Wild and untamed, much as it’s been forever, the Galapagos Islands are a special destination that should be on your ‘must visit’ list. Stat!
When fresh-faced Charles Darwin landed in the Galapagos Islands, he had little clue his indulgent South Pacific adventure would alter scientific views on the biological origins of life.
Stepping ashore over sun baking sea lions or skirting the lumbering shells of giant tortoises, he noted that ‘extreme tameness is common to all the terrestrial species.’ Not much has changed in 180-odd years.
In this far-flung archipelago that straddles the same tropical latitudes as Australia’s Torres Strait Islands, the convergence of oceanic currents brings an incredible array of marine life and wildlife unfearful of humans.
Protected under UNESCO World Heritage status, there are two seasons in the Galapagos (Jun to Dec is cool and dry, Dec to May is warm and wet), and ocean temps as warm as 24 deg C. No matter when you visit, wildlife spotting opportunities are abundant, though some species are only evident at certain times of the year (humpback whales visit from Jul to Sep) or on particular islands, so it pays to do your research.
Before embarking on your Galapagos adventure, the first decision you’ll need to make is whether to be land-based or take a sea-going adventure.
Here are five eco-sensitive adventures we adore.
1. Galapagos at a Glance – Southern Islands
Embark on a six-day cruise through the Southern Islands aboard MY Daphne for the opportunity to view the giant tortoises of Santa Cruz, pink flamingos that inhabit Floreana Island along with waved albatrosses of Isla Espanola. Naturally, turtles, penguins, sea lions and birds are likely to come along for the ride too!
2. Galapagos Encounter – Central Islands
Highlights of a six-day Central Islands cruise include giant tortoises of Santa Cruz, marine turtle nesting sites on Isla Santiago along with a visit to see volcanic lava flows and lava lizards of Isla Bartolome. Brand new vessel Queen Beatrice is more akin to a bespoke floating hotel, carrying just 16 passengers enjoying indulgences like a jacuzzi on the sundeck.
3. Coral II – 5-day cruise
Delightful Blue-footed boobies with their hilarious posturing’s along with equally enchanting Nazca boobies (recognisable by dark eye masks contrasting against white feathers), Noddies and Brown Pelicans make a five-day cruise aboard Coral II a twitchers delight. Follow in Darwin’s footsteps on a black volcanic sand beach and spot sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs in tidal pools.
4. Galapagos Safari Camp
If you’d prefer a land-based sustainability-focused Galapagos adventure, Galapagos Safari Camp is a splendid eco alternative located in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Wake up to stunning views over the Pacific Ocean before embarking on excursions to spot giant tortoises, or take a boat trip further afield into the Galapagos Marine Reserve to snorkel, swim or dive amongst sea lions, turtles and penguins.
5. Finch Bay hotel, island escape
For a totally flexible adventure, luxurious eco-centric Finch Bay Hotel is tucked away on the shores of an intimate cove a short drive from downtown Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. A member of exclusive National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, combine wildlife viewing excursions from the hotel’s private yacht by day with exquisite fine dining to a soundtrack of wavelets washing against the shore.
With over 40 boats to choose from as well as land-based adventures, Chimu Adventures have been guiding eco-sensitive travelers to Latin America and the Galapagos Islands since 2004.
Visit Chimu Adventures for a full selection of Galapagos trips.
Every Chimu Destination Specialist has travelled to the Galapagos Islands so contact them today on 1300 773 231 or email [email protected]
Written by Fiona Harper, KarryOn contributor
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