Why are the Galapagos Islands so special?  Yes, they are wild and natural, featuring a rich geological history with beautiful scenery, beaches and unusual landforms.  These features alone make them a great destination. But, because there are no natural predators, human or animal, the endemic creatures, some found only in the Galapagos, are not in competition with each other for food nor do they have any reason to fear human presence.

When you snorkel, the fish and sea lions and sea turtles consider you one of the crowd, and you are welcomed into their world; they’ll swim over you, under you, and right beside you without a worry.  When you sit on the beach, the sea lions just waddle right by you, and the young ones come right up to see what you’re all about.  You can watch a bird in its nest with great intensity and patience, as he sees no reason to fly away.

It’s an intimate and special encounter with wildlife that delights children and grownups alike (even teenagers are impressed, and that’s not easy!)  I recently sailed on the luxury expedition ship, The Endeavor, with Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.

Here are some photos of my favorite animal encounters in this “peaceable kingdom.”

Sally Lightfoot Crab on Las Baches beach

 

World's largest tortoise in the highlands of Santa Cruz island

World’s largest tortoise in the highlands of Santa Cruz island

Male frigate bird attracting females

Male frigate bird attracting the chics

Lots and lots of marine iguanas on Fernandina Island

Lots and lots of marine iguanas on Fernandina Island

The iconic blue-footed booby on North Seymour island

The iconic blue-footed booby on North Seymour island

Land Iguana on Isabella Island

Land Iguana on Isabella Island

Curious sea lions and me on Rapida Beach

Curious sea lions and me on Rapida Beach

I never tired of swimming with the sea lions!

I never tired of swimming with the sea lions!