There’s a good reason the Galapagos Islands are on every nature photographer’s bucket list. The Galapagos are one of those rare and magical places where the wildlife approaches you. It is not uncommon to find yourself stepping around wildlife on the trails. Most fauna here is utterly unconcerned with your presence.
What should you look for as a wildlife photographer when planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands?
First off, independent photographic travel to the Galapagos is impractical. Hotels organize day trips but these reach only a small subset of the central islands, and only during the heat of the day. As a photographer you want to be on-site early and late in the day – when the light is the best, and the wildlife the most active. The only way to get to the best sites for the early morning and late afternoon is by organized yacht-based tour.
Ideally, you should take a special photography tour. It should be long enough – 10+ days – to reach the less-visited and more interesting outer islands. It would be foolish to spend the time, money, and effort to get to the Galapagos only to miss Tower, Fernandina, Isabela and Espanola Islands. Miss these islands and you miss so much of what the islands are known for.
Your ideal photography trip should be small. Sixteen guests is a practical limit for the Galápagos. The national park allows no more than 16 guests per naturalist, so larger groups might have multiple guides and split participants, which frequently means shorter landings. The National Park also excludes larger vessels from some of the more sensitive sites.