What to expect when travelling to the Galapagos Islands

January 23, 2022 by No Comments


Sun tanning on the beach is an option, but you’d probably be sharing the cove with tuxedoed penguins and curious sea lions. Photo / Getty

As part of his wildlife watch series, Brett Atkinson shares some of his favourite animal encounters. This week he’s in the Galapagos, sidestepping languid sea lions and sneezing iguanas.

The food on board a La

With smooth organisation by the boat’s crew, the special experiences come thick and fast. Just minutes after our cetacean-interrupted desayuno, it’s back into inflatable Zodiacs for a wet landing on Isla Bartolome. Working on your tan on the beach is an option, but you’d probably be sharing the cove with tuxedoed penguins and curious sea lions. Equipped with snorkelling gear, it’s better to encounter both species in their own environment. Penguins zip past in crystalline shallows, while shafts of light pierce indigo depths to reveal young sea lions twisting and turning like Cirque du Soleil performers. Soulful eyes make fleeting eye contact and then dart away leaving the residue of a shadowy underwater wake. Later in the morning, I negotiate a sea kayak around a secluded cove. A nursery of sea lions darts under my slowly gliding orange hull, emerging to toss fragments of seaweed in the air, while on the shoreline, a lone penguin drinks in equatorial sunshine before awkwardly negotiating the rocks to glide into the water.

With a complete lack of large predators “in the Galapagos, the worst thing that can happen is an attack by a hawk”, he explains.

Since a hawk isn’t a threat to a robust iguana with a tough-as-old-boots exoskeleton, across the centuries the species has developed without any fear of predation.

“Elsewhere, it’s an evolutionary advantage to flee when something unknown appears,” he continues, “but on the Galapagos, there’s little risk of anything bad happening. It’s actually an evolutionary advantage to stay still and save energy.”



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