The Galapagos Islands are one of the most unique places on Earth. I was lucky enough to visit these incredible islands while living in Ecuador.
Yes, the Galapagos are owned by Ecuador. I’ve used the fact at trivia nights in bars more than once.
This special place is accessible only from the mainland by air. You cannot hire a boat to get you to the islands (unless you have a buttload of money).
- You can fly from Quito, the main city, but I recommend flying from Guayaquil. Most flights from Quito have a stopover there anyway, so save a few pennies and get to Guayaquil first.
Ecuador is small and easy to travel around. The buses are generally clean, comfortable and probably cost you less than 10 dollars US.
Fun fact, Ecuador uses USA dollars as there currency. Helps to be prepared.
Guayaquil is a good hub to get to other places in Ecuador, such as the mountains, beaches or the airport. Otherwise I wouldn’t recommend spending much time there. It’s dangerous and not much to do or see.
Unlike the Galapagos which are EXPLODING with beauty and nature. It’s actually ridiculous how amazing those islands are.
They were literally Darwin’s wet dream. And for good reason.
My family came to visit me and we went on an adventure. We choose to go by boat tour, but you can easily land on the main island and take day trips from there to see other islands. The advantage to a cruise is that you can reach further destinations since you sleep on the boat.
It’s not a budget trip by any means, but it is worth every penny.
Even in a week, you can’t see everything the Galapagos has to offer. But you can see some highlights!
Galapagos Fur Seals and Sea Lions:
Alright, there are lots and lots of animals to see while you visit. But I am just going to be upfront and honest when I say my favorite where these beasts. They were big ones, little ones, sassy ones, shy ones. It was fantastic.
This is probably my most favorite photo that I took while on vacation there. He has a serious itch!
Baby fur seal (I think- not confident on the difference…) I want to hug it.
I didn’t of course. The animals will let you get super close, but NO TOUCHING or FEEDING. Let them be animals.
Just stupid pictures. That’s totally fine.
My brother-in-law took this rad photo of the babies taking a bath. He had a better camera than me at the time and has graciously allowed me to use some of his images 🙂
This little nugget was born MINUTES before we got there! There was blood and afterbirth on the ground when we came upon this adorable duo.You never know what you might see in the Galapagos Click To Tweet
Other Galapagos Animals:
Ok, enough of sea lions. While they are incredible, they are not the only animals on the islands. There are plenty of endemic species- meaning you can ONLY find them in the Galapagos and nowhere else.
There are a mountain of animals that are the “Galapagos x” animal. There are of course the famous finches that helped Darwin write the Origin of Species. But it’s more than just birds! Getting to SEE these animals up close is not to be missed.
A Galapagos scorpion. Our guide just flipped over a rock and there it was. You will have a high fever all day if you get stung, so watch where you step!
A marine iguana. While I was snorkling, I saw one of these bad boys swimming under water. Totally surreal.
You will see lots of cool sh*t while snorkling, so even if you’re a bit worried GET IN THE WATER. This is a white tipped reef shark and totally harmless.
My bro is super proud of this photo. The Galapagos land iguana looks pretty proud of himself too. These iguanas don’t swim and are much larger than the marine iguanas.
A sea turtle orgy. Not sure if all turtles were consenting…
A Galapagos grasshopper (being held by Brian Shandra). Because grasshoppers were not special enough, so mother nature made one specific to the islands.
SO MUCH NATURE. SO MANY CREATURES. SO MUCH BEAUTY.
Also birds. A Galapagos short eared owl. BOOM!
A Galapagos hawk. POW!
A masked booby- they have two chicks, and then one pushes the other out of the nest for resources. KABAM!
A blue-footed bobby doing a little dance, hoping to get laid. ZING!
Two frigate birds, sitting in a tree. One recently got laid, the other is working on it. WHAM!
Galapagos penguins. One of them thinks he’s hiding because his black back blends into the rocks. Can you see him? I adored these dudes. Had a pod (is that the term for a group of penguins?) swim by me while I was snorkling! ZLONK!
As if seeing cool animals up close that will let you take a nap next to them wasn’t enough, it’s also a beautiful place in it’s own right. This group of volcanic islands has some really cool alien-looking landscapes. And some beautiful views out into the ocean. Everybody wins.
Just in case you were already missing animals shots, here’s a lovely rocky beach featuring a Galapagos hawk that totally wants to eat that fur baby. Many of the islands are still “young” (in volcano years) so you won’t find too many sandy beaches.
Although you will find some. Perfect for pensive photos.
That is our 16 person catamaran which took us on adventures all around the Galapagos. Including this slightly other worldly landscape.
You’ll find land iguanas hiding under these trees. Looks like a Dr. Suess tree to me, I expect to find a Lorax hiding under there…
Some of the coolest islands were still just entirely volcanic rock. It felt like you were walking on Mars or a distant planet. The lava trails look like silken rock.
Not a lot of vegetation on the volcanic islands, but there are some pioneer species giving it their best. All those pretty red crabs like to hang out on the shore here as well.
Once it’s own island, this red peak was later engulfed by the black lava making it part of the larger land mass.
Chinese Hat Island. I guess they weren’t feeling very creative that day. Amazing views from the boat though!
We took the smaller boat to get to more interesting places. And to get on shore. We are cruising slowly here looking for creatures in the water. Or hiding in the mangroves.
This was one of the best excursions, climbing the stairs to get to the famous view from Bartalome Island.
Everywhere you look, the Galapagos is giving you an amazing view.
Sunset or moonrise.
Get yourself a good camera before you go to the Galapagos. Sort of necessary.
You will not regret saving up a few pennies and getting yourself to these islands.There is such diversity of life that you cannot find anywhere else on the planet. My family and I only did a teeny tiny sampling of what the Galapagos has to offer.
You can visit and focus on just birds. Or just reptiles. You can take day trips from the main city or get on a catamaran. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Galapagos, just go.
I would go back in a heartbeat.
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- ALL photos on this post are mine or my brother-in-law’s, Brian Shandra. Please do not use without our expressed written permission. All rights reserved. You can contact me for details. Thanks!