Galápagos Adventure: Stunning Wildlife, Fearless and Up Close
Avatar_160_hilary
Hilary Stockton
Google+

My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Ritz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

GOT A BLOG POST IDEA?
Have a travel question we haven't covered yet? Want to share your secrets for traveling well for less?

Galapagos Blue Footed Booby

The Galapagos might at first blush seem an unlikely trip for me: I’m not a birdwatcher, and I’m lucky if I remember to bring my camera, let alone use it. But no matter. This is the kind of once-in-a-lifetime trip that imprints so many wonderfully vivid memories of incredible, fearless wildlife up close that you’ll either make friends and relatives insanely jealous or have them rolling their eyes as you rave about your trip to them for the hundredth time.

While it’s possible to travel around the Galapagos archipelago yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it—you simply won’t be able to cover as much ground or go to many of the areas, since the Park Service strictly limits access in many places to small groups led by trained and certified Galapagos National Park Naturalists. Several companies offer cruises among the islands, but Lindblad Expeditions has one of the best reputations, in terms of the quality of their naturalists, incredible onboard service, their partnership with National Geographic, and their commitment to environmental stewardship. This obviously doesn't come cheap, but it's worth saving up for.

National Geographic Endeavor, Lindblad Expeditions

 

We sailed on the National Geographic Endeavour, a photographer’s expedition cruise, which in addition to naturalist guides featured professional National Geographic and freelance photographers leading photo-oriented hikes and providing helpful tutorials. Although this photography expertise was mostly lost on us, everything else, from the naturalist-led hikes and snorkeling expeditions to the service on board and friendly other guests was fantastic.

Even on our very first hike, we were treated to up close views of not only the ubiquitous land iguanas (several close calls of almost stepping on them, since they can appear to be part of the rocks they lie on) and Galápagos sea lions, but also albatross and blue footed boobies.

Galapagos Marine Iguana

Floreana Island

Isla Floreana comes with quite a history. In earlier times, sailors and whalers came here to replenish their water and food supplies (the latter, unfortunately, with the Galápagos tortoises, which were kept alive as a source of fresh meat). There’s a “Post Office Barrel” that dates to the late 1700s, where sailors left mail to be picked up by subsequent visitors who were passing through and able to hand deliver it to the addressee. Even today visitors can do this, although we didn’t actually attempt to send any postcards this way. Our expedition leader, Paula Tagle, also related an incredible (but supposedly true) tale involving a toothless dentist who eloped there with his lover from Germany, and then became involved with a self-proclaimed countess who came there with two boyfriends.

In the morning, Champion Islet provided clear, warm water and perfect snorkeling conditions to explore the underwater realm, with its playful sea lions, king angelfish, yellow-tailed surgeonfish, pompanos, Moorish Idols, and rainbow colored parrot fish.

Galapagos Flamingos

In the afternoon, we hiked around a brackish lagoon populated by flamingos, who were engaged in mating calls. Across the island, we reached a white sand beach, the site of sea turtle nests. Sadly, a very small percentage of baby sea turtles ever make it to the water—many are preyed upon during even this short distance across the sand. Abutting the beach were craggy lava rocks populated by striking red and orange Sally lightfoot crabs.

Galapagos Sally Lightfoot Crab

Santa Cruz Island

On Santa Cruz Island, the most populated island of the archipelago, we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) and saw what many associate with the Galapagos: the giant Galapagos tortoises. In collaboration with the National Park Breeding Center, CDRS has managed to save the giant tortoises, which were on the brink of extinction due to goats that depleted the vegetation that the tortoises relied on for food and shelter. To date, 1800 small tortoises have been repatriated and are now reproducing in the wild.

Galapagos Tortoise at the Charles Darwin Research Center

 

If you've visited the Galapagos with Lindblad Expeditions, what was your experience?

Related Posts

Traveling with Kids to the Galapagos

Volunteering in the Galapagos 

Seychelles Award Travel with Miles and Points and Where to Stay

Need Award Booking Help? Our fee is as low as $75 per ticket if you book your hotel through us.

If you enjoyed this, join 90,000+ readers: please follow TravelSort on Twitter or  like us on Facebook to be alerted to new posts. 

Become a TravelSort Client and Book Your Hotel with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred VIP Amenities! 

  • |
  • Print
    print |
Related Articles
Square_latelier_de_joel_robuchon_las_vegas_review
Foodie Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 8/22/2014
Square_cathay_pacific_first_class_boston_to_hong_kong_flights_coming
Business Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 8/22/2014
Comments
Picture?type=large Donna B. commented 15 Nov 2010

I look forward to reading more about your Galapagos trip - the photos are amazing! Very cool that you were on the  National Geographic Endeavour.

Leave a Comment
Comment
Facebook-logo
Get Free Email Blog Updates
Popular Articles
Square_top_things_to_do_in_bora_bora_if_you_don't_scuba_dive-submarine_scooter_aquabike
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 1/10/2014
Square_players_club_nyc_private_club-secret_new_york
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 10/23/2013
Square_dalhousie_castle_falconry-munchkin_with_owl_in_flight
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 9/3/2013
Square_transfer_amex_points_to_american_aadvantage_miles
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 6/23/2014
Square_cave_of_the_winds_niagara_falls_ny-bridal_veil_falls
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 9/29/2013
Square_maid_of_the_mist_niagara_falls_review-bridal_veil_falls_and_horseshoe_falls
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 3/16/2014
Square_snow_capped_atlas_mountains-berber_village_tour_from_marrakech
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 3/4/2014
Square_koh_taen_snorkeling-tours_koh_samui_review-speedboat
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 4/19/2014
Square_does_travel_insurance_cover_hurricanes-hurricane_sandy
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 3/8/2014
Square_luxury_liveaboard-amanikan
Adventure Travel
by Hilary Stockton on 7/27/2014