My Galapagos Expedition

Galapagos baby sea lion

marine iguana in the Galapagos

Galapagos sea lions

We’ve returned from a fantastic tour of the Galapagos Islands, where the native language is Spanish, the currency is the U.S. dollar, and life moves at a rather slow pace... That is unless you’re on a boat where the activities are carefully organized into the 12 hours of daylight available. Our daily schedule looked something like this:

6:45 breakfast

7:30 panga to nearest island, hike to see... (flightless cormorants, blue footed boobies, red footed boobies, nazca boobies, albatross, sea lions, fur seals, sea turtles, penguins, marine iguanas, galapagos hawks, lava lizards, pink flamingoes, giant tortoises) or any combination of these critters, depending on the island being visited.

10:00 snorkeling. Look for... choices include: rays, sea lions, fish, sharks, penguins, sea turtles, man of war, jelly fish, starfish

12:00 lunch

2:00 panga to nearest island, hike to see... (see above)

4:00 swim or snorkel to see... (see above)

6:30 meeting

7:00 dinner

There were variations of this schedule every day. For instance, some days there would be a late breakfast. Breakfast would then be at 7am. One day breakfast was really late... 8am. On that day there was a hike scheduled for 6:30am.

This is the small boat, called a panga, that we traveled in to nearby islands each day.

panga

For each activity the crew would ring a bell that was located in the dining area. We quickly got to know the “time to eat” bell from the “head out the door” bell, and would salivate like Pavlov’s dogs three times a day.

Our sweet server, Luis, not only served all our meals and snacks, he also made sure our sheets and towels were clean every day. And oh man could he dance! But that’s another story.

Luis

The Galapagos Islands are located just off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, on the equator. The sun drops below the horizon at 6pm, and it’s dark by 6:08. The sun pops up promptly at 6am. We were on a 70-foot yacht (the Daphne) which motored to one of nine islands during the 12 hours of darkness. It was best to get yourself into a horizontal position and eyes closed before the boat began moving to avoid losing your dinner. I took a couple Dramamine at bedtime, which helped immensely. Some nights when seas were particularly rough, we would hear objects sliding off surfaces, crashing onto the shiny lacquered hardwood floors inside the boat. We quickly learned to tie things down before travel time. Most nights the gentle swaying rocked me to sleep.

sunset in the Galapagos

Sleeping berths on the Daphne are tiny, but cozy. Bunk beds are built into one wall. The lower bunk is a little wider than the top, so M and I slept in the lower bunk and stashed our gear on the top bunk. There is a small closet on one wall and two drawers under the bunks for storing clothes. Each bedroom has its own small bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink. You are not allowed to put any toilet paper into the toilet, that must be placed in a garbage can (this took a while to get used to).

During our morning hike, staff was busy changing sheets in all the cabins and leaving us fresh towels folded into animals or shells on top of the bunks. They always greeted us at the door after each excursion with freshly baked treats and/or fresh fruit and juice. After snorkeling they greeted us with steaming cups of mexican hot chocolate. Yum!

Next up: I’ll tell you about our pre- and post-Galapagos expedition (or how fun it is to fly the friendly skies these days).

Hasta mañana...

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