Giant Galapagos tortoises meander distant highlands, and prehistoric marine iguanas sun themselves on black lava rocks along the shore. Flightless cormorants and tiny penguins dart through the waters while graceful red-billed birds screech across the sky.
Here, in this unique paradise, it’s possible to explore remarkable island ecosystems while enjoying lounging sea lions, breaching whales offshore and pink flamingos in hidden lagoons. The volcanic Galapagos Islands sit about 650 miles west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. At first, they appear to be desolate.Yet, these rough and rocky isles are home to wonderfully strange and abundant wildlife.
As Charles Darwin did some 200 years before us, it’s easy to marvel at the highly-adapted creatures found nowhere else on earth.
Mix With Nature
The Galapagos is a rare destination where you become accustomed to being surprised. Nothing quite compares to the joy of observing animals in the wild here, or the sense of wonder and privilege felt while spending time with animals who don’t run or fly away when humans approach, and are truly unique treasures of our earth.
It was here Darwin found the perfect conditions to formulate his evolutionary theory: that far from the ravages of the continents, life evolved into a strange sub-world of specialized creatures who adapted to their harsh environment in an amazing variety of ways.
Here, on barren coasts of fresh black lava frozen in its descent to the shoreline, it’s easy to see why early explorers, whalers, and pirates likened the islands to an inferno on earth. It’s easy to appreciate each island as a little “world unto itself” with its own distinctive character, terrain, climate,and wildlife.
It seems a comfortable place for its odd inhabitants to lay eggs, raise young, and feed on the abundant marine life swept here by cool Humboldt Currents. From the world’s only seagoing lizards to flightless cormorants and penguins, inflatable frigate birds, clownish boobies, patriarchal tortoises and 13 species of Darwin finches, it’s amazing to enjoy thrilling encounters with animals, upclose and in large numbers, who are completely at ease among human visitors.
Nature, Up Close & Personal
Cruising between these enchanted islands is the best way to experience these unique islands. A limited number of small ships and yachts take tourists from island to island in the Galapagos. Unlike traditional luxury cruises in other parts of the world, luxury Galapagos cruises lack crowds, assigned seats, lavish entertainment, and sailing for long periods at sea. Instead, cruises are for active individuals interested in the nature and animals of the islands, for those seeking wild places and soft adventure, with time to relax on the beach or swim and snorkel or dive.
Like Nowhere Else
- Evolutionary wonders such as Darwin’s finches, land and marine iguanas, and flightless cormorants.
- An incredible mix of polar and tropical species, from penguins and fur seals to flamingos and tropical fish.
- Giant tortoises, waved albatrosses and sea turtles in some of their last habitats on earth.
- Masses of fearless seals, iguanas, and birds almost pose for photos.
- Volcano summits, tortured lava flows, blue sky and the sea.
- Snorkel with sea lions over coral reefs and submerged craters teeming with marine life.
- Explore remote mangroves, pirate hideouts, cliffs and coasts.
- Inland lagoons and highlands with an astounding array of rare bird life.
- Watch dolphins, whales, and rays in abundance.
- The Galapagos. 19 islands, 3,086 square miles, spread over 20,000 square miles of ocean, population 17,000 residing on the islands, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana.