The Galápagos Islands
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Undiscovered by Europeans until the 16th century, the Galápagos Islands holds a central position in modern history as the birthplace of the theory of evolution. Join fellow alumni on the deluxe Isabela II for a wondrous journey to one of the most biologically unique places on earth. Each island in this volcanic archipelago hosts species that are exquisitely adapted to the available food sources and surrounding environments: the marine iguana, which eats mostly algae and is the only sea-going lizard in the world, and the Galapagos tortoises—some species of which were hunted to the brink of extinction by 18th and 19th century whalers. Also observe how species have evolved to interact with each other; certain Darwin’s finches have developed a symbiotic relationship with land iguanas who will obligingly raise themselves up from the ground so that the birds can more easily pluck parasites from their bellies. Because the human presence is still relatively minimal, many of the animals are remarkably unafraid of visitors. This will allow you to observe and photograph them at very close proximity, either from land, by panga or during snorkeling excursions.