The Galapagos Islands

#5 - Galapagos, Ecuador
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Quick Description
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands located 500 miles off of the western coast of Ecuador. The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species, which have evolved over millions of years to adapt to the islands unique environment.
Why AbsoluteVisit #5?
The Galapagos are an evolutionary biologists dream and the abundance and diversity of animals is incredible. The islands were naturally protected for millions of years from destruction and hunting by man as we spread out over the globe. As a result the animals on the islands act much different than others around the world. Sea lions will swim with you and you can walk within mere feet of birds hovering over precious eggs without making them flinch the slightest. You can be a ghost among animals.
Slide 1
Kicker Rock at Sunset
#1 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 2
Sandy Iguana on the Beach
#2 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 3
Darwin's Little Yellow Finch
#3 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 4
Lava Lizard Claiming His Turf
#4 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 5
Iguana Resting on the Rocks
#5 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 6
Sleeping Sea Lion on the Beach
#6 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 7
Pinnacle Rock Sunset - Isla Bartolome
#7 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 8
Screaming Swallow-tailed Gull with Egg
#8 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 9
Red Footed Boobie with Egg
#9 Galapagos Islands Photo - Brad Harbach
Slide 10
Darwin\'s Yellow Finch
#10 Galapagos Islands Photo - Zhao Naidoo
 
Overview
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Brad & Will's Quick Thoughts

There is not anywhere that we have found on our planet where a tourist can exist in such intimate harmony with nature like the Galapagos Islands. I (Brad) visited the Galapagos Islands in 2012 and I was blown away by how close you were able to get to the animals without seemingly causing any interruption in nature. For the week that I was touring the archipelago, I wandered around the islands like a ghost, observing some of the most unique and beautiful animals on our planet, up close and in their natural habitat.

Several times on my trip I found myself within mere feet of various exotic birds hovering above their single egg, not even remotely concerned as I snapped hundreds of pictures of close up animal faces that I thought only existed on TV.

I was able to lie down next to hundreds of sea lions basking in the afternoon sun on the beach and nobody even bothered to recognize that I didn't have whiskers. Baby sea lions even approached me, confusedly thinking that perhaps I was one of them and that I might be able to spare some milk to fill up their empty stomachs.

It is always difficult to quantify how amazing a place is, but consider this - on my 8-day trip to the Galapagos I took over 12,000 pictures! Friendly and exotic animals were not my only subjects; the equatorial islands are worthy of a visit on their own.

The thing I will remember most from the Galapagos is swimming in the wild with groups of sea lions 500-hundred miles off of the coast of mainland Ecuador and South America. As we snorkeled around tiny wildlife filled islands, sea lions would dive into the water and swim towards us almost as if they were in search of a new friends to play with. I never would have imagined that such grumpy creatures on land could become so tranquil and friendly under the waters surface.
 

Quick Facts & History

  • Charles Darwin was actually not the first to discover the Galapagos Islands; he arrived 300 years after the islands were discovered by a ship that had been blown off course.
  • The Islands were formed by lava flowing upward from the ocean floor, creating 13 main islands and 6 smaller islands, in total covering approximately 19,000 sq. miles (30,577 km) in the ocean.
  • The Islands has very distinct and unique species combinations due to its location between two different ocean currents, one warm and one cold. As a result there are both polar and tropical species inhabiting the islands the surrounding waters.
  • There are thirteen different species of Darwins finches.
  • The Galapagos penguin is the only tropical penguin in existence.
  • The Giant tortoise is another famous species in the Galapagos Islands, growing up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and living for up to 150 years.
 

Where are The Galapagos Islands?

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Photos from The Galapagos Islands

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Photos

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Kicker Rock at Sunset
Ranked #1 by Brad Harbach
Sandy Iguana on the Beach
Ranked #2 by Brad Harbach
Darwin's Little Yellow Finch
Ranked #3 by Brad Harbach
 
Lava Lizard Claiming His Turf
Ranked #4 by Brad Harbach
Iguana Resting on the Rocks
Ranked #5 by Brad Harbach
Sleeping Sea Lion on the Beach
Ranked #6 by Brad Harbach
 
Pinnacle Rock Sunset - Isla Barto...
Ranked #7 by Brad Harbach
Screaming Swallow-tailed Gull wit...
Ranked #8 by Brad Harbach
Red Footed Boobie with Egg
Ranked #9 by Brad Harbach
 
Darwin\'s Yellow Finch
Ranked #10 by Zhao Naidoo
Puerto Aroya
Ranked #11 by Zhao Naidoo
 
 

Videos

Swimming with Sea Lions - Original Video
 

Top Blog Posts

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My eight-day cruise left from San Cristobal and included visits to the Genovesa, Isabela, Fernandina, Bartolome, Santa Cruz, the Charles Darwin Research Station, and Hood (Espaņola) Island. I frolicked with fun-loving sea lions, watched (somewhat in horror) as a 500 pound tortoise tried to mate with a most disinterested female, danced with the blue-footed boobies (and wondered if they mated with the red-footed boobies, would the children would have purple feet?) laughed at the antics of the Galapagos penguins, felt sorry for the homely waved albatross...  read more
Submitted By: Brad Harbach
Submitted On: Apr 30, 2012
1
 

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Swimming with Sea Lions - Original Video
# 1

Kicker Rock at Sunset

4
# 2

Sandy Iguana on the Beach

2
# 3

Darwin's Little Yellow Finch

2
# 4

Lava Lizard Claiming His Turf

2
# 5

Iguana Resting on the Rocks

2
# 6

Sleeping Sea Lion on the Beach

2
# 7

Pinnacle Rock Sunset - Isla Bartolome

1
# 8

Screaming Swallow-tailed Gull with Egg

1
# 9

Red Footed Boobie with Egg

0
# 10

Darwin\'s Yellow Finch

0
# 11

Puerto Aroya

-1

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