Photo by Judith Beermann
Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island
Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz Island

1. Expect to be sprayed with disinfectant before you land. Airport security screening is for plants and animals, not weapons. In 1971 the National Park Service successfully eradicated goats from Rábida. This introduced species upset the natural environment and led to the extinction of several native creatures including geckos, land iguanas, and rice rats. 

Fernandina Island Volcano erupting 12:30 pm on September 4, 2017 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Fernandina Island Volcano erupting 12:30 pm on September 4, 2017

2. Best time to visit is when a volcano erupts, preferably after you've hiked around the island. And if you go with Lindlad Expeditions, you know they'll circle back the next evening to check on the volcano.

Lava from erupting volcano on Fernandina Island September 5, 2017 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Lava from erupting volcano on Fernandina Island September 5, 2017

3. The darker the feet on a male blue-footed booby, the more attractive they are to the females. Lighter colored feet mean they've had too much sex already.

Blue-footed boobies (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Blue-footed boobies

4. The spectacular red sand and rock on Rábida is the result of oxidation the moment the island was formed. Unpopulated except for flamingos, and sea lions, it’s the only Galápagos site where Darwin’s nine finches are found.

Rabid Island sea lions (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Rabid Island sea lions

5. Zodiac boats hold 12 adult humans plus all their luggage, and dry landings are a lot like wet landings. GORE-TEX hiking boots get wet either way.

Rábida Island (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Rábida Island

6. If you skip the two-hour morning mountain hike and kayaking, you can sunbathe on the deck of  National Geographic Endeavor II and have the entire ship to yourself.

On deck of Lindblad/National Geographic Endeavor II (Photo by: Judith Beermann) On deck of Lindblad/National Geographic Endeavor II

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

7. Frigatebirds put on quite a show to get laid, iguanas loll around in monochrome, and cormorants don't mind that they can't fly. They're all living in paradise.

Frigatebird looking for love (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Frigatebird looking for love

Galapagos iguanas (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Galapagos iguanas

Flightless cormorant (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Flightless cormorant

8. Darwin’s giant tortoises are treated better than local islanders. Lonesome George, sent to the world’s finest taxidermist, has a climate controlled designer shrine. 

Lonesome George (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Lonesome George

9. The archipelago looks a lot like the Amalfi Coast but without tourists or great outdoor dining … unless you're a bird.

Galápagos Islands (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Galápagos Islands

Galapagos pelican (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Galapagos pelican

10. Don’t expect results from Darwin Research Station and Tortoise Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island this century. Giant tortoises don't start mating till they're a hundred.

2017 Santa Cruz tortoise hatchlings (Photo by: Judith Beermann) 2017 Santa Cruz tortoise hatchlings