A Trip To Remember: The Enchanting Beauty Of The Galapagos Islands
It all started when...
We saw a spray out in the distance, possibly our imaginations playing with our minds, as we had been told by our guides that whales sightings are common when crossing this specific channel during the winter season, but we didn’t want to get our hopes too high. Can we be so lucky to spot blue whales on your first trip to the Galapagos?
Then again, there it was, another spray of water, this time closer and more intense, blurring the view against the horizon. It was the 16th of August 2018, a date even our naturalist guide Fabricio noted down. On that day, across the immense Pacific ocean, just off the shores of Isabela island, we spotted two blue whales placidly gliding through the water. The biggest animals in the world were right there in front of us, in one of those rare events that will be impossible to ever forget. If you think we the passengers were excited, you should have should have seen Fabricio! This was the first time he had ever spotted a blue whale in thirty six years of work in the Galapagos archipelago. We almost felt ashamed of our beginner's luck!
This day was just one of the highlights of our incredible week spent cruising through the Galapagos islands, without a shade of a doubt the best trip of our lives.
During these seven days we crossed the equator line seven times and touched the shores of six different islands. We saw blue whales and dolphins riding the waves, swam with sea lions, reef sharks, turtles and iguanas. We observed the pristine underwater world and walked the millenary lava rocks. An experience, almost difficult to capture in words, which forever changed our appreciation and also heightened our respect for nature.
The beauty of traveling by boat across the archipelago is that you are able to reach areas that otherwise would be impossible to visit, as the day trips from the main towns don’t sail that far. To our surprise and delight, we learned that 97% of the archipelago is protected and not accessible by anyone, beside research teams or the Ecuadorian Government. Of the remaining 3%, only 1% is dedicated to tourism, which is highly regulated in terms of access and sustainability norms. We were very inspired by the way the national park is managed. As our guide made us notice, the Galapagos islands are probably the only place in the world which was the same 100 years ago and will be the same 100 years from now.
On our first descend onto one of the millenary islands, called Genovesa, we had our first encounter with the local, endemic wildlife. Blue and red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, & frigatebirds were all taking care of their newborn chicks. Everywhere we looked there were this strangely named, beautiful birds flying around. It felt as if we stepped onto a fairytale land, where birds had colourful feet and humans and animals could speak to each other (Fabricio even had is own trademarked whistle to call the birds).
As the underwater world is so rich and pristine, snorkeling was one of our favourite activities. Our best snorkel session must have been by Santiago island, where in the freezing water we spotted two white tip reef sharks gliding at the bottom of the sea, while next to us sea lions twirled in their playful manner and turtles snacked on seagrass, unbothered by our presence. We were so awestruck that we kept making hilarious screams of surprise, blowing bubbles out of our masks.
What kind of a trip would it be if we didn’t have at least one funny episode to recount! During one of our snorkeling missions, while we were busy observing colourful sea stars sitting at the bottom of the bay, we spotted a couple of flightless cormorants, an endemic species of birds who arrived in the Galapagos by flight and subsequently stopped flying, hence the funny name. They clearly also spotted us and our flashy snorkeling gear with colourful details. We don’t yet know if they were bothered by our colour matching choices or just curious about our presences, but one of them jumped into the water and started to chase us and finally managed to bite JP on his bum. We are still laughing about it!
The Galapagos islands are like a book which holds an endless wisdom. It holds the story of our planet in its purest original essence. An extraordinary story that if preserved properly will teach our future generations where we came from and where we are headed.
We left the Galapagos island with an enhanced sensitivity to the importance of conservation and with the hope to be able to experience, soon, another part of the world where animals roam wild and nature is as majestic.
And what better place than Tanzania!
Visiting Tanzania has been one of our life long dreams and by entering Yellow Zebra Safaris’ Tanzania competition we might be a step closer to make it a reality.
Since he was a child, Jean-Pierre, from South Africa, dreamt of being able to visit Tanzania, safaris being one of his all time favourite adventures. While Anastasia, during her two years living in South Africa had not been able to visit Tanzania, leaving her dream equally as strong.
There are countless reasons why we would love to visit Tanzania with Yellow Zebra Safaris.
In Selous Game reserve we could have a walking safari and experience the feeling of being on the same ground as the big five. While in the Serengeti we could feel the force of nature, observing the wildebeest herds migrate across the African savannahs. To finish off we could enjoy the beautiful white beaches of Zanzibar and the warm Indian ocean. There are few other experiences that fill our souls more than being in the African wilderness, a place we miss everyday.
With the hope of being the two lucky winner of this exceptional experience, we’ll go back to dream of elephants and the orange African sunsets.
If you want to see more photos from Tanzania make sure to follow @yellowzebrasafaris!