Darwin's Island Treasure The Galapagos
The key to understanding the Galapagos islands, an archipelago situated about 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador in the Pacific ocean, lies with its natural history. And as any historian will tell you, the man responsible for drawing the world's attention to this biological melting pot was the great British scientist, Charles Darwin. The conclusions set out in Darwin's life changing book, On the Origin of Species, in which he sets out his theories of natural selection for the first time, were in large part based on observations he made during his trip to these islands. Darwin had little idea of the huge influence the Galapagos islands were going to have on his career, and neither did he realize just how relevant they would become following the publication of his seminal work in 1859.
But let's pause for a moment and return to September 15th, 1835. Following a long voyage from Callao, Peru, HMS Beagle arrived at the archipelago with Charles Darwin on board, who was only 26 years old at the time. In spite of many thinking he was the official naturalist on board the ship, he did in fact have other responsibilities. He was a true deckhand and served as an assistant to Captain Robert Fitzroy. Naturally, his passion for nature and determination to question the inexplicable led him to observe any place he visited in the greatest of detail, and he set out to make as thorough an exploration of the Galapagos islands as possible.
It was exactly this degree of acute observation that Darwin employed upon his return to England when analyzing his collections from the voyage on the Beagle ship. Helped considerably by some very influential contacts in the scientific fraternity at that time who supported his work, Darwin was able to put to the world the evidence that would forever change the thinking of mankind.
He used to write regularly in his diary whilst on board the Beagle. According to comments he makes on the Galapagos, it is clear that there were two main characteristics that really struck him from the outset: both the impressive geology of the islands, and their unusual climate in the context of the tropics. In later writings, he also notes the impact of animal life on the archipelago and his exploration of each individual island. Charles Darwin discovered the Galapagos from a unique angle, giving rise to the notion that the islands were as they were as a result of their development over time.
It is the historical and scientific significance of this observation, coupled with the natural beauty of the islands per se, that draws thousands of people to visit them year upon year. The unique experience of being able to mix with animals in the wild and observe the manner in which they have adapted to the harsh volcanic surroundings of the islands, is what most visitors come in search of. From lizards, tortoises and penguins, to tropical fish, frigate birds and finches all made famous by Darwin, you'll find a range of living creatures almost unrivaled in any other part of the world.
An excellent way to take in the complete diversity the Galapagos has to offer is by cruising between the different islands, taking time to hop off and follow in Darwin's footsteps, relax on the beaches or snorkel amongst exotic marine life. Travelers of all types will find something at the Galapagos. Whether it's scientific curiosity, the spirit of adventure and exploration, or the simple, relaxing sensation of finding yourself living at one with nature, you are sure to come away with an unforgettable holiday experience.