Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands represent one of the most magical places on the planet. Where else in the world can you explore an archipelago born entirely of volcanic eruption and interact with wildlife virtually unafraid of humans? And where can you swim with everything from sea lions to sharks and feel completely at ease?
Don’t take our word for it: See this recent GoPro video captured on A&K’s Galápagos Wildlife Adventure for highlights across the various islands we visit, including Floreana, Isabela and Espanola.
“It’s an incredible feeling not only to be another creature in the water,” says Karina Lopez Ruiz, a naturalist guide of Galápagos National Park and Marine Reserve, “but to have a great combination of creatures in the same spot at the same time.”
Golden rays, eagle rays, marine iguanas, chocolate sea stars, sea horses — the abundance of marine life here is real, so we asked Karina to narrow down the list to those creatures that are especially unique to see in the Galápagos.
Her favorite? Sea lions, especially when they reach a certain age and become very playful. “They approach snorkelers and try and steal their flippers or just do pirouettes around them.”
Green sea turtles stand out, especially given their high numbers here. “Though there are other places in the world where you might snorkel with sea turtles, in the Galápagos, the number of them together and their non-reaction to our presence allows us to have a special experience following them around.”
Karina also pointed out the Galápagos penguin, often at the top of any avid traveller’s wildlife bucket list. It’s possible to find them at Tagus Cove and Bartholomew Island, usually busy and moving very fast, though still fantastic to see underwater. “They are not only endemic to the Galápagos, but where else in the world can you swim with penguins in the wild?”
Of course, sharks are always a thrilling sight and yet disarmingly peaceful, especially in the Galápagos. “Sharks here do not represent a threat to humans,” says Karina. “From reef sharks to hammerheads, it is possible in the Galápagos to have an amazing experience with this misunderstood predator.”
Video courtesy of Martin Loyola.