Photo Essay: Sunsets and Landscapes of the Galapagos – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

When people travel to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador they assume they’re going to get great photos of wildlife–we took thousands of them (which we kindly edited down to this 21 shot selection of gorgeous Galapagos animals). But even when there are no critters in sight, the epic daily sunsets (and sunrises) and the only-in-the-Galapagos landscapes will keep your camera busy. Proof: our favorite sunsets and landscapes of the Galapagos Islands.

Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands

Wolf Island, at the most northerly end of the Galapagos archipelago, is rarely visited except by dive boats.

Pinnacle Rock Bartolome Island, Galapagos Islands

Pinnacle Rock juts up from mostly barren Bartolome Island.

Bartolome & Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands

See a larger version of this panoramic shot of Bartolome Island

Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Island

Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island is home to a large population of land iguanas.

South Plaza Island, Galapagos Islands

Spring time color in foliage just off the beach on South Plaza Island is in deep contrast with the starkly blue water.

Darwin's Lake, Tagus Cove, Isabella, Galapagos Island

Darwin’s Lake, in this dormant crater on Isabella Island above Tagus Cove, provides life-giving water and breath-taking views.

Galapagos sunset

We spent 24 nights in the Galapagos Islands and pretty much every single one of them ended like this.

Darwin Arch & Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands

At the far northern end of the Galapagos archipelago lies Darwin Island and Darwin Arch and some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Port Egas Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands

Port Egas on Santiago Island offers a sandy arch of beach and dramatic volcanic rock formations and is favored by sunning sea lions.

Ecuador Volcano Punta Vicente Roca, Galapagos Island

The Punta Vicente Roca Volcano on Isabela Island is one of our favorite destinations in the Galapagos, providing dramatic topside scenery and some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever done in the bay at its base.

Galapagos light

Good morning, Galapagos.

Galapagos beach

A beach is never just a beach in the Galapagos Islands. This one offers creamy sand, jagged lava and lapping waves.

Punta Vicente Roca, Galapagos Islands

A wave of lava, from the volcanic eruption which formed Isabela Island, sweeps down to the sea near Punta Vicente Roca.


Rábida Island’s red sand beach and scrub cover are begin rid of invasive goats so that natural vegetation and endemic species can return.

Los Gemalos, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands

There are lush parts of the Galapagos Islands as well, including the Los Gemalos twin craters in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

Galapagos islands color

Galapagos color, all natural and unfiltered.

Galapagos sunset

Good night, Galapagos.

Check out the epic animals of the Galapagos

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Photo Essay: Eric’s Favorite Galapagos Wildlife Portraits – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Eric took nearly 4,000 photos during the 24 days we spent in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador last year. It took nearly that many days to narrow things down to a few hundred stand out photos, including this selection of Eric’s favorite Galapagos wildlife shots.

Galapagos sea lion pose

Eric took hundreds of pictures of sea lions in the Galapagos but the sleepy eyes and adorable pose of this baby sea lion napping in the sun really got us.

Galapagos Booby portrait

There are three kinds of boobies in the Galapagos. This one is a red footed booby and the feet truly are spectacular, however, the color on its face is portrait worthy too.

Galapagos marine iguana pose

Marine iguanas only exist in the Galapagos and their dinosaur-like selves are a common sight on some islands. We love the regal pose of this one, master of all it surveys.

Galapagos penguins

Penguins are adorable no matter what. They’re irresistible when they shake like dogs.

Galapagos Tortoise stare

This Galapagos tortoise took a quick break from mowing the lawn to give Eric his best wise-old-man face.

Galapagos marine iguana portrait

Dinosaurs (in the form of marine iguanas) are alive and well in the Galapagos.

Galapagos blue-footed booby

Blue footed boobies usually live up to their name (which comes from a Spanish word for dumb), but Eric caught this one in a contemplative moment as it looked out to sea.

Magnificent frigate silhouette Galapagos

The omnipresent frigate bird is most often photographed for its iridescent feathers and red throat sack but their unique silhouette is worth a shot too.

underwater sleeping Sea lion

Eric’s camera did not disturb this napping sea lion who stayed submerged in a warm, shallow pool as it slept, occasionally exhaling bubbles.

Galapagos marine iguana baby

Look left for a rare glimpse of juvenile marine iguanas.

Nazca booby eyes

The third type of booby in the Galapagos is called a Nazca booby, though we think this one, caught having a stare-down with Eric’s lens, embodies the species’ former name: masked booby.

Sea lion suntan

Sea lions are one of the most widely distributed of the animals in the Galapagos Islands and are particularly lovely on the islands with red sand, like this female coyly sunning herself.

Galapagos flightless cormorant

They may no longer be able to fly, but mating flightless cormorants are perfectly capable of land ballet as these two amiably demonstrated.

Galapagos land iguana smile

We admit that we smiled back at this land iguana.

Red-footed boobies Galapagos islands

Red footed boobies setting up house for another season of chicks.

Galapagos marine iguana gathering

Marine iguanas pile up in the sun to warm their reptile bodies, mimicking the darkness, stillness and geometry of the lava rock they live on.

Galapagos Lava Heron

Even birds that are seen in other parts of the world, like herons, take on a new intensity and regalness in the Galapagos.


Even if this young Galapagos tortoise could run away it wouldn’t bother. Animals in the Galapagos don’t see humans as predators so they’re less stressed by our presence, as this shot shows.

Galapagos land iguana

A burst of new growth mirrors the emerging colors of this molting land iguana.

Galapagos mobul ray flip

And THIS is how a mobula ray flies.

Galapagos marine iguana spine

This marine iguana struck an uncharacteristically elegant pose as it soaked warmth out of volcanic rock.

Which one is your favorite?

Don’t miss the equally photo-worthy sunsets and landscapes of the Galapagos

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The Beauty of Bourbon – Cartagena, Colombia

After nearly eight years on the road we can honestly say that we don’t miss much from home besides friends, family and bourbon– so much so that we made a visit to the Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky a priority when our Trans-Americas Journey was still in the US.

Makers Mark distillery Loretto KY

Karen contemplated moving into the Maker’s Mark distillery during the early days of our little road trip but they made her leave at 5 pm.

During the guided distillery tour (US$7 per person) we walked through the whole bourbon making process, marveled at the scale of the operation (some of the vats were big enough to swim in, but we refrained), tasted bourbon and even hand-dipped a bottle in the brand’s signature red wax top as a wedding gift for dear friends.

One sip and we re-live good times with good people

And that’s the heart of the matter: For us, bourbon instantly brings us back to fabulous nights out enjoying live music in New York City with our friends all around us and a glass of Maker’s in hand (you know who you are). One sip and we re-live good times with good people.

Sadly, bourbon hasn’t made its way into Latin American liquor stores or bars. You can buy regular whiskey and many other spirits, but we’ve only ever seen bourbon for sale in Panama. We’ve contented ourselves with tequila and mezcal in Mexico and rum in Nicaragua, however, our hankering for bourbon continues.

During a brief visit back to the US to see friends and family we got our fill of bourbon and even got our hands on a bottle of Maker’s 46, which is aged longer than the classic Maker’s Mark that we know and (obviously) love. Instead of cracking it open right away, we packed it up like the precious cargo that it was and brought it back to Colombia where, we said, we’d save it to share with friends.

Maker's 46 Bourbon

The bottle of Maker’s 46 that we brought to bourbon-free Colombia with us mere moments before it was devoured by us and new friends.

Making new friends with Maker’s

We’d been frequenting a bar in Cartagena, Colombia called Demente and the owner, Nicolas, was always up for trying new adult beverages, especially stuff he isn’t able to get in Colombia. When we arrived back in the city we headed straight for Demente and started sipping Maker’s 46 with Nicolas, poured over Demente’s signature handmade ice cubes.


Lovely, lovely bourbon over the handmade ice cubes at Demente in Cartagena, Colombia.

Nicolas was soon hooked and the bottle was soon empty and we’d managed to create an evening that came close to satisfying our hankering for bourbon and for our friends back home. When one of those sorely missed friends made a trip down to Cartagena to meet us she did it with bourbon in her luggage too. The bourbon was different (this time it was Woodford Reserve) but the venue was the same and the three of us headed to Demente to sit and sip with Nicolas again.

The beauty of bourbon

To our delight, Nicolas had some Colombian chef friends with him at the bar including Chef Paula Silva, Leonor Espinosa (she was added to the list of 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America in 2014) and Chef Felipe Arizabaleta of Bruto restaurant in Bogota. It soon became clear that one bottle of bourbon was not going to be enough so Eric returned to our room at Casa Pombo and came back to Demente with our second bottle.

Borbon chefs Demente cartagena

The beauty of bourbon…

Before the night was over both bottles were empty and so was the bar but we’d succeeded in reconnecting with an old friend while making brand new friends and from now on every precious sip of bourbon will bring back memories of that night. That’s the beauty of bourbon.

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Our Latest Work: Eating & Drinking in Colombia, Ecuador’s Last Iceman & Luxury Comfort Food

We been on a roll in Colombia…probably a Kaiser roll. The restaurant and chef scene there proved so tasty that we extended our stay and got to work on a bunch of pieces about the cuisine scene in the country’s capital for The Latin Kitchen including top tips for surviving Andres Carne de Res Colombia’s Craziest Restaurant (part of the madness is pictured below), how one Colombian chef has transplanted the best of Brooklyn in Bogota, the secret history of a traditional drink called Tomaseca, a look at Colombia’s first celebrity chef, Harry Sasson, and his latest restaurant, where to find North American favorite foods (from chicken and waffles to real BBQ) in Bogota, one chef’s best picks in Cali and our picks for what to eat and drink in Cartagena.

Andres carne de res Chia Bogota, Colombia

Then we moved on to Cali where we covered the NOW Hotel in our first piece for a cool hotel review site called A Hotel Life. Back in the US (intellectually speaking), we also did our first piece for Life Refined, all about unexpected comfort food in the US.

Now Hotel Cali review Hotel Life

When we weren’t eating and sleeping our way around Colombia we found time to answer some probing questions for this interview with Chris Guillebeau and landed a spot on FlipKey’s list of Top 25 Couples Travel Blogs to Follow in 2014 (though, seriously, we hope you follow us this year too).

We also told the tale of Ecuador’s last iceman (below) and his epic struggle with a glacier for Zozi Journal. If you’re only going to read one piece, make it this one.

Ecuador Iceman Chimborazo

Visit the Published Work page of our website any time to see all of our freelance work in one place.


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