The Blue-footed Boobie
A trip to The Galapagos Islands is guaranteed to make a birder out of anyone. The sheer numbers, and just plain strange features that isolation has brought upon these fabulous creatures would have been enough for us. Couple this with fact that we spent more effort backing away from them than trying to spot them -- these birds have absolutely zero fear of humans -- and we were instantly hooked!
WATCH: It's not enough to see the birds of The Galapagos -- you have to hear them, too! See them with their babies!
In this strange land of strange animals, none is more iconic than the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, known as galápago in Spanish. The place is literally named after them.
Growing to over six feet long and eight hundred pounds, these are the biggest tortoises on the planet and one of the largest reptiles. No Galapagos visit would be complete without seeing some of these mammoth Testudines. We weren't willing to take a chance on seeing one in the wild and risk missing a sighting, so we went right to the source, Isabela Island and the Tortoise Breeding Center of Isabela.
Of all of the fabulous animals in The Galapagos Islands, the one that made it hardest to obey the strict always-stay-six-feet-away-from-the-animals rule were the sea lions. Sea lions, or lobos del mar (wolves of the sea) as they are called in Ecuador, have great personalities, are cute, cuddly looking and have no fear of humans (even underwater!) More Sea Lions of The Galapagos...
WATCH: A mama sea lion is reunited with her baby after a bit of a scare!
There is another side to this archipelago. A side that may appeal to a geologist more than an ornithologist or herpetologist, because the Galapagos are a classic example of a geologic hot spot. Discover wild formations, overnight in a caldron (in a boat!), check out lava bombs, appreciate the artistry of a brand new lava floe and hike up an active volcano -- then gaze down into it!
Half the awe and fun of The Galapagos Islands is underwater. The sea creatures are just as unafraid of humans as their counterparts on land. You wil get up close. It's a good idea to learn to swim backwards before you go!
WATCH: Imagine Veronica's surprise when this sea lion wanted to play with her!
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com