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Why the Galapagos?

Updated: May 13

Part of what I love about my travel adventures are the activities in nature, especially the water. The water calls to me, and always has. The animal encounters/experiences in and near the water are creatures that feed my soul.   I find a true connection to nature with them. So, in this never-ending journey, my next stop was the Islands of the Galapagos.


600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in South America lies the Archipelagos of Galapagos a UNESCO World Heritage site – unique for its untouched lands filled with lava and volcanic remains and home to a unique collection of plants and animals. 


What better way to experience this unique locale than with Lindblad and National Geographic Expeditions? While the Galapagos National Park requires 1 guide per 16 visitors, NatGeo boasts more of a 1 Naturalist to 8 passenger ratio – making learning and exploring this destination all the more intimate and hands-on.


After a day of air travel from North America to Ecuador, NatGeo’s team met me at the airport with the first stop in the coastal city of Guayaquil. The expedition starts with an overnight stay at the Relais Chateaux’s Hotel Del Parque in the middle of a historic park complete with cobblestone streets and monkeys.

 

Awaken on day two to a wonderful breakfast in the hotel gardens and a quick flight from the South American mainland to Baltra, home to the world’s first sustainable airport and gateway to the Galapagos. We were even greeted by our first iguanas right off the tarmac.


After a quick trip through customs and an inspection – the Galapagos are very protective about who/what is brought into the islands and that extreme pride and precautions to protecting this invaluable ecosystem. Escorted by NatGeo guides along the way and a short bus ride we were greeted by sea lions basking in the sun as we boarded our first zodiac to ride and board the new National Geographic Islander II. 

This ship is a treasure at sea. Just 26 staterooms/suites with a 1:1 guest-to-crew ratio and all the amenities one could want while enjoying all that nature has to offer. It includes restaurants with panoramic views and outdoor seating, a small plunge pool, hammocks for relaxing, outdoor lounges for nature watching or reading, a Science hub, and even a Spa room to grab a massage.

  

After a quick lunch on board, we were greeted by a naturalist ready to take us ashore for a wet landing into our first expedition – Las Bachas Beach. It was here we were already in ahh at the site of a marine iguana (the only ones that swim and are found here in the Galapagos) as well as a shark and flamingos. The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming and snorkeling.


Over the next three days we visited South Plaza, Santa Fe Islands, Sombrero Chino. Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island, Darwin Bay, Prince Phillip’s Steps, Genovesa and Santa Cruz Islands.


Each day we snorkeled, rode zodiacs, hiked and marveled at nature as its co-existing untouched with one another. It was magic yet real. We were fortunate to find the famous blue-footed boobies and frigate; pelicans and herons; various types of iguanas; sea lions; fur seals; sharks; sea turtles; crabs; tons of fishes; rays and even swam with penguins (boy are they fast swimmers)! There were also opportunities to kayak, paddle board as well as jump off the back of the ship and take a dip in the vast Pacific Ocean.

 

Now, for years swimming with sea lions and penguins has been on my list – the fact that it happened all in one day took my breath away and almost had me in tears. Luckily the sea lions were so playful and fun I was instead giggling like a little kid. It amazes me how they had no fear of us or of anything really just living the best sea lion life in the middle of nowhere.


There was always plenty to eat with a fish, meat and vegetarian option at each meal often highlighting the Ecuadorian cuisine, with many of the local ingredients sourced from local farmers.


On our final day as we left the sea and headed to land once again, we adventured

to the Santa Cruz Highlands to spend time with the giant tortoises. These fun fellows roam the National Park freely often trespassing local ranches. Then it was a quick flight back to the mainland of Ecuador and a late-night flight back home (although some guests stayed the night at Hotel Del Parque again for an early morning flight the next day).



So if you like adventurous and unique experiences in nature – the Galapagos Islands should be on your list. Reach out and let’s chat about making this happen for you and your family.


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