Santiago Bejarano is the co-founder of Think Galapagos. He is also a photographer and one of the top naturalist guides in Galapagos. Santiago personally accompanies all of our small group trips.
For almost two decades I have been lucky enough to lead groups of guests on a private charter yacht to the Galapagos Islands in May. It is without a doubt my favourite time of year in the Galapagos Islands, with the life, colour and magic of the archipelago at its very best.
So why is May one of the best months to visit the Galapagos Islands?
Essentially because May is a turning point between the seasons. Because of its proximity to the equator, the Galapagos Islands don’t have the type of seasons we recognise – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Instead Galapagos has two seasons; the warm rainy season, which runs between December and May, and the dry ‘garua’ season, which dictates conditions for the rest of the year.
The rainy season months are characterised by a more tropical climate with cloudier skies and short periods of rainfall on most days. The dry garua season is the longest and arguably the most influential of the two seasons dictating as it does the conditions for of all the land based animals and plants and forcing them to adapt to survive.
The arrival of the ‘Garua’ or Dry Season
The arrival of the dry season around May triggers the appearance of the colder south equatorial current in the ocean and south-easterly winds which produce upwellings across the Galapagos Islands, a process in which nutrient rich cold water rises to the surface of the sea.
Courtship time for seabirds
In the case of Galapagos, it creates areas of almost unparalleled plankton rich waters, which provide abundant food to sea going animals and plants. May is the time when mating is in the air, as the sea birds start to benefit from the productive cooler waters. Some of the courtship displays you can see at this time of year are incredible. Forget watching David Attenborough documentaries, you can witness incredible scenes for yourself!
Land bird chicks thriving
During May land birds are startling to settle and the new chicks they have produced during the warmer wetter season are in good numbers. This is especially for Darwin’s famous finches, which are busy preparing to survive the dry season ahead. Reptiles, like land iguanas and in some islands sea turtles, will start to see their eggs hatching.
As well as fantastic wildlife activity, the weather is also perfect for tourist activity. It is not too hot or windy, the water temperature is good and visibility underwater is still great making it a very good time for snorkelling!
Of course the Galapagos Islands are great all year around but the transition times are for me the best. Over the years I have produced some of my best photographs in May, below is a selection of some of them. See more of Santiago’s photos from his years guiding in the Galapagos Islands.