The Best Camera Gear for the Galápagos Islands

The Best Camera Gear for the Galápagos Islands | by Ian Norman, North to South

The Galápagos Islands are a wildlife photography paradise. Of all the places we’ve visited around the world, the Galápagos Islands were the most spectacular place for seeing and photographing wildlife.

We put a lot of thought into the photography gear that we would bring for such a trip, and we learned pretty quickly what was most valuable to us for capturing all of the amazing animals around the islands. In this post we share our list of the best photography gear for photographing wildlife in the Galápagos Islands, with options for different levels of photography experience and trip packing desires.

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Baltra vs. San Cristóbal: Which Galápagos Island is best to fly into?

Baltra vs. San Cristóbal: Which Galápagos Island is best to fly into?

Baltra or San Cristóbal… That is the question, and it really depends on what your plans are and what you want to get out of your Galápagos Island trip.

After doing a little research before our trip to the Islands this year, we decided to fly into and out of San Cristóbal. We island-hopped by ferry for our Galápagos Island adventure, and I was very happy we chose San Cristóbal as our jumping off point for our self-planned trip. But there are good reasons to fly into Baltra as well.

Not sure which to choose for your trip? Below is some information that should help you decide.

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How to Fly from the U.S. to the Galápagos Islands for Under $200

How to Fly to the Galapagos Islands for Under $200

Last month when I found $89 flights from Chicago to Ecuador, I was dumbfounded. And flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galápagos were less than $100, too. It must have been some sort of mistake… right?

I simply couldn’t miss out on this amazing deal to my top bucket list destination, so within 24 hours of finding the flights we were booked and officially planning our trip to the Galápagos Islands! How did we manage to find such affordable flights to the Galápagos? I’ll share my secrets with you in this post!

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A Magical Morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (Denver, Colorado)

A Magical Morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

I’ve never been a morning person, but there are major advantages to rising before the sun when it comes to wildlife photography, usually in the form of fewer people and more animals. This summer, with our new 100-400mm lens, we arrived at Rocky Mountain Arsenal before dawn and were pleasantly surprised with what we found. Continue reading

Mt Whitney in 3 Days: A Totally Reasonable Trek to the Summit

Hiking Mt Whitney in 3 Days: A Totally Reasonable Trek to the Summit -- on northtosouth.us

“You can summit Mt Whitney in a day,” they said. “It’s a class 1 hike,” they said.

Add to that the claim that it takes 10 hours to hike up at a “slow” pace, and you may start thinking the Mt Whitney hike is downright easy. But “easy” isn’t a word I would use to describe our hike to the tallest peak in the contiguous U.S. this July.

Want to know how long it really takes to hike Mt Whitney? — at least, if it’s your first time and you want to have some sort of enjoyable memory from your trek? — Read on for the scoop on our entire experience, from (finally) getting a Mt Whitney Trail permit to planning and executing our highest-elevation hike to date. Continue reading

The Goslings of Lincoln Park: A Photo Journal (Chicago, Illinois)

The Goslings of Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

The very first thing I was dying to do in Chicago this spring was to go find the goslings in Lincoln Park. More and more I’ve been getting into wildlife photography, and with a new camera and lens to test out, I was eager to head out in the warm weather to shoot.
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Puffin Watching on Iceland’s South Coast (Dyrhólaey, Iceland)

Puffin Watching on Iceland's Southern Coast (Dyrhólaey, Iceland)

So you’re dying to see puffins on your trip to Iceland, eh? I’m no bird watcher, but that was me, on our inaugural trip to Reykjavik this summer. Unfortunately, we discovered, they’re not as common as horses and sheep, and we almost went our whole 6-day trip without finding them.

Once we did, however, it was magical! We saw upwards of 80 birds swimming, fishing, flying and waddling, and there were always around 10 of them a short 3-5 meter distance away. If you’re visiting Reykjavik during puffin season and don’t mind a 2+ hour drive, read on for our simple tips for locating these beautiful birds and the photos we captured once we (finally) found them. 

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Big Island Diving with Kona Diving Company (Kona, Hawaii, USA)

Diving on Hawaii's Big Island with Kona Diving Company

If you’re a diver or if you’ve ever looked into getting certified, then you’re well aware that diving is an expensive hobby.

And since we’d been on a strict budget for a year after quitting our jobs to travel, we hadn’t been diving in two whole years! This being my first visit to Hawaii’s Big Island, I was absolutely dying to do the manta ray night dive. But first, it was time for a refresher.  Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Seven (Wyoming to Alberta)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week seven

Week seven was by far one of the most memorable weeks on our road trip. I can’t believe how much we saw in one week! Oodles of wildlife, gorgeous sunrises, and even the Northern Lights — all the way down in Yellowstone National Park (they’re not usually visible so far south).

Somehow we managed to visit FOUR national parks all in one week. And despite late night Milky Way photo sessions, we managed to wake up before dawn TWICE to witness the gorgeous sunrises Yellowstone has to offer. If you’ve never seen Yellowstone yourself, add it to your bucket list NOW. And in the meantime, you can drool a bit over these photos!

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers June 20-27.

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U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Weeks Four, Five & Six (Illinois to South Dakota)

North to South U.S. road trip recap weeks four, five and six

After completing our third week on the road in the U.S. this summer, we decided it was time for a little breather. We departed St. Louis at the beginning of week four and then pressed the pause button when we reached Chicago. And there we stayed, visiting my twin brother, for the first two and a half weeks of June.

Despite growing up in St. Louis, I’d never visited the nearby Windy City ’til now. And what an awesome place it turned out to be! So much so that we decided we’d return to Chicago for an even longer break after our upcoming national park loop. We finished off this three-week period in Badlands National Park, where we found unique erosion-formed landscapes, plentiful prairie dogs, and the craziest (and unexpected) storm we’ve ever experienced! (You don’t want to miss that video.)

Note: Since we paused for so long in Chicago, this recap covers weeks four through six of our U.S. road trip. And I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers May 30 – June 19.

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