Exploring Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands

Marine Iguana on hiking tour to Tortuga Bay

I went to paradise a few weeks ago and I am still dreaming about it. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a few thousand reasons you should add the Galapagos Islands to your bucket list. 

Often referred to as a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ this trip was no traditional beach vacation.

Seymour Island in the Galapagos
Seymour Island in the Galapagos

The payoff for trekking 600 miles off Ecuador’s cost to this historic archipelago? Walking through the forests with 100 year old tortoises, waiting in line with sea lions at Santa Cruz fisherman’s wharf, and laying out next to marine iguanas on the sandy shores.

Galapagos Island tortoises
Galapagos Island tortoises on Santa Cruz
Galapagos Sea Lion
Sea Lion on the Seymour Island beach in the Galapagos
Marine Iguana on hiking tour to Tortuga Bay
Marine Iguana on hiking tour to Tortuga Bay
Brown Pelicans and Sea Lions at Santa Cruz fisherman’s wharf
Brown Pelicans and Sea Lions at Santa Cruz fisherman’s wharf

That’s not to forget spying on Blue Footed Boobys and then hiking to the top of a volcano to see the most spectacular view of the first signs of life forming on the beach below.

Blue Footed Boobys
Blue Footed Boobys
Bartholomew Island in the Galapagos
Bartholomew Island in the Galapagos

I’m no scientist, but I was absolutely fascinated by the extreme isolation of the islands and how it led to such unique wildlife. I felt like real life Snow White interactive with the animals… They did not scurry off like the squirrels in Texas or quickly take flight like the ducks of Western Kansas. Then again, my dad also wasn’t in cameo with a 20-gauge and his loyal chocolate lab at his side.

All kidding aside, the land iguanas, giant tortoises and the many types of finch that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution were some of the most captivating creatures I’d ever laid eyes on. 

We even explored a gigantic 2,000 meter lava tunnel on the second largest dormant volcano island of Santa Cruz. With a flashlight as our guide I was at peace as we made our way through the otherwise pitch-black underground passage.  

Galapagos Land Iguanas
Galapagos Land Iguanas
Cactus Forest near Garrapatero Beach
Cactus Forest near Garrapatero Beach
Exploring the Highlands of Santa Cruz by horseback and then visiting the Lava Tunnels below
Exploring the Highlands of Santa Cruz by horseback and then visiting the Lava Tunnels below
Waved Albatross in the Galapagos
Waved Albatross in the Galapagos

Located at the meeting point of three ocean currents, I was able to scuba dive in a melting pot of marine species. That led to my first (and hopefully only) open water face off with a 10 foot white-tip reef shark. My dad and I celebrated that experience with a beach body bench press.  

After scuba diving with sharks in the Galapagos Islands
After scuba diving with sharks in the Galapagos Islands
Multi-Colored Land Crab cleaning the algae from the tail of a Lava Lizard
Multi-Colored Land Crab cleaning the algae from the tail of a Lava Lizard
Baby Frigate bird on Seymour Island
Baby Frigate bird on Seymour Island
Swallowtailed Gulf
Swallow-tailed Gulf
Magnificent Frigate Bird in the Galapagos
Magnificent Frigate bird looking for a mate
Darwins Finches
Finches at the Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island

We ended the week at the Charles Darwin Research Center, which was the perfect compilation of the wildlife we had seen the past several days.

To sum it up the people were delightful, the food was divine (check out the shrimp ceviche I ate for a week after my return), and the wildlife was out of this world… or at least out of the world I’m now living in.  The Galapagos is a nature lover’s dream. Between the birds and lizards, majestic volcanic mountains, sparkling sea, and array of wildlife, this island shouldn’t be missed.

We spent a few days in Quito on the front and back end of the Galapagos trip. Check out some of the delicious food we experienced on our culinary tour from the Sweet Quesadillas from San Juan Bakery to Cooking Homemade Tamales with a Local Family.  One of my favorite treats when I returned was Mango Basil Frozen Yogurt Inspired by Ecuador’s Helados de Paila. And I’m going to mention my Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche recipe again, because it’s so darn delicious!

It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget. What trips are on your bucket list? 

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One Reply to “Exploring Wildlife in the Galapagos Islands”

  1. […] dinner time on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos! After exploring the island wildlife each day I worked up an […]

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