South America

meet the animals of the galapagos

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Who loves wildlife-spotting while travelling?

We DO! So you can imagine what an incredible time we had when we were in the Galapagos.

We cannot believe that it has been 4 years since we visited there. We so fondly remember our time exploring three of the islands!

Without further a do… introducing the different wildlife we were able to meet.

Sea Lion

Sealion

Friendly, curious and relaxed, you can spot these gorgeous fellows everywhere. They really know how to sunbathe. We were lucky to see so many pups. We loved how uninhibited and playful they were.

Marine Iguana

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These guys are very unique and probably the ones we found most fascinating to learn about. They are typical reptiles, basking in the early morning sun. Then later in the day, they will dive for seaweed growing on the sea floor. They are the only true marine lizards and live only in the Galapagos. They are everywhere, so if you go, watch out where you put your foot, as they camouflage with the volcanic rock sometimes.

How many can you see in this picture?

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Land Iguana

Land Iguana

Lava Lizard

Lava Lizard

Different types of Giant Tortoises

Tortoise1 Tortoise2 Tortoise3 Tortoise4

There once were 14 recognisable species of giant tortoises on the Galapagos Islands.  Over the years, they have been killed for many things by humans, including for food. The species count is officially down to 10 because when we were there, there were still 11.

With Lonesome George (pictured below) being the last of his kind, we felt very humbled to have met him before he passed away the year after we met him. It was estimated that he was over a hundred years old.

LonesomeGeorge

Trivia: As a tortoise gets older, the lines on his shell become fewer. Works opposite to a tree trunk. 

Now to the folks found predominantly in the water….

Green Sea Turtle 

Sea Turtle

Not easy to see it in the photo, but it’s coming up for air.

White-tipped Shark

Sharks

Octopus

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We had to crop and zoom this photo a little so the octopus could be seen…. can you see it?

Manta ray

Manta Ray

Spotted rayfish

Spotted rayfish

We found the manta ray and spotted rayfish in a lagoon and not in the open waters. We were sitting on a jetty one lazy afternoon and looked down and what do we see swim past but these two.

The Birds

There are so many different species of birds in the Galapagos. These were the ones we were fortunate to see and snap a photo of.

Lava Heron

Lava Heron

One of many Darwin finches

Finch

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

One of many warblers

Warbler

Great Frigatebird

Frigate

They are huge just sitting there. Watching them in the air is simply unreal. There look enormous when you see their wingspan in flight.

Frigate2

Galapagos Pintail

Pintail

Lava Gull

Lava Gull

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Greater Flamingo

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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Galapagos Penguin

Penguin

Brown Pelican

Pelican

Blue-Footed Boobie

 

BlueFooted Boobies

Interesting name… but there are plenty of boobies to see in the Galapagos. These blue-footed ones are easy to spot thanks to their bright blue feet. When they are in their mating prime, their feet are the bright blue.. it fades when it’s not time.

Just for a bit of fun, can you spot the four different species of bird in this photo?

BirdCombo

Disclaimer: We apologise if we have named any of the animals incorrectly, this is us digging into our memory bank 🙂 If you spot any errors, please let us know.

Up until NOW, we hadn’t really appreciated the extent of all the wildlife we encountered on this trip.

Where would you recommend we go to do some more wildlife spotting?

Leave us a comment.

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weekly photo challenge: wall

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We’ve chosen to share “The Wall of Tears” found on Isabela Island of the Galapagos Islands. It is about 25 metres tall and its construction is said to have been the cause of many deaths.

It was built in the late 1940s through to 1950s by prisoners on the island.

This wall was the result of many tears as well as locals saying that cries can be heard coming from it sometimes.

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To check out other photos of walls in the Weekly Photo Challenge, see here.

Have a fabulous weekend! 

We welcome your comments.

 

the top 5 that did not disappoint

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So we’ve written a post about the top 5 places that underwhelmed us, then we wrote about the top 5 unexpected places and now is our top 5 that was everything plus more than we expected. We should also qualify that we have had lots of “overwhelming” moments on our travel but we narrowed it down to our top 5 for this post – which wasn’t easy.

5. Galapagos Islands

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The place where Charles Darwin came up with his evolution theory.

The place where there is abundance and diversity.

The place where animals and humans can swim together and walk together.

The place we would recommend to everyone in a heartbeat!

4. Uluru

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In the centre of our home country lies the monolith that is ever so famous. It wasn’t only seeing Uluru itself that made this the most jaw-dropping memory we have in Australia, but it was the entire experience itself; seeing Uluru during the day, seeing Uluru changing colours, watching the sunset, being under the stars in the red centre, understanding more about the Indigenous Australian culture and beliefs.

We published a photo essay recently on Uluru if you want to see more photos.

3. Yellowstone National Park 

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Being the first National Park in the world and with 9000 square kilometres to explore, one cannot really not pass up the opportunity to visit here. We visited in October and we had snow – lots of it. And it only made the scenery so romantically magical.

We were able to catch glimpses of different wildlife, we visited Ol’ Faithful Geyser and we were mesmerised by the sweeping landscapes and colours.

This is one of the first places we ever visited that as soon as we left, we said, “We’re coming back here again!”

2. Lake Titicaca

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Floating reed islands? The minute we heard about these many years ago, we knew we had to visit it one day. And when we finally did, we fell in love. It didn’t matter that we were 3000+ metres above sea level and that every few steps we felt out of breath. Because as we stepped on the reeds and realised that we were actually walking on a floating island, the moment was ingrained in our memories forever. Looking around us, we saw the local residents waving to us in their colourful sweaters – welcoming us to their home. On this planet, there are plenty of unique places to see and this is one of them.

1. The Hanging Monastery

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In the side of the cliff, 50 metres above the ground, there stands the monastery/temple that conjures up images of ancient China immediately.

This is the first place that we have visited in the world that brought tears to our eyes. We were so overwhelmed with emotion, peering upwards at it that we did pinch ourselves to see that we were really awake. Then walking through it was another thing altogether – held by what look like only wooden logs – we prayed that it was still architecturally sound. We held our breath when we saw it and we held our breath when we walked through it.

There you have it – our TOP 5 places that met and exceeded our expectations. Any surprises?

There were a few others that were close contenders such as Machu Picchu, Neuschwanstein Castle, Carcassonne, New York City…… plus many more!

Where have you been that you had high expectations of and it delivered? 

Leave us a comment.

guest post: five historic libraries to turn you into a reader

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We love travel and we are sure everyone who visits us here knows that. But other than travel, our other love is reading. And so we couldn’t resist this opportunity when we were approached to feature a guest post about libraries.

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Shhhhh. From monastic reading rooms to an astonishing everyman’s book trove, Holiday Lettings takes a temporary vow of silence and explores five of the most historic libraries on the planet.

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

George Peabody LibraryPhoto credit: By Matthew Petroff (license) via Wikimedia Commons

From its marble floor to the decorative iron balconies all the way up to its vertiginous 61-foot roof, this labour of love is undeniably impressive.

Founded by philanthropist George Peabody for the people of Baltimore to enjoy, and now part of John Hopkins University, this huge temple of learning contains around 300,000 books. These mostly date from the 18th to 20th centuries and cover a broad range of reference topics, including history, art, religion and travel.

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Trinity CollegePhoto credit: Superchilum (license) via Wikimedia Commons

Trinity College’s Old Library is Ireland’s largest. It specialises in early printed works and dominates this attractive city-centre campus. The main attraction for visitors is the impressive Long Room (65 metres long, to be exact). Here you can marvel at the extravagant illustrations and graceful calligraphy of the Book of Kells, an ancient illuminated manuscript dating back to 800 AD.

See if you can spot writer Jonathan Swift among the pale marble busts. Then check out the barrel ceiling, a later development devised when the library’s groaning shelves called for an extra level to be added.

Bodleian Library, Oxford

BodleianPhoto credit: Koen de Geus (license) via flickr.com

Part of the prestigious University of Oxford, the Bodleian is a must-see attraction on a visit to this genteel city. Walk the hallowed halls, from the hushed reading rooms to the Divinity School, to the Exhibition Room, then step back out into the quadrangles to admire the elegant frontage.

On your tour you may think you recognise certain spots – that’s because parts of the Bodleian featured in the Harry Potter films. Check online before making a special trip, as certain rooms close for university ceremonies and private events.

The Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

The Royal Portugese Reading RoomPhoto credit: Os Rúpias (license) via flickr.com

The pale limestone facade here reveals a stunning interior heaving with around 350,000 volumes of Portuguese literature. It’s the largest assemblage of Portuguese works outside of Portugal itself.

Chandelier-lit, adorned with carved wooden arches and packed almost up to its soaring, ornate ceiling with valuable literature and New World maps, grand doesn’t quite cover the magnificence of this reading room. Time to take a seat at one of the dark wooden desks and put on your most studious face…

Strahov Monastery Library, Prague

StrahovPhoto credit: Pascal Hassenforder (license) via flickr.com

Head to the imposing Strahov Monastery to see its two historic library spaces, lined with around 200,000 texts. The 17th-century Theological Hall is dotted with antique globes and features an entire wall of Bibles in various editions and languages. All of this is overlooked by a jaw-dropping ceiling fresco by painter Siard Nosecký.
Move on to the Philosophical Hall, a newer 18th-century addition, which sports another ceiling fresco by Vienna’s Anton Maulbertsch. You won’t be able to tell, but false book spines hide secret staircases up to the higher levels here. Be sure to book in advance onto a guided library tour to guarantee a glimpse of these awe-inspiring rooms.

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, it was selected by us to be featured. This is a guest post written by Holiday Lettings, a Tripadvisor.com company.