We love to let you hear from our most inspiring fellow travelers from time to time. Our friend Johanna traveled to Ecuador recently to tour none other than the Galapagos! Johanna and Stephanie are both Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and met getting their MBAs. Here are her top tips for going to the Galapagos.
There’s a reason the first visitors to the Galapagos Islands called it hell on earth… life had to evolve just to survive the bizarre climate. These observations made by Charles Darwin led to his notorious ‘On the Origin of Species.’ Cold ocean currents from the south and warm currents from the west perfectly converge over this set of islands making it the most diverse set of ecosystems on the planet in such a small radius. On one island you can find yourself swimming with arctic penguins; on another, spotting hot pink flamingos.
As fascinating as they are, the islands aren’t for the faint of heart. Hot equatorial sun, long hikes through the bush, tiptoeing past giant iguanas, and swimming in chilly ocean waters with sharks is just a small sampling of a day in the Galapagos!
This place is so much more than a bucket list item; it’s a lesson in biology, geology, horticulture, oceanography and zoology, to name a few. I learned many things but my favorite was a lesson from our naturalist: Extinction isn’t always a bad thing- it can be a natural process that makes space for new life.
My education during the voyage did not end there; here are some other things I learned…
1.Travel by boat! This is the best way to see more of the islands in one trip.
2. Get a guide! There is so much to learn since these islands are a range of ecosystems. Guides are called naturalists because they are well trained in a spectrum of sciences.
3. Get some sun exposure before AND bring extra sunscreen! Bring your regular favorite sunscreen, then extra “coral reef safe” stuff for the water. Most baby sunscreens don’t have the ingredients that harm coral reefs and they’re cheaper than buying “coral reef sunscreen.”
4. Bring an extra large SD card (or bring multiple smaller ones- if you lose one you won’t lose them all)! Animals don’t typically cooperate so you’ll inevitably take 10 photos just to get the perfect pose.
5. Apparently a lot of divers and snorkelers like to pee in their wetsuits to stay warm…so if that freaks you out I’d suggest buying your own on Amazon instead of renting there.
Tour Recommendation: INCA Tours, 11 day Galapagos Safari