My First Visit to the Galapagos
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
I'll be honest, The Galapagos wasn't originally on my list of bucket list destinations. I couldn't really tell you why, it just wasn't at the top of my mind whenever I thought of my dream travel destinations.
A while back I started following a successful travel blogger who also has her own all-female travel company. She had traveled to The #Galapagos in 2016 and was now organizing a trip for her travel company.
The application process to join the trip started right after I had returned from a family vacation to Europe. I had no expectations what so ever while filling out the application. Right away I knew this was going to be a popular and once in a life time trip to join and no way did I think I had filled out the application in time to make the cut. But after coming home from my family trip, I had some inspiration to go out of my comfort zone and try to travel to new destinations. I then saw the notice at the top of my social media feed that my favorite travel blogger was putting together this #luxury cruise around the Galapagos, and I took it as a sign.
About a week later, I got the email I had been waiting on pins and needles for. I had been accepted for the trip! I now had 48 hours to send them the deposit and officially reserve my spot. I thought I was excited before about this adventure, but then I looked more into exactly what the trip included and my excitement mounted considerably.
8 days 7 night aboard a brand new luxury yacht
5 star service and catering
all the wine my heart desired
daily excursions including hiking and snorkeling (my favorite activity since we lived in Florida 5 years ago) with two professional guides
a brand new #gopro hero 8
daily morning yoga
getting up close and personal with some amazing wildlife that I would never be able to do in any other location on the planet.
After 8 months of researching what to pack, purchasing my round-trip airfare and travel insurance, and mounting excitement, it was finally time to fly from SFO to Quito, Ecuador to meet up with the rest of the girls joining the trip. From there we would board another flight to the island of San Cristobal in The Galapagos where we would meet our guides who would then take us on a quick 5 minute bus ride to the docks where a couple of skiffs were docked that would then take us to our yacht.
And then our trip officially began! Our crew wasted no time getting us started on our daily excursions. We were quickly briefed on safety procedures, assigned rooms and roommates as well as given our snorkel equipment. Then it was off on our first hike!
The Galapagos is a national park so there were specific hours that we were allowed to enter the park, and the various islands that encompass it, to do our hiking and snorkeling excursions. Our day to day itinerary went something like this:
9:00 - 11:00 hike/walk
15:00 - 16:00 snorkel
16:45 - 18:15 hike/walk
On our land excursions, we were immersed into so many different kinds of ecosystems. Dry and rocky terrain, lush green forests, pristine beaches, red clay soil. Each island is unique and is home to all different kinds of wildlife. It was fascinating to hop from island to island on our cruise and witness each island be so different from the last regardless of their proximity to one another. Here is a list of some of the islands that were particularly memorable:
Bartolome Island, where you can climb the stairs to the top of the hill to see the view of Pinnacle Rock.
Espanola Island. Home to the Waved Albatross, Nazca Boobies, and several sea lion colonies.
Santa Cruz Island and Puerto Ayora. With a population of about 24,000, you get the opportunity to explore town and interact with the locals as well as visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center and the privately owned El Chato Tortoise Reserve.
North Seymour Island. Here you'll see frigate birds and the infamous blue footed boobies.
The highlight of our trip for me by far was our time snorkeling. We saw some incredible animals on land, but if we had snorkeled the whole time I would have been a happy camper. I haven't done any quality snorkeling since we lived in the Florida Keys back in 2014, and to say I was excited to do so on this trip is an understatement.
Snorkeling in the Galapagos gives you the opportunity to interact with these animals in a whole new setting. Once in the water, you have the sense that the ocean is their domain, and you are their guest in their home. No matter how comfortable you are in the water, these creatures are ten times more adept at swimming around you, zipping by, twirling underwater and taking a good look at you while you're in their natural habitat.
We had the opportunity to swim with #penguins, sea lions, sea turtles and so many fish I couldn't count them all. The water in the Galapagos was full of so much wildlife, but it is the Pacific Ocean so it's cold and not the most clear. Your'e not going to be swimming in crystal clear water, like the kind you find in the Maldives or the Exumas. We were there at the tail end of the cold and rainy season so there were some days that the water was quite chilly even though it was sunny out. Thankfully the crew on our luxury yacht provided us with wet suites that kept us pretty warm as well as protected from the intense #Equatorial sun.
A couple of my favorite #snorkeling spots were Devil's Crown/Champion Islet, were we saw tons of sea turtles as well as several sea lions; and Bartolome Island, were we swam with the Galapagos Penguins.
Sun protection should be your utmost priority when traveling to the Galapagos. Especially during the rainy months, it is easy to forget how close you actually are to the sun and you can get fried in minutes. During our walking and hiking excursions, I lived in my leggings and lightweight long sleeve tops. On our first day I made the mistake of wearing shorts and not putting sunscreen on my legs and I was severely regretting it the next day. To see a more detailed list of everything I packed for my trip to the Galapagos click HERE.
We had the best time during our cruise around The Galapagos and I am already itching to go back. There really is nothing quite like it. I also cannot recommend more visiting the Galapagos Islands by boat. Cruising the islands by boat gives you a whole new perspective and appreciation for not only for the islands themselves but for the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully the time of year we were in the Galapagos (early November) was at the end of the stormy season so our time on the boat was very pleasant. There were a couple nights where we were moving from one island to another that was slightly rocky. For me, a rocky boat is so relaxing and puts me to sleep, for some of the other girls in our group it made them a little nervous that they would get sea-sick. Thanks to Dramamine, not one of the girls got sea sick while we were on our trip.
Another reason traveling around the Galapagos by boat was such a joy was that we literally had to worry about nothing. Everything was included and planned out for us. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were planned and made for us daily, as well as some snacks in between. Our excursions were carefully thought out, and two professional Galapagos guides were with us every step of the way. Extra equipment we might need including snorkeling gear and extra sunscreen were also provided. I had never been on a trip where I had no worries or stress about making certain times or deadlines. It was so refreshing to have someone else take care of all of the details for a change, and even though our trip was jam packing with activity, it was still a relaxing and fun time because all the details and miner points were taken care of for us.
There are several yachting companies to choose from when cruising around the Galapagos. The company that we went with was called Ecoventura. A Relais and Chateaux awarded company, Ecoventura has three luxury yachts in their fleet to choose from. On our trip we were aboard their brand new, 10 stateroom yacht "Theory". I could not recommend this Galapagos Yachting company more, I can't imagine doing the Galapagos any other way. Our crew were truly experts in everything we did and we were very well taken care of throughout our vacation.
Even though The Galapagos was not on my bucket list originally, I am so happy I was inspired to join this all female tour group to this phenomenal location. There is something about the Galapagos that gives you a renewed sense of appreciate of the world and nature. There are things and moments on these islands that you can not find anywhere else. In all my travels I had never experienced anything quite like what the Galapagos has to offer. I will never forget my adventure here and I will never forget some of the emotions I felt. When I came home I wanted to relive everything from my trip over and over again. Thankfully I have countless videos and images to last me a lifetime, most of which you can see on my Instagram feed. Until I have the opportunity to get back to the Galapagos I will have these physical memories to remind me of my wonderful time there.
I hope after reading this blog I have inspired you to head to the Galapagos just like I was inspired by my favorite travel blogger, The Blonde Abroad. Traveling with her all female travel group TBA Escapes was a travel experience I will never forget nor regret investing in. If you are interesting taking one of her all female tour groups in the future, let them know I referred you!