Cruises to the Galapagos Islands
Given the remoteness of the islands and the abundance of unique wildlife found there, cruises to the Galapagos are all about nature and water adventures: ogling sea lions frolicking in the surf; snorkelling with reef sharks; walking with blue-footed boobies; and watching giant tortoises nibble leaves. Zodiac (flat-bottomed rubber boats) cruising allows exploration to otherwise inaccessible areas where you can sneak up on flightless cormorants and catch glimpses of bright red fast-footed crabs.
Cruises in the steps of Charles Darwin
The mere mention of Galapagos evokes a wide-eyed Charles Darwin awestruck with animals so different from the rest that his observations gave birth to a then far-fetched idea called evolution. It would take a long while before his theories would be proved correct and before Galapagos would tickle the fancy of those beyond the circle of the scientific community.
Today, a cruise to Galapagos islands promises (eco)adventurers a step back in history in the land of unspoiled Eden – a living laboratory for Darwin’s theory of natural selection as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to retreat from civilization and just simply be in the company of unique wildlife with no innate fear of humans and of each other.
One of the highlights of travel to the Galapagos Islands is the opportunity to see giant tortoises forage in the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz where the Charles Darwin Research Station is also located. Isla Bartolome, otherwise small and only identified with its rocky protrusion called Pinnacle Rock, is a snorkelling stop for many Galapagos cruises because of the island’s abundance with marine turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, tropical fish and the ubiquitous penguins.
Travel to the Galapagos Islands archipelago
Expedition cruises to Galapagos begin at Daphne Island, home to differently-beaked Darwin finches that first inspired the naturalist to propose the theory of adaptation. Then it is on to Puerto Egas brimming with sun-basking marine iguanas and fur seals on lava rock beaches. Isla Rabida and its red sand beaches is next on the itinerary for an opportunity to watch a harem of sea lions and flocks of flamingos. Isabela Island, the largest island of the Galapagos archipelago, delights cruisers with colonies of Galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies, intriguing characters that are also found in abundance in North Seymour. Isla Santiago, where Galapagos cruise ships also call, is famous for scurrying Sally Lightfoot crabs in underwater caverns.
Before heading back to Baltra, a Galapagos cruise ship makes one more stop at San Cristobal, the easternmost island in the archipelago that brims with a diverse line-up of both flora and fauna. Sharks, manta rays and lobsters cavort in the waters of San Cristobal, while sea lions laze in colonies by the beach. The island’s flora is equally intriguing, as San Cristobal is one of the geologically oldest islands in the group.
Nature hikes with naturalist guides are plenty in between island-hopping and Zodiac adventures. Naturalist lecturers also provide on-board edutainment at night over dinner of organically grown vegetables, freshly caught sea food and cocktails.
Disembark from your Galapagos Islands cruises from Baltra for a return flight home. A quick jaunt to Quito can be made, and from Ecuador’s capital, an extended trip to the rest of South America can be arranged.