In the summer of 2017, I went on a Holiday to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. It was one of the most magical holidays I have ever gone on and would like to share the ups and downs of such a holiday here. Each boat that tours the island has to submit an itinerary to the governments which sends it back with changes made. With this kind of control, the government can make sure there is only one boat doing an activity in one place at one time. This makes one of the most frequented tourist destinations seem peaceful and secluded even though there are thousands of people there at one time.
Arriving in Ecuador
When you book a holiday in the Galapagos Islands, one of the things that will happen is the boat company that you booked with will almost always want to buy the airfare, from the mainland to the island, for you. One of the big things they warn about though is that if your luggage gets lost on its way to Ecuador and you don't have a day in the country for it to get found you, will have to buy replacements for it before you leave the mainland. There are no large retailers on the island itself, and as the government is trying to reduce the populations of the island, buying large quantities of supplies on the island is not an easy idea. When we arrived on the island our tour company was waiting at the airport for us and had us on the boat we would be taking the holiday on in less then two hours. You really need everything packed with you that you are going to need.
Water and Snorkeling
One of the things to remember about the Galapagos island is that they are in the Pacific, and one of the reasons they have as many fish as they do is because of the cold pacific current that feeds the water around the island. There are actually four water currents that feed the islands year round, one of these currents come straight from Antarctica. This means that the water around the islands isn't particularly warm. The boat we were on rented wet suites to use as well as the snorkel equipment. The best advice I have to get into the water is reading through what you're going to see down there; it makes that jump into the cold water worth it.
The joke in my family that wildlife that stays still and lets you get close to it is good paid wildlife. In the Galapagos, there is a rule that you con't get closer then two meters to the wildlife. The first time we heard the rule we all wanted to laugh. But in all honestly the animals here are afraid of nothing and you could have pet one if you got that close. The animals all stayed where they were or just went about their business while you looked on. For the most part we saw everything that we were told would be on each island. It was amazing seeing the biodiversity of each location, and the amount of species that are only on the islands.
The tortoises of the islands are one of the highlights. They can grow shells that reach two meters long and are built like tanks. The Charles Darwin research station gives an unparalleled look at the tortoises up close. There is a breeding program there that lets you look at the baby tortoises that are being raised to be returned to their home island. The research station has saved tortoise species from extinction. The trips to the mountain ranches that have wild tortoises living on them are also priceless. Seeing hundreds of tortoises in their natural environment doing their own thing, not worried about you, is a lot of fun to watch.
Life on a Boat
The only down side to spending ten days motoring the islands of the Galapagos is that I get sea sick. I would recommend this holiday even if you get sick, just pack in some of the wrist straps that help with the sea sickness, and plenty of anti-nausea pills. There were almost always three activities each day including at least one island walk that got you off the boat for a bit. Other then the sea toilets, that you honestly just get used to, and the fact that everything was either strapped down or it moved, life was kinda luxury. The boats are designed to feel amazing and the food is second to none. Although if you are prone to sea sickness I would eat a little bit less the first couple of days until your stomach settles. Even though it was a boat, it was comparable to a fancy hotel in terms of services and food.
Here is just a small selection of photos of some of the wildlife that lives in the Galapagos Islands.