Santa Cruz

San Cristóbal


Santa Fe



100 km

60 mi

Welcome to a special edition of Explorer magazine! Through these pages, you will be transported to a place unlike any other in the world: the Galápagos Islands.

The Galapagos islands

The islands were given both Spanish and English names by early visitors. 

Early Spanish sailors called the islands “Las Encantadas.” That means “the enchanted.” How perfect for islands that seem to disappear in the mist!

They were discovered by accident in 1535 by a Spaniard, Tomás de Berlanga. His ship was bound for Peru but was carried off course by strong currents.

From the late 1500s to the early 1800s, the Galápagos saw pirates, buccaneers, and whalers. In 1832, Ecuador officially took possession of the islands.

These islands teem with life. Frigatebirds soar. Blue‑footed boobies dive into the ocean. Marine iguanas cling to slippery rocks. Galápagos penguins zip past them like rockets.

Take a closer look at the map above. It helps tell the tale of these islands and how they came to be. Once you understand the birth of these islands, you’ll begin to see what lives there and why. You will read of a famous visitor, Charles Darwin. And finally you’ll learn about one of the islands’ most memorable species: the giant tortoise.

It isn’t possible to tell you everything about the Galápagos Islands. But we hope this issue will start you on your own quest to know more.

Brenna Maloney, managing editor, Explorer