Observing some of the world’s most unique flora & fauna
Nowhere on Earth will you have the opportunity to witness such unique and diverse wildlife as you will in the Galápagos Islands. What makes travel to this group of islands off the coast of Ecuador even more magnificent is how close you can get to the animals. The ecosystem works in harmony here. The area is a marine sanctuary and wildlife has not learned to fear humans. At one time, the Galápagos flora and fauna were nearly destroyed due to man’s interference. Overhunting and the introduction of invasive species by sailors and settlers caused a great deal of destruction. Today, it is thriving again, and tourists flock to the Galápagos Islands to see one-of-a-kind wildlife like marine iguanas, sharks, and tortoises.
A trip to the Galápagos has it all. We played with sea lions, swam with sharks, walked with tortoises, and snorkeled with sea turtles. Plus, there are volcano hikes, boat trips, lazy towns, and secluded beaches to explore. Take a look at the photos for our picks of what to see and do when you go. (And don’t forget to pack plenty of sunscreen. The Galápagos Islands are located on the equator and sunscreen is expensive to buy there!)
The beaches of the Galápagos are pristine. The water is clear and you will have them all to yourself. The long, sandy beaches are inviting, and you may just find some iguanas sharing the prime spot with you.
Sea lions rule the roost in the Galápagos. On the island of San Cristóbal, they have taken over the downtown area and even sleep on park benches like true vagabonds.
I just wanted to say booby! But in all seriousness, the beautiful blue-footed boobies are abundant in the Galápagos Islands.
The Galápagos tortoise can live up to 150 years and grows to more than 500 pounds. Dave stood behind this gentle giant as it walked slowly through the long grass to show just how massive it is.
We were in the Galápagos Islands during mating season and had the opportunity to see the frigate bird puff its chest to attract a mate.
The marine iguanas of the Galápagos are the only iguanas in the world that feed underwater. They are plentiful on the islands and chances are you will see many groups like this basking in the sun.
Many animals of the Galapagos are called the “Galápagos something” because they are unique only to the Galápagos. You won’t find this type of shark anywhere else in the world. They are so content and well fed, you can get in the water and snorkel with them. We snorkeled with the Galápagos shark by Sleeping Lion Rock, which is the photograph at the top of this photo story.
Crabs can be found all around the world, but when you mix the bright colors of this guy with the arid landscape of the Galápagos, you have yourself a beautiful picture.
Before we started traveling, I didn’t realize how many places penguins are found outside of Antarctica. What makes the Galápagos penguins unique? They are the only penguins that live north (just north) of the equator thanks to the cool waters of the Humboldt Current. The cool waters are something to keep in mind when snorkeling. But if you wear a thin wet suit like we did, you should stay toasty warm.
Wall of Tears
The Galápagos Islands have a long and fascinating history, from Darwin to pirates. But the darkest history of the Galápagos was when it was used as a penal colony. After World War II, prisoners on Isabela Island were forced to build a wall of rocks for no other reason but punishment. It became known as the Wall of Tears for the pain and suffering it caused.
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Dave and Deb wrapped up their tenure as Expedia Viewfinder bloggers at the end of 2015. They continue to inspire adventure in everyone. They've spent 8 of their 15 years of marriage exploring more than 100 countries on all 7 continents inspiring their international audience to follow their dreams and push their boundaries. Dave and Deb prove that ordinary people can live extraordinary lives. As spokespeople and brand ambassadors, The Planet D have had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top companies and have spoken around the globe about pursuing passion and what it takes to make it happen.They've appeared regularly on TV and have been featured in such publications as The National Post, BBC Travel, and National Geographic.