The Galapagos Islands attract thousands of visitors every year, and nearly all of them are equipped with cameras. This is not surprising since the Galapagos Islands are a world-class photography destination. It is the dream of professional and amateur photographers alike to take a visit to the islands as the wildlife, landscapes and diversity of the Galapagos offer opportunities not found elsewhere. Here are some tips for photographing your once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galapagos.
Schedule a combination cruise/land stay in the Galapagos Islands
Taking a cruise in the islands has certain advantages for the photographer as does staying on land. All Cruises are ideal for photographers because only cruises go to outlying islands such as Española and Genovesa which are home to species not found elsewhere. Anyone who does not take a cruise is at risk of not seeing the waved albatross, Galapagos penguin, red-footed booby and more. There is simply no way to get to the places where these animals live if you’re not on a cruise boat, which is why many people donate a boat to the islands.
That being said, cruises have their drawbacks for photographers. Although you’ll get to the visitor sites early, you’ll also be back on board by six o’clock in the evening which means that you may miss out on dramatic late afternoon light. Your visits will often be dictated by other tour members. You may be rushed if not everyone wants to wait 15 minutes for you to get the perfect photo of an iguana.
Consider scheduling a few days in the towns. You’ll have a lot more freedom and much less pressure. On Santa Cruz Island alone there are several good beaches within walking distance, tortoises in the highlands, sea lions everywhere, the Charles Darwin Research Station, and great opportunities for taking photos of people.
Take a Photography Cruise
If you’re a serious photographer, consider taking a special photography cruise. These are five to eight day cruises which are specially designed with photographers in mind. The visitor sites are selected to be the best ones for photography, and the cruise is usually accompanied by a professional photographer who is there to give advice and tips. It also has all of the advantages of a cruise including access to some of the more remote islands.
Don’t Forget the Water
Highlands, mangroves, beaches and arid trails abound in the Galapagos Islands and they are great habitats for taking wildlife photos. However, dry land is only half of the fun in Galapagos! Many of the best photos taken in the islands were shot underwater. You don’t have to be a scuba diver. Lucky snorkelers often see sea turtles, sharks, dazzling reef fish, octopi, penguins and much, much more. Underwater cameras get more sophisticated every day. Some are simple point-and-shoots much like you would use above water.
What to Bring
Serious photographers should consider carefully what to bring with them. Bringing multiple cameras is a good idea since there are more than a few cameras at the bottom of the sea which have been dropped by careless travelers. Falls on rocky trails are also common. Bring plenty of memory space and extra batteries or a charger as well as extra memory – a laptop, external hard drive or jump drive – to store photos. A good zoom is a must for really great shots, and a tripod can come in very handy. Remember a flash can be useful, but please don’t zap the Galapagos animals from close range!
Check out our photo gallery for your photography inspiration! Ask our helpful travel professionals when the next scheduled photo cruise is set to take place. With a little bit of planning, your Galapagos photo trip can produce spectacular shots and lifelong memories!