Mingling with Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands

Posted on October 7, 2009 by

The Galapagos islands are one of the best places in the world for wildlife experiences. Teeming with wild animals and nature reserves,  visiting the unspoiled Galapagos islands has always been a dream of mine. Strange creatures roam freely on these islands, boundless and free. The number of visitors to the islands is limited per year, protecting the islands from destruction and touristy development.

Marine lizard on the beach

Where did the animals come from?

The Galapagos Islands are a group of islands formed millions of years ago from volcanoes, and have been separated from the mainland since then. Through the years, wildlife slowly arrived by air and by sea. The islands are completely isolated, miles away from the nearest mainland.  Creatures arriving here adapted to the conditions of the tiny islands, and evolved into endemic species i.e. the only place in the world where you can find them.

These Galapagos Sea lions (picture below) are one of its kinds, and can only be found here. Smaller than the normal sea lions, they love lounging on the beaches and piers of the islands. It was amazing to see them everywhere we went!

Galapagos sea lions

Santa Cruz Island

I couldn’t believe we were really going to the Galapagos during our Latin America trip. (Read my post on how we planned our budget.) Instead of taking the cruises like most visitors, we based ourselves in Puerto Ayora, on the island of Santa Cruz. From there, we hopscotched around the islands, and found one too many haven.

Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz

My favourite sea lion

One of my favorite spots on the island of Santa Cruz was the main pier. The sea lions loved lazing on the steps of the pier, getting some sunshine and basically sleeping the day away. I would creep in front of them, trying not to disturb their sleep, and observe them snoring!

Most creatures on the islands are tagged by the research scientists for tracking purposes. So  I could recognize this buddy (on the left) every time I caught him napping on the pier. Every evening, we would walk to the pier and see him there. I even said goodbye to him when we left!

 

 

Santa Cruz island itself has many insightful sites to spot wildlife and just soak in nature. Here are some of those that we visited:

Tortuga Bay

Clear blue skies and turqoise wavy waters, Tortuga Bay is breathtaking with its sheer beauty. The wide sandy beach stretches for miles, and you can barely see anyone in the distance, except for the dinosaur-like marine lizards leaving their footsteps on the wind sand.

The bay is about 10 minute’s walk from its entrance behind Hotel la Ninfa, close to the center of Puerto Ayora. This is a beach hotel deal like no other, taking in breathtaking views of the coast.
Las Grietas

Las Grietas

A natural crevice formed millions of years ago, when water flowed from the sea into the giant gap. The feeling’s quite incredible, swimming in the 10m-deep freshwater amidst the rocky walls. The water is so clear that you can see right to the bottom, where caves and colorful fishes reside.

You can swim to the end of the crevice, and look out into the sea in the distance. Be careful though, there are no ladders that go all the way into the water, bring hiking shoes to climb down the rocks.

To get there, take a boat from Puerto Ayora to the Playa de los Alemanes, then it’s a 30-minute walk to the crevice. Along the way, we spotted marine lizards and these small colorful geckos (see below).

Lizard

Charles Darwin Research Station

This research center was set up to continue the works of Charles Darwin who developed his evolution theory here on the Galapagos islands. Their special breeding programs ensure that these endemic species continue to thrive in their own habitats. The Galapagos Giant Tortoises were almost close to extinction, until they were bred here in the station. They are huge and barely move when you get near them.

Galapagos giant tortoise

Land Lizard

Check out my next post on How to see the Galapagos Islands on the Cheap!

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

39 Responses to “Mingling with Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands”

  1. Dave and Deb October 12, 2009 3:29 pm
    #

    Looks beautiful! I have always wanted to go to the Galapagos. Your photos are beautiful!

  2. Kip October 13, 2009 1:59 am
    #

    WOW! Thank you so much for the beautiful picutures of amazing animals. I’d like to be there one day before I die.

  3. robertmcleft March 23, 2010 4:39 pm
    #

    These pictures are beautiful, and a very good depiction of what its like in the galapagos! For anyone thinking about actually planning a trip to the galapagos, i must tell you that its even more amazing in person! I went last year and had such a wonderful experience. Just for your information, i booked through Wildlife Vacations (http://www.galapagoslegend.com) and had a flawless experience. They were very helpful, and customized my trip based on what I wanted specifically. I recommend visiting the galapagos islands at least once in your lifetime.

    • admin March 24, 2010 4:53 pm
      #

      Agreed – definitely a once-in-a-lifetime journey. It’s still one of my favourite places in the world.

  4. chinomoreno April 6, 2010 3:51 pm
    #

    Beautiful pictures indeed! I agree, its one of my favorite places in the world! If anyone is looking to book to galapagos in the near future, go to http://www.galapagos-inc.com. Thats who i used, and made the best out of my trip.

    Chino

  5. savvyroundtheworld October 7, 2010 3:17 am
    #

    If anyone is going and can send me a postcard from Floreana, check out the details on my blog.. I just found out about the tradition and want to see it kept up!
    http://savvyroundtheworld.wordpress.com

  6. Kitesurfing Holidays April 8, 2011 7:50 am
    #

    The galapagos are amazing islands…the wildlife is as much as people portray. Glad you had a great time there!

  7. Zoloft Pregnancy April 20, 2012 10:24 pm
    #

    What part of country is Galapagos Islands located?

    • Nellie April 20, 2012 11:09 pm
      #

      It\’s an archipelago off the coast of Ecuador.

  8. Javier Nugent October 4, 2012 3:48 pm
    #

    Thanks for another wonderful article. Where else could anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

  9. Stephen S. November 11, 2012 8:01 pm
    #

    I watched a three part series on the Galapagos about a year ago. Since then they have become a major obbsession of mine. Cant what to go there.

  10. Everglades Tour January 19, 2013 2:35 am
    #

    Galapagos Islands experience is great! I love all animal in there. Next month I wanna go there for a tour with my full family. And yours sharing photo are simple incredible. Thanks!!!!!!

  11. Neil Patterson March 22, 2013 2:02 am
    #

    I guess it helps when the animals aren't liable to take a bite out of you. This is something I'd never dare do in somewhere like Africa without the safety of a cage of some sort.

  12. Machu Picchu Tour September 27, 2013 5:55 am
    #

    Galapagos Islands is really a pretty superb place for making an adventure tour there and hopefully I will do a sound tour there soon with my adventure travel team. Thanks

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