The Wonder of the Galápagos Islands

A sea lion on the rocky shore raises its head into the late afternoon sun.

A Galápagos Sea Lion enjoys the sun. Photo © Michael Zysman.

The Galápagos is one place on earth that lives up to and surpasses expectations. There are insufficient superlatives. This archipelago is unquestionably the best place on earth for wildlife watching because the wildlife watches you as much as you watch it. The lack of natural predators has left the animals fearless, and the only timid species are the fish, the food supply for so many. Every other creature on the islands is either unconcerned by the presence of visitors or is intent on communicating.

The Galápagos is a glimpse of what life was like before humans threw their weight around, and a reminder that when we seek out perfection, we throw a wrench in nature’s works.The Galápagos is also heaven for bird-watchers. Here you don’t need to get up at dawn and wait with binoculars for a glimpse of birdlife in the trees. Instead, the birds proudly display themselves — the male frigates inflate their red chests to the size of a basketball, the albatross entertain with their circular clacking dance, and pelicans dive-bomb the ocean in search of lunch.

A visit to these islands changes you, as it changed Charles Darwin, who was inspired to form his monumental theory of evolution after visiting in 1835. The Galápagos is a glimpse of what life was like before humans threw their weight around, and a reminder that when we seek out perfection, we throw a wrench in nature’s works. Evidence of human activity on the Galápagos is everywhere — the number of endemic species hunted or driven to near extinction by introduced species is alarming. But the effort of conservationists to restore the ecological balance is equally inspiring. You will return from these islands filled with a sense of wonder, and a clearer view of nature’s fragile beauty.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Galapagos Islands.

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