You don’t think that it could ever live up to the propaganda, at least I didn’t. Sea lions so close you could reach out and touch, beaches teaming with so many iguanas that you have to be careful not to step on them, birds that don’t fly away when you walk up and stare into their eyes. But, it’s true; the Galapagos Islands live up to all the hype and then some. The only words that sum up the islands for me: purely magical.
We flew from Quito to San Cristobal where we boarded our boat with 18 other passengers for a seven day itinerary throughout the Galapagos Islands. Far from a relaxing vacation despite the customary daily siestas, we were up early for sunrise and on the beach of a new island every morning to learn about the unique ecosystem and wildlife. We walked, we swam, we kayaked and, best of all, we snorkeled. Don’t hate me, but I actually don’t usually even like snorkeling, and I could have spent hours in this underwater wonderland. Sea turtles gliding just below the surface, Galapagos penguins darting manically about under water, and sea lions twirling gracefully just below me. I was moved, in awe and entranced.
Preserving the Galapagos Islands has been no small feat for the country of Ecuador, with pressures from the small but expanding human population and the ever growing tourism industry, there is a constant struggle to preserve, protect, but also provide access to this aptly awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution.’
With both land and boat itineraries from basic to high-end, there is a trip for everyone. If you have the chance, go! The truth: it really is that amazing.