Ready for a Galapagos Adventure?
Last year we had a wonderful trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. For starters, our travel experts from Myths and Mountains did a great job arranging itineraries in both locations. Allie Almario and the crew were on top of everything --
You often hear that a visit to the Galapagos constitutes "the trip of a lifetime." And, indeed, our experiences were truly exceptional and would qualify for anyone's perfect adventure scenario. We decided on the combination land/sea package which placed us at the Finch Bay Hotel, a short distance off the mainland of Santa Cruz Island (this is where the Charles Darwin Research Station is located).
In brief, we traveled by bus each morning to the dock where the hotel's yacht ferried us to at least two different islands each day. The yacht itself was large and accommodated 15 passengers comfortably. Even the lunches they served on board were good, and the crew, helpful and attentive. Usually, the daily routine included an island trek in the morning, then swimming or snorkeling in the afternoons. The Finch Bay Hotel Hotel is eco-friendly with clean, adequate accommodations and decent food. Loved the view from the quiet beach out over the water.
Now, if we were to make this trip again, we would plan it differently. We certainly enjoyed our past visit and the other adventurers who were in our group, but for us, we found that the 45-minute bus rides (usually two per day) back and forth from the hotel to the yacht were pretty much wasted time. Our guides, though adequate, were not educators. We would have liked some more science and general information about this amazing place. But were glad to have prepared a bit on our own prior to the visit.
For anyone, though, I think that you would get more interesting guides and acquire more knowledge about the islands and their history by traveling on one of the scientific research vessels available. We saw the National Geographic Explorer at dock near our hotel, and couldn't help but wonder if we had made the best choice in selecting the land/sea option. Also, our plans left little time for exploration at the Darwin Station on Santa Cruz. But we did get to see Lonesome George, the giant Galapagos tortoise who recently died.
Having walked among the many unique species of plants and animals on these islands was a joy in itself. To think how (relatively) untouched their existence has been since the dawn of time is humbling. Future challenges to keep this isolation and prevent destruction from outside sources are on-going.
A word of caution when visiting, though; you will be climbing on rough volcanic terrain, scaling some steep hillsides, snorkeling with iguanas, turtles, fishes, and whatever else you may be lucky enough to encounter -- not to mention travel by lancha from one destination to another. Prepare for lots of activity, get those muscles in shape, and imagine yourself in a surreal world where time seems to have stood still. It is a truly magical experience.
Take your best camera!