As a student in ninth-grade science class, I learned just enough about the Galapagos Islands to know that the archipelago likely would be an answer on a multiple choice test about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Beyond that I had never given the Galapagos another thought…until I became a professional traveler.
Then, one day, during a chat on Twitter, participants were posting photos of wildlife encounters from their travels, and someone’s pictures from the Galapagos changed my perspective forever. I suddenly realized that as a nature enthusiast, my photo collection was seriously devoid of quirky and exotic critters. So I moved Galapagos to the top of my travel Bucket List. I knew I had to get there, no excuses. So I set out to make it happen.
As I started my research, I learned that visitors to the Galapagos are prohibited from visiting 97 percent of the islands without the guidance of a licensed naturalist. You can’t just rent a boat and explore the islands on your own. Fortunately I was able to hook up with International Expeditions for an adventure aboard a ship. The ship appropriately was named Evolution, and regular briefings brought to life the significance of our daily hiking and snorkeling experiences.
If my ninth grade science teacher had been half as knowledgeable or entertaining as our expedition leader, I would have visited the Galapagos years ago. Maybe she just should have mentioned that Darwin saw boobies.
In all seriousness, what struck me most on this adventure was how unafraid of humans the animals seemed. Here on the mainland, it would have been impossible to get close to them without them fleeing or attacking. On the islands, however, due to the absence of natural predators, the animals don’t spook. Here are some images from my once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Galapagos land iguana
Galapagos sea turtle
Sally lightfoot crabs
Galapagos giant tortoise
What are the most unusual animals you have encountered in your travels?