The Galapagos Islands: where wildlife abounds
The term ‘trip of a lifetime’ gets bandied about a lot these days, possibly too freely, but for Lee Bethune travelling to the Galapagos Islands lived up to the expectations that comes with such an assured claim…
“Over 1000km west of the mainland of Ecuador, I thought there would have to be something special and there was… it was the Galapagos Islands.
A maximum of 16 passengers boarded our motorised yacht and we were soon wildlife spotting. Sea lions were the first friendly creatures we encountered and we saw an abundance of them every day afterwards.
Each day we had a chance to get up close and personal to the animals. We would go swimming and snorkeling and see hundreds of fish swimming around and below us on a reef. Watching a huge sea turtle feeding on seaweed, having eagle rays gliding underneath us and seeing an occasional Galapagos shark all added to the excitement. On a few lucky days we had sea lions swimming around and underneath us, wanting the chance to interact and play.
Of the numerous bird species, the blue footed boobies were one of the highlights. They really do have brilliant blue feet and were as curious of us, as we were of them.
The display by the magnificent frigate bird with its scarlet pouch ballooning out to successfully attract a female was a special experience. These lads really know how to get a girl’s attention.
It was fantastic to have our level 3 naturalist guide, Roberto, on hand to answer questions. He was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate about sharing his country and knowledge with his new friends. His favourite animal was the giant land tortoise; we went walking in a national park and saw them lazing in mud pools in the sun. It was fantastic to see them in their natural environment.
The marine and land iguanas looked truly prehistoric with their colours and frills and we were able to get within a few metres of these amazing animals.
The prolific wildlife on the land, in the air and under the sea was spectacular and it’s their survival on these remote volcanic islands that is truly amazing. The Galapagos is a photographer’s paradise, an eye-opener to the wonders of our world and for many the trip of a lifetime. I’d count myself amongst those who see visiting the Galapagos as a life-changing experience, because this is certainly an adventure that will be hard to top!”
* Photo in Galapagos Islands by Sheree Thompson, for the Intrepid Photography Competition.