GWC: Galapagos Wilderness Camp
THE GALAPAGOS: good to know
It is an archipelago (group of islands) discovered by accident in 1535 by Tomas de Berlanga. He was the first Bishop of Panama, where he started his journey to Peru and he was drifted off while sailing. As bishop he was enforced to report his discovery to King Charles V of Spain, on this report Tomas de Berlanga included a description of the giant Galapagos tortoises from which the islands received their name, The Galapagos Archipelago.
In 1953, Thor Heyerdahl, an explorer from Norway in his visit to the islands discovered what he thought to be pre-Columbian pottery shards, which gave him the idea that indians did know about the existence of the islands, however there is not enough evidence to prove it.
The Galapagos were used as a base by a succession of buccaneers, sealers and whalers, for more than 300 years of its discovery. These buccaneers found in the islands a great place to anchorage, firewood, fresh water and lots of fresh food in the form of the giant Galapagos tortoises, which were caught, it seems than around 100,000 of them are estimated to have been taken between 1811 and 1844. The tortoises could survive for a year or more, however by then they became fresh meat for the sailors long after they had left the islands.
If there is a visitor who made history at the Galapagos, he was Charles Darwin who arrived in 1835 aboard The Beagle, a British naval vessel. Darwin's visit was quite short, only five weeks, but enough to visit few of the islands collecting specimen and data, which was key information and evidence for his theory of evolution. Darwin devoted as much of his attention to geology and botany as he did to the animals and marine life of the Galapagos.
Ecuador officially claimed the Galapagos Archipelago in 1832. Some islands have been declared wildlife sanctuaries in 1934, and in 1959 almost 97% of the archipelago was declared a national park. Starting in 1960 until now there has been a wake-up in the organized tourism, an estimated 80,000 foreign visitors visit the islands every year.