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When traveling to the Galapagos Islands, adventure abounds. The destination consists of 19 islands and a surrounding marine reserve that is championed for its rich and diverse wildlife.
And while the Galapagos is best known for Galapagos penguins (the second-smallest penguin in the world) and Giant Tortoises (the largest living tortoise in the world), there are plenty of other animals worth seeing on a venture to this Southern Pacific gem.
Below are three tour operators that offer unique animal encounters in the Galapagos Islands.
Spot Sprightly Seabirds With Avanti DestinationsMelanie Moore, product manager for Central & South America at Avanti Destinations, recommends visiting the Galapagos’ Nazca, blue-footed and red-footed boobies.
“There is only one place where all three co-exist: in Punta Pitt, on the northeastern coast of San Cristobal Island,” Moore said.
Strutting grey, electric teal or maroon webbed feet, these colorful birds are easy to detect among myriad other seabirds. Travelers can watch for the blue-footed and Nazca boobies along the rocky shoreline, while the red-footed boobies are generally found farther inland.
Avanti Destinations offers about 100 variations of Galapagos itineraries, including several cruise itineraries to Punta Pitt, such as the four-night Island Hopping on San Cristobal — Snorkeling Paradise trip.
Witness a Wildlife Rendezvous With Adventures UnboundPeter Grubb, founder of Adventures Unbound and Row Adventures, suggests that clients switch up their typical activity of choice in the Galapagos.
“Kayaking is still a novelty to the wildlife in the Galapagos, and, thus, we become the object of attention just as much as the animals are to us,” he said. “Young sea lions will approach to look and perhaps nibble on the end of our paddles. Frigates and gulls fly overhead, swooping low to get a closer look at the strange creatures that we are.”
The quiet and gentle movement of kayaking encourages animals to creep closer and take a look. And clients have the chance to encounter sea lions and turtles, in addition to lesser-known species such as the magnificent frigatebird, which dons a distinct red pouch on its chest and stomach.
Adventures Unbound offers a 10-day Galapagos Unbound Signature Tour, which includes kayaking and beachfront camping.
Enjoy an In-Depth Discovery With Quasar ExpeditionsFernando Diez, marketing director for Quasar Expeditions, adds that some animal encounters require an adventurous spirit.
“The vampire finch is probably the most interesting bird in the Galapagos, but no one really sees it unless it wanders from its home of Wolf Island,” Diez said.
Though setting foot on Wolf Island (also known as Wenman Island) is off-limits to all visitors, clients pursuing adventure can dive off its shore to get a closer look at this mischievous bird.
The endangered vampire finch gets its name from its unusual diet: It occasionally drinks the blood of boobies. It’s also one of 13 species of Darwin Finches — named after the naturalist and biologist Charles Darwin — in the Galapagos.
Quasar Expeditions offers numerous small-ship Galapagos Islands itineraries. Quasar also offers tailormade itineraries that include bird watching, diving, hiking, snorkeling and whale and dolphin spotting experiences.