Evolution of the Galapagos Islands
The geological, ecological and human convergence on the Galapagos Islands has made the archipelago one of the most fascinating places on earth. The islands rose up from the ocean floor as tops of volcanoes, possibly during the Pliocene era, (2-7 million years ago) and have never been connected by land to any mainland area. Today, the Galapagos Islands remain one of the most active oceanic volcano areas on Earth, located on the Nazca tectonic plate. This perpetually moving plate, heading eastward over the Galapagos hot spot has formed the chain of islands. The youngest islands Isabela and Fernandina are still being formed, with the most recent volcanic eruption in April 2009.
The islands are known principally for the pristine natural beauty of their flora and fauna which has evolved extensively in isolation and the same can be said for the diverse wildlife found here. Many of these plants and creatures are endemic, meaning that they are found nowhere else on earth. And because no large predatory land mammals ever made it here (before humans arrived!), the wildlife has never learnt to fear man. This means that visitors can get up close to the endemic wildlife that is found on the Islands, it is this fact that really makes the Galapagos such a unique and exciting place to visit.
The Galapagos Islands has a unique combination of four different ecosystems formed by wind patterns and differences in elevation; this sets them apart from all other island groups in the world. Their position is also a meeting point for four major oceanic currents and nutrient-rich upwellings making the surrounding seas particularly productive. These special islands display a strange mix of both tropical and temperate environments, which is reflected in the complex and unusual plants and animals that thrive in the arid lowlands, dense forests, lavascapes and grasslands.
This remote, sub-tropical Archipelago is considered to be a "living laboratory and showcase of evolution". The marine currents, the islands’ isolation, volcanic topography and characteristic climate have conspired to provide a place for sea, air and land inhabitants to thrive.
At the Royal Palm, our guided tours will introduce you to some of the island’s residents including the various Booby Birds, Waved Albatross, Galapagos Penguins, Darwin’s Finches, Fur Seals, Marine Iguana, Lava Lizards and of course the Giant Galapagos Tortoise.
We welcome you to The Islands and kindly ask that you abide by the rules that have been put in place by the Galapagos National Park Service to protect this natural paradise.