International Lifestyle Magazine Issue 49 - Page 60

My first piece advice is to research your adventure thoroughly before booking. What time of year, which ship, what are you hoping to see the most? Several species are only seen on certain islands and birds especially only nest at a particular time of the year. This should all be factored in when making your decision. Like me, this could be the only time you go. There are lots of forums, books and DVD’s to help you make the right decision. We booked with Llama Travel, who were very accommodating before, during and after our trip. They were more than happy to tailor make our itinerary and were always on hand to offer advice and answer any questions we had. This is your adventure and for that reason, I will leave the research to you. The second, this is not a restful holiday. There are a few occasions when you get to rest up on deck and most of our group would grab this opportunity to catch up on sleep. Not for me, I didn’t want to miss anything and would sit up on deck the whole time, this worked in my favour when I spotted some Bryde Whales one afternoon. My husband and I spent the most magical, educational, inspiring, jaw dropping and emotional week on board the SS Mary Anne. The other Goonies would have been proud. The crew and Captain were excellent, and operated as a real team. The ship was spotless at all times, as were the cabins. The food was restaurant quality, and there was plenty of it! We were on the go from the moment we arrived on board. Most days consisted of two Panga rides to shore and at least one snorkeling session every day. Each evening our guide Mauricio Garcia would give us a rundown of the following day’s activities. Wet landings, dry landings, what to take, what not to take, and some education around the type of species we might see. They are strict in the Galapagos and rightly so. There are guided paths, stick to them. Don’t drop litter, if you see any, particularly plastic then pick it up take it off the island. Your shoes will be rinsed off after each island to avoid any cross contamination. Respect your guide and crew and listen to them, they know the sea and wildlife better than you do! Perhaps this seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised! The “rich stuff” on our trip was not that of gold and jewels but the wildlife and diverse landscapes – we found plenty of it! Everyday seemed to exceed our expectations, it really did just get better and better. It wasn’t treasure we came away with, but treasured memories. The wildlife is amazing, they don’t take any notice of you. I mean they really take no notice of you! On several occasions we found ourselves stepping over land iguanas, walking through beaches of sea lions and nodding a “good morning” to a range of birds. In fact on one occasion, it almost seemed a little unreal! Mauricio had indicated that we may see a Galapagos Owl. They hunt during the day and therefore if we were lucky we might see one flying around. And so as we rounded a large boulder, there next to a bush there on the floor was the Owl. We looked at him, he looked at us – for about fifteen minutes. In fact, I think the Owl got bored and in the end just sat down until we had finished taking three thousand pictures and had to be dragged away! The Galapagos will exceed all of your expectations. Planning and research is key to a successful trip. Look into everything – Airline, ship, water temperature (for snorkeling) memory cards, shoes, sun tan cream. Remember once you sail off into the sunset there are no shops to pop into!