Exploring the Galapagos

Travel Destinations — By on September 4, 2007 at 12:32 pm

The Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are one of the world’s natural wonders and are rightly famous for the part they played in helping Charles Darwin develop his theory of evolution. Carol Stogsdill recently visited several of the islands that make up the Galapagos and wrote about her experiences for the Los Angeles Times.

The synonym for paradise is Galapagos. The definition is an archipelago of 15 islands and dozens of islets in the Pacific, straddling the Equator and belonging to Ecuador, 600 miles east. Never mind the 19th century visit of Charles Darwin and how he began formulating his theory of evolution here. Anyone who comes here will tell you that what really put this place on the map are the sheer wonders that occur when nature is allowed to thrive unspoiled.

But lately, there have been signs of trouble in paradise. Ecuador is considering restricting not only tourist permits and flights to the islands but also residency permits. UNESCO selected Galapagos as its first world heritage site in 1978 but in August declared the islands “in danger” because of increased development and tourism.

But Ecuadoreans have a saying: “If it’s not a problem today, it’s not a problem yet.” And, today, the iguanas are happily basking in the sun. In the middle of these wonders, trouble is easy to overlook.

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