Last week, I returned from a trip in the Galapagos Islands – it truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity. As I was flying back to Raleigh, I was left with a feeling of sadness about leaving this amazing place, where I got to see amazing animals that I will most likely never get to see again, at least in the wild. It was an inspiring reminder of the wonders of this beautiful world that we live in – something that is easy to forget as I settle back into my everyday life back here in civilization. There was a group of 13 of us, and we spent 7 days on a 78-foot yacht with room for 14, and I will say that I never thought I would enjoy my time on a boat as much as I did for this trip (generally, I hate boats). After a few days of rough water, we were very fortunate to have great weather and calm seas.
We chased dolphins around the middle of the Pacific Ocean so we could snorkel with them. I saw a mom, baby, and dad dolphin dive directly below me. Each time we saw the pod and it moved on, it was ‘una mas!’ and we were back on the dinghies to follow them again. It was an exhilarating morning, to say the least.
The sea lions…oh the sea lions! They were so cute – like little puppies that you wanted to cuddle. We saw them sunbathing, swimming, playing, fighting, nursing, rolling around in the surf.
We only had one day of all rain, and it was still a great day. We played board games, read, and napped. AND in the afternoon, we snorkeled in the rain with penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles! It was an awesome experience, and I’m so glad that I went! Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of this…there were many times on this trip when I wished I had an underwater housing for my camera!
We got within inches of giant tortoises – they’re amazing creatures. My trip was officially made at this point. Almost all of the animals on the islands don’t react to human presence, due to a lack of natural predators. Mostly if we stayed low and moved slowly (so they didn’t think we were being aggressive), we could get very close, and if we stayed still, they would come to us.
We saw Nazca boobies nesting and babies in all stages of life – eggs, tiny and newly hatched, fuzzy, almost as large as adults, and fully grown.
We saw Blue footed boobies, who really looked like they had stepped in buckets of blue paint – their feet were so bright!
We saw both brown and white red footed boobies.
I didn’t realize that they had blue beaks – they were so colorful and pretty.
We saw Blue-footed boobies, sea lions, penguins, and marine iguanas all resting on the same rock, a respite from the rain and surf. In short….I saw all the animals you learn about and read about, and it was so cool to see them in the wild, up close.
Our tour guide, Juan, was amazing – he was incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He really gave us an education while we were there, but without making us feel like we were ‘learning’. He would get so excited about everything that it really made the trip. He grew up in the Galapagos, and has been doing tours for years, so it’s clear that he really loves his job and the islands, and loves showing people these amazing animals, places, and plants.
As I begin my job search in earnest, Juan’s enthusiasm and love for his job is on my mind – and I’m hopeful and determined to find a job that allows me to be happy, joyful, and grateful every day.
My trip by the numbers:
Days on the boat: 7
Days total: 12
Number of islands visited: 6 (Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Marchena, Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana)
Number of tortoises seen in the wild: 12
Number of photos taken: 1,620
Rainy days: 1
Games of Rummikub played: countless
Number of people on the tour: 13
Times I swam in the middle of the Pacific: 2
Times we crossed the Equator: 2
More of my pictures posted here on Flickr.
P.S. Happy Leap Day!