Travel in South America is often dominated by the big players: your Brazils, Argentinas, Perus and Chiles. But little Ecuador, sandwiched between the white caps of the Pacific and the humid lowlands of the Amazon basin, is the equal of any of them.
The term ‘trip of a lifetime’ gets bandied about a lot these days, possibly too freely, but for Lee Bethune travelling to the Galapagos Islands lived up to the expectations that comes with such an assured claim…
“Over 1000km west of the mainland of Ecuador, I thought there would have to be something special and there was… it was the Galapagos Islands.
Just imagine the Galapagos…with no majestic giant tortoise, no quizzical looking blue footed boobies, no sea lions taking over the park benches on the water front, or no dinosaur-like marine iguanas sun-baking on the rocks.
It’s a scary thought – but if not for one action 50 years ago, that’s how the Galapagos Islands could be now.
The Galapagos Islands have long been a destination for the most adventurous and curious of travellers.
Today, the most common way for people to see the incredible wildlife of this Ecuadorian province is by boat, much like Charles Darwin did. However, for Intrepid travellers looking for more in-depth Galapagos tours, you really need to stay on the islands themselves to fully appreciate the incredible creatures for which the islands are famous.
No doubt about it. The sheer abundance of wildlife in the Galapagos is enough to overwhelm even the most ardent nature fan.
From sea lions to tortoises, to blue-footed boobies and rare iguanas, you’ll quickly lose yourself in the many wonders of these incredible islands.
For most of us it’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, so you want to make sure you cover off all the highlights and then some. Here, travel bloggers and possibly the most adventurous couple we know, The Planet D, nominate their must-see experiences on a tour of the Galapagos…
Some adventures are many years in the making, but as Lee Bethune discovered, coming up with the idea to visit the Galapagos archipelago was one of her best travel decisions yet…
“Why hadn’t I thought of doing this trip sooner? As soon as I arrived in the Galapagos Islands I wondered why it had taken me so long to explore this incredible place. I felt like I was stepping onto a movie set of Jurassic Park, but it was real and I had to constantly pinch myself!
The 19 islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago are a genuinely unique travel experience. From amazing encounters with rare wildlife, to meeting locals who cling to their ancestral traditions, Intrepid’s Cara Brown discovered that these equatorial islands have a way of changing the way you think about our world…
“Crystal clear water, the sand between my toes and a hard-earned beer in my hands… welcome to the Galapagos Islands, situated 1000km west from the coast of Ecuador. It is my 2nd day on the beautiful island of Isabela and she is seducing us in every way. Let me start off by telling you that the Galapagos is not your average island getaway. As my eyes focus on the landscape that surrounds me I take in everything; white sandy beaches, volcanic rock, sentinel-looking cacti and lush farming lands.
Sadly the local hero of the Galapagos Islands, known fondly as ‘Lonesome George’, was found dead on Sunday, 24 June, 2012. George was a Galapagos tortoise and tragically it seems likely that his death marks the end of the Pinta Island subspecies.
It was hoped that he had many good breeding years in him yet, as he was thought to be a sprightly 100 and they often live close to 200 years, but there’s been no romance for George in a long time and attempts to produce George Juniors or little Georginas have all failed. George lived at the Charles Darwin Research Station, where he had become a symbol for the Galapagos Islands and pin-up boy for endangered species.
Even if you’re not competitive by nature, when you are egged on by a cheeky sea lion in the Galapagos Islands Summer Davis discovers that you have no choice but to take up the challenge and be thankful that you’ve put in the hard yards in the pool…
“Swirling under a cyclone of bubbles, a spirited sea lion stares sweetly into your snorkel mask, its puppy dog eyes pleading to play with you. Almost twice your size, you freeze with fear, then realise this hefty mammal means no harm as it dives down in circles below you. Let the games begin!
Just across the border in Ecuador, and a short distance north of Quito, is a small town where the women are renowned for their remarkable weaving skills and vibrant textiles. Visit mid-week and you might think this to be a quiet village, but as Intrepid’s Summer Davis explains, come the weekend you’ll see the true colours of this Indian market town…
“Rowdy roosters ring in the sunrise as the faint sound of clanging metal and bustling vendors signals Saturday morning in Otavalo. Not yet six o’clock, early risers assure their tables will be set-up before the mayhem of marketing begins.