The islands

The Galápagos have been declared an endangered World Heritage Site by UNESCO and 97% of the land area and 100% of the surrounding ocean are part of the Galápagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Within the park there are some 60 visitor sites, each with defined trails, so the impact of visitors to this fragile environment is minimized. These sites can only be visited with a national park guide as part of a cruise or tour.

Each of the visitor sites has been carefully chosen to show the different flora and fauna and, due to the high level of endemism, nearly every trail has flora and fauna that can be seen nowhere else in the world. The itineraries of tourist boats are strictly regulated in order to avoid crowding at the visitor sites and some sites are periodically closed by the park authorities in order to allow them to recover from the impact of tourism. Certain sites are only open to smaller boats and, additionally, limited to a maximum number of visits per month. For further details, see

The 3% of Galápagos which is not national park is made up of towns and agricultural zones on four populated islands: Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela and Floreana. The populated parts of these islands are the only ones which may be visited independently, but there are also large restricted areas of national park land on these populated islands.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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