This February my daughter and I had the opportunity to travel to the Galapagos Islands. We were excited about the vacatoin but the actual trip was even better than what we had expected. With all the winter storms, we almost didn’t make it and had to change our travel plans at the last minute.
Once we got on our ship things went very smoothly. The naturalists on board were not only knowledgeable but also passionate about the Galapagos Islands and keen on preserving the flora and fauna of that unique place. I think their enthusiasm made the trip so much more interesting and memorable. There were about one hundred people on our ship and we met many interesting, thoughtful and fun people on board.
I had first learned about Charles Darwin in school in India. When I attended Iowa State University, I took a class on evolution and learned in great detail about Darwin’s theory of natural selection and also read his book, The Origin of Species. Ever since that time the Galapagos had a special place in my head but not in my heart. This trip changed that.
The wildlife was spectacular. The giant tortoises are something of a wonder and to see many of them roaming in the wilderness was made more precious by the fact that they were almost extinct. The Charles Darwin Foundation on Santa Cruz island does a tremendous job to preserve these tortoises.
To see the sea lions, lava lizards, iguanas, and giant tortoises so close and in their natural environment was amazing, but the most touching part was how close we were able to get to the various birds like blue-footed and red-footed boobies. They were not afraid of us. On one of the walks a nazca booby was on our path. Everyone in my group walk past it so I tried to do the same. He pecked me! He didn’t puncture my skin but it was unexpected. The fact that these animals are not caged and tourist have to keep to the trail and designated parts of the beaches added to our experience.
Tourists in Galapagos are allowed to take pictures but nothing else. All the seashells, feathers, and pieces of lava rocks are off-limits. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t bring back “souvenirs and trinkets” from the Galapagos. Just seeing this place was enough to fill our heads and hearts with memories that will last a lifetime.