Nature reigns supreme in the Galapagos Islands, and that’s why animal lovers want to come here. It’s incredibly rare to find wildlife, birds and sea creatures so tame and unafraid of bipedal humanoids wandering in their midst. It’s a marvelous thing to experience, with wildlife spotting the main activity in the Galapagos Islands

To protect the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, all viewing excursions are tightly controlled. Visitor numbers are capped and official guides must accompany every group. There are more than a dozen options for wildlife viewing in the Galapagos Islands. Some are quite accessible and affordable while others are more remote, exotic and expensive. The main activity, however, is a boat cruise of the smaller islands.

Far from a pampered pleasure tour, there are hills to climb, bugs to deal with and very little in the way of comfort infrastructure outside of the resort towns. But what an adventure! Mountain biking along extinct volcanoes, scuba diving among hammerhead sharks or kayaking where only sea lions bother to go can all be on the agenda. Much of the outdoor activities in the Galapagos Islands, such as mountain biking, sea kayaking and horseback riding, can be found right on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal islands, but for a real adventure, try the virtually deserted island of Floreana where it all began in the 1500’s.

Isabela Island is another great alternative to the two main islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Its tourism scene is just beginning, so there are less people but still loads of natural activities. Hike to the rim of the active Cerro Negro volcano or check out Galapagos tortoises in the wild at the Wall of Tears. The snorkeling is superb at Los Tuneles, while a quick boat ride over to Los Tintoreros gives you a personal viewing of sea lions, nurse sharks and big iguanas.

There is no shortage of outdoor activities and adventures on the Galapagos Islands, both on land and in the water. As for culture or entertainment, don’t expect any. The wildlife is the native culture and the towns of the Galapagos Islands simply don’t have nightclubs, theaters or museums. This is a place to leave the trappings of civilization behind and imagine a very different kind of world.