Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands Reading List


Here you will find books and maps that have been carefully hand-selected, and evaluated by the knowledgeable staff at Magellan Travel Books. These titles have been chosen by travelers, for travelers, and represent what they feel are the best travel related books and maps on the market today.  NOTE: For new price updates and additional titles, search their website at or contact them directly at 800-303-0011.


GALAPAGOS: A NATURAL HISTORY GUIDE   by M.H. Jackson, 1993, $24.95. The most comprehensive natural history guide to the Galapagos Islands -- covers evolution, ecology, plant life, reptiles, birds, native mammals, intertidal and marine life, and conservation. Illustrations and color plates enhance the well-written text. Highly recommended- one of the most important books to take with you. #M-1607

GALAPAGOS DIARY   by Hermann Heinzel & Barnaby Hall, 2001, $24.95. A renowned illustrator and a wildlife photographer team up to capture in words and images the stunning birds and other wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. The first half of the book provides an overall tour of the islands, while the second half serves as a detailed, illustrated field guide. 931 color photos.  #M-6427

GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS    by Isabel Castro & Antonia Phillips, 1996, $29.95. For visitors interested primarily in bird life, this beautifully illustrated field guide presents every species recorded within the archipelago, including accidentals and vagrants. Color photos and line drawings.  #M-1683

IDENTIFICATION GUIDE TO THE BIRDS MAMMALS AND REPTILES OF THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS    by Andy Swash et al, 2001, $24.95. This pocket-sized volume is a comprehensive guide to the unique wildlife of the Galapagos, encompassing the birds, mammals, and reptiles a visitor to these extraordinary islands might encounter.  #M-6558

FIELD GUIDE: Birds of Ecuador   by Robert Ridgely & Paul Greenfield, 2001, $50.00.  Comprehensive treatment of the nearly 1,600 species of birds on mainland Ecuador.    #M-3763

WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS IN SOUTH AMERICA   by Nigel Wheatley, 2000, $19.95. this guide covers the world's richest birding continent: South America. Wheatley not only describes over 200 of the best places to see South America's more than 3,000 species of birds, but tells travelers how to get there and where to stay.  #M-3184

ECUADOR & THE GALPAGOS ISLANDS: the Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide   by David L. Pearson & Les Beletsky, 2000, $27.95. For travelers who want an inside view of the exotic, evolutionary wonder of Galapagos, this is an excellent guide. Features explain all about flora and fauna, with information on habitats, reserves, rain forests and more environmental vitals.  #M-6434

GALAPAGOS WILDLIFE   by David Horwell & Peter Oxford, 1999, $19.95. Written and illustrated by licensed Galapagos tour guides, this Bradt wildlife guide covers every aspect of both land and marine wildlife-from the giant tortoises that gave their name to the island to the 13 species of Darwin's finches.  #M-3218

FLOWERING PLANTS OF THE GALAPAGOS    by Conley K. McMullen, 1999, $29.95. Based on the author's sixteen years of fieldwork, featuring his exceptional photography -- the first accessible, in-depth yet compact guide to the plant life of the area. Introduces the botanical history of the islands and their varied ecological zones -- easy identification guide to 436 flowering plants --map of the Galápagos and a list of plants likely to be seen at popular tourist site.   #M-4403

FIELD GUIDE: Woody Plants of Northwest South America    by Alwyn Gentry, 1996, $45.00.  &nbps;The only field guide to the nearly 250 families of woody plants in the most species-rich region of South America including Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.   #M-6430

FISHES OF THE PACIFIC COAST: Alaska to Peru, Including the Gulf of California and the Galapagos Islands   by Gar Goodson, 1988, $10.95.  A comprehensive and easy to use pocket guide - perfect for the snorkeler, scuba diver, or tidepool watcher. 408 fishes illustrated in full color.    #M-1562

WHALES DOLPHINS AND PORPOISES: Visual Guide to the World's Cetaceans - Eyewitness Handbook   by Mark Carwardine, 1995, $18.95.  Authoritative text, superb annotated illustrations, and a systematic approach makes this the most comprehensive pocket guide to cetaceans. Designed to enable you to recognize each species quickly and easily - over 900 illustrations.    #M-3173

REEF FISH IDENTIFICATION: Galapagos   by Paul Humann, 1994, $34.95.  The most comprehensive fish identification guide ever published for the Galapagos Islands.    #M-2803

NEOTROPICAL RAINFOREST MAMMALS: A Field Guide   by Louise H. Emmons, 1997, $25.95.  A complete guide to the mammals of the rainforests with color and b&w plates, maps of habitats, clearly written descriptions, helpful appendices and a glossary of technical terms. Geared for use by either the amateur naturalists or the more serious scientist.    #M-2628  Please note: We have a very limited supply of this book at this price. Price increases to $54 after existing stock is gone. Call 1-800-303-0011 for more information.

MAMMALS OF THE NEOTROPICS: The Central Neotropics - Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil   by John F. Eisenberg & Kent H. Redford, 2000, $40.00.  A survey and synthesis of current knowledge of the more than 650 species of land and marine mammals found in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil.    #M-6431

TROPICAL NATURE: Life and Death in the Rainforests of Central and South America   by Adrian Forsyth & Ken Miyata, 1987, $13.00.  The best natural history book in recent years, offering an excellent introduction to jungle ecology by two expert biologists. Lyrical, richly detailed and delightful to read.    #M-3102

A NEOTROPICAL COMPANION   by John C. Kricher, 1999, $19.95.  Widely praised, A Neotropical Companion remains a book of unparalleled value to travelers, students, and scientists alike. It is an extraordinarily readable introduction to the American tropics, the lands of Central and South America, their rainforests and other ecosystems, and the creatures that live there.    #M-2627

IN THE RAINFOREST: Report From a Strange, Beautiful and Imperiled World   by Catherine Caufield, 1991, $15.95.  The most comprehensive study of the world's rainforests available. Catherine Caufield's beautifully written work looks at these threatened resources from historical, political, economical, and biological viewpoints. Her new afterword includes addresses of organizations working to save rainforests.    #M-1776


BEAK OF THE FINCH: A Story of Evolution in Our Time    by Jonathan Weiner, 1995, $14.00.   Highly recommended! This is a dramatic story of ground breaking scientific research. On a remote outpost of the Galapagos Islands Weiner follows two scientists studying evolutionary theory and proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory. Brilliantly written.... a science book that will spark the intellect and the imagination; and permanently alters one's view of nature.    #M-1147

SAVAGES    by Joe Kane, 1996, $14.00.    At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the story of a small band of indgenous Amazonians and their battle with encroaching western civilization.    #M-5844

THE VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE    by Charles Darwin, 1860 (reprint 2001), $11.95.    The greatest scientific travel adventure ever written. A classic in its own right - the chapter on the Galapagos will give you a fascinating perspective. Read it before, during, or after your trip.    #M-3155

CHARLES DARWIN: A Biography    by Janet Browne, 1996, $24.95.    There is no better chronicle of Darwin as human being, friend, and indefatigable scientist, nor anywhere a richer description of his milieu, his family life, his social circle, and his scientific connections. The definitive Darwin biography.    #M-1280

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES    by Charles Darwin, 1958 (1982 reprint), $6.99.   The famous classic on evolution that exploded into public controversy and revolutionized the course of science.   #M-2691

THE PENGUIN HISTORY OF LATIN AMERICA    by Edwin Williamson, 1993, $16.95.    Williamson traces 500 years of history from the time of Columbus and the Spanish Conquest to the present day. An excellent and very readable history in a compact size.    #M-2729

THE CONQUEST OF THE INCAS    by John Hemming, 1977, $22.00.    Praised as the finest account of the Spanish takeover of the well-established Inca Empire. This beautifully written story is complemented with maps and illustrations. Winner of the Christopher Award.   #M-1346

SPEARS OF TWILIGHT: Life and Death in the Amazon Jungle    by Philippe Descola, 1998, $18.95.    Anthropologist Philippe Descola spent 3 years in Peru and Ecuador living among the Jivaro Indians. Descola takes the reader through the daily life, mystic rituals and consciousness of the Jivaro. "A fascinating book." NY Times.   #M-2941

THE JIVARO: People of the Sacred Waterfalls    by Michael Harner, 1984, $17.95.    Based on extensive anthropological field work, this is Harner's classic account of the Jivaro tribe of Ecuador. An excellent overview of this well-organized and freedom-loving culture that will appeal to scholars and laypeople alike. Good background reading for any rainforest travels.   #M-2031


GALAPAGOS    by Kurt Vonnegut, 1999 (Reprint), $12.95.  A small group of apocalypse survivors stranded on the Galapagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave new human race. "Vonnegut is a post-modern Mark Twain. . . . Galapagos is a madcap genealogical adventure".--New York Times Book Review. .   #M-1606

THE EVOLUTION OF JANE    by Cathleen Schine, 1999, $12.95. A subtle novel exploring the connection between evolution and human relationships. Part travelogue, part family saga the book also touches on natural history and evolutionary theory.    #M-4723

FIRE FROM THE ANDES: Short Fiction by Women from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru     by Susan E. Benner & Kathy S. Leonard (editors), 1998, $21.95. Most of the stories in this anthology, written by 24 contemporary Latin American women, reflect a growing awareness of social injustice, particularly against minority and marginalized groups.   #M-3887

THE CLOUD FOREST    by Peter Matthiessen, 1987, $13.95.  Prize-winning author Matthiessen travels up the Amazon, through the rainforest to Machu Picchu and then south to Tierra del Fuego. The book is full of observations and descriptions of the people and the wildlife of this area. His unusual blend of adventure and reflection makes this travel journal stand apart from the rest.    #M-1312

AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD    by Peter Matthiessen, 1991, $13.00.    An excellent work of fiction. Martin Quarrier, a missionary, has come to convert the elusive Niaruna Indians. He also encounters Lewis Moon, a stateless mercenary sent to kill him. This electrifying moral thriller encapsulates the modern themes of the rainforest.   #M-1108

ECUADOR: A Travel Journal   by Henri Michaux, 2001, $17.95.  Michaux set out to record a journey but his vivid descriptions, his unexpected leaps of thought, provide a log unlike any other, one obsessed not with how a traveler interacts with the world but how the world-the mundane and the fantastic-invades and changes the traveler. Michaux presents both a profound vision of place and a method of liberating the child, the visionary, and the poet in any serious traveler.  #M-6437


GALAPAGOS: Islands Born of Fire    by Tui De Roy, 1998, $24.95.    Tui De Roy is by far the best known photographer of the Galapagos. She moved there when she was two and has spent her whole adult life recording its wonders. Here, ten photo essays showcase the special birds and animals that make the Galapagos their home. Exquisite.   #M-4036

SPECTACULAR GALAPAGOS: Exploring an Extraordinary World    by Tui De Roy, 1999, $75.00.    Another beautiful book by Tui De Roy. Spectacular images and insightful text explore this unique setting in this offering from the talented photographer.   #M-4667

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: Nature's Delicate Balance at Risk    by Linda Tagliaferro, 2000, $26.00.  Children's Book - Grades 4-8.    Readers travel to these exotic-sounding islands in a book that focuses on the environmental dangers threatening the wildlife within. The author summarizes the geological origins of the archipelago, the physical reasons for its temperate climate, and Charles Darwin's research there.   #M-4342

STAYING HEALTHY IN ASIA, AFRICA, AND LATIN AMERICA    by Dirk Schroeder1995, $11.95.    Packed with important information that is basic enough for the short-term traveler, yet complete enough for someone living or traveling off the beaten path.  #M-2955

JOHN SHAW'S NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY FIELD GUIDE, (Formerly Nature Photographer's Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques)    by John Shaw, $24.95. Newly revised-- the best book on nature photography for the beginner and advanced photographer.   #M-2625

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH BIRDS    by Julie Ridl, 1993, $16.95. This very attractive book bundles Larry West's bird photography workshops into one neat package. He and Julie Ridl present basic information on cameras, lenses, film, exposure, light, and flash. You learn the secrets of finding birds; of knowing how, when, and where to approach them; and of photographing birds in flight. Larry West is an acclaimed nature photographer.   #M-1749

INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TRANSIT GUIDE    $9.95. The perfect, pocket-sized guide for the frequent traveler. Information on rental cars, taxis, public transportation, and more, for airports around the world.    #M-2848

GUIDE BOOKS    (The most current edition will be sent)

There are thousands of guidebooks available to travelers. So many in fact, that it can be very confusing to figure out which guidebooks are best for your trip. Magellan has evaluated the choices to determine which guidebooks provide the best information for travelers. We recommend the following as the leaders in quality, content, and presentation, or for their specialized travel advice.

INSIGHT GUIDES  are as visually exciting as they are factually stimulating. The color photographs, useful maps, and travel details richly portray every component of the area. The historical overview is an ideal combination of detail and insight. Special essay features concentrate on cuisine, architecture, and art.

LONELY PLANET TRAVEL GUIDES are easy-to-use guides providing practical travel information in a lively, entertaining style. In addition to the historical and cultural background and information on lodging and restaurants, these guides provide some language basics, color photos and maps. Superb guides!.

ODYSSEY-PASSPORT BOOKS are written by a resident author with a special appreciation for the country or region's history and culture -- Literary excerpts and sidebars illuminate the local culture. These guides provide: color photographs, clear and detailed maps of principal sights and places of interest, and useful practical advice on food, hotels and getting around.

ROUGH GUIDES are insightful, comprehensive and sophisticated. They include full details of the major sights plus specifics on hotels, restaurants, the important sights, transportation, maps, obtaining visas --all the practical travel information you need.

MOON HANDBOOKS award-winning travel series has been capturing worldwide attention and admiration for 76 years since the publication of the now-legendary South American Handbook. The authors are all experts who have lived or worked in the countries they write about.

ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS HANDBOOK - Footprint Guide   by Robert & Daisy Kunstaetter, 2001, $21.95.  Written by authors who have lived in Ecuador, this guide covers the whole of Ecuador, both on and off the "banana pancake trail", including Quito, the jungle, the Pacific coast, volcanoes, and the national parks.  #M-6004

TRAVELER'S COMPANION: Ecuador   by Derek Davies & Robert Holmes, 1999, $22.95.  This friendly and informed guidebook is as indispensable as a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Its portfolio of brilliant photographs provides the reader a true sense of the country and a colorful souvenir of memorable sights and experiences.  #M-2556

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS: The Essential Handbook for Exploring, Enjoying, & Understanding Darwin's Enchanted Islands   by Marylee Stephenson, 2000, $16.95.  After extensive research, Stephenson has compiled an informative guide of practical information, devoted entirely to the Galapagos. The first two sections give you a description of the natural history and basic travel tips. The main focus of the book is the third section describing the 22 visitor sights accented with black & white photos.  #M-1611

A TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAPAGOS   by Barry Boyce, 1998, $16.95.  Boyce, a tour operator and biologist, describes in great detail the essentials of "how to" travel to the Land of Darwin. Entire chapters are devoted to such topics as what to pack, photographic equipment, history, wildlife, and a detailed tour of the islands. This guide is well researched and very informative!.  #M-3041

CLIMBING AND HIKING IN ECUADOR - Bradt Guide   by Rob Rachowiecki, 1998, $17.95.  A comprehensive guide to all the necessary information for climbing and hiking. Covers everything from short hikes to long climbs. Includes all the necessary practical information.  #M-1310

ECUADOR: A Climbing Guide   by Yossi Brain, 2001, $16.95.  A straightforward, tightly written guide to all twenty of the country's major peaks, half more than 5,000 meters high, all of them taller than 4,000 meters (13,124 feet).  #M-6435

ECUADOR, PERU AND BOLIVIA: The Backpacker’s Manual - Bradt Guide   by Kathy Jarvis, 2000, $18.95.  A practical, one-volume companion covering the well-established attractions of the Cordilleras, Lake Titicaca region and the national parks of the Andean foothills and rainforest.  #M-6436

CULTURE SHOCK! ECUADOR   by Nicholas B. Crowder, 2001, $13.95.  An essential guide for understanding cultural differences. Helps visitors avoid misunderstandings in interacting with the natives of Ecuador.  #M-6433


NOTE: Other maps available, -- please call 1-800-303-0011 for more information or to order additional maps.





Section #2 DRAFT


Beebe, William.  Galápagos: World's End. New York: Dover Publications, 1924.  The romantic account of a scientific expedition sponsored by the New York Zoological Society.


Crow, John.  The Epic of Latin America.  Third Edition, 1980.  A big book on a big topic, but you can pick and choose the chapters.


*Darwin, Charles.  The Voyage of the Beagle.  London:  John Murray, 1845.


Darwin, Charles  The Origin of Species.  London:  John Murray, 1859.


Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Irenaus.  Galápagos:  The Noah's Ark of the Pacific.  New York:  Doubleday, 1961.


Farb, Nathan, and Michael Jackson.  Galápagos.  New York:  Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 1989.  Maybe the best photos of the big photo books.  Also, at $60, the most expensive.


Fjeldsĺ, Jon, and Niels Krabbe.  Birds of the High Andes.  The Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen, 1990.  850 pages, for the serious birder.


Grant, Peter R.  Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches.  Princeton University Press, 1986.


Green, Clive.  Birding Ecuador.  Available through the American Birding Association.  A guide to the top birding spots around Ecuador, including bird lists for each.


*Harris, M.P.  A Field Guide to the Birds of the Galápagos.  London:  Collins, 1974.


**Hickin, N.  Animal Life of the Galápagos.  Quito, Ecuador:  Libri Mundi, 1979.

Hilty, Steven L., and William L. Brown  A Guide to the Birds of Colombia,  Princeton University Press, 1986.  Until there's a guide to Ecuador, this is the one to use.


**Humann, Paul.  Galápagos:  A Terrestrial and Marine Phenomenon.  Quito:  Ediciones Libri Mundi, 1988. 


*Jackson, Michael H.  Galápagos - A Natural History, Calgary, Alberta:  The University of Calgary Press, 1985.


Lewin, R. and S.A. Thompson.  Darwin's Forgotten World.  London: Bison Books, 1978.


Melville, Herman.  "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles,"  The Shorter Novels of Herman Melville.  New York:  Fawcett Publications, 1967.  He found them more cursed than enchanted.


Merlin, Godfrey.  Field Guide to the Fishes of Galápagos.  London:  Wilmot Books, 1988.


*Miller, Tom.  The Panama Hat Trail.  New York:  Vintage Books, 1986.  About the only book around that gives you a glimpse of the life and times of modern Ecuador.


Nelson, Bryan.  Galápagos:  Islands of Birds.  New York:  William Morrow.  All about the life and times of the sea birds of Galápagos.


Patzett, Erwin.  Fauna del Ecuador.  Quito:  Banco Central del Ecuador, 1988.  Only available in Quito, and as you may have noticed, in Spanish.  But it's all there is at the moment on the animals of the area.


Perry, R.  The Galápagos Islands.  New York:  Mead, Dodd,  1972.


Perry, R., ed.  Galápagos - Key Environments.  Oxford:  Pergamon, 1984.


Rogers, Barbara Radcliffe.  Galápagos.  Mallard Press, 1990.  A coffee-table photo book, with very informative text as well.


Salwen, Peter.  Galápagos: The Lost Paradise.  Image Bank, 1989.  Coffee-table photo book.


Schofield, Eileen K.  Plants of the Galápagos Islands.  New York: Universe Books, 1984.  A field guide to the plants.


Thorton, Ian.  Darwin's Islands:  A Natural History of the Galápagos.  New York:  The Natural History Press, 1971.


Weiner, Jonathan.  The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time.  New York:  Knopf, 1994.  Two biologists study and record evolution in action among Darwin's finches.


Wiggins, Ira L. and Duncan M. Porter.  Flora of the Galápagos Islands.  Stanford, Calif.:  Stanford University Press, 1971.


Wittmer, Margaret.  Floreana.  Shropshire, England:  Anthony Nelson Ltd., 1989.  An account of the mysteries of Floreana, by the grand dame of Galápagos.



Amazon readings:


Caufield, Catherine.  In the Rainforest.  Knopf, 1985.


* Forsyth, Adrian, and Ken Miyata.  Tropical Nature - Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America.  Scribner, 1987.  Very readable science for layman and biologist alike.


Forsyth, Adrian.  Portraits of the Rainforest.  Ontario:  Camden House Publishing, 1990.   More of the above, this time lavishly illustrated with photographs by Patricia and Michael Fogden.


* Plotkin, Mark J.  Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice.  New York:  Penguin Books Ltd, 1993.  A Harvard ethnobotanist searches for new medicines and old wisdom among Amazon  Indian tribes.  Fascinating and highly informative.


Popescu, Petru.  Amazon Beaming.  New York:  Viking, 1991.  A modern-day explorer searches for the beginnings of the river and the Beginnings of Time, with a tribe fleeing into its past to escape the mounting pressures of civilization.


Shoumatoff, Alex.  The Rivers Amazon.  San Francisco:  Sierra Club, 1986.


Smith, Anthony.  Explorers of the Amazon.  New York:  Viking, 1990. 




* Highly recommended. 

** May be available only in Quito at Libri Mundi Book Shop.



Some useful websites:


Ecuador: Tierra Hermosa.  An excellent guide to online resources about the Galápagos.


Charles Darwin Foundation


Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) show Scientific American Frontiers.  Search by keyword “Galápagos” to find previous shows featuring this topic.


Cornell University’s Geology DepartmentápagosWWW/GalápagosMap.html



A Short List of Galápagos Videos