Our founder visited the Galapagos last year and embarked upon a Galapagos family adventure. Here is a quick look at their trip to the ‘land that time forgot’ and how staying on the islands gave a different perspective.
Meeting your destination hero
Ever since I can remember I have been entranced by the Galapagos. Finally, during my 40th year on the planet we took the family to visit my destination hero. Sat on the plane leaving Quito excited to be finally visiting the Galapagos I started to worry: after watching decades of wildlife documentaries with David Attenborough and the gang, what if the Galapagos didn’t live up to my expectations? What if it was all hype, what if the wildlife was ‘blink and you miss it’? Would it in fact be hugely commercialised and not be the idyllic sanctuary I had always dreamed of?
I shouldn’t have been concerned. My encounter with the Islands was astounding. It surpassed every single thought I had ever had.
Within an hour of arriving we had high-fived our guide and we’re out exploring. The wildlife and their attitude towards us was unbelievable. I’ve read countless tales of how tame the animals were but nothing prepared us for the reality of how entwined animals are with human life. A Sea-lion sprawled on a porch, directly blocking a resident’s doorway made one of our children ask,”how will the people get out of their house?. “They won’t”, explained our guide., “they’ll need to wait until the Sea lion moves on”. This particularly appealed to my 11 year old son who immediately thought of the benefits this would bring in terms of missing school. Another sea-lion lay on the main walkway just outside our hotel. We watched as bikers dismounted, runners walked and children stopped, all to make sure they didn’t disturb the animal. In the Galapagos, animals have more rights than humans, something the local people take very seriously.
Possibly the highlight of our trip was the diving/snorkelling trip out to Kicker Rock. We swam with turtles, rays, sea lions – even hammerhead sharks. The amount of wildlife here is breathtaking, we were never far away from something utterly breathtaking. We were in absolute awe of our surroundings and once again, the Galapagos Island’s didn’t disappoint.
A local Galapagos land based itinerary.
We decided our visit to the Galapagos wouldn’t include a cruise. Firstly, staying on shore meant it was way more relaxed for the kids. Other than a couple of pre-arranged activities our time was spent at a slow, uninterrupted pace that suited us and our children. Our first three nights were spent on San Cristobal before taking a private boat transfer to Santa Cruz for the remainder of our trip.
Secondly, with only 10% of money generated from tourism staying on the islands and all other money going to the cruise ship companies, airlines etc it was important to us that our dollars stayed on the island. Galapagos has strict rules over who can live on the islands. If your family are not born in the Galapagos you can’t live there permanently. It therefore becomes extra important local people are given the tools, funds and the experience to continue to look after this most special archipelago.
Land based itineraries are definitely becoming more popular, hidden eco lodges and hip hotels are starting to pop up over the islands.
The Galapagos Islands are often thought of as a place to visit when you have retired, a place you go as a couple who have finally got round to ticking it off the bucket list. Our kids were mesmerized, entranced by the wildlife. Remembering their screeches of excitement will live in my heart forever. I am convinced, visiting the Galapagos has shown them how marvellous our planet is and how important preservation efforts are to protect this little gem.
We have a brilliant land based itinerary and also an excellent opportunity to give back and work first-hand with shark scientists striving to make a real impact on the current crisis facing shark populations. Please get in touch if you’d like have a chat through some options for your family galapagos adventure.