The Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago towards the west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos contain incredible diversity including many species found nowhere else on Earth; many species living on one island are not even found on other islands of the Galapagos.
Protected as a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Area, the Galapagos are regarded as one of the most unique, scientifically important and biologically outstanding areas on Earth. Because of this, the Galapagos are popular with travelers and visitors often mention their time on and around these incredible islands was a life changing experience.
An incredible 80% of land birds and 97% of reptiles and land mammals on the Galapagos are found nowhere else on Earth. Some of the favorite animals of Galapagos tourists include the giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and the Galapagos penguins.
History of the Galapagos Islands
Found accidentally by a Bishop on his way to Peru, the Bishop’s vessel was blown off course and landed on these islands. Some of his crew died due to the harsh conditions and lack of fresh water. He went on to describe the archipelago as having little to offer and best avoided as a inhospitable land mass. Their addition to maps, however, meant the Galapagos became a base for pirates to pillage vessels carrying gold to Spain.
The most famous story of the Galapagos involves a young English naturalist by the name of Charles Darwin. Darwin was joining the Beagle on a voyage to map the coast of South America and he collected specimens from the islands of many different birds, beetles and other animals. Then, after many talks with colleagues, a peculiarity emerged where each island seemed to have its own form of animal, slightly different from the others. Years later after accumulating more evidence from other areas, Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection and in 1859 published On the Origin of Species to explain the diversity of life on Earth.
Ecuador contains a record breaking diversity of animals and plants, and is a fantastic vacation option for nature lovers. Ecuador contains a significant portion of Amazon Rainforest where you can enjoy some of the best lodges in Amazonia. From these lodges, you will head out on guided nature tours to find Amazonian animals and plants. Continue to Amazon Rainforest Tours >>
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are a world famous archipelago off the coast of Ecuador home to an impressive diversity of animals found nowhere else on Earth. Species include the Galapagos giant tortoises, marine and land iguanas, seals, and a fantastic assemblage of interesting birds. Continue to Galapagos Island Tours >>
The Ecuadorian Amazon
Ecuador has been found by naturalists and researchers to contain the highest amount of animals and plants on Earth. This diversity has been found in the Amazon Rainforest, the world’s largest container of tropical life. The majority of Amazon Rainforest tourists in Ecuador fly from Quito to Coca and are then transported by river to their chosen Amazon Rainforest lodge.
A continent of contrasts, South America split from the African landmass and joined with North America to merge a distinct set of flora, fauna and geographical features. The South American continent is bound by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and is the jumping off point for Antarctica to the south. After the merger with North America, the Isthmus of Panama in the north would be the land bridge by which many different animals, including humans, migrated south into this diverse continent. Welcome to South America.
South American Rainforest
The largest tract of continuous rainforest on Earth is found in South America. The Amazon is larger than the other largest rainforests, the Congo Rainforest in West Africa and the New Guinean Rainforest in Australasia, combined. This incredible forest has filled the hearts and minds of naturalists and explorers for hundreds of years and can be accessed from any one of the nine nations it crosses. For the majority of Amazon tourists, the two countries to base themselves for an Amazon Adventure are Peru and Brazil, which contain the largest portions of the rainforest, but there are lesser known adventurous alternatives…
The Brazilian Cerrado
The Brazilian Cerrado is the country’s 2nd largest habitat after the Amazon Rainforest. The Cerrado is a tropical savanna habitat that experiences a humid climate. The habitat is home to many endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. Here you will see incredible wildlife, such as Endangered Maned Wolves, Hyacinth Macaws, and tool-using Capuchin Monkeys.
The Pantanal Wetlands allows a higher chance of seeing some of the Amazon Rainforest’s most sort-after wildlife, such as Jaguar, Giant Otters and Capybara. The open and often treeless habitat means Capybara can roam the grasslands in huge numbers and animals cannot easily hide from view. Although lesser known than the Amazon, the Pantanal houses an equal concentration of wildlife to the densest areas in Africa.
Brazilian Atlantic Forest
When the Portuguese first set foot on South America over 500 years ago, they were met with the Atlantic Forest. One of the most threatened tropical forests, the Atlantic forest in southern Brazil is home to many highly threatened animals and plants. Over 85% of the original forest cover has been deforested, but because of its significance as a home for many endemic species, hundreds of businesses, NGOs and charities are working to restore this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
South American Countries
The main countries that make up South America are, in order of highest population, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uraguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana (France).
Eco Regions in South America
Tourists can explore the different eco-regions in South America, which offer a chance to view breathtaking scenery, amazing wildlife and contrasting environments. You can explore the Amazon Rainforest or Atlantic Forest previously mentioned, the wetlands, which are home to abundant animals and plants, Andean Cloud Forest to see incredible bird life, the Atacama desert, Earth’s driest area, the Andean mountain range, the world’s longest mountain range, and the famous Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador to see uniquely famous animals and plants.
Wildlife and Protected Areas
Within these Bio Regions are the main National Parks that protect South America’s famous and world renowned wildlife for future generations. View the famous macaws of Tambopata National Reserve and Manu National Park and see Jaguar in the Pantanal.
Tourist Attractions – Culture, History and Nature
In addition to South America’s cities and bio regions, tourists flock to South America to see its rich cultural heritage for a glimpse into a land before the modern world as well as natural wonders, such as Angel Falls in Venezuela, the world’s highest waterfall.
South America History
Like the pyramids of Egypt, South America is home to its own archeological sites of now vanished societies. Machu Picchu in Peru alone draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year to visit this mystical Incan ruin. As well as Machu Picchu, Peru is home to other archaeological sites like the Cradle of Gold and the latest tourist destination, the Northern Kingdoms.
There have been many different civilizations in South America, such as the Chavin, which spanned 900 BC to 300 AD, the Moche, from 100 BC to 700 AD, the Chachopayas, from 1000–1450, but none that have caught the public attention as much as the Inkas, which dominated the Andean region from 1438 to 1533 and were invaded by the Spanish in one of the most significant periods in South American history. To explore South America’s rich and interesting Archeological sites, travel to one of our popular Ancient Destinations.