Last week when we wrote about our trip to Colombia, we said we would be back with a post about the following week when we went to the Galapagos Islands. It was a wonderful week, and the only bad thing about it was that Yankee couldn’t be there with me. We definitely will go back together someday, though. Before going we did our research and discovered there are two ways to visit the Galapagos Islands. One way is on a small cruise ship. We saw two companies there – Celebrity and National Geographic.
The other way to do the islands is the way we did which is called “island hopping.” We spent a night or two on an island, saw what there was to see, and then rode on a small boat that held about 20 people to another island. We had our own tour guide for the week. Eight of us who were in Colombia together did this tour, and so, we weren’t with a bunch of strangers, and we could change things up if we wanted to.
We chose the island hopping tour because we love being “with the people.” If we had been on a cruise ship, we wouldn’t have experienced sleeping on the island, eating with the locals, hanging out with the sea lions, taking a stroll at night, and just getting a feel for how people really live there. One of our goals when traveling is to be with the people and see how life really is for them – no matter where we are.
We learned that around 30,000 people live on the Galapagos Islands. The only way they can live there is to either be born there or to marry someone who lives there. The population is tightly controlled to avoid growing and endangering what they have that is so special. Life there is fairly rustic. They only have one television station, internet is very slow, and everything that isn’t grown or caught there comes from Equador. Crime is low, and life is slow and easy. They have amazing views and don’t miss what they have never had. It’s no surprise that tourism is the number one industry.
The Galapagos Islands did not become a protected area till the late 1990’s. We were surprised that it wasn’t protected much earlier. They became famous because of Charles Darwin’s studies there and his theory of evolution based on his findings. Animals definitely have free range and the right of way. Sea lions were everywhere, and they were so cute. They could be sleeping in the middle of the street or on many park benches. We loved seeing the babies nursing from their mothers.
Different islands had different attractions. For instance, twenty some ancient tortoises lived in one area, but there were also tortoises at the research center. The famous tortoise named Lonesome George, who was 150 years old, died just weeks before we were there.
One day we took a six hour trek to the rim of the world’s second largest volcano. The second half of the trek was pretty difficult because we walked on pure lava. We could feel the heat from the volcano coming from this hole.
Walking on the lava felt as if we were walking on the moon’s surface, but when we arrived at the top, we could see for miles and miles.
Iguanas were plentiful also. This guy just walked by when Mom and I were sitting on the beach. We weren’t afraid of him, and he wasn’t afraid of us.
Another day we went to a small islands that was loaded with iguanas. See how well they blend in with the lava rocks? They did. not. move. It was part of their disguise.
We had the opportunity to go snorkeling each day. The first day we rode a boat for two and a half hours to this spot and snorkled between those rocks. It was amazing. We swam with sharks, hammerheads, sea turtles, and all kinds of fish.
We love adventure, and this vacation did not disappoint. The Galapagos Islands are located off of the coast of Equador, and they are about a three-hour flight from Quito. If you ever have the opportunity to go there, do it. You won’t be disappointed.