This was a great trip. Not easy or relaxing, but one of the most active, diverse and stimulating trips I have ever taken.
Of course, most of the credit goes to the destination. The wildlife in the Galapagos is unique and diverse – sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, two kinds of iguanas (land and marine), frigate birds, finches, pelicans, gulls, boobies, herons, sharks, all kinds of fish, and my personal favorite, the giant tortoises. Some of the best wildlife viewing in my adventure travel life.
The scenery is almost as diverse – from sea, beach and dry forest with lots of cactus along the coast to lush cloud forests, volcanic calderas, and lava fields in the highlands.
All this plus a diversity of activity that far exceeds most trips, adventure or otherwise. Rather than laying on activity just to live up to the tour operator’s description of the trip as “an active, multi-sport adventure,” the different activities – hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and biking – were intrinsic to what we were seeing and doing. Each offered the best way to experience the particular aspect that was our focus for that morning, afternoon, or day.
The absolute level of activity was also high. There was little down time (e.g., most of my blogs post were written at 5 am and usually 2-3 days after the experiences I was writing about). The trip was clearly designed to squeeze as much out of our time in the Galapagos as possible.
As earlier posts noted, the accommodations and food were excellent. I wasn’t able to work in mention of our last hotel, the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn on Santa Cruz Island, in earlier blog posts. It was the most luxurious. The room was huge and the dining area overlooked the bay. But it’s hard to pick our favorite – the ceviche and the view from our room at the Opuntia and the spa on the roof of the Iguana Crossing are hard to beat. I would be happy to stay at either of the three hotels if I ever have a chance to return to the Galapagos.
But the most important element of the trip, aside from the destination itself, was our tour leader, Alfredo Meneses. He was knowledgeable, amiable, and flexible, always thinking, planning and adapting to work around changes in our itinerary necessitated by weather and Katherine’s blisters. Even more important than that, he brought the story of the Galapagos to life, particularly its role in Charles Darwin’s work. I never really thought about it before, or if I did, I never completely grasped what was so unique and important about the Galapagos and the revolutionary impact of the place on our lives and our understanding of our world. I guess other guides could have done the same thing, but I doubt with as much verve and enthusiasm as Alfredo.
A couple of final words. The photo at the beginning of this post was taken at the fish market on the docks in Puerto Ayora, the main town on Santa Cruz Island. I liked the photo and was looking for a place to use it, so I dropped it in at the beginning even though it has nothing to do with the subject matter.
Our hotels in Quito before and after the Galapagos trip were Casa Aliso and Hostal La Rabida. Both were excellent. Adventure Life, the tour operator and our hosts for this trip, made all of the arrangements, including the hotels in Quito and the city tour described in an earlier post.