About a year and a half ago during the summer of business school, I visited The Galápagos Islands. It was by far the coolest place that I’ve ever seen but I haven’t been able to get myself to write a blog post on it. To be honest I think I feel that I could never do justice in really capturing the magic of that place. How can I eloquently write how unbelievable it was to be surrounded by animals that have zero fear of humans because they have never been hunted. The awe of walking next to blue-footed boobies. and their adorable fluffy white chicks. The moment that took everyone’s breath away when a flock of albatross took flight. And the delight of having to actually run away from a baby sea lion that wanted to play even though every bone in my body wanted to hug the living cuteness out of it. Even now, over a year after being there, I still remember the emotions tied to that place. I remember the passion and love for the land that the crew shared, and how many of them grew up in Ecuador with an appreciation for wildlife conservation and a desire to work with conscious tourism here. It is a natural park after all so you do not take anything onto the islands that you cannot take back with you, and the crew goes so far as to wash the sand out of your shoes so not one bit of the land, one seashell or rock or flora, gets taken away. One of our tour guides even recounted how she got married and had her entire wedding party take a trip here since it is a place that is so close to her heart.
The islands are reachable by boat from Santa Cruz island, and we flew in from Quito to San Cristobal and then took a transfer to the port at Santa Cruz. You can choose to stay in Santa Cruz and take boat trip each day to the different islands, but if you prefer a more personal experience, you can take a small 4 or 5 day cruise around the islands. I use the term “cruise” reluctantly here because we actually were on a smaller boat and it was a much more intimate feel than what you would typically picture a cruise ship to be like. You sleep and eat on the boat and then take trips, or “expeditions” as our team called it, by day. The boat itself had all the great perks you would expect to find on a cruise, including excellent chefs that served delicious local cuisine, but the real gems of the trip were the different expeditions each day. Every day we were given a few options of what we wanted to do in the morning and afternoon, varying by intensity. For example, the scrappier folks could go on more difficult hikes while those that were looking for something more leisurely could go on a beach walk or even a boat ride around the island. One day we were hiking from one end of the island to another, the next we were snorkeling around a reef surrounded by a pod of friendly sea lions in the morning and then doing nature bird walk to spot birds in the afternoon. It was absolutely amazing and I recommend going with a sustainably focused tour company like the one we used. Not only will you blown away by how beautiful it is, but you will also walk away with a newfound appreciation for wildlife and nature. I also realize that I didn’t talk about the amazing, hospitable country of Ecuador which is also worth a mention, but that will have to wait for perhaps another post.
(Click these images for bigger sizes).
Ah one more thing! If you are interested in planning your next trip there I shamelessly plug contacting Dream-Ality Travels, my family’s travel agency, to set it up for you. They can talk you through more details than what I mentioned and tell you all about the awesome tour company we used. Or feel free to get in touch with me about it since I am always excited to share more about my experience there.
Update: While I was finishing up this post, I came across this Nat Geo article from last year that discusses how the blue-footed booby population has been dwindling due to lack of breeding from a change in the island’s ecosystem. Even though these birds can be found elsewhere, they have the biggest population in The Galápagos. I hope there is a way that these species can continue to thrive here, and that you have a chance to see them in person if you haven’t yet.
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