Giant Tortoise (Santa Cruz subspecies)
Galapagos islands went to top 3 ranking on my list. It's amazing how close you can get to animals and how plentiful there are endemic species which to watch and photograph, not to mention swimming and snorkelling with them. Just to mention some of the species during 8 days cruise on the islands, there were sea lions, penguins, albatroses, blue-footed boobies, masked boobies, lava lizards, marine iguanas, land iguanas, white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, giant tortoises, flamingos, sting rays, and so on... In addition of these species there were subspecies of these different from island to island.
Cruising ship Estrella del Mar I (16 passengers)
As an example land iguanas were black on Isla Seymour, yellow on Isla Plazas and green on Isla Santa Fe.
Yellow land iguana at Isla Plazas
There are still 11 subspecies of Giant Tortoises, but only one Tortoise is still living from the subspecies from the Island Pinta. His name is Lonesome George and he is currently in Charles Darwin station at Santa Cruz island. When he dies then there will be only 10 subspecies left, unless scientists can reproduce him or get him to mate with the females tortoises from the other islands. These Giant Tortoises can live up to 200 years and can weight even 600 kilograms.
During 8 days cruise, ship visited on 10 different islands and there were possibility in addition of hikes on the islands to do snorkeling nearly every day in warm waters. I was able to spot and swim with various different species like Galapagos penguins, white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and sea lions, not to mention tens or hundreds of different colourful fishes.
This was a trip worth of every penny, just awesome experience! But you need a plenty of time to check all the photos and select best ones.
Sea lions posing to camera at Isla Espanola