The Archipelago of Galapagos is an enchanting necklace of some 13 volcanic islands and associated islets and rocks located just below the equator, off the west coast of Ecuador in South America by about 600 miles. The oldest of the Galapagos Islands date back to around 4 million years whereas the youngest are still in the formation process.
Considered as one of the most active volcanic areas in the world Galapagos Islands were a chance discovery by father Tomas Berlanga in 1535 when, the bishop of Panama sailed to Peru to square off a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and his lieutenants after the conquest of the Incas.
The bishop's ship was carried to the Galapagos by strong ocean currents after the winds died and he set his feet on the stranded islands and documented his adventure mentioning the harsh, arid, desert-like condition of the islands and their trademark giant tortoises. He was particularly impressed by the rich fauna of the island including the marine iguanas, the sea lions and the many types of exotic, colorful birds. He also noted the remarkable tameness of the animals that thrill and delight modern visitors, especially the wildlife enthusiasts.
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