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The Enchanted Isles Wildlife Paradise

Aug 18, 2007
The resident clown grabs a twig from the dirt, waves it in the air and then places it at the feet of the object of his affection. A blue foot raised, and then the other. Head held high, he unruffles the full stretch of his wings and whistles skywards. Even the quietest honk from his beloved brings satisfaction and justification for this comical dance, and it begins all over again.

But here on the volcanic islands of the Galapagos, some 600 miles from mainland Ecuador, the rather silly-looking Blue-footed Boobies are not the only ones to have cornered the market on ungainly, yet touching displays of courtship.

On another island a hopeful Waved Albatross couple engages in their own elaborate mating dance. Up, down, back and forth, the albatrosses face off and click their beaks together. Ah, it must be love! Nearby the dark form of a male Magnificent Frigate bird positions himself regally among the branches of a tree and balloons out a red bladder on his throat in an attempt to attract the ladies.

The archipelago of 13 large islands and more than 100 smaller isles and islets offers many pure, white sandy shores and luminous, blue waters, but this is no place for sunning yourself on the beach all day. On the Galapagos - from the Spanish name given to the Giant Land Tortoises that cruise the hills and undergrowth at their own leisurely speed - you enter into what appears to be a cageless zoo, where the unusual array of creatures seem to literally line up for your enjoyment and you can expect to be continually, both visually and intellectually, stimulated by the distinctive beauty and natural history around you.

As you wander over boulders, lava flows, sandy beaches, brush, and more, you'll observe the unique and often unusual characteristics of island birds, reptiles, mammals, and fish - species not found anywhere else in the world - witnessing firsthand the subtleties of evolution that helped to inspire Darwin.

Storm petrels "walk" across water and graceful red-billed tropicbirds screech across the sky. The dragons of the Galapagos - the marine iguanas - clamber over each other and settle to sun themselves piled claw on head and spurting salt water from their nostrils.

Like the animals on land, the creatures that inhabit the waters around the Galapagos have not evolved with a sense of fear of humans, and your presence will seem no more than a curiosity to them.

As you explore some 50,000 square miles of marine reserve you will discover a realm where penguins swim in equatorial seas, elegant green sea turtles glide through cool currents and hammerhead sharks patrol the deeper waters.

Snorkeling mask to whiskers with sea lion pups, the only letdown will be the disappointed looks you'll get when you head to the surface for air. Maybe that'll be enough to convince you to take that diving course you've always thought about taking.
About the Author
Carlos Cuzme is Publishing this article on behalf of Lindsay Carswell. Having lived on three continents she has currently settled in the world's original cultural melting pot, New York City, where she works as a television producer and freelance writer. More information about Luxury Galapagos Cruise Holidays
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