “imps of darkness.” But these “disgusting, clumsy lizards” were one of the keys that helped Darwin unlock the secrets of his theory of evolution. Galapagos marine iguanas are the only aquatic lizards in the world, and Darwin surmised they were able to adapt their ability to swim and dive for food to suit their habitat.

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Blue-footed boobies may be one of the most popular Galapagos Islands birds, but there are plenty of other exotic avian creatures on the archipelago, like the red-footed booby. This bird is the smallest member of the booby family. If you want to see these birds in their natural habitat, you must travel to outlying Genovesa Island, a highly protected island that is home to a large colony of the red-footed boobies can be found.

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Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences, the Oakland Museum and the National Museum of Natural History recently reported the discovery of a previously undocumented shark species swimming around the waters of the Galapagos Islands. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the researchers actually found and collected a number of these sharks back in 1998, but the process of cataloguing a new species is not a quick one, as everything from ensuring it is actually new to naming it can be time-consuming.

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