Lost World:Galapagos Islands

Jeff and Melody with penguin

I didn’t realize how many preconceived notions I had about the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. When I booked my trip, I was looking forward to seeing animals, sea life and a few birds in their natural habitat but I wasn’t prepared for the vast numbers of sea lions,
marine iguanas as well as the great variety of spectacular birds.

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Traveling by ship is the best way to see the magnificent Galapagos Islands and the smaller the ship, the better. Our itinerary for the seven night journey took us first to Genovesa
in the north, then east to Fernandina, a relatively young island half a million years old. We then worked westward through successively older islands back to San Cristobal, crossing the equator four times.Galapagos 655

The Galapagos Islands sit right atop the equator: an archipelago of volcanic peaks spread across 50,000 square miles from stark Fernandina to relatively fertile Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal. They are separated from the mainland of South America by 600 miles of very deep water and lie at the confluence of marine currents from the Antarctic, equatorial Pacific and South American coast. The hot and cold water temperatures give rise to a wild diversity of habitats and creatures adapted to them. Any month is good to visit butOctober is particularly special because of all the newborns and hatchlings we saw.

Galapagos 116

We snorkeled with penguins, white tipped sharks, sea turtles and sea lions, and came face to face with the giant tortoises which are the signature animals of the islands. We stepped into a veritable maternity ward with dozens of sea lions nursing their newborns. Ambling along the shoreline of Santiago, we came across fur sea lions, a species that was once
on the verge of extinction. The many animals and exotic birds took my breath away time and time again, and reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. We hiked along ancient lava tunnels and felt like explorers going back to the beginning of time.

Galapagos 797

I knew there would be birds on each island but was not prepared for the volume, diversity and implausible beauty. One day, we crossed the equator towards Genovesa, a volcanic
caldera that is home to many bird species and saw red-footed boobies with their scarlet webbed feet, Nasca boobies, Galapagos mocking birds with their piercing eyes, four species of Darwin Finches and the elusive short eared owl as it hunted over an open lava field.

Magnificent Frigate Bird

As we entered a forest of cactus and mangroves where great frigate birds were nesting, the males inflated their striking red throat pouches to attract females as they flew overhead.
Snorkeling was a focal point andI was soon enraptured by the colorful
inhabitants of the crystal clear water: angel fish, parrot fish, yellow tailed graits, surgeonfish, sea urchins, white tipped reef sharks, sting rays and chocolate-chip star fish (yes, that is their name).Wanna fight?

Jumping off the Zodiac into the deep, crystal clear water for the first time to snorkel, I expected balmy bath-like water but I yelped like a sea lion once I hit the ice-cold water even though I had a wet suit on. Currents from the Antarctic explained not only the delightfully tiny Galapagos penguins but also were the reason many in our group were wearing two wet suits at once.

Sparkly sea star

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As Santiago Dunn, President of Ecoventura says, “Galapagos is the type of place where nature and simplicity rule and less is often more.” We saw signs reminding us “Be prepared to leave only your footprints and only take away photographs and memories.” We have many of both.

Galapagos 178

Mona Lisa Smile

Jeff and sealionas published in activeover50.com , July, 2013

Melody’s trip was sponsored by Ecoventura, www.ecoventura.com

 

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About The blog of travel & lifestyle journalist Melody Wren

Melody is a freelance writer because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. She writes about travel, food, lifestyle and green living. Melody loves staying in a place long enough to get acquainted. Local customs, markets and traditional cultures are magnets for this writer. When not writing she’s either on the road, in the air, or savoring something tasty. Most of her travels feature outdoor adventures of some sort, although she typically avoids sleeping on the ground. She is an ordinary person that enjoys challenging and pushing herself, facing fears with an eye on experiential travel. She needs to do it, feel it and see it so she can write about it. Her hope is that her stories encourage readers to get out there and do the same.
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5 Responses to Lost World:Galapagos Islands

  1. Hi Melody – hope the course in Southampton went well. Good for you for getting published in activeover50 !

  2. Hi Carol,
    the course is just coming up this weekend, and hope it goes smoothly. thanks for visiting the blog!

  3. 28fchi says:

    Awesome post! I used ur pic and story as part of my blog, List of Living (http://listofliving.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/galapagos-ecuador/) Thank you for your stories and keep being an inspiration! :)

  4. Pingback: Galapagos | ECUADOR | List of Living!

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