The thrill of witnessing wildlife up close in the enchanted isles of the Galápagos is an experience many carry with them long after they return home. Lucky for us, we get to follow up with our travelers and they often share photos and stories of their trip. One of our travelers who explored the Galápagos in the spring of 2022 reminisces about her trip below. Enjoy her beautiful photos.
Visiting the Galápagos has been on my list for quite a while but I could never decide if I wanted to visit the Eastern or Western Islands. After talking extensively with Wilderness Travel, I decided on the Galápagos Adventure Aboard the Mary Anne – Eastern Islands in April, 2022. I really wanted to see a waved albatross and I was not disappointed with my decision. Each island is so different yet so beautiful in its own way.
Genovesa Island was the first island we visited on our trip and our first experience with how comfortable the birds and animals are in the presence of people. We saw so many incredible and beautiful birds (great frigatebirds, elegant swallow-tail gulls, red-footed boobies, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, tropicbirds, Darwin’s finches, and the elusive short-eared owl who had just caught a storm petrel). We hiked up Prince Philip Steps to find even more beautiful nesting birds that you literally have to step around as they sit right on the trail. The view from the top of the cliff was amazing and from this perspective, you could really see Darwin’s Bay is in a flooded caldera.
The amount of wildlife we saw far exceeded my expectations. At Black Turtle Cove, we saw hundreds of golden rays in the lagoon. They swam under the zodiac and we were surrounded by these incredible creatures. I have never experienced anything in my life like this. A photo doesn’t do it justice. We also saw so many birds, sea lions, iguanas, tortoises, penguins, marine life, and thousands of fish while snorkeling. I can honestly say snorkeling in the Galápagos is just as good, if not better, than any diving I’ve done. The water was chilly but I did not want to miss any opportunity to snorkel. You never knew what you were going to see but you knew it would be incredible. One of my favorite snorkeling adventures was playing with the sea lions. They are so much fun!
On Bartolomé Island, the island is known to have a small colony of Galápagos penguins and I was surprised to see how small they are besides being super cute. We also did a great hike to see the infamous view of Pinnacle Rock. Beautiful! After lunch, we jumped in the water to snorkel and were surrounded by thousands of fish with the occasional white-tip reef shark, turtle, and penguin swimming by. This is the first place I’ve ever snorkeled where it’s just as important to pop your head out of the water as well as look down. You’ll see blue-footed boobies, penguins, and marine iguanas resting on the rocks.
Afterward, we headed into the highlands for hikes and to see giant tortoises. It was incredible to finally see a Giant Tortoise in the Galapagos. Dream come true!
We really enjoyed the Mary Anne and all the crew. We sailed more than once and had bottlenose dolphins riding the bow wake. The food was exceptional and abundant. When we got back to the ship after an outing, we were greeted with the most incredible fresh juices and yummy appetizers. Our guide Biti was awesome and extremely knowledgeable. The days are full of adventures but you can always stay onboard and relax.
Espanola Island was the last island we visited and my favorite. The minute you arrive at the island, the zodiac is greeted by sea lions and their pups. Not to mention all the marine iguanas that you have to share the path with. The marine iguanas were in their breeding colors (pinks and reds) and were so beautiful sunning themselves on the beach.
As we walked in further, we saw Nazca boobies with their chicks and the blue-footed boobies were very busy trying to impress the females. We also saw more than one pair of blue-footed boobies with an egg in their nest (which is actually just dirt). The main event for me was the waved albatross which is endemic to this island. They are enormous birds.
We saw the beautiful courtship dance as well as them taking off (think of a plane running down a runway). They are not that graceful on land but they fly exquisitely. After taking in all these wonderful sights, we went snorkeling with sea lions again, one of my favorite activities. They were so curious and playful!
We came home with so many incredible memories as well as new friends—our group of 14 travelers was amazing!
—Text and photos by seven-time WT adventurer Mary Nicolini, Galápagos Adventure Aboard the Marry Anne. Check out her other blog posts about her adventures in Iceland, Cuba, and Antarctica.