Spectacular, isolated and populated by some of Mother Nature’s most bizarre creations, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands really do feel like a world apart. One thousand clicks off the South American mainland, this humble archipelago and its fauna – which set the religious world aflame in the 19th century – remain as riveting and rewarding an ecological adventure as it ever was.
Inquisitive sea lions and spiky marine iguanas breach and bask between island and shore, while friendly hammerhead sharks patrol the depths and giant tortoises lumber the land. Nowadays, the islands host a steady stream of modern-day explorers; but as far as face-to-face, flipper-to-fin wildlife encounters go, the Galapagos experience truly is in a league of its own.
- • Keep an eye out for dolphins breaking the waters around Genovesa
- • Get up close and personal with the fur seals of James Bay
- • Search for nesting sea-turtles on Espumilla Beach
- • Spot storm petrels on the wing off Prince Philip's Steps
- • Snorkel among the manta rays and sharks of Darwin Bay across Bahia Sullivan's 100-year-old lava flow
- • Learn about the islands' history at Puerto Ayora's Charles Darwin Research Station
- • Stroll among the giant tortoise population in the Santa Cruz highlands
- • Splash about in Punta Moreno's beautiful lagoons
- • Pitter-patter with the penguins of Elizabeth Bay
- • Photograph the pink flamingos in Las Bachas lagoon
- • Check out Fernandina Island's marine iguanas
- • Hear tales of the pirates who used to seek shelter in Buccaneer Cove