The Galápagos Islands are indeed a special place and if you are a nature and animal lover then this definitely needs to be your next holiday destination. A two-hour flight away from the coast of Ecuador takes you to this amazing archipelago which is home to an amazing array of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. Read on to find out about the best wildlife experiences in the Galapagos Islands.
Wildlife of the Galapagos
The Galapagos islands are made up of thirteen main islands, six smaller ones plus countless more islets, although only five are actually inhabited. The wildlife in this region is quite unimaginable and the fact that these animals have lived in isolation for such a long time means that they are generally pretty comfortable in the presence of humans, providing visitors with the opportunity to relish in some close up time with them. There is simply so much to experience on these magical islands but here are a few suggestions to give you some idea of whats on offer.
It should be noted that wildlife experiences should be chosen responsibly, and that visitors must obey the rules of the national parks when observing animals.
The best wildlife experiences in the Galapagos Islands
Have some fun with the sea-lions
Perhaps the cutest and most common animals to be found on the islands are the Galapagos sea lions. These entertaining creatures can be found snoozing on the park benches, relaxing on the beaches and even on the pier. You wont exactly struggle to find them! If you decide to take to the waters for a snorkel and join the sea lions for a swim, their fun personalities are a delight to experience. Santa Fe island has particularly clear waters in which to make the most of this activity, although they can be found on most of the Galapagos Islands.
Visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre on Isabela Island
The biggest island of Isabela is considered to be among the best of all the islands for its vast array of wildlife. In particular, it is a fabulous place to see the fascinating Galapagos tortoises. Isabela boasts five different types of tortoise – all of which can live for over a hundred years. There was once around a quarter of a million tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, but the numbers decreased rapidly when sailors used to hunt them for their meat. Fortunately, a number of breeding centres are thankfully reviving the numbers of these wonderful creatures by collecting the eggs, hatching them and then looking after the baby tortoises until they are released back into the wild. At the centre on Isabela Island, a dozen tortoises can be seen.
The other highlight of spectacular Isabela Island is the Sierra Negra volcano, where one can spot a huge variety of finches amongst the spectacular scenery. Meanwhile, whilst Elizabeth Bay is home to the wonderful blue footed boobies which have to be seen to be believed. Also catch a glimpse of an array of sharks, penguins and sometimes even whales. You may be lucky enough to spot the beautifully pink coloured flamingos in this area too, feeding on the crabs that give them their vibrant colour.
Be amazed by hammerhead sharks
One of the best wildlife experiences in the Galapagos Islands is snorkelling off Kicker Rock, where you certainly wont be disappointed. The minute you lower your head under the surface, your eyes will hopefully be met with an array of stunning, colourful tropical fish alongside many types of impressive rays. If you are brave enough to look down then you will hopefully be treated to the sight of a colony of hammered sharks circling the waters below. It can be a frightening sight but rest assured they will generally be more scared of you, so just enjoy the experience because it will be one not to be forgotten.
Visit the land iguanas on Fernandina
The most volcanically active of the islands is Fernandina. In fact, this is the one place where you will be able to see hot molten lava spilling into the sea from the volcano. Whilst there is little vegetation here it is still home to a fascinating colony of native marine iguanas. These animals have the ability to search in the sea for algae which makes up most of their diet. There are three iguanas that are endemic to these islands, those being the Galapagos land iguana, the Santa Fe land iguana and the pink Galapagos iguana. They are generally yellow in colour, with brown, white and black blotches and can live up to 50 years. Despite looking a little intimidating they are fascinating to watch and they add to the rich diversity of wildlife on these precious islands.
Galapagos scuba diving safaris
For one of the absolute best wildlife experiences in the Galapagos you simply must visit Wolf and Darwin and take part in a diving trip. These two remote islands are found in the northwest of the archipelago are sometimes considered the best spots around for diving, due to the clear waters and abundance of marine life. To reach them you will need to charter a boat but it will be well worth the trip. The best season to do this is from June to December; these being the warm wet months. You can then expect to observe some whale sharks, Galapagos sharks and hammerheads. If diving is your thing, then your time spent underwater in the Galapagos will definitely be a once in a lifetime wildlife experience for you.
The perfect venue for your Galapagos stay
Chez Manany Ecolodge is found on Isabela Island, just outside the small town of Puerto Villamil. Located next to a mangrove and close to the lagoon Concha de Perla, its idyllic location is perfect for the conscious traveller who requires peaceful and relaxing yet high-quality accommodation. The accommodation is child friendly and families are encouraged to stay.
Nestled in amongst the natural surroundings Chez Manany provides a feeling of being a part of nature. There are spacious, comfortable rooms and all come with panoramic windows and large balconies to make the most of the wonderful views. The nearby lagoon itself is a great tourist attraction for snorkelling where you will be fortunate enough to see tropical fish, rays, marine turtles, penguins sea lions and many species of birds.
The Galapagos truly is a magical place and one that will be an experience of a lifetime so be sure to make these islands your next holiday destination.
To find out more about Chez Manany, click here.