This year started out with a bang and a check off my travel bucket list. My parents, husband, and I boarded the National Geographic Islander for a once-in-a-lifetime trip in the Galapagos Islands! The wildlife is unique and the education priceless. Doctor Lynn Fowler was our knowledgeable and passionate expedition leader, with four naturalists to guide us on the various islands and a video chronicler to document every sighting and activity (shout out to Jeff Litton, who worked his butt off to make an amazing video we got to take home so we can relive the trip!). The chefs aboard the ship also created the most divine vegan meals for me – I can’t rave enough! Following are just a handful of my favorite images from the trip, broken down by location. January 25: North Seymour Island – our first taste of Galapagos. We were treated to blue-footed boobies, land iguanas, nesting and feeding frigates, and melodramatic sea lions.

January 26: Bartolomé and Rábida Islands – huffing and puffing up a volcano is worth it for the view, and the ocean makes for a great sunset. Note the token “Dad with his camera” shot. I should have a hard drive devoted to those.

January 27: Isabela and Fernandina Islands – courting cormorants, crossing the equator, and my favorites, the marine iguanas (known in Darwin’s day as “Imps of Darkness”).

January 28: Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove (Isabela) – the best place to spot famous graffiti and swim with penguins!

January 29: Santiago Island – sea turtle tracks, fur seals, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and lazing sea lions made for the perfect subjects.

January 30: Santa Cruz Island – Santa Cruz has a little of everything: the Charles Darwin Research Station, El Trapiche coffee plantation and sugar cane mill, and Reserva El Chato land tortoise reserve (not to mention a busy downtown area along the water where you can stop for a cold beer and grab a souvenir or two).

January 31: San Cristóbal Island – Punta Pitt was the perfect way to end the trip. How can you top a zodiac ride by all three types of boobies as well as elegant red-billed tropic birds, snorkeling with SHARKS, and a sparkling olivine beach with sea lions who aren’t afraid to graze you in the water?!

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