What’s Happening in the Galapagos in September?

by Jon Jared


Charles Darwin first visited the Galapagos Islands in September, exploring the islands and discovering the creatures that remain there today. He was amazed that the different islands, while having similar landscapes, contained such a diverse variety of flora and fauna.

True to form, the islands in September are alive with creatures great and small in the midst of transition. Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz make the journey back from the coast to the lush highlands of the island. Fur seals are beginning to breed, and female sea lions are giving birth- with males fiercely protecting their harems from other bulls.

It is a cool month to visit the archipelago, in both senses of the word. The chilly Humboldt Current mixes with the warmer waters of the Galapagos producing a thriving under water eco-system brimming with marine life.

Schools of reef-fish feed off of plankton, dolphins and sea turtles feed on the fish, and Orca whales sit at the top of the food chain; chasing after the larger creatures of the sea. Around Darwin, Wolf, and off the western shores of Isabela Islands, humpback whales and their young are often spotted. For divers, massive whale sharks-the largest fish in the ocean- are also found in the depths around the northwestern islands.

September also marks a waning of the number of people who visit the islands; kids are back in school after the summer break, and parents are busy getting ready for the upcoming holidays. It is traditionally a period when the locals enjoy the islands, making it a great time to take a trip.

Keep reading for the active animals in September around the Galapagos, and the places our classic, family, and dive safari holidays take you to see the exotic wildlife firsthand.

Bartolome Island

September around Bartolome Island is one of the best months to see, swim, and snorkel with Galapagos Penguins. The cooler waters find them in force; having migrated from Isabela Island after the wet season, when warmer temperatures kept them at bay from the rest of the archipelago. It's a busy month around Pinnacle Rock- where the penguins dive from the cliffs in search of food, swiftly darting back and forth between snorkelers and sea lions before returning to the surface. Our classic and family safari holidays visit the island, giving you a chance to explore on land and below the sea on guided day trips.

North Seymour, Plazas, and Santa Fe Islands

At the onset of autumn, these three uninhabited islands are full of fighting sea lions, protecting their mates and young pups from competing males. Pups are beginning to take to the water, found swimming when snorkeling. Take care not to get too close, as protective parents are quick to defend their young.

On land, sea birds are nesting and young fledglings are finding their wings. Blue-footed boobies and great and magnificent frigate birds are raising their young and mating. The height of their mating season has come and gone in the previous months, but the season lasts year round. Both boobies and frigate birds mating rituals are still in swing, observed along the inland paths on each island.

Our safari holidays visit these islands on day trips over the water, returning to the camp for drinks at sunset and a hearty dinner in the main lodge at the end of the day.

Santa Cruz Island

The giant Galapagos tortoises of Santa Cruz are returning to their homes in the highlands of the island, after migrating to the lowlands of the coast during the previous months to nest and lay their eggs. The short trek of less than four miles takes two to three weeks, slowly moving at a snail's pace uphill.

Darwin was amused with the slow-moving creatures, recording in his journals that he taunted the animals again and again when he encountered them. Today, times have changed, and our safari holidays visit the local private reserve of El Chato to see the lumbering giants in the wild. The sprawling lands of the reserve are home to hundreds of tortoises, seen at rest along the trails, and at watering holes drinking and swimming.

For those that want to follow in Darwin's footsteps between September 15 and December 15, Galapagos Safari Camp is offering an autumn promotion to help you on your journey. For groups of six or more, a free night is included at the camp when booking our classic safari. For couples who visit during the same period, we include a free night at our partner hotels in Quito or Guayaquil before or after your trip.

To find out more details about our safari holidays and the autumn promotion, contact a member of our team through this site or by using our toll-free number.


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