Learning to Appreciate Galapagos

Galapagos, Ecuador

What are the images you see in your mind when you think of Galapagos? Tortoises? Lizards? For me, it’s finches. Finches from a poster my third-grade Biology teacher put up on the blackboard of all the different finches that can be found on the islands. You know, Darwin’s famous finches?

Finches. Birds. Small birds at that. I’m not a small bird person. I guess it’s safe to say I’m not a bird person at all.

Blue footed boobies in Galapagos

Except for these guys. These guys are cool.

Blue footed boobies, Galapagos
So many of these guys doing their silly mating dance.

Maybe that’s why Galapagos has never made it into my ‘bucket list’ But when the opportunity to visit these islands presented itself, it just felt right. We thought a ‘vacation’ from the constant planning would be nice. And Jack, a water baby, was excited at the possibility to be around water again.

Snorkeling in the Galapagos
A water baby, feeling right at home.

So we handed off a big lump sump of money to a travel agent (quite literally since they take only cash) and walked away with a reservation for a flight and a cruise to Galapagos in hand.

Despite the seasickness, I’m glad we went. What I read about Galapagos has piqued my curiosity and to have had that lingering itch left unscratched would’ve driven me crazy. I’m glad we went because we saw more than just finches and birds (and oh, we saw thousands of them. If you’re into birds you’d feel like you’d died and gone to heaven. Check out this video).

Marine iguana sunworshipping, Galapagos
Like this marine iguana
Marine iguana clan, Galapagos
and his extended family

The uniqueness of Galapagos was forever subtle. An undertone to the experience as opposed to a force that overwhelms. Except for those many times we almost stepped on some random birds or lizards (they just would not move). Those times reminded us that we were somewhere special.

And of course only in Galapagos you’d walk into a pair of humping male land tortoises,

Humping male land tortoises, Galapagos

The sceneries of the islands were stark and at times, ominous. Ominous because it would look like the kind of place so hostile no life should exist, but they do. And in abundance.

Bartolome Island, Galapagos
Except for this island (Bartolome). Made up of mostly volcanic ash, little live here except for some hardy lizards.

Galapagos was a place that requires contexts and post-trip digestion to fully appreciate.

The appreciation grew, for example, when I learned each island produces its own species of land tortoises and you can tell them apart by the shape of its shell. Or when I realized that Galapagos has never been part of any mainland which made one wonder, ‘How did these animals get there in the first place?

It grew even more when I learned that there is such a thing asVampire Finch‘ – which is unique to only two of the islands. I’m pretty sure if my biology teacher had mentioned this, I would’ve been way more interested in birds.

Galapagos seems to be full of these interesting anomalies and mysteries of natures yet to be solved. Learning about them definitely helped me see what makes these islands so special.

In terms of the animals – well, it’s true what they say, they let you get really close. Like this close…

A land iguana in South Plaza, Galapagos

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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25 Replies to “Learning to Appreciate Galapagos”

  1. wow. the galapagos is kind of a #1 for me. i know i'll be there one day! thanks for sharing! i've been poring over all your galapagos pics heh heh 🙂

  2. WOWZER!

    Are you sure you were on earth? Because I'm pretty sure that marine iguana doesn't hail from our planet. Stunning photos for sure. Was that the first time you guys saw blue-footed boobies in person?

    Looks like I'll have to add Galapagos to my list now 😀

  3. Love this. Previously I never really put Galapagos in my bucket list. But your story is a valid justification for me to go to the islands 🙂 Oh and great photos by the way!

  4. I've always wanted to go to the Galapagos- always! The water is the most amazing blue color- we are supposed to go next year and it could not come soon enough.

    1. Hah, even though we'd like to take credits, I'm pretty sure Technosyncratic was the one who came up with the hashtag. And, yes we did see tons of animals! Tons of birds. They pretty much run the islands, we think.

  5. Pictures of the birds,marine iguanas and the humping tortoises(hilarious) were great. Jack's diving picture reminded me of South Park's, Starvin Marvin episode- Put some clothes on Jack. This is a < MA blog (lol). Lets hope you guys make it to "Oh Canada". The West Coast Trail, Rockies and Aura borealis awaits your arrival. Feeling so happy for you guys

  6. Wow – you guys saw so much! We do really want to get here someday – will have to be on our next trip to South America. I know we'll be coming back to Colombia, so we'll be nice and close by =)

  7. Awesome, looks like an amazing place. I've seen some of those tortoises in a zoo, very interesting creatures I'd like to see in the wild.

  8. Oh My God, these are gorgeous, I so want to see such weird animals. Can I say the tortoises are absolutely the cutest ever!

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