around a pool, and perhaps some snorkellingor diving among tropical fish, playful sealions and darting Galapagos penguins.What sets these Galapagos wildlifeencounters apart is the lack of fear that theanimals have of humans. Your memories of the islands will be a riot of colour, acacophony of noise and unforgettableintrigue - the red of the great frigate bird'sFrom the minute you set foot on one ofthe Galapagos islands and inch gingerlypast a sea lion sleeping on the path, thismagical Pacific archipelago will have cast its spell. Mornings spent watching courtshipdances of exotic birds, observing finchesgrooming giant tortoises and photographingbasking marine iguanas, will give way togentle afternoons; a siesta on a sun deck or4The Galapagospuffed up chest, the comical feet of blue-footed boobies, the screeching andclacking of courting albatrosses andwonderment at just how lonely LonesomeGeorge, the giant tortoise, might be. YourGalapagos experience should be exhilaratingand relaxing in equal measure. Whateveryour expectations, we are sure you willreturn in awe of these amazing islands.
Audley in the GalapagosWith the wealth of options available, planning a trip to the Galapagos can seemlike a minefield. We hope this is where wecan help as our specialists have travelledextensively to the islands with Audley. We have also arranged trips for over 2,500clients in the last ten years so have all of their experiences and feedback to draw on.We therefore feel extremely well qualified to offer first-hand advice. Whether you likethe idea of a cruise on a traditional sail boat or a modern motor vessel, or prefer to stay on dry land and take day excursionsfrom a hotel or even do some island hopping and hiking, we have the experienceto design a trip to match your requirements.Our team have also extensively travelled and researched Central and South America,so can recommend countries and regionswhich you may wish to combine with yourGalapagos trip.Find out more For suggested itineraries and practicalinformation about travel in the Galapagos,please see pages 28-30.www.audleytravel.comInteractive maps and features, further suggested itineraries,accommodation, climate informationand articles written by our specialists.Discuss your plans with our Galapagosspecialists 01993 838 635?Introduction5IntroductionThe Galapagos are no ordinary islands. Straddlingthe Equator they are formed purely by volcanicactivity and are shaped by the unforgiving PacificOcean. At less than five million years old they areconsidered geologically young and are extremelyactive, with over 50 volcanic eruptions in the last200 years. The islands' privileged location meanthat a journey here will reveal how, through timeand lack of predators, endemic wildlife and plantspecies have evolved in the most unique way.Although there is speculation that the Incas mayhave visited the Galapagos in the 15th century,the first recorded landing on the islands was bythe Bishop of Panama in 1535. He described the Galapagos as a hellish place and soinconsequential that he did not report the islands with the 'foolishly tame' wildlife to the King of Spain. Through time the archipelagobecame the haunt of pirates and whalers, but asmore people visited the islands they began to be seen in a whole new light. Ecuador claimedsovereignty over the archipelago in 1832 and, in 1835, Charles Darwin's experience on theseislands formed the basis of his theory of evolutionby natural selection, which changed the course of scientific thinking regarding all of life on Earth.It was only in the 20th century that a permanenthuman colonisation of the islands took place.Today over 20,000 people inhabit the Galapagos,some are descendents of the original settlers butmany are drawn from the Ecuadorian mainland by the prospect of working in tourism and fishing.These two industries make the islands the richestprovince of Ecuador, which leads to social,economic and political pressures. The overridingchallenge for the Galapagos National Parkauthorities and the Ecuadorian government is topreserve the delicate and unique ecosystem ofthe country's jewel in the crown.Travelling responsiblyThe fragility of the delicate Galapagos ecosystemis well documented and it is only right to consideryour impact before travelling to the islands. TheGalapagos National Park now enforces strict,regulated itineraries for all boats and excursionsfrom the hotels that we use. We ensure that the boats and hotels are 'Smart Voyager' certifiedor actively working towards this, or a similarlyrecognised, status. This particular programme,backed by the Rainforest Alliance, awards its'green seal' of approval to operators in theGalapagos who meet the strictest conservationstandards. In addition, a number of the operatorsthat we work with continue to make theiroperations greener. Carbon neutral cruises, solarpanels, wind turbines, onboard waste treatmentplants and biodegradable shower products are allintegral features on many of the boats featured in this brochure.Pinnacle RockBlue-footed booby and chick