Galápagos are famous for their incredible wildlife, the islands are a national park, a marine biological reserve and a UNESCO world heritage site. The islands are an archipelago made up of 13 main islands, and 6 smaller islands. They are owned by Ecuador and their principal language is Spanish. Tourism there is strictly controlled in an attempt to keep the islands habitat protected.
The giant tortoise, those that Charles Darwin so-called rode and ate, are one of the most famous inhabitants of the islands, now an entirely protected species. As well as the tortoise you can see sealions, penguins, and marine iguanas.
As the islands are a national park, and a nature reserve it is strict about it's visitors and has a list of rules. You must stay on the designated paths, and be accompanied by a certified Galapagos guide. You may not take anything from the island, except for your photos- professionals need to get permission- and you may not introduce anything new to the islands either. You should be safe, away from the animals, keep your distance and do not feed them. Smoking, and any kind of open flame is not permitted on the islands. Jet skiing, waterskiing and submarines are all forbidden.
The only way you can get to the Galápagos is by flying from either Quito or Guayaquil airports- and flights are expensive, $450 in low season and up to $550 in high season. You cannot book single tickets without proof of transport off the islands. Flights tend to leave mainland Ecuador early in the morning and leave late afternoon from the archipelago.
All photos by Derek Keats via Creative Commons