The Galapagos Islands are a living laboratory, offering visitors a unique interaction with nature. The islands are synonymous with survival and the diversity of species on earth.
1. Walk among ancient giants
The Galapagos tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise, reaching weights of over 400kg, with a life span of over 100 years. The tortoise is native to seven of the islands, and its extraordinary ability to adapt to a variety of environments played an important part in Darwin’s theory of evolution.
2. Explore the underwater world
The Galapagos marine reserve is the archipelago’s lifeblood - a spectacular world of fish, rays and sharks that is definitely worth exploring. Vicente Roca Point is a breathtaking snorkeling site on our northern itinerary. It is a popular feeding place for sea turtles, as well as being home to wonderful rock formations teeming with life.
3. Witness evolution
The flightless cormorant is one of only two flightless seabirds on earth, the other being the penguin. Found on Fernandina and Isabela Islands, this rare bird is an example of the Galapagos Islands’ highly unusual fauna, since it is the only cormorant on earth that has lost its ability to fly – thanks to a lack of land predators and an abundance of fish.
4. Dance with albatrosses
Boasting a two-meter long wingspan, the waved albatross is a spectacular flyer, using dynamic soaring to stay in flight for hours. Mating season is between March and December, when the albatrosses flock to Suarez Point on Española Island to perform a jaw dropping mating ritual that consists of clacking beaks, exaggerated sways, bows and loud mating songs.
5. Play with sea lions
Galapagos sea lions are often seen sunbathing on sandy shores or on rocks, or gliding gracefully through the surf. Their playful nature and agility in the water make them the Galapagos Islands’ welcoming party. Snorkeling inevitably leads to mischievous close-up encounters with the youngsters.
6. Hurdle over marine iguanas
The Galapagos marine iguana is the only lizard to live and forage in the sea, making it a marine reptile. At times, the marine iguanas are hard to differentiate from the black volcanic rocks, and they make no effort to get off the paths used by visitors. They say that this lizard bears more resemblance to a dragon than an iguana.
7. Behold the famous feet
The blue-footed booby is the most iconic – and comical – bird in the Galapagos Islands. Pairs of them can be seen conducting their mating ritual, as they offer each other gifts, whistle and honk, stretch their necks towards the sky, spread their wings, and dance – showing off their bright blue feet.
8. Watch whales and dolphins
The Bolivar Channel, between Fernandina and Isabela Islands, draws large schools of fish, which in turn attract predators such as whales and dolphins. The best time to catch these magnificent creatures in action is in the early morning between June and September.
9. Paddle into the unexpected
Kayaking and dinghy rides are wonderful opportunities to appreciate just how extraordinary the Galapagos Islands are. Kayaking among a pod of dolphins, or paddling through a mangrove system that is home to sea turtles, rays and herons are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
10. Create memories
The Galapagos Islands are one of the last wildernesses on earth, where the wildlife shows virtually no fear of humans. It’s no wonder that photography is a must - all it takes is one click to see what makes these islands enchanted.