Consisting of 18 volcanic islands and home to a rich variety of marine and land creatures, the Galapagos Islands are often the main reason to visit Ecuador, because they are quite simply unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Original Travel client Rosemary tells us about her experience on board Eric, one of the luxury (despite the name) ships that explore these islands...
Sailing through the Galapagos on Eric...
Our trip aboard Eric was a magical experience, and a thoroughly unique holiday. After trying out our snorkelling equipment on day one, swimming with the sea lions and becoming acquianted with our new best friends, the Booby family, we sailed off for the furthest island on our tour, Genovesa. There, we spent the morning surrounded by friendly Red Footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Frigate Birds, Darwin's Finches and Sea Lions. In the afternoon we snorkelled with sea lions and spotted gloriously colourful fish, including a scorpion fish and a very large lobster.
Swimming with sea turtles
Our itinerary over the next six days covered another seven islands - each offering an unforgettable experience. Swimming with sea turtles below us while being watched from the rocks by some curious iguanas and boobies on Isabella Island was pretty special! White Tipped Reef Sharks glided majestically through the clear waters off Santiago, while Manta Rays buried themselves deep into the sandy sea bed and schools of Sergeant Major fish swam by. It was almost too much to take in.
Hiking on Espanola Island
On land, our hike on Espanola Island rewarded us with the rare privilege of seeing Albatross nesting, courting and apparently completely ignoring their very large offspring, who seemed to be dotted at random all over the island! Watching an Albatross take off on their 'runway' was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. Here, too, we saw some Blue Footed Boobies doing their courting dance, while others had already laid their eggs or had hatchlings.
While we always knew that we were lucky to be in their territory, we never once felt that we were disturbing these lovely birds. Our last days rewarded us with the sight of the famous giant tortoises. These animals are positively pre-historic, but it was lovely to see them in their natural habitat. It was also very reassuring to discover that one of the most famous inhabitants of the Galapagos, Lonesome George, is lonesome no longer - he has six females all now vying for his attention.