Galápagos: The One and Only

galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife

Many of the world’s special places have been coined “The Galápagos of the (fill in the blank).”  It never made sense to me.  The Swan Islands are the Galápagos of the Caribbean. Haida Gwaii is the Galápagos of the north.  The islands in the Sea of Cortez are Mexico’s Galápagos.  It’s like saying that Paris is the New York of France. Having never been to Galápagos, however, I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss was about.  And I quickly realized why every wild place on earth would want to be associated with it.

galapagos animals wildlife

This voyage was taken as usual with Lindblad Expeditions , aboard the National Geographic Endeavour.  The ship was fantastic, full of hard working crew, extremely knowledgeable naturalists, and enthusiastic, curious guests that kept them on their toes.galapagos animals wildlife

blue morningThis was the view from my cabin on the last morning of the trip…galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife

Galápagos is perfectly primed for photographers.  The wildlife is just there.  Everywhere you turn, it’s there, undisturbed, calm, and available (within reason) to be shot in the scene to the photographer’s choosing. galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife

The next cover of Vogue, perhaps?galapagos animals wildlifeMarine iguanas quickly became my favorite creature on the islands.  They are all kinds of creepy.  Darwin called them “imps of darkness.”  But they are fascinating subjects in adaptation.  Found nowhere else in the world, these iguanas have evolved to leave the lifeless volcanic shores upon which they originally landed and survive by diving up to 30 feet deep in seas rich with green algae. galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife The incredible thing about Galapagos is that it’s not just about one iguana over there, or another over here.  They are EVERYWHERE!  Turn to avoid getting too close to one and you could be inches away from one behind you.  This is what I call an Iguana Carpet, located on Fernandina Island.galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife The raw volcanic landscapes made for terrific hikes. galapagos animals wildlifeMany of my fellow travelers took full advantage of the iconic views for photos that will surely serve as next year’s holiday cards.galapagos animals wildlife(This might be mine…)galapagos tortoise

galapagos animals wildlife As with many Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic voyages, a National Geographic expert was on board.  This time it was Andrew Evans, a writer for National Geographic Traveler and the magazine’s Digital Nomad. If you’re not already following him on Twitter at @wheresandrew you should check him out. (I’m on the left with the Tilley hat, by the way. Some have called it goofy, but it’s a great travel hat.)  Now, back to the wildlife…galapagos animals wildlife I call this juvenile frigate bird The Phantom of the Galapagos Opera.  Get a good look at it now, because when it gets older it will look like this…

galapagos animals wildlife

galapagos animals wildlife

Sea lions are everywhere in the Galápagos.  Having traveled to Alaska and Baja California many times and San Francisco a few, I’m very familiar with these guys.  But since Galápagos sea lions (among other creatures) don’t fear humans, they have a gentleness about them that I found incredibly captivating. (Note: Juvenile males and fur seals can get a bit ornery. Keep your distance.) galapagos animals wildlifeSally Lightfoot crabs scurry along the volcanic coastline. They peek around rocks and add the perfect splash of color everywhere they go. galapagos wildlife animals

galapagos animals wildlife Sea turtles, like this one catching a breath next to our Zodiac, are blissfully abundant.  Swimming with them was as close as I’ve come to feeling like I was flying.  They glide along, unafraid.galapagos animals wildlife The feet of the blue footed booby get all of the attention, but look at their faces!galapagos animals wildlife The Galapagos dove is not only a beautiful bird with red legs and blue eyes, it was Darwin’s favorite meal!

galapagos animals wildlifeLastly, meet Diego, one of the giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station.  Although Lonesome George, the unique giant tortoise who was the last of his species received more international fame than Diego, Diego has fathered to over 2,000 giant tortoises contributing like none other to the proliferation of his species at a time when numbers where dwindling. One can also see many little Diegos at the Research Station, set to be the big attraction for future generations of travelers.galapagos animals wildlife

That’s just a taste of the Galápagos, wild, beyond compare, and ready to be explored again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: