The Origin of Species - Galapagos
Not a Beagle-style adventure, but truly into the wild.
By now it’s clear to you that I don’t like to hit the beaten track. Whichever remote or complicated destination there is out there, I need to have seen it. The Galapagos is a classic in many people’s eyes, it’s a tourist magnet. But don’t be fooled by the brochures and Instagram images. Darwin’s volcanic Galapagos Islands are still a remote area with very limited luxury. Being deep in nature requires getting out of your comfort zone, even if you have a nice hotel. To get to see the variety of wildlife you will have to get dirty, walk through the mud and bear the heat, smells, humidity, mosquitos and motion sickness.
Getting to see Galapagos was more than worth it of course. It was one of the highlights of my last round the world trip and a true peek into what life must have been right at the beginning.
It’s wondrous to realise that these islands keep evolving. There are obviously pieces of land that have been far gone into the see, but meanwhile, the volcanic mass is still creating new land and life.
When the Beagle arrived at Galapagos in September 1835, Charles Darwin was a young, unpaid biologist. 22 Year old Charles was actually a nobody on this expedition. It had an economic purpose and biology was not the goal. The first discovery of Darwin was the difference in species of mockingbirds depending on the Galapagos Island they lived on. The impact of these differences on the birds' chances of survival would later be the the basis of Darwin's Evolution Theory (photo of a mockingbird here below). In 1859 he published The Origin of Species, but it was only 100 years later that Ecuador declared the Galapagos as 97,5% national park to protect the fauna and flora.
Today there are several projects that study and preserve the local plant and wildlife. One of those is a rearing centre where the life and reproduction of turtles is closely monitored. Species of tortoises have already gone extinct despite attempts to save them. Projects like these are a blessing compared to tourist resorts like in Mauritius (to name one) where children can "ride" turtles for a fee. Another example of why I prefer off the beaten track destinations.
I was blown away by the natural wonders of Galapagos and, though it’s hard to photograph animals in the wild, was able to catch some great shots. A selection of the best photos you find in the dedicated photo album I made on this website called Feathers, Paws and Scales.