As a natural paradise where incredible wildlife species thrive without fear of humans, the Galapagos Islands have captured the hearts of wildlife enthusiasts, including avid photographers.
Charles Darwin’s visit to the enchanting archipelago propelled it to prominence. Since then, thousands of visitors have come to explore the islands, home to a diverse range of wildlife, from giant tortoises to fascinating bird species.
Here’s why wildlife photographers love travelling to the Galapagos Islands.
1. The Diverse Wildlife on the Islands
The diverse wildlife on the Galapagos is why it has become a favourite destination for wildlife photographers. Several theories exist regarding the archipelago’s unique flora and fauna. One says that the original species that evolved in the Galapagos made their way to the islands using vegetation and other waste materials as floating rafts carried by wind and sea currents.
The Galapagos Islands are remote with harsh conditions, and the animal species that arrived there survived by evolving specific traits to suit the archipelago’s environment. Although natural selection can happen worldwide, it’s more evident in the Galapagos Islands. It is for this reason that it has become an inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Another thing that makes the Galapagos fascinating is that the animals have not developed a fear of humans, which means wildlife photographers can get close to them to capture the perfect shot.
The giant tortoises are among the most photographed species in the Galapagos. These fascinating creatures can live for over a hundred years, and you can see them roaming freely around the islands. The other animals you’ll find are marine iguanas, lava lizards, sea lions, and more.
2. The Breathtaking Landscapes
The best souvenir you can take home from your holiday to the Galapagos are the pictures you’ve taken of the archipelago’s breathtaking landscapes. When Charles Darwin first came to the Galapagos Islands, he was in awe of their incredible biodiversity and spectacular landscape views. Thus, wildlife photographers can expect stunning backdrops for their photos from the Galapagos Islands.
One of the most scenic spots in the Galapagos is Puerto Egas, a black sand beach on Santiago Island with a high concentration of volcanic materials in its sands. Aside from having stunning scenery, Puerto Egas is a popular spot for swimming and snorkelling. If you’re fond of underwater photography, you can go for a dive and take photos of the colourful tropical fish.
Cerro Tijeretas is another place in the Galapagos renowned for its spectacular nature views. It’s also a spot for viewing a colony of nesting frigates. You’ll also find a statue of Charles Darwin on this scenic hill. It marks the original site where he first landed in the archipelago on his second voyage in September 1835.
Bartolome Island is one of the most photographed islands in the Galapagos archipelago. It’s home to gorgeous beaches surrounded by breathtaking volcanoes and boasts a unique biodiversity.
You can capture the best views by hiking to an incredible viewing point. A cruise around the Galapagos Islands is another excellent way to soak up the incredible scenery of the Galapagos. More information on these cruise tours can be found here.
3. Ecuador’s First National Park
The Galapagos National Park is considered Ecuador’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and that’s one of the reasons it’s a special place for nature and wildlife photographers. It consists of 21 islands, of which 18 are significant. The populated islands include Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana, and Isabela, which make up 3% of the entire archipelago.
The incredible wildlife species are the highlight of Galapagos National Park. Aside from the giant tortoises, wildlife photographers are keen on taking photos of colourful birds like the blue-footed booby, finches, and frigatebirds. The Galapagos National Park is also home to abundant endemic species, marine life, and marine iguanas, which are endemic to the archipelago.
Like any national park, the Galapagos National Park has many hiking trails. Wildlife photographers keen on hiking can conquer one of those trails, as it’s an opportunity to capture many fascinating animals. Avid birders should walk the Frigate Bird Hill trail on San Cristobal Island. It takes you to the frigate birds’ nest with incredible vistas overlooking the bay below.
4. The Sea Life
Home to over 3,000 marine life species, the Galapagos Islands lure underwater photographers keen on capturing some of the world’s most incredible sea creatures. The three ocean currents that meet in the Galapagos Islands have resulted in a fascinating biodiversity of marine animals.
Among the most photographed marine animals in the Galapagos Islands are scalloped hammerhead sharks. They are migratory species but swim off the waters of the Galapagos all year round. Interestingly, the Galapagos Marine Reserve is among the few places underwater photographers can capture these species in huge schools.
The Galapagos Islands are also home to cute penguins that wildlife photographers will find fascinating. You will find them on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela, although they sometimes appear on Floreana and Bartolome. You can swim with them around Pinnacle Rock on Bartolome Island.
5. The Conservation
Wildlife photographers are among the world’s most avid supporters of wildlife conservation, and conservation in the Galapagos is a big deal. The local government has implemented various conservation efforts, from breeding programmes to protecting endangered species and ocean clean-ups. You will learn more about this on your visit to the Galapagos.
If you’re interested in giant tortoise preservation, visit the Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. Here, they raise hatchlings of giant tortoises until maturity, or until they can thrive in the wild without risk.
The Galapagos Marine Reserve is where you can learn about the conservation efforts of the incredible marine life of the Galapagos. Studies show that the waters around the Galapagos archipelago have the world’s highest biomass of sharks, which makes protecting them from illegal fishing even more essential.
The waters of the Galapagos are known for having a high density of whale and shark populations, including hammerheads and migratory humpback whales. To better understand the different species of sharks and whales living in the archipelago, the Galapagos Marine Reserve conducts several pioneering studies of these fascinating creatures, which you will have a chance to learn about on your visit.