Our time on the Galapagos Archipelago was fantastic, yet words will probably do little to explain the magic of being there. The setting is stark and unforgiving, yet the life that survives there is placid and phenomenally beautiful. It was surreal to be able to watch the wildlife from such proximity that we would have to move away from them to maintain the required 6 foot distance. They do not run away from humans, but rather seemed intrigued by us, especially the sea lions which will swim up to you and bite your fins to try to get you to chase them.
For centuries, the only animals which inhabited the Galapagos are those which could swim or fly there on their own (i.e. sea lions, penguins, frigate birds, etc.), those which were able to survive a 2-week trip on a vegetation raft blown out to sea (i.e. iguanas, tortoises) or carried by a strong off-shore wind (i.e. finches, mocking birds). Until humans began visiting the islands a couple hundred years ago, there were no mammals at all – they were too fragile to survive the journey out to the islands. Even now, the largest animals on the islands are giant tortoises and iguanas, both of which are vegetarians.
We had originally planned on staying on land and only doing day-tours out the other islands but were able to score a last-minute deal on an 8-day boat trip through the western islands. Now, if you know us, we are not “cruise” people, but, wow, what a fantastic experience! Our initial trepidation about being out of place on the boat were quickly relieved when we met the other folks – a varied group of 12 others – many of whom were just like us. There were a few younger back-packer types as well as a number of folks our age an older but we all love travel and the outdoors. The only thing missing were other kids, but Lucia and Mac were their usual charming selves and made quick friends with all.
Despite our initial trepidation, we are very glad that we did a boat trip. Yes, it sort of blew our Ecuador budget a bit, but we were able to see much more than we would have doing only day-trips. Because the evenings were spent traveling between distant locations, we would wake up in a new place ready for a new adventure. Each day held at least two different locales, usually quite different from each other, with different activities. The morning may be hiking through a lava field or up a volcano then the afternoon snorkeling with sea iguanas or sea turtles. The video below highlights only some of what we saw. A note of disclaimer – the quality of the photos and video is pretty low so it is a bit blurry and jerky. Although I tend to have high expectations for anything that I “publish”, it would take me another 8-10 hours of internet time to upload at a higher quality so I have decided that this is “good enough” to give you an idea of what the experience was like. If you want to see better quality photos, please visit our SmugMug site shindellsrtw.smugmug.com