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Cruising the Galapagos Islands

Monday, 11 July 2016 00:00

Tom from Andean Trails, shares with us his recent experiences of cruising the Galapagos Islands in another of his great guest blogs.

Galapagos sailing

Civilised living where no civilisation lives, Galapagos has to be the perfect holiday destination.

Cruising in the Galapagos feels the apt manner to discover these islands, whose past and present are moulded by boats and their human designers.

A self-contained unit, ready to explore the Galapagos.

The boat

I chose the Beagle’s North and Western itinerary for many reasons: the remote islands that day tours cannot reach; the romance of the old sailing boat; the Darwin connection with the boat name and because it was an 8-day itinerary that didn’t stop to pick-up or drop-off passengers at any point.

It proved to make the holiday. We hardly saw a soul outside our crew and mates, other than the back of a fellow cruiser every now and again, or a bobbing fishing vessel.

We ate like kings and enjoyed great company and salty seadog tales at meal times, a family feeling as we all enjoyed and rolled with the single hull, cajoled by pacific waves.

The sights

Green turtles swam within a foot of my eyes, watching me as carefully as I watched back. Reef sharks whipped their tails below my fins as I floated above.

Sea lions lolloped past on land, comic figures that soon made us all look equally thus once in the water, writhing and diving between us with speed and agility.

I’d never seen a flightless coromorant fishing underwater for so long, nor swam beside a penguin as it searched for its supper. A small jellyfish sting was not going to stop me swimming between shoals of colourful fish, or wondering at the chocolate chip starfish stuck to the seabed.

Marine iguanas, snakes, herons, boobies, sea lion puppies, giant tortoises and on and on and on goes the list, above and below the tideline.

(Top tip, from experience: don’t wear a red hat and black t-shirt near frigate birds. They’ll think you are a male frigate bird, and hover very close for a peck or two.)

The smells

Galapagos is sea and humidity and tropics and salty spray. It’s also a bit stinky at times.

Many times I kneeled down to take a close-up shot of a marine iguana, only to rise swiftly as the honk of a putrid reptile corpse nearby reached my nostrils.

Sea lion colonies do not an eau-de-toilette make, and you’ve got to smell their poop to believe it.

Freshen it up from the mountaintops of Isabela, where active volcanoes are topped by wisping clouds, grey beards melting into lava.

Or stand at the front of the boat, and inhale deeply from the salt of the seas.

Too many sensations

Following a hike or snorkel among some of the world’s most pristine environments and tame animals, boat crew provide sumptuous snacks and ice-cold beers or cocktails on cue.

We spent a week on the open seas, pampered sailors, the posh travellers of yesteryear, seeking to make sense of the world as it is now, by wandering the globe with modern comforts while searching for echoes of the past.

As incredible as it all was, the seasickness on night two was terrible. It was soon calmed with some pills and I would recommend anyone, no matter how experienced on the seas, to take some along, just in case.

Do take some books to read/games to play etc. to pass the time, as there are gaps in activities when you sail. Or simply take a drink and watch the seas drift by, and empty your mind and think, ponder or simply enjoy.

Galapagos is, despite its difficult past, the here, the right now.

If you are mulling over a visit, then act.

All expectations will be catered for.

Check out more information on our Galapagos Cruises

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