When Charles Darwin arrived at the Islands in 1835 he admitted to being somewhat tormented by the thousands of iguanas lying around. On land and in the sea, the Galapagos Islands give the impression of a diabolic Garden of Eden. The islands’ tumultuous volcanic history of scorched earth and fiery flows are evident the moment you arrive. Inhospitable, Uninhabitable and Tortured are the adjectives inspired by the lava-sea-scape. If, however, one takes a closer look, this seemingly Spartan landscape is in fact teeming with life. Camouflaged against the rocky floor, marine iguanas are piled high, the most gruesome and fearful looking of all the creatures.
The creatures of the Galapagos are survivors of a distressed landscape, and remain virtually fearless and unaffected by visitors. As a visitor to the Galapagos you will swim next to sea lions, Galapagos penguins (if you can keep up!), swim over turtles and diamond stingrays and snorkel with tropical fish.
The clumsiness and unassuming charm of the Blue-footed Boobie is bound to win you over! The light- hearted and comical whistling and honking of their courtship ritual is wonderful to watch. The name “boobie” comes from the Spanish term bubi, which means stupid fellow. (Española, San Cristobal)
Most ornithologists consider the Waved Albatross to be endemic to the Galapagos, with only a few pairs nesting near the Ecuadorian mainland. The elegant and beautiful courting ritual of the waved albatross – only found in the Galapagos – is transfixing to watch as they clash their beaks together in graceful rhythm. (Española)
Galapagos Sea Lions and Fur Seals
Differentiated from seals by their external ears and method of moving on land, Galapagos sea lions are irresistible. The soft, dewy-eyed look of the newly born pups will have you reaching for your camera. Whilst in the water, these underwater acrobats will swoop playfully around you, twisting and somersaulting effortlessly. (Plaza Sur, Española, Santa Fe, Rabida & Santiago)
Slouched arrogantly on the rocks, their spiky black scales give them a punk-like quality. Supercilious and disdainful they stare with contempt at the approach of camera-touting groups. They are the only example of their species found in the world and can be submerged for up to an hour in the sea feeding on plankton along the rocks. (Española, Fernandina & Santa Cruz)
One of the island‟s most celebrated residents; the giant tortoise is the world‟s longest living land animal, with an average lifespan of 177 years. The tortoises are popular with all visitors to the Galapagos but in particular “Lonesome George‟, took the spotlight whilst he was alive (recently passed) because he was the only celebrity tortoise in the world for being the last survivor of his sub species. (Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal)
Magnificent Frigate Bird
Similar to the great frigate species, the Magnificent Frigate has a vibrant red pouch used for attracting female counterparts. These birds are highly maneuverable and famous for waylaying other birds as they return to their nests after a days fishing.
Furthermore, the marine life of the Galapagos is truly incredible. From awesome whale sharks, hammerhead sharks to the endemic Galapagos penguin (the only penguin to live on the equator), the diversity is astounding. Dolphins will jump and surf at the bow of your boat and at certain times of the year you may be lucky to have some amazing whale sightings.
Sponsored post provided by Steppes Travel, who are experts in Galapagos cruises – They has been creating tailor made Galapagos holidays and cruises since 2000. The team has visited this fascinating and varied country over 20 times. Visit Steppes today to start your Galapagos adventure.