The archipelago is located in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles west off the coast of Ecuador. Being not too close to and not too far from the mainland meant the islands were out of reach for human settlers in the early years and had just the right conditions for wildlife to thrive. There are a total of 14 major islands, several smaller islands, and 97% of the land is protected by the Galápagos National Park. Varied conditions on different islands, ranging from desert island scrubs to lush highland forests, are home to many types of species. The best way to see the variety of Galápagos wildlife, most of which are endemic to the islands, is on a cruise, which can get you close to remote areas inaccessible by land travel.
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