Gateway to Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago! (What's an Archipelago?) An archipelago is a group of islands! The Galapagos archipelago is made up of 20 islands, 42 islets and over 250 rocks!
On our adventure, we will visit several different islands; Baltra, aka South Seymour Island, Santa Cruz Island, North Seymour Island and Isabela Island!
Our adventure will begin when we land on Baltra Island. 97% of the Galapagos Archipelago has been declared a national park. This island is called Galapagos National Park. Baltra is the only island that is not actually part of the national park, located near the center of the archipelago. Our adventure starts on Baltra Island, aka South Seymour, because this is where the main Galapagos airport is. This island is dry and flat, which makes it perfect for an airport. It currently houses an abandoned Air Force base that was used by the United States during World War II to protect the Panama Canal. Baltra is also home to an Ecuadorian military base which accounts for the very small population on this island. Area: 8 miles or 21 km Altitude: 328 feet or 100 m
FUN FACTS ABOUT BALTRA - SOUTH SEYMOUR ISLAND
1. South Seymour is not the remnants of a volcano, but actually a patch of land that was once under water and volcanic activity on the neighboring Island of Santa Cruz caused the land to shift up. It is covered with rounded volcanic rocks called "pillow lava". These were formed underwater before the patch of land became an island.
2. There are land iguanas present on the island and in 1932 some scientists decided to relocate some of them to North Seymour where they thrived. During the war, Baltra iguanas became extinct but the iguanas that were migrated to North Seymour were bred and they were able to bring back the iguanas to Baltra to roam the island once again.
3. The Baltra air base was once a busy impressive installation. In addition to an airstrip, there was a bowling alley and a movie theatre. Panama provided prostitutes for the bars where they provided entertainment for the servicemen. Unfortunately there was much tension as the Ecuadorians that were employed as support staff were denied access to the theatre, commissary and the bars. In 1945 the war ended and the air base was given to the Ecuadorian military.
Baltra is known as the Gateway to the Galapagos Islands as this is where we enter and exit the archipelago - and the adventure of a lifetime!