If there was ever one trip to rid you of your bucket list, then this was the one.
Schooling Hammerheads, Whale Sharks, Blue Footed Boobies, Massive Galapagos Sharks, Hunting Orcas, Fur Seals, Sea Lions, Galapagos Penguins, Marine Iguanas, Yellow Fin Tuna, Mola Mola, Giant Trevally, HUGE schools of Jacks, Lava Tubes, Ancient volcanic craters. and the list just goes on. IT WAS THAT GOOD….
After travelling all over Peru and climbing to the World Heritage Listed inca fortress of Machu Picchu, our trip continued to another World Heritage site which is the birth place of the theory of evolution.
16 lucky adventures from around the world joined us on a trip of a life time to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador in South America. The Galapagos Islands have formed over millions of years of volcanic activity with some older islands already subsided below the surface of the ocean, with newer islands still being formed today. It is one of the most unique and isolated habitats in the world, which is why it is home to endless numbers of endemic specifies found no where else on the planet! Charles Darwin visited this volcanic archipelago in 1835 where he continued to develop his theory of natural selection and the theory of the evolution of species.
We started our expedition flying into a small airport in Baltra which is a small flat island located near the centre of the Galápagos. The island was created by geological uplift millions of years ago and is very arid; with vegetation consisting of salt bushes, prickly pear cacti and palo santo trees. Even the drive from the airport was exciting as everything was new and different to anything we had ever seen before. We boarded our vessel the Galapagos Aggressor Live-a-board and did our first gear check dive that afternoon. After the check dive we sailed to Santa Cruz Island to further explore that area and do some more dives. We climbed to the summit of Bartolome island which overlooked an unforgettable volcanic vista that left everyone speechless. One the way back from the climb, our dinghy’s took us over to look at our first Blue Footed Boobies, Sea Lions, Fur Seals and Galapagos Penguins! The boobies were definitely the highlight though.
Wolf & Darwin Island was what everyone was waiting for. After watching endless reels of David Attenborough documentaries leading up to the trip, we knew the ocean was teaming with life there and it was going to one of the highlights of the trip. When we arrived in the morning after a full nights steam, from the moment we all looked out to the ocean we knew we would not be disappointed. The oceans surface bubbled with fish activity, and the sky was laden with circling birds ready to dive. After the dive brief in the lounge area, we all frantically donned our gear and jumped onto the dinghy’s. It was something special. We had endless shoals of Hammer head & Galapagos sharks, spotted eagle rays, and masses of fish. There was a slight current on all dives, we basically just held onto the rock and watch the world go by. Several Whale Sharks gracefully passed by, giving everyone on the trip a chance to get close up to the giants of the sea. Wolf and Darwin Island had been breathtaking experiences, both above and below the surface.
From there we cruised to Cabo Douglas & Isabela islands. When we arrived we pulled up in front of a black volcanic land laden with marine iguanas and turtles. During the dive briefing we had 2 large killer whales (Orcas) hunting a school of large fish off in the distance which was a unexpected but pleasant surprise. The first dive was away from the colony of Marine Iguanas because they require the heat of the sun to warm their bodes before they have the energy to take to the ocean to feed. So we we headed off to an adjacent headland to do a drift along the coast line. This dive we swam with a group of Mola Mola (Sun Fish) and also walking Bat Fish which are two of the most peculiar looking animals in the ocean. The Mola Mola are about 1.5m round and look like a squashed lotto ball. The Bat Fish look like a Bat crossed with a fish. They have strange skin folds between arm like appendages which they use to walk around on the sand. Oh, and they have hairy noses and lips. How funny is that!
After this dive we made our back to Marine Iguanas and got to dive with the colony for nearly an hour. The Marine Iguana is only found on the Galapagos islands and has the ability, unique among modern lizards, to live and forage in the sea, making is a marine reptile. They can grow to up to 1.7m long and weigh up to 12 kilograms. They have been recorded to dive to over 10m into the ocean to feed on bright green algae that grows on rocks. When we dived with them we sighted most of them shallower than 5m from the surface. At the end of this dive we found a breeding pair of large Sea Horses said to be endemic to the area, which was great to see.
We ended the trip with some land based hikes to see the Giant Galapagos Tortoise in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. They are HUGE and was such a privilege to see in their natural environment. Today the group also walked through a long Lava tube and got down and dirty on our hands and knees to crawl through parts of it. It was hard to believe it was a natural feature and not man made. Later that day we got to visit the world renowned Charles Darwin Research Station where we got to see all the different species of Tortoises and to hear about their breeding program they have in place to help protect them for the future. To wrap up the day, we had dinner in town at Santa Cruz with some great wine, nice food and even better company. Was a perfect end to a great trip.
If I needed to wrap up the experience in a few words it would have to be “Unforgettably breathtaking”… It really was everything we had wanted it to be and more.
Thanks to everyone who came, and we look forward to seeing you all soon.