Lonely Planet Writer

Take a peek at the secret lives of giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands

A British conservationist has captured amazing images of giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands – including pictures where tourists show just how large the animals are.

The massive tortoises are an incredible sight for visitors.
The massive tortoises are an incredible sight for visitors. Image by Pete Oxford / mediadrumworld.com

As well as showcasing the sheer size of these magnificent creatures, other stunning photos reveal the beautiful landscape where these prehistoric beasts live.

A tourist sits inside of the shell of a tortoise.
Tullia Corbisiero hides inside a Giant tortoise shell. Image by Pete Oxford / mediadrumworld.com

The photographs were taken in the Galapagos Islands, in Ecuador, by Devon-born wildlife photographer Pete Oxford. Pete, who has lived in Ecuador for the past thirty-one years, captured the images with a Nikon D810.

A tortoise shows off for the camera in the Galapagos.
A tortoise shows off for the camera in the Galapagos. Image by Pete Oxford / mediadrumworld.com

He has published three books on Galapagos and now leads tours there with his company Focus Expeditions. “I have been visiting the islands regularly since 1986,” he said. “I asked some of my friends to climb into an old giant tortoise shell to give a sense of scale to the live animals.”

A tortoise wanders into a campsite.
Devon-born wildlife photographer Pete Oxford captured images of tortoises in the Galapagos. Image by Pete Oxford / mediadrumworld.com

In one photograph, a giant tortoise has pitched up next to a set of camping tents, eager to join in the campfire sing-song. These spectacular creatures are the Galapagos’ dominant herbivore and the male species can reach up to six-hundred pounds in weight.

Tortoises can cross the road at this spot.
Tortoises can cross the road at this spot. Image by Pete Oxford / mediadrumworld.com

He hopes that his images portray that the giant tortoises on the Galapagos Islands are doing well again. “After the massive eradications of introduced mammal herbivores such as donkeys and goats, vegetation has now returned to provide better food for the tortoises,” he said. “In other parts of the world there are many tortoise species that are in serious decline.”

The animals enjoy the water.
Tourists check out the tortoises in the Galapagos. Image by Pete Oxford / mediadrumworld.com

His tour passengers usually have a similar reaction when they see this species for the first time: “Wow! They are bigger than I thought.”

For information about Pete’s tours, please see: focusexpeditions.com