Continuing on from her first blog for us, new team member Tanya lists five reasons why the Galapagos Islands are so unique and incredible. Here she draws on her 24 years experience as a Galapagos Guide to explain how this wonder of nature is so full of surprises.
Having completed my guide’s course in 1992 on the Island of Santa Cruz, I was finally going on my first training cruise around the islands. Naturally I was excited, but also a little apprehensive, wondering whether seeing the same thing day after day could get repetitive. I was in for a surprise, and here are the reasons why:
1. Different scenery every day
There was excitement every daybreak on the boat as new landscapes revealed themselves to the guests and crew. From the three hundred metre cliffs we anchor next to at Punta Vicente Roca, to the bright red beach of Rabida Island, and from the black charred field of lava at Sullivan Bay, to the unexpected lush rolling hills of the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, the variety of scenery in the Galapagos Islands is astonishing and constantly awe-inspiring.
2. Different wildlife on different islands
Mother nature has cleverly spread out the animals of the Galapagos on the different islands so there is always something new to see on each stop. For reasons I shall not go into here, you cannot see the Flightless Cormorant anywhere else but Fernandina and Isabela Islands, or the Red-footed Boobies anywhere else but on Genovesa Island and a few on San Cristobal Island. You will only see the Waved Albatross on Española Island.
The only place you can see the Galapagos Fur Seals from the shore is on one of the visitor’s sites on Santiago Island. The largest marine iguanas are seen on Isabela and Fernandina Islands and you will only see the colourful red and green breeding colours on the marine iguanas on Española and Floreana Islands. The best chance of seeing the Giant Tortoise in the wild is in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. So to see a good range of what Galapagos has to offer I highly recommend a minimum cruise of one week.
3. Unusual animal encounters
Not only did I not get bored on my first trip to Galapagos, I never have been bored on any of my trips in 24 years! Each time I go around the islands, I experience different things. I have at least one unusual or completely unique experience per trip that is forever imprinted in my memory.
During my time as a guide I have watched a sea lion giving birth, witnessed a Galapagos Flycatcher land on various guest’s camera lenses curiously looking at its reflection, seen a population explosion of hundreds of thousands of the normally rare Blue Swimmer Crabs at Elizabeth Bay, watched Orca whales swimming under our dinghies and ogled at four giant Ocean sunfishes being cleaned by Barber fishes!
4. Volcanic eruptions
The Galapagos Islands were born of volcanoes and eruptions occur every now and again. There have been six since I have been working in Galapagos. The first one was at Fernandina Island in 1995. We made a detour to see the eruption, arriving at night (4am) in such think fog we couldn’t even see the glow of the red hot lava. We were only one mile from the coast and it was strange as we sailed along the island that we could see nothing. I even feared that the eruption had stopped, although I could smell strange fumes and ash in the air. After an hour of waiting around, the fog cleared and we finally saw the red lava rivers flowing down and the steam clouds rolling off the water where the lava spilled into the sea. Unforgettable!
5. Another world under the water
Many people who come to Galapagos have never or rarely ever been snorkelling. The second you tip your masked face in the water you will lose yourself in another world and lose track of time. Watching colourful fish feed, Galapagos Penguins zipping back and forth, White-tipped Reef Sharks sleep, Spotted Eagle Rays swim in formation and playful sea lions inviting you to play with them are all experiences that will enrich your experience in the Galapagos Islands.