English scientist Charles Darwin referred to the Galapagos Islands as a “separate center of creation.” The islands are a part of Ecuador and located 600 miles west of the mainland, in the Pacific Ocean. For animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, the Galapagos Islands offer a unique safari-like experience.
From the moment you land on Baltra Island, travelers are fascinated by the many different wildlife species. There are twelve main islands, which are visited by Galapagos cruise ships. These ships are privately owned but regulated by the government to protect this unique natural environment. On five of the islands – Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolomé, Santa Cruz and San Cristobel, unique species have evolved and offer explorers the opportunity to see wildlife up close and personal.
There are enormous Galapagos tortoises weighing up to 500 lbs and can live 150 years. The bird population is also amazing and explorer-friendly. It’s easy to get close to these birds, since they have no fear of humans. Blue-footed and red-footed boobies dance and waddle near their nests and male frigate birds puff up their red throats to attract females. Marine iguanas bask in the sun before their daily feeding excursions in the water. Land iguanas can grow to the size of a mid-sized dog and look like creatures from Jurassic Park. Another interesting wildlife species are the sea lions who find great pleasure in circling around swimmers in a playful manner.
The best way to enjoy the Galapagos Islands is off the back of a cruise ship. Each day the ship will tender near one of the islands, allowing explorers to have an adventure with different species that developed over a millennium of time. The cruises can be as short as five days, or extend to a ten day period.
This is a rare and unique archipelago which allows some of the finest wildlife viewing in the world. It is an amazing experience, particularly for families who are interested in discovering the wonders of the world.