So I am flying home from the Galapagos and looking out across the amazing archipelago from my window seat with a big smile on my face. Been here for 9ish days and although not cheap has been worthwhile.
So Galapagos...everyone says the best part of their South America trip. Do I agree...sort of...I am lucky enough just on this year abroad to have snorkelled with whale sharks; seen 200 elephants at the Chobe river and watched a leopard with his kill up a tree...so this is up there. The iguanas and tortoises are superb but what really stands out for me is the close proximity you can get without scarring the animals...the fact they don't see humans as a threat...the animals live in relative harmony with each other. So come here and you will love it but make sure you also go on safari and snorkel in the reefs because equally as good.
There are many islands here but only 4 are inhabited. Without boring you with the details I was on Santa Cruz, Isabella, San Cristobal, Espanola and Floreana. They all have amazing beaches with amazing animals and sealife. I saw tortoises, land iguanas, sea lions and numerous birds while ashore. In the water saw loads of sea lions, sea turtles,marine iguanas, penguins, sharks, rays and numerous tropical fish.
Will let the photos do the talking but for me the real highlight is close proximity you can get to these animals. They are not scarred of humans and don't see them as a threat. The Islands are perfect ecosystems with few predators...the big wow for me was snorkelling with sea turtles and sea lions without a care in the world. The sea lions particularly playful if you dive down and wiggle about a bit...they think it is play time...thus coming to within inches of your face!!
I slummed it for the first 5 days before the last 4 aboard a luxurious catamaran called Anahi...although a backpacker I need comfort and style once in a while...poshpacking or glamping!
During my teens I was lucky enough to sail (really just motor) the Channel with one Channel crossing from Alderney to Hayling Island with the Van Dort's particularly etched into my memory...despite this practice the sometimes rough crossings to the islands didn't help me feel a little queasy...although it's when the boat stops that gives my stomach an extra unwanted churn. Even now on dry land I still sway a little even without any Pisco Sours!
I met some round the world yachties who amazed me of their journeys from Europe and now heading to French Polynesia!! Despite me thinking I have sea legs my round the world yacht trip is being put on hold until I can stomach living days at sea.
After roughing it and doing day trips I splashed out on a 4 day boat trip to the islands the day trips are not allowed to reach hence the big draw. I managed to get the deal for half price as booked few days before and was well worth it given the quality of the guides and the amount of food I have consumed (the plane is tilting to the right slightly!). Now boarding a boat with 15 others means you are living, eating and socialising together for 4 days so don't piss anyone off!! A few of us got discount at the last minute...rule number one therefore is keep it quiet...people don't like to hear they are paying double...what do others say day 1!!
As a keen social observer/people watcher it was great to see the different dynamics develop on board...
- being Galapagos you get some serous animal nuts. One chap on board had RSPB binoculars...not sure if that means Fisher Price Dummy guide to being a twitcher or some serious bird spotter. Luckily he left the jotter behind and turned out to be not even close to Bill Oddy.
- then we had 3 young girls from Israel who wished it was more of a party boat than full of serious animal enthusiasts...the days started at 7am and bed was usually 8.30pm with night sails...they also decided to miss a lot of the excursions so weren't popular on board. The boat had a hot tub which they wanted to use...again in a national park not Cancun!!
- then you had a guy who was filming everything with running commentary...his wife using numerous technical cameras. They also loved correcting each other and me on occasion!! Essentially non-cool geeks.
- a hard core cruiser who had a wonderful character who turned mother to me to ensure all was safe. She rubbed the Israeli girls the wrong way who smoked a lot so she worried the boat would burn down!!
- finally my room mate who was sharing with her friend/colleague but after 2 weeks of snoring needed a new roomie...I was a gentleman...forgot to knock, read until the late hours of 9.30pm and of course made a mess.
Who knows what they said about me but like to think that I have manners and have been brought up proper and in a boat situation you try not to cause friction!!