Why go to the Galapagos?
In the Galapagos, it’s all about the animals, the many volcanic islands, and how the wildlife live.
The Galapagos is a national park and has specific regulations and rules. Personally, I loved watching the animals.
The sea lion pups were adorable, and I loved snorkeling with the penguins – they are fast and so are the sea lions once they are in the water. I chose the boat tour based on the boat going to islands where we would see penguins. It is very unusual to see penguins in warm climates. However, since the Humboldt current makes the sea water cold, the penguins reside there.
Many of the birds are unique – the blue-footed boobies, nasca boobies, penguins, Darwin finches, Galapagos hawk, and many more.
We were there in early December and it was mating season for the turtles. The males were aggressive, and generally we watched two taking turns mating with one female. At times, we saw a female resting on shore; she escaped the males to take a break! There was just 1 nest that we saw on all the islands we visited, as early December is generally too early for turtle nesting. We snorkeled in a bay off of Isabella Island that had many turtles; it is likely that the sea grasses in that bay drew them for feeding.
There are many places to snorkel, but don’t forget that it can be dark due to the volcanic rock. There are no coral reefs that we saw. While there were fish everywhere, we are spoiled by the clear views in the Caribbean.
If you are a diver, there are spots that we heard are great. We had head colds so had to relinquish our dive trips. Bear in mind that the Galapagos businesses never refund your fees, so make sure you have trip insurance! Additionally, you must be a certified advanced diver (which we are), and have completed hundreds of dives before the operations will take you to the better spots which are more difficult dives.
Iguanas are plentiful, especially the marine iguanas. After years of seeing land iguanas in the Caribbean, it seemed quite unusual to see iguanas swimming. Marine iguanas are unique to the Galapagos, living on the lava rocks at the edge of an island, and they swim to get their food. The males and females look different.
Of course there are land iguanas, but again they look so different from anything we have ever seen. Land iguanas in Galapagos are very large – up to 5 feet – and they live on the lava in the foliage.
I can’t forget to mention all the different types of tortoises – huge tortoises. The physical appearance of the tortoises differ because they adapted to their environments. Based on the island foliage, the tortoises’ shells changed shape to give them the ability to eat it.
Land Tortoises are huge!
If you are interested in animals, it is fascinating to see how they have adapted. If you like geology, the islands will be of interest. Galapagos is an experience in nature.
What to expect from a Galapagos trip?
We liked Galapagos – the unique and remote nature experiences, and being 600 miles off the coast of the Pacific. We loved seeing the wildlife and snorkeling. It was exhilarating to be so far out in the Pacific on a boat with only the volcanic islands and wildlife.
However, we did not like it as much as we expected. It was built up too much based on all of the hype. My take is that it is a bit overrated, and very very expensive. You can only look at so much lava, and 8 days of it is a bit much. You will also see the same animals on many of the islands.
If you are interested in the unique nature and the remote lava islands, then put it on your list. I think 5 days on a boat is enough; if you are doing a land-only excursion, then 6 days should be enough. We did 8 days on a boat and 4 days on land – too much unless you are diving on those land days.
My next post will cover more on Choosing Galapagos Excursions, including:
- How to decide – a cruise, a land package, diving?
- When to go?
- Getting there
- Choosing which islands you want to see
Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss this information or future posts with more details on each island in the Galapagos as well as accommodations. When you sign up you are entitled to a complimentary spreadsheet detailing all of the boats (100) to choose from for a Galapagos cruise. Use the contact form below to request my spreadsheet. Please be specific as to what you are looking for and be sure to include your email address.
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