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The Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) is one of the most fascinating destinations in the world. Full of extraordinary nature, wildlife and awe inspiring views, it was a visit here, in 1835, when a young Charles Darwin began to formulate his evolutionary (and revolutionary) theory of natural selection.

As in Darwin’s day, the true attraction of the Galapagos is its wildlife. Marine Iguanas, Great Frigatebirds, Blue-footed boobies and of course, the massive Galapagos tortoise, are just some of the stars found here in what is arguably nature’s greatest showcase.

Though it’s true stars swim below the surface of the dazzling waters which teem with exotic marine life exclusive to the Galapagos shores.

WIN a trip for TWO to the Galapagos!

The LATAM Airlines Group is giving US Residents the chance to win an amazing dream trip for two to the Galapagos. 

Winner receives:

  • Round-trip tickets on LAN Airlines
  • All meals and transfers
  • 5 days/4 nights aboard the Yacht Isabela II (operated by Metropolitan Touring, capacity 40)
  • Itinerary includes a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station, Post Office Bay, Punta Cormorant, Española Island and San Cristóbal Island
  • Trip will feature guided hikes, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and panga rides
  • Guided daily excursions into the islands

Sweepstakes begins at 5:00 p.m. (EST) on November 3, 2014, and ends at 11:59 pm (EST), November 28, 2014.

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED

Snorkeling

Snorkeling in the Galapagos is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

With GoPro in hand, a $3 taxi ride took us from the center of San Cristobal to La Loberia – a stunning secluded local beach well off the tourist trail.

We snorkeled close enough to touch enormous sea turtles, were slapped around under water by playful sea lions, and swam through schools of sharks, rare coral, and colorful fish while blue footed boobies and frigatebirds circled overhead.

The water off the beach forms an expansive shallow enclosure, completely protected from the choppy waves, which meant wildlife was waiting for us everyday – and so amazing was the experience we went back 3 days in row.

The water was so shallow that it was easy to stand, and all we had to do was throw on a snorkel and float to swim alongside the island’s lively local residents. And yes, if you’re wondering, this was the beach where I became so sunburnt I could hardly stand, so do yourself a favor and remember to protect yourself from the sun!

Our Best Underwater Photos

 

Here are our best underwater photos from the Galapagos Islands, all taken over three days at La Loberia, all courtesy of our GoPro.

The seal on our orange Nikon Coolpix AW110 Underwater Camera broke while snorkeling which ruined the viewfinder, so if looking to invest in a fantastic underwater camera, I highly recommend a GoPro. 

Who doesn't love a chase!

Who doesn’t love a good chase!

Swarms of gorgeous sea lion pups

Swarms of gorgeous sea lion pups were swimming right up to our lens.

Free hugs!

Free hugs!

Coming up for air.

Coming up for air.

Swimming away at lightning speeds. You would be surprised at how fast a Sea Tortoise is!

Swimming away at lightning speeds. You would be surprised at how fast a Sea Turtle can rip through the water!

Who knew

Close enough to touch.

Twins

Snorkeling alongside Galapagos Sea Lions. So graceful underwater.

Snapped it! A tortoise and a sea turtle in the one shot!

Snapped it! A Sea Turtle and a Sea Lion in the one shot!

Coming up for air.

Coming up for air…and enjoying the Equatorial sun.

Two Sea Turtles

Plenty of wildlife just below the surface.

A curious

A curious Sea Lion inspects our GoPro!

Close enough to touch -

Close enough to touch – note that Galapagos law prohibits touching the animals. Though that didn’t stop them coming up and slapping us around as they saw fit!

The sun caught the water perfectly for this shot.

The sun caught the water perfectly for this shot.

At the end of the day we collapsed onto the beach next to an equally as exhausted sea lion, enjoying an afternoon nap under the warmth of the fierce Equatorial sun.

Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    40 Comments

  1. Would love to go to the Galapagos one day … such as shame this is for US residents only…

    • The Galapagos truly is amazing. I hope you get there one day too! Will be keeping my eye out for more comps which are open to a larger portion of the world 🙂

  2. So funny- I was cleaning my room this morning and going through all my travel stuff- found a massive book on Galapagos islands and sat and flipped through it. I want to go so badly! too bad this contest isn’t open to Canadians 🙁

    • Maybe I can adopt you and you can become an American for the next month!! I do hope you manage a trip here though, it’s such a spectacular location 🙂

  3. Wow! What a fun day for you two! And those photos are all from the GoPro? ..amazing! My favorite is the first one with the turtle coming right at the camera!

    I lived in Ecuador for a year, bur could never afford to go to the Galapagos. Maybe I’ll win LAN’s trip for two! My fingers are crossed!

    • Yes indeed, all these photos are from our GoPro. Which surprised us since we couldn’t see what we were actually shooting! We had it on a setting which snaps 10 photos at once in a burst, and generally at least 1 of the 10 was of decent quality 🙂

      Best of luck with the competition!

  4. The Galapagos are definitely somewhere we’d love to go. Though, as Europeans, we’d best start saving now. We would have definitely entered this competition if we could.

    • It’s definitely a destination I recommend – and if you’re coming all the way from Europe, you may as well make an extended South American trip out of the deal!

  5. You’ve captured some truly amazing photos here! Isn’t swimming with sea turtles so awesome! It looks like the wildlife certainly was curious of you and weren’t fearful at all! I would love to go to the Galapogos sometime.

    • Thanks Lauren! It really is just the most amazing experience – I guess the Galapagos wildlife are probably used to sharing their region with humans – they really didn’t care at all that we were there!

  6. Great shots! The Galapagos is our list for early 2015. Maybe we’ll win the contest! 😉 Making a note of La Loberia beach.

    • Thanks Lance! You’ll LOVE it in the Galapagos – best of luck for the contest. Definitely hit up La Loberia – it’ll be the best day of your trip!

  7. Awesome

  8. :O

    What is this “US Residents” rubbish. I want to gooooo.

    And OMG that seal pup, the first picture! Upside down and sooooo cute!

    • They were doing flips and every kind of crazy acrobatic under the water – they were so adorable!! We literally just lost hours of our time here lol!

  9. This is a place on my wish list. Since reading about ‘George’ when I was a child this is a place of intrigue for me. I have heard that they are extremely strict on making sure that nothing leaves along with you – friends went the other year and got stopped when exiting the Islands because of the sand that they were transporting on their shoes.

    • They are pretty strict – though being stopped for sand on your shoes is a bit insane!!

      I do hope you have the chance to travel here and witness the place firsthand – it’s truly one of those once in a lifetime experiences which you’ll remember for the rest of your life!

  10. Omg – Meg! These photos are beautiful! I can’t imagine being so close to such beautiful creatures, and underwater at that! I would love to do this one day. I need one of those cameras!

    • Thanks Alli! Definitely look at investing in a GoPro – it’s the best thing we could have taken on our trip!

  11. Would love to win this trip and explore Galapagos!! Looks like you had an amazing time there and very jealous of those awesome underwater photos you captured. Great job Meg!

  12. Will certainly enter! The Galapagos is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit 🙂

    • Best of luck! You’ll LOVE the Galapagos – it’s the ideal dream destination for just about everyone!

  13. Oh I wish I was in the US to enter this. Shame I’m not! I’d love to get back to galapagos – last time I went I just had a disposable camera for underwater pics, they’re not half as good as yours!

    • Definitely look at investing in a GoPro should you have the opportunity to go back – they’re seriously such a great investment – worth the money and I would buy another in a heartbeat!

      So glad you enjoyed the pics! I hope you have the opportunity to travel back again soon!

  14. Underwater photography is so exciting. Probably it is more exciting in such a unique place as the Galapagos Islands.

    • The Galapagos was truly amazing – though I agree, underwater photography is exciting wherever you are – I remember when we first got our underwater camera, we headed straight for the pool and even that was exciting to keep us occupied for hours lol!

      So glad you enjoyed the photos 🙂

  15. Lovely photos! Those sea lion pups are seriously adorable!

    • Thanks Natasha! The sea lion pups are my favorite :D!

    • Thanks Mary! Wildlife is why we travel 😀

  16. Amazing photos, brought me back to the Galapagos when we were there in October 2013. Such an amazing place!

    • Thansk Hannah! So glad you also enjoyed your time in the Galapagos – we had such a brilliant trip, can’t wait to get back there! Happy New Year!!

  17. What an extraordinary experience! Upside-down sea lion pup is my favourite…looks like a cheeky chap 😀

    We spent a whole day chasing after sea turtles at the Great Barrier reef but didn’t get anywhere near this close – will need to go to the Galapagos!

    • We loved every second of it! And yes, they definitely were cheeky lol we loved how we werent legally allowed to touch them, but it was totally fine for them to come up and slap us around a bit :D!

      I would love to get the the Great Barrier Reef for some snorkeling – sounds amazing. But definitely hit up the Galapagos – one of the best experiences of our life. I hope you can get there soon!

  18. Wow, really amazing photos. I always love the patterns on turtles backs- so beautiful!

    • Thanks Katie! Glad you enjoyed them! The turtles were definitely my favorite – such intricate patterns with beautiful colors – their shells were phenomenal!!

  19. Amazing photos, but what I think is even more amazing is that the wildlife in the Galapagos Islands is as curious about us as we are about them. They really do get that close! Thanks for sharing these wonderful shots.

    • Thanks Stephanie! And I know!! I was blown away by how close they were willing to get to interact with us. It’s something you always hear about when people tell stories of the Galapagos, but we traveled there honestly thinking that this was embellished. Not at all!!

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