For eons, the Galápagos Islands were untouched by humanity, allowing wildlife to evolve in splendid isolation 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Charles Darwin’s discovery of this rich and abundant ecosystem in the 19th century was the basis for his opus, On the Origin of Species, opening the doors for others to discover “this little world within itself.” Today, the 20 volcanic islands and the biological marine reserve that surrounds them are a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site and a living museum for all who visit. But what will you see?
On both eastern and western cruises you will be wowed by an array of incredible wildlife, from the giant Galápagos tortoise to the blue-footed booby, the marine iguana to the Sally Lightfoot crab. There are opportunities to swim with sea lion pups, small sharks and tropical fish, and birders will often find an inquisitive finch or flycatcher perched on their camera lens. Throughout your island exploration you’ll be led by qualified Galápagos National Park guides, who show you how to tread lightly.
A Galápagos adventure is a journey of discovery for all ages and remains MT Sobek’s most popular trip. It never ceases to amaze us.
The Sally Lightfoot crab is among the most colorful and abundant species in rocky coastlines. Wherever you look, there will be dozens of these spectacular blue, red, and yellow crabs dotting the dark lava rocks. The Sally Lightfoot crab measures around 6 inches across.
Certified naturalist guides, such as MT Sobek’s Luis Die (shown), share their knowledge on intimate journeys of discovery. Each one of our superior naturalist guides has a degree in the biological sciences, speaks multiple languages, and has years of experience guiding in the Galápagos.
The green sea turtle is abundant in Galápagos waters. In fact, these islands are considered the only place in the eastern Pacific where its large population is not decreasing. You’ll see them while snorkeling and find their tracks in the beaches, where females nest and lay their eggs.
The Galápagos Islands are perfect for birders. While only 22 species are endemic to the Galápagos, thousands of the species pass through on their way to other destinations. Up-close encounters like this are common.
People often ask, “Penguins at the equator? How is that possible?” The Galápagos is very unique in many aspects, and the presence of penguins in equatorial latitudes is good proof of it. The Galápagos penguin is small and fearless, and it’s possible to spot one chasing anchovies while you snorkel.
Fourteen species of closely related, similar-looking finches inspired Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution, making these and other Galápagos birds famous. Darwin’s finches continue to provide valuable information about how evolution works in nature. The beak is most commonly used to help differentiate between them.
Marvel at a sea lion colony basking on the beach or see an inquisitive pup checking us out while snorkeling. Swimming with playful young sea lions is a top Galápagos experience!
Despite its name, the marine iguana spends most of its time basking on rocks, and goes to the sea only to feed on marine algae. The iguana might look like a dinosaur, but it’s among the gentlest creatures in the Galápagos. Some species and adult males are highly colorful, and grow up to 50 inches.
Small deluxe yachts are our key to getting you up close to the islands, meaning less time in transit and more time to explore. We create a fully MT Sobek-operated and expert-led adventure—limiting the group size to 16 to ensure that we cruise (and tread) lightly.
Sit-on-top kayaks make for easy paddling around the islands. Active adventurers will also enjoy island hiking, swimming, and snorkeling.
Cruising past Kicker Rock, or “Léon Dormido”—the sleeping lion—a huge volcanic monolith located close to Isla Lobos and San Cristóbal on MT Sobek’s eastern Galápagos cruise.
The largest land tortoises on earth have evolved in isolation for millions of years and, in the absence of predators, they’ve grown to enormous sizes (up to 660 pounds). They are the main herbivores of the Galápagos ecosystem, and it is estimated that there are around 20,000 wild tortoises on the islands.
The Galápagos short-eared owl is endemic to the islands. The owls generally nest under trees and shrubs, and lay one clutch of eggs per year. Guides can help you spot these owls in open grassland and lava rock.
The frigatebird is an amazing acrobat that steals food from other seabirds in an impressive display. The males also inflate their balloon-like, red throat pouch to impress females during courtship. With a wingspan of up to 7 feet, the frigatebird has the largest wing-area-to-body-weight ratio of any bird.
Guided hiking on the islands allows for impressive up-close encounters. Here are hikers at the edge of a frigatebird colony.
This seabird with bright blue boots is well loved throughout the islands. It uses its intense turquoise foot color to look attractive and find a mate, and is commonly found around the Galápagos coastline. The blue-footed booby grows to around 31 inches.
The bright pink coloration, slow movement, and slender body of the American flamingo make this bird one of the most elegant of the islands. You will see them in small salt-water lakes scattered along the coast of several islands.
Our itineraries allow for ample time to explore the islands’ tranquil beaches.
With little fear of humans, many of the animals act as if we’re not even there.
The ability to get close to the wildlife makes it easy to get great photos without cumbersome telephoto lenses.
The Galápagos sea lion is one of the friendliest (and cutest) animals on the islands, even though it can weigh up to 1000 pounds when fully grown.