These islands are a unique living museum of evolutionary change and provide the chance to get to know a variety of exotic species endemic to this Archipelago. They are the perfect setting for witnessing the evolutionary changes which have led to a new understanding of life on earth. Animals unafraid of man, and so different from any others found elsewhere, make visitors wonder about their own existence on our planet. Among the animals found are the different species of giant Galapagos Tortoises that gave the islands their name, a variety of birds and marine mammals such as iguanas, sea lions, dolphins and whales, as well as a great number of fish. Among the flora, the most distinctive are mangroves and the endemic cacti.
Our flight to the Galapagos Islands was a two stage affair - the first was to pick up more passengers on the mainland at Guayaquil, the second took us the 735 miles straight out to sea.
Once landed on one of the islands, Baltra, we witnessed our suitcases being sniffed by dogs looking for fruit and then we transferred by first minibus and then panga (a flat bottomed rubberized launch) to join the MV Santa Cruz for our five-night cruise.
The boat was a 95 capacity high-end ship with all mod cons. In fact our upper deck cabin was large, comfortable and well worth the slightly extra £95 we paid for 'Darwin Elite'. Floor to ceiling windows gave us a spectacular views of the sea throughout the voyage. We also got given a goodie bag which contained a sun hat, snorkel and book. Our package also included free soft drinks, turn-down service, better bedding, free wet-suit hire, a free bottle of wine and a free beer with every dinner. Nice.
The crew were very friendly and after a buffet lunch transferred us by panga to visit North Seymour Island.
Dennis was to be our guide for this and almost every other trip during our cruise. He was a local chap and knew the place like the back of his hand taking us to all the special places and giving us the inside info.
On North Seymour Island we spent three wonderful hours trailing through a magnificent barren landscape of brown volcanic rock and petrified silver trees to get right up and personal with (i.e. a couple of feet away from) nesting blue-footed boobies, sunbathing marine iguanas, mating frigates with their puffed out red chests, and suckling sealions. The sealion pups were utterly adorable. It was a life changing experience.
After sunset and back on board we had a fire drill followed by a four course dinner and then an early night exhausted from the marvels of the day.
We were going to enjoy this trip.