8 Reasons the Galapagos Islands are Worth the Trip

Adventure seekers, nature lovers, wildlife photographers—we’re all drawn to the extraordinary Galapagos Islands. If you’ve never been, you must go. Here are our top reasons why you’ll find this remote archipelago a photographer’s paradise—and want to start planning a Galapagos photo tour today.

1. It’s a truly magical destination with many names. It’s official name is Archipiélago de Colón. But it’s also known as the Enchanted Islands. (Some say the first European explorers thought the islands moved because they appeared to disappear into the mist and fog.) The Spanish named the group of islands after the giant tortoises they found there—Galapago is the Spanish word for tortoise. The spectacular landscapes and exotic creatures make this a trip like no other.

2. Conservation is king. The Galapagos Islands became a national park in 1959 and were declared the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The surrounding ocean is a biological marine reserve and whale sanctuary. In 2007, the islands were listed as a UNESCO site in danger, but thanks to environmental efforts of the Ecuadorian government, it was removed from that watch list in 2010. Preserving the natural habitat and biodiversity continues to be an ongoing effort.

3. Inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The naturalist and scholar observed that animals adapted to survive each island’s unique environment. He published his ground-breaking book, On The Origin of Species, an astounding 24 years after first visiting the archipelago. It’s also claimed Darwin tried to ride a giant tortoise—to no avail.

4. Home to species found nowhere else on earth. The islands have some of the highest levels of endemic animals anywhere on the planet. About 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are native only to this area. A few of the more notable species include the blue-footed booby, great frigatebird, waved albatross, marine iguana, and Darwin’s finches. There’s even a flowering cactus that grows on lava!

5. Only one of two places to see the giant tortoise in its natural habitat. Native to seven of the islands, the giant tortoise’s average lifespan is 100 years. The tortoises are different on each island, which provided Darwin an important clue to his theory of evolution. On islands with humid highlands, the tortoises have domed shells and short necks; on islands with dry lowlands, the tortoises have saddleback shells and long necks. They can survive many months without water or food, which prompted pirates and sailors to keep them aboard their ships as source of food.

galapagos photo tour

6. Hello, volcanoes! Most of the islands were formed by the layering and lifting of repeated volcanic action over a perpetually moving tectonic plate, giving the land a distinctive conical shape. The islands sit above a hotspot where the Earth’s crust is being melted from below by a mantle plume. Most of the major islands include a single large volcano, while Isabella, the largest island, was formed when six volcanoes joined above sea level. (From above, Isabella also resembles a seahorse!)

galapagos photo tour

7. Animals there are unafraid of humans. In addition to being home to animals you won’t see anywhere else, the Galapagos present a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with sea lions, penguins, birds and other astounding creatures. See our Top 5 Must-See Animals here. With little or no fear of humans, the wildlife are perfectly positioned for you to marvel at, and of course, photograph.

8. A unique place to visit any time of year. The islands are located on the equator (and are part of the aptly named country Ecuador), and offer an equal 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night all year-round. During the “warm season” from December to May, the seas are calmer and it’s considered a good time to observe observe birds mating or sea turtles nesting on the beaches. During the “dry season” from June through November, the Humboldt Current brings colder water, cooler land temperatures, and nutrient-rich water that attracts fish and seabirds. This is one of the best times to see the blue-footed boobies perform their famous mating rituals.

If you’d like to join us on our next Galapagos Magic trip or if you have questions about a Galapagos photo tour, please contact Travel Vision Journeys. Call 617-640-4837 or email lauren@travelvisionjourneys.com.

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