20 Photos to Inspire You to Go to the Galapagos

For most of my adult life, I dreamt of traveling to the Galapagos Islands. Its exotic creatures, fascinating history, spectacular landscapes, and evolutionary importance put it at the top of my bucket list every year. When I finally had the chance to visit and tour these island on a small yacht with photographer Ossian Lindholm, I can easily say that these magical islands—and the level of expert service and educational experiences we received—exceeded my expectations in every way! There’s no place like the Galapagos and if you’re a nature lover and a photo snapping traveler who is inspired by stunning destinations that set the standard in terms of conservation practices, then you must visit the Galapagos—hopefully on our Galapagos Magic tour in 2018!

The following 20 photos are just a small sample of the extraordinary visual treats you will learn from, be inspired by, and capture for yourself on our Galapagos photo tour.

In the Galapagos the delicate balance of biodiversity is seen at every turn, whether it’s the beautifully camouflaged Lava Lizard or the brightly colored Sally Lightfoot Crab interacting like old friends. They have formed what is known as a symbiosis. This means that each participant in the relationship gets something of value. In this case, the sally lightfoot crab eats skin parasites and dead skin off of the marine iguanas. So the iguana gets a bath (sort of) and the crab gets a delicious meal of disgusting dead stuff nobody else wants.

The intense colors of the Galapagos inspire and enchant, and every island is a bit different.

The greatest lure of this magical place is our ability as visitors to get face to face with all of its creatures. We are most certainly guests here, albeit welcome ones, as the islands are carefully regulated to ensure that our presence does not negatively impact the animals or environment in any way. All we take are hundreds of pictures and leave a little piece of our hearts. These lava lizards are a perfect model–they smile, go slow and strike interesting poses!

The Red-Footed Booby! These well known seabirds do not migrate, but live year-round in tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Familiar to boaters, they often follow (and sometimes land on) marine craft. Red-footed boobies feed at sea, but nest on land, perching in coastal trees and shrubs. These are the smallest of more than half a dozen booby species. Red-footed boobies are strong flyers and can travel up to 93 miles in search of food. They often hunt in large groups, and are nimble enough to snare flying fish from the air.

One of the most sought after sites in Galapagos, Kicker Rock, also known as León Dormido, is the remains of a volcanic cone, eroded by the sea over hundredths of years. This eroded cone of an extinct volcano is in the shape of a sleeping lion, earning it the name, León Dormido. Above the water, the monolithic rock formation towers over 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean and is home to various Blue-Footed Boobies, Frigatebirds, California Sea Lions, and Red-billed Tropicbirds.

The Galapagos short-eared owl is a sub-species of the short-eared owl, a bird which is found on all continents except Antarctica. Galapagos short-eared owls are endemic to the Galapagos Islands and, as is frequently the case with Galapagos endemics, their coloration is darker and they are smaller than their mainland counterparts. Their name arises from their small ear tufts. They have a wingspan of 85-100cm and are silent fliers. The sexes are alike, though the females are generally larger than the males.

Here we are feet away from the Great Frigatebird and her fuzzy chick! The Galapagos is home to two species of frigatebird: the great frigatebird and the magnificent frigatebird. Similar in size, shape, and appearance, the long, smooth shoulder feathers of the frigatebird are the most noticeable difference between the two.  Both parents incubate the egg in shifts that last between three to six days. Great frigate chicks begin calling a few days after hatching and lie naked and helpless for several days after hatching. Within two weeks, they are covered in white down and are cute as can be.

Black Turtle Cove is a mangrove estuary on Santa Cruz Island, part of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Naturally protected and virtually untouched by man, Black Turtle Cove is home to some truly remarkable species of animals and plants. Its mangrove forest is one of several within the islands, though it’s thought to be the most peaceful and atmospheric.

The giant tortoises of the Galapagos are among the most famous of the unique creatures of the Islands. While giant tortoises once thrived on most of the continents of the world, the Galapagos tortoises now represent one of the last remaining groups of giant tortoises in the entire world. The Galapagos Islands were named for their giant tortoises; the old Spanish word galapago meant saddle, a term early explorers used for the tortoises due to the shape of their shell.

galapagos photo tour

A Day in the Life of our Galapagos Magic tour. Each day we have two land excursions with our expert Galapagos guide. On each excursion, it’s typical for us to have up-close encounters with island creatures such as the Sea Lion. As we walk, our guide is continuously teaching us about animal behaviors and history of the island.

galapagos photo tour

We never forget that we are always guests on their islands—the animals and birds have the right of way on the trails and we never get closer than 5 feet, which is the strict Galapagos rule. For sure, a telephoto lens is not needed (other than for taking birds in flight) and it may be the only place in the world where your best wildlife captures might be with a wide angle.

The Star of the Galapagos: Blue-footed boobies! They are aptly named, and males take great pride in their fabulous feet. During mating rituals, male birds show off their feet to prospective mates with a high-stepping strut. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the mate. All half-dozen or so booby species are thought to take their name from the Spanish word “bobo.” The term means “stupid,” which is how early European colonists may have characterized these clumsy and unwary birds when they saw them on land—their least graceful environment.

Our home sweet home for 8 days! A 16-person luxury yacht sailed by the finest crew in the Galapagos with over 30 years of experience.  Traveling aboard our small boat ensures you receive the most intimate Galapagos experience. You’re truly “up close and personal” with nature and the rugged beauty of the islands. Leaning over the bow watching the dolphins riding the bow wave inches away; spotting that whale in the distance; anchoring in a quiet and secluded cove; strolling the beach amongst the sea lions; and watching the boobies dive into the surf—these experiences make this trip a unique opportunity.

The volcano show. The drama of the volcanic San Cristobal Island arrives at any moment when the weather shifts from blue to cloudy to misty rain followed by abundant rainbows. Perhaps Galapagos’ most prevalent feature is its harsh and dynamic volcanic landscape. Initially formed between 3 to 5 million years ago, the islands are “young” in geologic time. Not unlike Hawaii, the islands are located over an area of particularly hot mantle that in essence burns through the earth’s crust, creating volcanic activity. At these “hot spots,” volcanic eruptions pile upon former volcanic eruptions over millennia until the volcanic earth is pushed to the surface of the ocean to form islands.

The Brown Pelican is a site to see as it flies, plunge-dives, and flip flops along the shores and coastlines throughout the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos population of the Brown Pelican is said to be an endemic (unique) subspecies of the Pelican Bird. The Brown Pelicans sole purpose of plunge-diving is for food and it enters the waters with beak open, wings extended, and two large feet spread out behind it. Once under the water, the pelican traps fish, along with several gallons of water in its gular sac.  The Brown Pelican will sit for a moment, trying to remove the water while keeping hold of the fish, sometimes losing its catch.

The Brown Pelican is a very graceful flier, as you can see here (and photograph for yourself). It soars the thermals in the air, easily and gracefully. Contrary to this, as graceful as it is in the skies, its plunge-diving into the ocean is somewhat shallow and sloppy. Adult Brown Pelicans can be distinguished from their infants by their plumage. Brown Pelicans build their nests in mangrove trees or in low-lying coastal bushes such as salt bushes. Female Brown Pelicans lay two to three eggs and both parents share in incubation and feeding.

Great birds, beautiful backgrounds.  What a shot! After much patient waiting, photographer Ossian Lindholm captured this lovely bird with iconic The Kicker Rock in the background. The great blue heron is the most solitary and mysterious bird of the Galapagos. They are generally seen wading ashore pounds or ocean entries, spearing fish with their sharp beak. This bird is native to the Galapagos and many other American regions. They are carnivores and feed mainly on small fish, but can also feed on crabs, rodents, insects, lizards and other birds. In the Galapagos they are rarely hunting birds; they usually fish in shallow water and prefer to do it at dawn or dusk.

The world’s coolest cactus! This plant in Galapagos plays an important role in the islands’ ecosystems because many other species depend on it. It’s also a significant part of the fauna of its mostly arid Islands.  The cacti in the Galapagos are beautiful and extensive; you can find them on almost on every Island you visit. The Opuntia, or prickly pear cactus, is an endemic species and is the most prominent and the most diverse Galapagos cactus. There are fourteen different categories and six species of endemic Opuntia in the Galapagos Islands.

A dance like no other! The waved albatross is the largest bird in Galapagos with a wingspan of up to two and a half meters. Both sexes have a white head with a creamy yellow crown and neck while the body is mainly chestnut brown with a white breast and underwing. They get their name from the wave like pattern on the adults’ wings. As with all albatrosses, they are exceptional gliders and spend the vast portion of their lives above the open ocean. One of their most interesting behaviors is their courtship dance, which includes bill circling, bill clacking, head nodding, a waddle, and a cow-like moo. The courtship ritual is most complex and especially drawn out for new breeding pairs and pairs which had an unsuccessful breeding season.

What’s 10 million years old and still smiling?  The Galapagos land iguana is one of three ancient species of land iguana endemic to the Galapagos Islands. They have a short head and powerful hind legs with sharp claws on their toes, but despite their intimidating appearance they are primarily herbivores–feeding on prickly pear leaves and fruit. Female land iguanas have been known to travel great distances to find the ideal nesting place. Once she has found a satisfactory site, the female buries her clutch of approximately 20 eggs. She then guards her eggs, protecting them from other females which may dig them up when looking for a place to bury their own eggs. These fascinating creatures generally reach maturity between eight and 15 years of age and can live up to 50 years.

Spots on our next Galapagos Magic trip are going fast, so if you have questions or would like to book your a galapagos photo tour, please contact Travel Vision Journeys. Call 617-640-4837 or email lauren@travelvisionjourneys.com.

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