Commemorating the Last Day of Charles Darwin’s Visit to Galapagos

last day of charles darwin's visit to galapagos

October 20th, 1835 –

The HMS Beagle has now concluded the end of its Galapagos Islands survey. This is the last day of Charles Darwin’s visit to Galapagos. By this point, Captain Fitzroy, his Officers, and Crew have prepared the vessel for the extra long 3,200-mile (5,150 kilometer) crossing of the Pacific Ocean. Next Destination: Society Islands (Tahiti).

Sailing conditions are at their prime: trade winds gradually shift into doldrums and the sea will become gentle within the first 4-5 days after departing from the Galapagos.

james santiago island galapagos darwin

James Island was the last location explored by Charles Darwin. This place, though, was the only one where he spent various nights. It must have been overwhelming to find so much diverse wildlife, and yet being in tropical latitudes.

The Last Day of Charles Darwin’s Visit to Galapagos: Looking Back

On this exact day, 182 years ago, Darwin writes formidable observations about the Galapagos as part of his last log entry in his journal; the same journal that later became “The Voyage of the Beagle.” His next entry wouldn’t be until about a month later, but it was during this interlude that Darwin had plenty of time to review his collections, notes and specimens.

last day of charles darwin's visit to galapagos

Marine Iguanas, as seen here along the coast of James (Santiago) Island in Galapagos, were reptiles that fascinated Darwin. They swim to the ocean for food, and he wrote that only large adult males dive down to get algae (seaweed). Knowing his inquisitive mind, in no time he experimented with something: tie a heavy rock to an iguana, submerge it for 30 minutes, and see the results. He wrote: “Once the iguana was out of the water it was vigorously shaking.” Oh, Charles…

Perhaps,the most powerful conclusion he makes here is the one that coins the real essence of Galapagos: “Considering the small size of the islands, we feel the more astonished at the number of their aboriginal beings and at their confined range.” He magically puts one of his earliest conclusions within the evolutionary fabric of natural selection when he says, “seeing every height crowned with its crater, and the boundaries of most of the lava streams still distinct, we are led to believe that, within a recent geological period, the unbroken ocean was here spread out. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact — that mystery of mysteries — regarding the first appearance of new beings on this Earth.” No other writing has ever described the Galapagos anything like Darwin’s remarkable and distilled perspective.

the last day of charles darwin's visit to galapagos santiago

Volcanic coastlines are stunning locations to observe intertidal pools and how the ocean blends with the land. On James (Santiago) Island, you can explore these places too. You can now witness what Darwin saw during his remarkable voyage around the world, where the Galapagos Islands hold a triumphant tittle as one of the best locations for natural history.

The Last Day of Charles Darwin’s Visit to Galapagos: Then & Now

From here on out, these writings would come to inspire the next generation of scientists and encourage them to unravel the hidden treasures that the Galapagos hold. This historical and scientific reputation is now one of the biggest “incentives” behind visiting the Enchanted Isles, inviting guests from all over the world to come and witness this unique location.

voyage of the beagle

If you enjoy reading about natural history, seafaring adventures, wildlife descriptions, cultural impressions and more, then this book is a must. It has no comparison with Darwin’s masterpiece On the Origin of Species, but it will surely awake that sense of wanderlust.

Nowadays, we can follow Darwin’s footsteps in many different ways. That sense of wanderlust Darwin himself felt still remains throughout the islands for everyone to access. And it’s the exact same feeling that motivated Darwin to see the world and its contents in a completely different way.

That’s why you, dear reader, need to see these islands with plenty of motivation in order to experience the wild ecstasy of wanderlust that Darwin felt. Our Galapagos expedition itineraries cover a lot of sites explored by Charles Darwin himself. The last day of Charles Darwin’s visit to Galapagos might’ve been on a boat, but you can choose to experience it from land, too if you wish. Yacht La Pinta continues to offers guests an unforgettable experience across the seas of Galapagos. Book now and get more than just your average daily dose of nature: get your dose of evolution!

Yacht La Pinta

Yacht La Pinta

Be sure to check out our other blogs that have focused on commemorating Charles Darwin’s Visit to the Galapagos:

Text & Photography by Francisco “Pancho” Dousdebés – Galapagos Expert

Francisco Dousdebes

About Francisco Dousdebes

Francisco “Pancho” Dousdebés is an Ecuadorian, born in Quito. Early in life he developed a special interest in natural sciences and a special predilection for the outdoors. After finishing high school in Ecuador, he travelled abroad as an exchange student and landed in the Midwest of the United States. Afterwards, Francisco studied Biology and, in 1986, had a great opportunity land right in his hands: to become a Naturalist Guide for the Galapagos National Park. Currently, he is the Galápagos Product Manager for Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II and the Boutique Hotel Casa Gangotena in Quito. He loves to promote the beauty of Ecuador all over the World, and has participated in many Trade Shows, International Forums, and Roadshows together with the Ministry of Tourism and Quito Turismo. He is keen on explaining the role of sustainability in fragile destinations, and also gives lectures on Ecuador’s natural history, natural selection, evolution, and sustainable tourism. Traveling is certainly one of his passions, and whenever he has free time, he has already surely arrived at his next exploration destination.