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.
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.
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?
Different types of Giant Tortoises
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.
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
Not easy to see it in the photo, but it’s coming up for air.
We had to crop and zoom this photo a little so the octopus could be seen…. can you see it?
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.
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.
One of many Darwin finches
One of many warblers
They are huge just sitting there. Watching them in the air is simply unreal. There look enormous when you see their wingspan in flight.
Great Blue Heron
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?
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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.
This weekend’s walk comes with more than just photos but also a story:
Our tally for the day was one red-bellied black snake, one brown snake and one goanna. A record considering we have seen NONE before in the wild. The two snakes is on the list for Australia’s deadliest snakes so you can imagine our reaction when we came across two in the span of about 20 minutes!
We panicked and our adrenaline kicked in – for those few seconds, we couldn’t think and pretty much froze. Kind of wish now that we had thought to take a photo. The red-bellied snake just slithered right across our path – possibly sun-baking until interrupted by the vibration of us approaching. As we watched it exit, it seemed to be moving in slow motion, with its bright red belly pressed against the ground. On the other hand, the brown snake seemed petrified of us when we crunched innocently through some dried leaves as we approached a billabong. The brown snake took off alongside a log and honestly, to witness its speed as it propelled its body was sensational. More sensational that it was heading AWAY from us. We had never seen anything like it other than on TV.
The goanna also had us stopped in our tracks. He paused on the path for about 2-3 minutes, long enough for us to take a photo from a distance, before scurrying off into the bushes!
What a surreal day! And as you would have it, we had forgotten to pack our first-aid kit. So there we were, hoping we could get to the end of the walk without any snake attacks!
Hope you enjoy the photos from this weekend’s walk.
Manly Dam circuit walk is about 7.3 km which took us about 3 hours as the terrain varies quite significantly. Manly is approximately 17 km north of Sydney. There are plenty of picnic areas, areas for swimming, bike and walking tracks.
Thirlmere Lakes National Park is approximately 80 km southwest of Sydney. It is part of the Greater Blue Mountains area which is listed on the UNESCO Heritage List. The National Park is open from sunrise to sunset.
It was overcast and wet – the walking conditions were very different from last week. It was a 6 km loop walk around the lakes and we were the only visitors in the National Park (or at least it seemed).
The walk was easy but because some of the track was overgrown in places, we need to push past shrubs and ferns, climbed over logs and walked under fallen trees. The vegetation was quite varied throughout the walk and it was quite clear that bushfires had ripped through at some point. See if you can spot the evidence of it. There was one section where it was like a tree cemetery.
Like any National Parks, there is also wildlife. As we walked through, we could hear so many different types of birds singing above us competing with the cicadas. There were birds of all shapes and sizes flying across the lake and colourful butterflies dancing past us as we walked. At one point, as we stopped to take some photos, we heard branches snapping and a grey fluffy animal bouncing away (we figured it was wallaby). Unfortunately, we were not quick enough to capture any of the wildlife on camera BUT we did capture a few burrows that we found along the way 🙂
As we walked, it was so peaceful to just hear the sounds of nature and nothing else except maybe the occasional plane flying overhead.
Hope you enjoy our photos this week!!