Photo Essay: The Galapagos Islands

Photos from our Trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands located far off the coast of Ecuador. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its abundance of unique wildlife and picturesque coastal landscapes.

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The marine iquana is found only on the Galapagos Islands and is known for its unique ability to swim in the sea. It is typically found on the rocky shorelines basking in the sun, heating its body temperature after a swim.

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This fat, colourful land iquana doesn’t seem to miss any meals! They are not shy creatures, but really don’t care about your presence. Still, when one starts walking towards you its hard not to get uncomfortable.

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One of the most unique characteristics of the Galapagos Islands is that the wildlife is not threatened by man. It’s not uncommon for animals to live until they simply die of old age and decompose naturally, as the photo below suggests.

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The giant Galapagos Tortoise is the largest living tortoise and has a life expectancy of 100 to 150 years old! They look like peaceful dinosaurs when they stretch out their necks and gasp for air. As the top wildlife attraction, they certainly steal the show with their presence.

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While exploring the large sanctuary we caught these two tortoises mating – a truly rare experience! We’re told mating is not an enjoyable experience for the female (we won’t get into the details but if the size differential is an indicator…).

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The curious crabs are bright and colourful…

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The male frigatebirds are remarkable with their bright red throat pouches puffed out to impress the ladies during mating season…

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And lets not forget about the boobies!
Ahem… that’s ‘blue footed boobies’, get your head out of the gutter…

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The underwater world is just as remarkable. Swimming amongst schools of bright yellow and blue fish is an extraordinary experience, especially when the school surrounds you!

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We’ve never seen so many sting rays and eagle rays in one place. If you tread water long enough they will actually come to you (you decide if this is a good thing or not!).

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It is an eerie feeling having a group of 9 eagle rays swim only a few meters beneath you. They’re not aggressive creatures and really can’t be bothered by your presence, but one can’t help but be slightly intimidated by a group of eagle rays.

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Nothing tops brushing your teeth aboard a small motor yacht, looking out your small, circular window and seeing sharks circle the boat… apparently it is ‘not safe to swim with them’ but it is okay to snorkel 100 meters away in the same waters?

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The sea lions are very friendly, provided you don’t touch them or make too much noise.

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The young ones are very curious and just want to hang out.

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Swimming with playful sea lions is both frightening and exhilarating, especially when they dart straight at you at top speeds, only to turn away within inches of your face!

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The volcanic hikes lead you to breathtaking views…

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and the secluded, untouched beaches are perfect with crystal clear waters and lush green landscapes. It’s one of those truly special places where you really are all alone on an uninhabited island.

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In our opinion, the best way to experience the Galapagos Islands is by staying on a private motor yacht, for at least a few nights…

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Because they make for great diving boards!

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The Galapagos Islands are a special place, unlike any other destination we’ve encountered. We are pleased to report that it lives up its hype!

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Have you visited the Galapagos Islands? What was your highlight?
Share your experiences in the comments section below!

 

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About Traveling Canucks

Cam and Nicole Wears are newbie parents living in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. A passion for travel and outdoor adventure has taken them to over 70 countries on 6 continents in the past 10 years. Learn more about their story here. Follow them on Instagram and subscribe to their monthly newsletter.