Looking for inspiration?
Check out our Travel Blog for information on destinations with plenty of tips and advice so you get the most out of your holiday.
The Galapagos Islands
Tuesday 20 November 2018
A Dream Come True
I always considered a visit to the Galapagos Islands in the same way some people might think about a visit to the moon - In theory it can be done but in practise it won’t happen to me!!! Over twenty years ago it became an ambition, but the necessities of life took priority and I considered it in terms of “maybe some day”. Well the day finally came and my intrepid journey to the Galapagos Islands became a reality in early October 2018. It was a double bonus really because it was also my first time to visit South America, another, if somewhat lesser ambition.
We flew to Quito in Equador and spent two nights there savouring the sights and sounds of this cultural capital. Quito is over 2800 metres above sea level and is a very hilly city. It is busy, vibrant and friendly with Cathedrals abound including the oldest Cathedral in South America. Eating out is a pleasure with lots of choice and value. The city centre is a mixture of old and new and the pace of life was quite relaxing considering the population of over 1.5million.
We flew from Quito to Baltra Island which is one of the few inhabited islands in the Galapagos. This was the start of a week long expedition cruise around the world’s largest national park. We cruised in the excellent professional care of Silversea Cruises on board the Explorer ship, Silver Galapagos. We quickly settled in to a week of luxury and fine dining. This is exploration at it’s best.
The ship has a crew of 75 and a maximum guest capacity of 100. On our cruise there were 75 guests. Accommodation is spread over six floors in generous sized suites some with and some without balconies. There is a very well appointed dining room as well as an outdoor “Rocks Grill” aft on deck 5. Top class food, great service and complimentary drinks combined to make meals a real treat.
Silver Galapagos, is, by modern standards a very small ship and this encouraged a friendly and relaxed atmosphere between guests as well as crew and it was not long until many of us were addressing each other by name. The crew arrange really informative lectures and updates about what we have seen and what we will see. All land and zodiac excursions are included in the price as is tipping. All in all a truly all inclusive 5* offering. The Silver Galapagos Ship never docks so access is always by Zodiac.
Walks, Talks and Visits
Our week was a busy one filled with visits to remote islands with informative talks and short lectures. We visited two islands a day most of which were uninhabited by humans. Access is strictly controlled and numbers are limited and you must be accompanied by an approved, qualified guide. Our guides from Silversea were excellent and they enthusiastically shared their deep knowledge of the local wildlife. One in particular, Angelica, spoke with passion and pride about her native islands as she imparted her almost limitless knowledge.
Snorkled, Kayaked, Walked and Swam.
We snorkled, kayaked, walked and swam trying to absorb the unspoilt nature of our surroundings. Silversea provide the wet suits and snorkels. Everywhere we looked there were either fish, iguanas, turtles or birds…. lots of them. Many of the birds and animals were indifferent to our presence and we regularly moved and “gave way” so that our presence would not interrupt their activities.
Some of the species are indigenous to particular islands and are found nowhere else on earth. Many of them have never learned to fear humans so you literally walk around almost stepping over iguanas, sea lions and blue footed boobies. At times it’s like a private screening of Jurassic Park. It is easy to see how Charles Darwin, when he visited there in the early 1800’s, found the inspiration for his renowned “Theory of Evolution”. We kayaked around the coast and watched the pelicans dive for food and saw sea turtles swimming beneath us. I never imagined that I would ever swim and snorkel within feet of sea lions, pelicans and even sharks. I did and it was magical. The topography of each island is different and our daily walks and exploration were a constant photo opportunity. At times it seemed like the birds and animals were posing for pictures.
Treasured Memories and New Found Friends
My journey from Ireland to the Galapagos surpassed my most vivid expectations and I will treasure the memories. It was made even more enjoyable by the wonderful company of new found Canadian, Australian, and American friends.