The Galapagos Islands

I hope you’re ready for a lot of photos because that’s mostly what this post will consist of – namely because I snapped more than 1500 pics during the 7 days we spent there! We couldn’t walk 10 feet without practically stepping on the unique wildlife there and flipping the camera back on. But first, some Galapagos background info for your reading pleasure.

The Galapagos is an archipelago of volcanic islands right smack on the equator in the Pacific Ocean about 575 miles west of Ecuador. Currently they consist of 18 main islands and 3 small islands. As the South American Plate continues to move southeast over a hot spot in the mantel new islands continue to be formed while the oldest ones erode away and vanish back into the ocean from which they came. The islands are home to many endemic species which were studied at one point by none other than Charles Darwin whose observations would eventually lead to the theory of evolution by natural selection. Between the landscapes and geology, the wildlife, and the science it is a very interesting place to visit!

Galapagos map with our trip in red
Galapagos map with our trip in red

We flew out of Quito and were greeted by a wonderful view of the Andes with Quito in the background from the plane. As we landed on the islands we could already see signs of the active volcanism of the region.

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We were to float around these splendid islands for the next 7 days aboard the luxurious Treasure of the Galapagos. Nice digs! I celebrated by promptly executing a beard flip of the second story much to the amusement of the other guests on board.

Getting ready to motor over to the ship!
Getting ready to motor over to the ship!
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Our mega catamaran!
Beard flip!
Beard flip!

Before setting sail we toured some of the spots on Santa Cruz including the Charles Darwin Research Station.

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Check out those beards!
Check out those beards!
My man!
My man!

We couldn’t even walk between the boat and the research center without bumping into Galapagos Sea Lions and countless Marine and Land Iguanas.

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We also got our first glimpse of the famous Galapagos Giant Tortoises!

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Tortoise style, who knew?
Tortoise style, who knew?

The next day we would get to see them in wild on a muddy hike in a forest with some meadows. After that we checked out a massive lava tube. It was so big it looked like a subway tunnel.

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Here we have the Giant Bearded Esus Tortoise, a rare spotting.
Here we have the Giant Bearded Esus Tortoise, a rare spotting.

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There are a variety of beaches on the islands ranging from the whitest sand beaches you can see anywhere, black volcanic sand, and even red beaches which you’ll see later in the photos.

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Back on the boat you simply have to look over the side to see Sea Turtles swim buy and giant pelicans would post up right next to us to do some fishing.

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Next we motored over some choppy waters to Isabella, the largest of the islands. We boated along the coast and walked across the lava fields. We even spotted some of the famous Blue Footed Boobies – and come on, who doesn’t like boobies?!

Marine Iguana's hanging out on the charred landscape.
Marine Iguana’s hanging out on the charred landscape.
More chilling
More chilling
And some playing
And some playing
There it is!
There it is!

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A little life creeping into the vast lava fields
A little life creeping into the vast lava fields

Next we did some snorkeling. We would end up snorkeling many times during the trip. While the water wasn’t always the clearest, having penguins zip by and sea lions try to play with us certainly made up for it! We saw other swimming birds, sharks, sting rays, manta rays, eagle rays, and countless tropical fish. Oh, and did I mention the enormous sea turtles? Check out the video:

 

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It was nice getting back to the boat and taking really hot showers after snorkeling. The sun didn’t disappoint when it retired and awoke either.

Post shower sun deck chilling
Post shower sun deck chilling
Sunset
Sunset
Sunrise
Sunrise

Next we went to the newest and most recently formed Fernandina, and guess what… more wildlife everywhere!

Remains of the now erradicated invasive goat specieis
Remains of the now erradicated invasive goat specieis
Provocative no?
Provocative no?
Clearly a few too many drinks
Clearly a few too many drinks
A cute pup waiting for parents to return with food
A cute pup waiting for parents to return with food

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Fetch? Why not
Fetch? Why not

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Piles of Iguanas
Piles of Iguanas
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Sally Lightfoot Crab
Sally Lightfoot Crab
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Our friends Rob, Chris, and Greg make a surprise guest appearance at the islands!

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The Galapagos Hawk!
The Galapagos Hawk!

Next up was the gorgeous Darwin Lake back on Isabella. It was formed by a tidal wave when Fernandina erupted. the lake, though much higher than sea level is salt water! Then back to the boat for more epic sunset action!

Darwin Lake
Darwin Lake
Isabella with Fernandina looming in the background
Isabella with Fernandina looming in the background
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Pretty wife by a pretty sunset

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More sailing overnight had us cross the equator twice depositing us on Santiago.

Darwin's Finch
Darwin’s Finch

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Clearly thrilled by the paparazzi
Clearly thrilled by the paparazzi

Before heading back to Santa Cruz we stopped by one last tiny island, Rabida. Unique red beaches, fun snorkeling, and more playful sea lions.

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And with that we woke up early to hit a beach before catching our plane. We were rewarded with some beautiful sites.

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Much like this sea turtle, it was time for us to make track as well
Much like this sea turtle, it was time for us to make track as well

Quite a place the Galapagos Islands. We had an excellent guide who answered even our most nerdy questions with ease. It’s a very unique experience to come in such close contact with so many unique species. We also were able to work quite a bit on our sea lion poses.

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5 thoughts on “The Galapagos Islands

  1. Eric,
    This is one place we intend on visiting and I was wondering what the trip out to the Islands actually cost? Is it the best way to see what there is to see?
    Tom

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