Galápagos: The Complete Wildlife Observation Guide

Where else are you going to swim next to marine iguanas and sea lions or see penguins catching fish next to you?

When I landed in Galápagos it felt as if I wasn’t supposed to be there. I remember reading so much about it and watching dozens of documentaries to kickstart my dreamed wildlife observation journey, but nothing could have prepared me for what lied ahead. It was all too surreal. Sea lions hanging out at the entrance of my hostel as if they were street dogs, and birds that weren’t scared of humans! (Later I discovered the birds’ behaviour was down to a lack of predators). It was such a humbling experience and at that point, I could really understand why Darwin and even Attenborough were so fascinated with the archipelago.

I visited the archipelago for 7 days with a yacht cruise called ‘The Montserrat’ which had comfy rooms, good food, helpful crew, and most importantly a very knowledgeable and friendly tour guide. Below is the itinerary with all the islands I visited, the must-see places and best spots for wildlife observation and diving.

Wildlife Observation Guide

San Cristóbal Island and Cerro Brujo

My trip started on San Cristóbal island where I had the chance to go for a quick explore around Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Punta Carola beach before jumping on my boat. Once on board, we arrived at Isla Lobos which is home to a big colony of sea lions.

Sea lion swimming with me

The island is named after them in Spanish, lobo marino. There is a protected channel where you can go snorkelling with them as shown above. This area is also an ideal place to watch nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies.

Cerro Brujo Hill Galapagos

Other interesting places nearby are ‘mirador Cerro Tijeretas’ (viewpoint) and Cerro Brujo  (shown above) which is located on the northern coast of San Cristóbal Island. It is a great place to watch marine iguanas swim (while they snort salt from their nostrils), or visit a tortoise breeding area in the highlands with lots of endemic flora.


Española Island

One of the oldest islands in the whole archipelago at around 4 million years old, La Española is actually dying and with time it will become a barren land with no vegetation. Having said that, this is great spot to see waved albatrosses, and if you are extremely lucky like I was, the blue-footed boobies mating dances.

Blue-footed Booby

I also explored a lovely sandy beach in Bahía Gardner and wrapped my day up watching the bird colonies at Punta Suárez.

Waved Albatross Galapagos
Waved Albatross

Highlight: There’s an epic blowhole in Punta Suarez that you can’t miss!

Blowhole Galapagos Punta Suarez

Floreana Island

I had the opportunity to dive at a fascinating site called the “Devil’s Crown”, it’s an underwater volcanic cone with schools of fish, sea turtles, sharks and sea lions, and many epic coral formations.


Punta Cormorant is also a must, only a short walk past a lagoon to see flamingos, rays, sea turtles and lots of Sally Lightfoot crabs.

Turtle swimming Galapagos
Green Turtle from Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island

Here’s where you visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the incredible giant Galápagos tortoises roaming freely. Puerto Ayora hosts the largest human population in the entire archipelago and it is a great place for chilling at a beach bar.

Giant Tortoises Galapagos Wildlife Observation
Giant Tortoises or Galapagos

Tortuga Bay is a beautiful and very long sandy beach where you can not only swim but also spot white tip reef sharks close by a natural mangrove that’s only a short walk from the beach.

Giant Tortoise Galapagos
Giant Tortoise Galapagos

Playa El Garrapatero is a nice beach to spend some time at after a long day exploring. But possibly the highlight for me on this island was hiking up to the Los Gemelos (The Twins) craters to see some very old rock formations. Also places like ‘Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado’, Galápagos Beach at Tortuga Bay, and ‘Reserva de Tortugas El Chato’ are great to learn more about the giant tortoises.

Fun fact: the Spanish named the archipelago after the giant tortoises that once roamed the islands. As in Spanish “galápago” translates to giant tortoise. 

Top Tips for Wildlife Observation in Galápagos

Galapagos penguin catching fish



How to get there?

There are two ways to get to the Galápagos archipelago, either flying to Baltra or to the San Cristóbal Airport from Quito (via Guayaquil) which is the option I went for. There are three airlines flying daily to the archipelago: Tame, Avianca, and Lan. 

What currency?

The official currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar. Generally speaking, it is very cheap to travel around Ecuador. However, prices on the Galápagos are much higher than on mainland. Also, make sure to take cash out before arriving in the Archipelago as sometimes cash machines on the main island aren’t reliable.

Top place for diving and seeing sharks and rays

I was on a mission to find all the marine fauna I could possibly see around the islands, and most of the time I was very lucky. And Kicker-Rock or León Dormido  (in Spanish) is where I enjoyed diving the most, I got to to see some reef sharks, hammerheads and stingrays and mantas. 

Stingray resting Coral Reef Galapagos
Stingray resting Coral Reef Galapagos

Kicker Rock Galapagos

Galapagos is one of the most extensive marine wildlife diversity preserves in the world. But diving here isn’t always pleasant like in South East Asia, because the water is SERIOUSLY cold, so make sure you pack a very thick winter diving suit. 

Galapagos Reef Shark
Galapagos Reef Shark

Last but definitely not least, its really important to limit your interactions with the wildlife. While you should enjoy your wildlife observation trip, you should know that increased tourism to the national park have a negative impact on this fragile ecosystem. Human presence affects their natural behaviours! So, let’s all try to keep it as pure and wild as possible. 

Let me know in the comments below what you thought of this post and what are you most excited to see when you go to Galapagos!

The Best of Croatia’s Natural Wonders

While its coastal towns are soaring in popularity most of Croatia’s natural heritage is surprisingly less known. From majestic mountains, river canyons and caves to charming lakes and waterfalls. This guide is packed with inspiration for your next retreat in nature.

Croatia is so naturally beautiful that it is almost unfair when compared to another European country. Surely, I’m leaving aside all the impressive man-made constructions and a whole lot of historical places (worth visiting) out of the package but it is done kind of on purpose. The focus here are the natural wonders of the country which are surprisingly less known.

Something that struck me during my Croatian quest for nature is that you don’t need to search too much to find it. If you shift your gaze from the ground chances are you will spot a majestic mountain, go further inland and you are greeted by river canyons, caves, picturesque lakes and a gazillion waterfalls, and as if that’s not enough, you still got incredible coastal towns with waters that invite you to swim under the Adriatic sun.

I could go on… but in all honesty if you are interested in not-so touristy places (except for Plitvice which is a well known UNESCO World Heritage site) where you can disconnect, breathe-in the fresh air, capture picture-perfect landscapes combined with a few cultural options then you seriously need to consider what Croatia’s natural heritage has to offer. Whether you are up for an active holiday doing some outdoor sports, like hiking, kayaking, climbing and such or a more chilled one, I’ve got you covered with some of the best, unspoiled and less visited Croatian natural wonders that without a doubt will give you a few ideas for your next retreat.

Krka National Park

A true natural paradise that makes your jaw drop with its vistas over the mountains along the Krka River. The many waterfalls and pedestrian-only zones such as the Orthodox Monastery, Skradinski buk and Visovac island are a definite must.

Krka is a great spot for nature lovers and anyone looking for a good hike as there are well defined trails for this purpose, or simply for enjoying wonderful views and the cultural heritage of Croatia. It is also important to mention that Krka is one of the few national parks where you can actually swim close to the waterfalls. There’s also bicycle trails and boat excursions to some interesting sites within the park, such as the Franciscan Monastery and Roski Slap waterfall.


Main points of interest:

  • Skradinski Buk the longest waterfall in the park and the 19th century watermills
  • Hydropower plant which provided electricity to the area before most European cities had done so
  • Visovac Island and the Franciscan Monastery are one of Croatia’s most valuable cultural and natural sites
  • Roski slap waterfall and its beautiful Necklaces (barrier of small cascades)
  • Krka Monastery a spiritual centre of Orthodox faith located in a bay on the river
  • Manojlovac slap waterfall with its 59 m is considered the largest and loveliest waterfall in the park
  • Archaelogical site Burnum a gem of ancient Roman history

Location and access: Krka is located in the central part of the eastern Adriatic coast. The nearest railway station to the park is Sibenik station. However, the best way to access it is by car (A1 Motorway), as you are more in control of the time you dedicate to each area and also because it is quite extensive.

Opening Hours: is open all year round. From April to October all entrances are open 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. For more info click here

Brijuni Islands National Park

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Or Brioni in Italian is a beautiful archipelago consisting of two main islands and 12 islets off the coast of the Istrian Peninsula. While most people head south to the popular Dalmatian coast this archipelago is somewhat less known and remains very protected. So much so, that you can only access it by visiting the largest island Veliki Brijuni and from there you can organise other boat excursions to the rest of the islets.

These islands became President Tito’s summer residence from 1945 when they officially became part of Yugoslavia. But above their interesting history you can expect clear blue waters, calm atmosphere with very few tourists, great snorkeling, a zoo, a charming little train that will take you along the shore, among other things on the largest island Veliki Brijuni.

Location and access:  The closest cities from which you can get to the Brijuni islands are Pula and Rovinj. There are daily boat trips departing from a town called Fazana which is only about 8 km from Pula that will take to the main island. For more info Brijuni click here

Paklenica National Park


It’s the absolute heaven for climbers and people who enjoy trekking and mountaineering. The wonderful vistas over the canyons, its flora and vegetation make it a top spot for anyone looking for an adventure, a passion for outdoor sports but it is fair to say that the only way to really see its beauty is by being active in the mountains, so if you don’t feel like working out this natural wonder might not be for you.

An interesting fact I learnt while I was there is that the name Paklenica is believed to derive from black pine sap named paklina used by the locals for its medicinal properties.

The park has many hiking and mountaineering trails and routes with different levels of difficulty for everyone, so don’t worry if you are not a pro. There’s also amenities and view points for taking great shots.

Location and access: the park is located in northern Dalmatia not far from Zadar. The quickest way to get here is by car taking the motorway A1. There’s also good connections by bus from Zadar to Paklenica, it will take about 45 minutes to get there. For info about opening times click here

Plitvice Lakes National Park

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The Croatian wonderland of water. With its interlinked pools, waterfalls and forests it is by far the country’s first national park and one of Europe’s premier natural wonders. Plitvice Lakes extend over 5 miles creating a pool in one and from there flowing into small streams, springs and waterfalls. It has many wooden footpaths that allow visitors to explore the lakes without disturbing the fragile environment. Veliki slap (big waterfall) is the biggest fall dropping 78 meters into a canyon.

Plitvice lakes are perfect to visit all year round and in the summer they offer a great escape from the heat while in winter time you can see natural stalactites formations from frozen water in the lakes. Just bear in mind that swimming is not allowed here due to its UNESCO Heritage Listing but that doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the visit.

Location and access: located in central Croatia about an hour away from Zadar. Easily accessed by car or bus from either Zadar or Zagreb. Park is open all year round from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm for more info check here


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The Ecuadorian Amazon: the most biologically diverse spot in the world

The Oriente is arguably the most biologically diverse spot in the world. With its natural beauty and wealth of wildlife it is certainly one of the most thrilling destinations in Ecuador.

Having been born in Venezuela I was no stranger to the Amazon and exploring in the jungle. From a young age, I had the fortune of seeing the wonders of the “Lost World” many times and thought I wouldn’t find a great deal of difference in terms of the fauna. It turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The diversity in terms of species, plants and wildlife in the Ecuadorian Amazon or Oriente, -how they like to call it- is immense. And that was evident from the moment I got there. I must admit I still find this crazy. So, needless to say, it is totally worth visiting even if you have been to other parts of the Amazon rainforest before. 

Continue reading “The Ecuadorian Amazon: the most biologically diverse spot in the world”