One Week in the Galápagos

Ten tips for making the most out of a week on the wildest islands on Earth.

Fernandina Island, Ecuador
Brilliant sunsets and sunrises chased us around the Galapagos, with one of the best falling upon us on the gorgeous island of Fernandina. A great sunset on its own is one thing, but when combined with a truly stunning landscape, it becomes something else entirely. I wasn’t even sure where I should point my camera while the sun was going down. Behind me, pelicans fought over fish. To my left, sea lions danced in the surf. In front of me, visitors scampered over the lavascape. I made myself dizzy spinning in circles trying to capture everything.
Santiago Island, Ecuador
I may have an unhealthy fascination with the blue-footed booby; I’m speaking to someone about it. An iconic emblem of the Galapagos Islands, the booby is everywhere, and it’s much larger than I anticipated. It hops about with one foot in the air as a way to attract a mate, it dives out of the air with all the wanton fury of a dog fighter, and it sings a merry tune for anyone willing to listen. The booby’s days are busy, and it deserves a nap now and then. You can spot the booby just about everywhere out here. Santiago Island makes for an especially striking backdrop.
Isabela Island, Ecuador
The Galapagos penguin is cute. Rediculously cute. Especially when doing its very best to teach an uncoordinated adventurer how to swim in rough waters near Isabela Island. The Galapagos is the only penguin able to survive north of (in this case, directly on) the equator, thanks in part to the chilly waters brought to the islands thanks to the Humboldt Current. They’re also spectacular, if not somewhat impatient, diving instructors, keen on showing off their sensational underwater skills for anyone brave enough to test the icy depths. Metropolitan Touring arranged all of my snorkeling expeditions, and can also arrange some of the world’s most spectacular dives.
Fernandina Island, Ecuador
Technically, the marine iguana isn’t a salt spitter, it’s a salt snorter. Adapted to sea life, the marine iguana dives for seaweed and algae, then basks in the sun to increase it’s body temperature. During this time, the excess salt is filtered through a nasal gland; it’s not uncommon to walk among a large group of iguanas and have them snort salt all over your shoes. At first it’s a bit unnerving to walk among a million tiny dinosaurs as they lay about catching rays, but it doesn’t take long for the spectacular scenery of Punta Espinoza and Fernandina to overwhelm any lingering sense of trepidation.
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