The Enchanted Isles
On white-sand beaches in front of crystal clear, turquoise seas, Galápagos sea lions recline in lines as far as the eye can see. On other shores, with red, purple, golden, black, or green sands, marine iguanas and Galápagos green turtles shuttle back and forth from the waters. And on yet more forged-by-fire landscapes, mangrove lagoons and cactus forests ring with types of birdsong only heard here.

This is the Galápagos, a name that encompasses about thirteen major islands, six smaller islands, and many even tinier islets and rocks that are set along the Equator six hundred miles off the west coast of South America. They comprise 3,093 square miles of land spread out over 23,000 square miles of ocean. Born from fiery volcanoes deep in the Pacific Ocean, the islands have never been part of a continent. And since they have only relatively recently been "discovered" by humans, it's possible to see the Earth in a more pristine state here than anywhere else on the planet.

The diversity of life and land, and unusual and still somewhat untouched nature, is what draws us to the islands. It's a call you should feel good about answering, for every visitor who goes to the islands helps to maintain the Galápagos National Park, a World Heritage site.

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