Galapagos trip report: a tale of boobies in the sunshine (40+ pictures)

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
So, after working my ass off for three years to get my degree, Jenn presented me with the ultimate graduation present: 12 days in Ecuador, with 8 of them spent on a boat touring the Galapagos Islands. My parents visited the Gapagos when I was 4 years old, and it has been my dream to visit ever since I was a little kid, looking at their pictures.

We arrived in Quito, a city sitting at 11,000 ft., and since we are both slightly masochistic, gave ourselves approximately 8 hours to acclimate to the elevation before running off to a mountain biking trip down Cotopaxi, one of the largest equatorial volcanos. Since this thread is long enough, you can read the ride report here.

The next day we went on a city tour of Quito, seeing the landscape, the architecture and the people. Despite some very rough areas (it is a third world country after all), it's quite a beautiful city with colorful houses, breathtaking views and exquisite churches around every corner.

After seeing the city, we visited the Mitad del Mundo, or the Middle of the World. In case you missed your geography class, the equator runs through Ecuador and we went to a small area that's has the equator precisely measured with some experiments that you can do. Fun fact: the equatorial monument is actually located about 300 meters away from the actual equator. About 15 years ago they found out, via GPS, that the monument they'd been using all this time was quite a ways off from the actual equator.

They demonstrate the coreolis effect, as well as some sillier experiments that are mostly based on mental tricks. But look, here's me balancing an egg on the equator line:

The next morning we headed for the Galapagos. It's two short plane rides to get there, and then we take a small boat, called a panga, to the ship itself. The ship was awesome: 8 cabins, with bathrooms and hot showers in every cabin, 110v outlets to charge our gear, a lounge and a bar, and three decks with chairs to lounge on. For such a small ship, it was pretty loaded!

And then... the islands. The outline of the days were mostly the same: we drive the boat to an island while we sleep. Breakfast at 7:00am, out on the island before 8:00 for hiking. Usually snorkling after the hike, sometime around 11:00, and then back on the boat for lunch. After lunch, hit a different part of the island, maybe more snorkling, back around sunset for dinner and a talk about the next day's activities. We had two guides, Daniel (our real guide) who has been doing this for 20 years and knew everything. Then he was mentoring Martin, who knew very little about the islands and even less English. Daniel is on the right:

The terrain of the Galapagos is extremely varied. You can go from tall volcanos to flat little islands to rugged cliffs to rocks simply springing out of the middle of the water:

The wildlife is as interesting as the terrain. There were sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs and lava lizards freakin' everywhere on the islands:

But then you have islands with individual species that live there. We found:

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Blue Footed Boobies

Nazca Boobies

Baby Nazca Boobies

Waved Albatross


Land Iguanas

Lava Heron

Galapagos Hawks

Galapagos Penguins

An island full of Marine Iguanas:

It's amazing how tame the animals are. We were literally a couple feet from all of them - they would have let us touch them, had the rules not forbid it. In Santa Cruz, we found a fishing dock where the sea lions and heron would beg for food.

Of course, you can't go to the Galapagos without seeing the wild land tortises.

We posed inside the tortise shells which were surprisingly difficult to get into...

We found a pod of around a hundred dolphins. The great thing about a small ship is the captain saw them, and just headed out to where they were - no need to stick to our course.

On Bartolome, there is an amazing lookout point that gives a spectacular view of the surrounding area, including Pinnacle Rock:

Of course, the sunrises and sunsets were spectacular out on the water... the things postcards are made of.

Couple other things of note... we crossed the equator on the boat:

And Post Office Bay is interesting. There is a whisky barrel that has postcards in it, and the mail is delivered like it was in the old days when sailors went past the island: people put mail in there, and those that pass by fish around, looking for some mail near their destination. Then, it gets hand-delivered. We left a card and took one destined for Charlotte, NC - figured we could bring it out sometime. I know I'd be excited to get hand-delivered mail from the Galapagos.

We took about 2,000 pictures, gear was:

Nikon D300
Nikon D40x
Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF-S
Nikkor 50mm f/1.4
Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VRII
Nikkor 18-70 f/3.5-4.5 AF-S
Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Hope you all enjoyed!


The Official Meat of Ridemonkey
Sep 10, 2001
Portland, OR
That's awesome, BV. Looks like a blast and now I have added another place I need to check out. Great pics, too.


unique white person
Sep 21, 2001
great pics.

the eyebrow looks malnourished......feed it some baby fetus once in awhile.


Eastcoast Softcore
Staff member
Nov 7, 2001
behind the viewfinder
great shots! i was wondering how you were able to get such close shots of the albatross and hawk until i read about the approachableness (if such a word exists) of the fauna.

sounds like a fantastic trip all around. well deserved.

binary visions

The voice of reason
Jun 13, 2002
great shots! i was wondering how you were able to get such close shots of the albatross and hawk until i read about the approachableness (if such a word exists) of the fauna.

sounds like a fantastic trip all around. well deserved.
That 300mm f/4 is an absolute gem of a lens and it lived on my camera most of the time. I actually had to back off quite a lot to get good framing - most of those shots would have been equally close with a smaller lens, you could have just leaned in.

Actually, the albatross was taken with a 90mm macro lens because there wasn't enough room on the trail to back off :D

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
I feel so robbed....no actual boobies...

You haven't lived until you've open-hand slapped a dolphin in mid-flight.


Underwater monkey
Mar 9, 2005
Awesome pics!

Love the travel threads...

Would like to get there myself someday, and get some diving in. Thanks for the extra motivation. :)


Leader and Demogogue of the Ridemonkey Satinists
Oct 26, 2001
chez moi
Your trip killed my bandwidth! (It is a third-world country, after all... :D ) From the little bit I can see and the text I can read...just wow...

I've never been south of Ensenada in the Americas.


Rex Grossman Will Rise Again
Jul 4, 2002
Just heard Im going to galapagos in May and remembered this. Thread gets a bump!
Awesome pics.


Turbo Monkey
Mar 19, 2002
Copenhagen, Denmark
The farther of a family next door who we are very good friends we is from Quito. They are moving back next year so hopefully we will get a chance to visit. Again amazing pictures.