Galapagos: The Ultimate Safari

Home to an extraordinary array of endemic species, the Galapagos Islands offers what is quite possibly the most marvelous wildlife safari on earth.

A Living Museum

Where else can you walk among giant tortoises and land iguanas, spot an incredible variety of birds that includes albatrosses, flightless cormorants, flamingos and blue-footed, red-footed and masked boobies, and then later in the day swim, snorkel or dive with sea lions, marine iguanas, tropical fish, hammerhead sharks and sea turtles? It’s not just the abundance or variety of wildlife that is so awe-inspiring, it’s the fact that so many species are indeed unique to these islands. And it’s ever-changing: in January 2015, baby Galapagos tortoises were found in the wild for the first time in 150 years.

Planning your safari – where to go and what to see

With so many species and multiple islands (there are 18 main islands and many smaller islets), it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to see and where. Here’s a guide to help you plan your Galapagos wildlife safari:

  • You’ll find giant tortoises on many of the islands, but the highlands of Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz are the best places to see them in the wild. Rancho Primicias, an 150-hectare ranch in the highlands of Santa Cruz, is a good spot. Isabela also has an excellent giant tortoise breeding center.
  • You’ll see blue-footed boobies throughout the islands, but generally the islands that are consistently recommended for excellent blue-footed booby sightings are Española and North Seymour. For red-footed boobies, you’ll need to go to San Cristobal (the tip of the island) or Genovesa. Nazca boobies are best seen on Española.
  • For red-pouched Frigate birds, head to Genovesa, San Cristobal and North Seymour islands.
  • Galapagos Penguins are known to hang around Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island, or on Bartolome. They are also found in the western islands, such as Fernandina and Isabela.
  • Note that Waved Albatrosses are only found at Punta Suarez on Española, and are only present during the months of March-December.
  • Land iguanas can be spotted at Urbina Bay (Isabela), Santa Fe, Cerro Dragon (Santa Cruz), and South Plaza.
  • Galapagos Green Turtles are best seen at Punta Cormorant (Floreana), Punta Espinoza (Fernandina), Black Turtle Cove (Santa Cruz Island), and Darwin Bay (Genovesa Island).
  • Marine iguanas and sea lions are found virtually everywhere!

Galapagos Travel Planner - FREE Download


Photo credit: Flickr/Scott Ableman

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  1. […] motor yachts or catamarans is recommended to maximise the amount of wildlife that you see. Click here to find out which wildlife species are commonly found on each of the […]

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