me at galapagos park sign

Ecuador and the Galapagos

Imagine waking up on a classic 2-masted sailboat with only 15 other guests in the Galapagos Islands, anchored on the western side of Isabela Island. The night before, your naturalist told you that breakfast would be early because you needed to be in the pangas (those rubber rafts) by 6:45am. So you know that something special is about to happen.

The Galapagos has rolled out its bounty of wonders to you over the week. A juvenile sea lion cavorted with you in Urbina Bay, easily besting your underwater somersaults and locking eyes, if only for a moment, through the clear sea.

On Fernandina, orgies (yes, that’s what groups of iguanas are called) of scaly black marine iguanas sunned their intertwined, overlapping bodies on the hot lava rocks, all aligned to the sun like miniature solar panels.

When the ship approached a compass reading of 0*00.00’S, the crew hosted a spirited equator-crossing party where everyone sang songs from their homeland and toasted the voyage.

A Sun Fish, as rotund as a blimp, floated just below the boat in the Bolivar Channel, and above, on one calm late night, the Captain pointed out the Southern Cross from the sea of stars in the southern sky.

So what might this morning bring?

As your panga putters to shore, you survey a wide crescent of black sand, lined with stubby green mangrove bushes, completely still except for a lone, circling pelican.

galapagos-sea-lion

playful sea lion by Isabela island

But then you spot tracks ahead.   They look just like ATV tracks – double-wheeled, heavy treads that have pushed deep marks into the smooth black sand. They’re coming from the waters edge and running straight up the bank of the beach. How did an ATV get all the way out here?  And why?

But as the panga glides in for the water landing, you get it!   There are giant 7’-wide craters dotting the crest of the beach. And those tracks? They were made by mama sea turtles who crawled ashore the night before, each laying between 50 and 200 eggs.   Deep inside the holes lies the next generation of Galapagos sea turtles and you have been one of 16 lucky humans to discover them.

Thank goodness that you were on the Cachalote whose crew went the extra mile to ensure that your small group had the privilege to arrive at daybreak while the nests were still pristine. You tiptoe past and leave them undisturbed, tucking a dream in your heart of the babies that will, in three months’ time, leave their own tracks in the warm Galapagos sands as they waddle towards their first swim.

That was a trip of a lifetime”, you say. “Let’s do it again next year!”

 

a local at the fish market on santa cruz

a “local” at the fish market on Santa Cruz

Wondering whether to live aboard a boat or stay on land during your Galapagos stay?

Watch these videos by Melanie, owner of Rare Finds Travel, who explains why each is a great option:

How to choose a boat in the Galapagos

Why I love land stays in the Galapagos

Wondering what islands to visit?

Darwin’s “loo” and Darwin’s lake, yellow sting rays in the mangroves and  lumbering tortoises in arid forests, barren lava fields and aquamarine sea caves, the Galapagos gives you a lot to choose from!

Wondering which mainland city is better for you?

You’ll fly out to the Galapagos from either Quito, Ecuador’s cultural center in the mountains,  or from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s colonial city on the coast.

Contact Melanie whose on-the-ground expertise will make your Galapagos experience priceless!

Wondering what to do on the mainland, before or after your Galapagos visit?

You can

  • Explore Quito’s la Ronda whilst listening to Indian folksongs
  • Horseback among shepherds in the Andean peaks
  • Shop the largest Indian Market in South America
  • Stand on the equator with one foot in each hemisphere
  • Sleep at a home stay
  • Ride the rails down the Devils Nose
  • Relax in the famous thermal baths

Contact Melanie to make sure that you don’t miss anything while you’re in Ecuador!

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