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8 incredible things you’ll do on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands is arguably one of the finest wildlife spots in the world. With a high proportion of endemic creatures, this was famously the archipelago that Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution. It may not be known as much for its human history, but the tales of whalers, buccaneers and mysterious early settlers are just as fascinating.

Here we’ll run through 8 of the best things you will do on an 8-day cruise with us in the Galapagos. Would you like to walk with giant Galapagos tortoises in the wild or swim in the swallows with playful sea lion pups? Take a look at our list of Galapagos cruises and get booking today.

Snorkel with turtles

What could be better than donning a snorkelling mask and swimming with the warm clear waters alongside graceful turtles in the wild? These beautiful creatures live here in abundance, and with snorkelling opportunities every day on most of our cruises, you’ll be sure to spot plenty of them. Silently glide alongside these fearless marine creatures as they search for food.

Walk along the red beach of Rabida

The Galapagos never ceases to amaze in its diversity. On Rabida, a small central island near Santiago, the beaches are deep red, almost maroon coloured. Why? The high content of iron in the rock oxides, making it effectively go rusty. This doesn’t stop the wildlife of which you can see species aplenty. A colony of noisy sea lions bask along the beach, marine iguanas lounge, while brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies build their nest.

Watch the mating dance of the waved albatross

This one’s not only specific to the Galapagos Islands, it’s specific to one island, Española. During April and May the waved albatross return to the island to find a mate. Their curious mating dance of bill clapping, circling and sky pointing. We were lucky enough to see the display close up, a film of which you can see above.

See golden rays in Black Turtle Cove

One of our favourites. The mangroves of Black Turtle Cove are often done on the last morning before departing. Zip down through the secluded estuary on Santa Cruz Island on board dinghies at turn of the engines, after which the real magic begins. Turtles rise to the surface to breath and white tipped reef sharks dart past. However, the real highlight is the schools of golden rays, seen just under the water’s surface.

Post a letter a Post Office Bay

The Galapagos may be known for its wildlife, but humans have also made their mark. Whalers used Floreana Island as a stop off point since the early 19th century. Here they left a wooden barrel at the now named Post Office Bay, from which mail could be left and collected by passersby. When you visit, be sure to leave your piece of mail, and collect some unstamped mail to deliver or hand deliver on your return.

See marine life at the Devil’s Crown

The Devil’s Crown is perhaps the best dive site on the archipelago. The sunken volcanic crater, eroded by waves over thousands of years, is inhabited by a coral reef. This along with the currents, make an ideal home for marine life. Snorkellers are treated to the sight of colourful tropical fish, turtles, marine iguanas and small sharks. If you are a beginner, be sure to stay within the crown, as hammerheads often circle around the outside.

Walk with giant Galapagos tortoises

The iconic giant Galapagos tortoises (of which there are several species), are what gave the archipelago its name. Famously, the islands were home to lonesome George, the last of his species found alone on Pinta Island. He died in 2012, but it’s still possible to go to the highlands of Santa Cruz and walk, albeit slowly, with these gentle giants.

Take a dingy around Kicker Rock

Its Spanish name is Leon Dormido, which literally translates to ‘Sleeping Lion’, an apt name for the two rocky outcrops in the south east of the archipelago. Take a dingy through the narrow channel where an incredible variety of wildlife can be seen. On the cliffs above, nesting blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds can be seen.

Has this whetted the appetite for the Galapagos and the spectacular wildlife that can be seem? If you have any questions about visiting the islands or would like some advice on booking, get in touch with us today or have a look at our Galapagos tour suggestions.

Wildlife Hotspots In The Antarctic

Flickr: Aah-Yeah

Flickr: Aah-Yeah

Drake Passage

The rough seas of the Drake Passage that connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is most people’s first experience with the harsh climates of the Antarctic region. Although some decide to fly down to the Antarctic, skipping the Drake Passage, those who take the two day voyage are treated to an array of sea birds including giant storm petrels, black browed albatross and sometimes even roaming albatross. Sightings of whales and dolphins are common.

Suggested cruise: Classic Antarctica on board the Ocean Nova

Weddell Sea

For true exploration of the Antarctic an ice-breaking voyage through the Weddell Sea is a must. This pristine wilderness is often clogged with pack-ice so a stronger ice-class vessel is required. This is one of the best places to view whales including killer whales, humpback whales and minke whales. Leopard seals, weddell seals and crabeater seals can often be seen basking on the pack-ice or fishing. Adelie penguins have adapted for the harsh conditions and a colony of a hundred thousand can be seen on Paulet Island. Not long ago an emperor penguin colony was found on Snowhill Island.

Suggested cruise: Weddell Sea Quest on board the M/V Ushuaia

 

Falkland Islands

Disputed archipelago located 400 kms from the Tierra del Fuego in southern Argentina and a wildlife enthusiasts perfect location. There are plenty of bird species including King penguins, Gentoo penguin, rockhopper penguin, macaroni penguin, Magellanic penguin, grebes, herons, ducks, hawks and more. In the waters around the archipelago elephant seals, fur seals, sealions and plenty of species of whale and dolphin can be spotted.

Suggested cruise: Crossing the Circle via Falklands on board the Sea Adventurer

South Georgia

This remote mountainous island located between the southern tip of Argentina and the Antarctic Penisula is packed full of glaciers and fjords. Wildlife highlights include albatrosses, skuas, gulls, ducks, teals, petrels, shearwaters, chinstrap penguins and Gentoo penguins. The stars of the show are the 400,000 pairs of king penguins and the two million pairs of macaroni penguins. The island has a fascinating history of whalers and Shackleton’s Endurance expedition.

Suggested cruise: South Georgia In Depth on board the Akademik Sergey

 

Flickr: Liam Quinn

Flickr: Liam Quinn

South Orkney Islands

This archipelago of four rugged islands located around 800 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula is mainly used as a research base for the British and Argentines. The climate here is particularly harsh with strong winds, rain and snow falls almost every day of the year. Coronation Island is an excellent place to observe the elusive pure white snow petrel which uses the island for breeding. Bird species include skues, cormorants, sheathbills and terns as well as Adelie, chinstrap and Gentoo penguins. Colonies of fur seals are found on some of the islands’ beaches.

Suggested cruise: Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula on board the M/V Ortelius

 

Flickr: Anne Dirkse

Flickr: Anne Dirkse

South Sandwich Islands

The South Sandwich Islands located 500 miles from South Georgia is a series of 11 volcanic islands, some of which are still active. The archipelago of islands extends for almost 250 miles and are connected to Tierra del Fuego by the Scotia Ridge, a sub-oceanic ridge. Although there used to be an Argentine research base here, it is now uninhabited. Few cruises visit the islands, but those who do find an impressive collection of wildlife including southern giant petrels, elephant seals, fur seals and Gentoo penguins. The highlight is the million or so pairs of chinstrap penguins.

Suggested cruise: Falklands, South Georgia & South Sandwich on board the M/V Plancius

 

Flickr: Liam Quinn

Flickr: Liam Quinn

South Shetland Islands

The South Shetlands Islands are relatively close to the Antarctic Peninsula, around 80 miles north. This is a common stopping point for reaching the white continent. This series of islands are almost completely covered with ice throughout the year. Its rich in wildlife including plenty of bird life, seals, whales and penguins. Elephant Island is the infamous place where Shackleton’s Endurance expedition got stranded in 1915 in heavy pack-ice. Many visit Deception Island where is it possible to swim in Pendulum Cove which is heated by volcanic activity.

Suggested cruise: Antarctic Circle Voyage on board the Akamedik Ioffe

Antarctic Peninsula

For most, the goal is to step onto the 7th continent which is easiest done on the Antarctic Peninsula. However, due to the harsher climate the wildlife spotting opportunities are not as varied as the sub-polar islands north of the peninsula. You will find seals, sea birds and some whales. For those who have more time (and a higher budget), the highlight will surely be walking near to a vast emperor penguin colony which can only be reached by helicopter.

Suggested cruise: Antarctic Peninsula – Basecamp Ortelius on board the M/V Ortelius

We have a huge selection of Antarctic cruises on offer. For more details or to book your place for the upcoming 2015-2016 season get in touch.

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