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History of the Galapagos


The first visitors to the Galápagos Islands were Native Americans from mainland South America. The islands bear no archaeological remains of dwellings or other structures, so it is quite unlikely that any native colonies were ever established there. Pirates and renegades first inhabited the islands during the early 1500s. They would hide and camp out on the islands after raiding Spanish colonial ports. Due to their inhospitable nature and lack of water, the Spanish paid the islands little attention, giving them the name ‘Las Encantadas’ or bewitched islands.

A new period began in 1832 when Ecuador proclaimed its sovereignty over the islands. There were only a handful of permanent settlers at that time but their number had increased to around 300 by 1835 when the HMS Beagle arrived with Charles Darwin on board. Darwin spent five weeks in the Galapagos collecting and preserving specimens from four separate islands. His field observations led him finally to conclusions published in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859. The first Galápagos colony was established on the island of Floreana. The archipelago experienced many attempted settlements from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century by individuals from Norway, the US, and the UK. During World War II, a United States Army Air Force base was established on Baltra Island. From Baltra, crews patrolled the eastern Pacific for enemy submarines and provided protection for the Panama Canal.

Paddle the shores while kayaking where Darwin first set foot on our Galapagos Multisport Adventure or board a Galapagos Cruise to navigate the archipelago.

Ecuador Mainland & Galapagos Combined

Andean Discovery's Quito and Galapagos Cruises allow you to explore Quito, a jewel in the Andes and World Heritage site, before boarding one of our favorite vessels for the wildlife experien
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Galapagos Land Tours

Galapagos Land Tours are a great alternative to cruises, allowing you more flexibility to enjoy a variety of activities, such as ocean kayaking, snorkeling, and relaxing on the beach.
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Galapagos Cruises

Galapagos cruises are an excellent way to experience all the Galapagos have to offer, including brilliant white-sand beaches, snorkeling, hiking trails and wildlife viewing.
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Galapagos Diving Tours

Discover the magnificent world of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Whether you choose a day trip or a live-a-board diving boat, many of the species you'll see are found nowhere else.
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Tours to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands

Combine two of South America's most amazing highlights in this trip. Explore the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu hop over to the Galapagos Islands to observe wildlife up close.
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