En route to winning season 32 of The Amazing Race, Will Jardell and James Wallington sped through Colombia, Brazil, France and the Philippines. But it was Wallington's 2015 trip to Ecuador that sparked their January getaway. "I was told by many it was a missed opportunity to not have visited the Galapagos Islands," Wallington (posing here on the archipelago's South Plaza Island) told E! News. "So I've always wanted to come back, and what better way to experience it than with the love of my life by my side for our honeymoon!"
For Jardell, a huge perk of the trip was "Charles Darwin and the unique species that live here," he said of the biologist's numerous discoveries on the islands. So a quick detour to the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island was a must.
Though Jardell told E! News "I've always been drawn to the Galapagos Islands," the vista from atop Santa Fe Island had nothing on his new husband.
Taking pains to travel "in a sustainable way that doesn't leave a negative impact on the planet," Jardell noted, they appreciated that "all of Hurtigruten Expeditions' cruises to the Galapagos are carbon-neutral." Aboard the 90-guest MS Santa Cruz II, the couple checked into the Darwin Suite, naturally.
Within a few days, the newlyweds had already spotted much of the wildlife on the islands' list of their "Big 15," including sea lions "everywhere we go," said Jardell. Some of the most prime viewing came on Mosquera Islet, home to one of the area's largest colonies.
"My favorite part so far about this expedition has been walking among the wildlife; it's incredible how they never bolt away and aren't afraid," raved Jardell. Coming across a mess of marine iguanas on Española Island, they did what any self-respecting America's Next Top Model alum might and showed their best sides.
Though the pair posed with sea lions, iguanas and these giant tortoise shells in the Santa Cruz Island Highland, Jardell's personal favorite was all of the crabs. "I'm kind of obsessed," he admitted, "they are everywhere and so colorful."
Among the activities on their agenda: Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and marveling at the views. "The biodiversity of The Galapagos is spectacular!" Wallington rhapsodized in a mid-trip email. "Every island we've visited has provided a completely new and unique experience, which (if you ask me) is what an expedition is all about!"
Aboard the ship, guests can score photography tips from the pros on how to best capture all those sea lions for the 'gram, take part in the Citizen Science Project, which lets them contribute to current scientific research projects, and make use of the microscopes and library at the Science Center.
"We love adventure, and this experience has perfectly captured our love for travel, relaxation and seeing unique wildlife," Jardell raved of the nine-day getaway. "It has been a perfect honeymoon and the best way to begin married life together." Next up, Wallington recently told People, "We're both ready to be parents."