I'm Tiffany Merritt, Video Content Coordinator for the TUI Group, the parent company of Quark Expeditions. I recently had the good fortune to take a Galapagos Islands expedition, and wanted to share my experience, because it was the trip of a lifetime!
My best friend Courtney and I have been nearly inseparable for the past 25 years. While we've traveled extensively together in the past, nothing prepared us for the trip we both jokingly referred to as our “best friend honeymoon.”
We started our trip on Santa Cruz Island, where we visited the Charles Darwin Research Station and learned about conservation efforts in the Galapagos. Every single island in the archipelago is unbelievable. The vegetation and species are different on every island and often not found anywhere else in the world. After Santa Cruz, the other islands we visited were San Cristobal, Santiago and Isabela Island.
The Galapagos is a haven for wildlife and a utopia for nature-lovers. Although we did some amazing things above the water, like kayaking with penguins swimming alongside us, it was the snorkeling that stole the show for me.
Snorkeling in the Galapagos
I had snorkeled in Australia, but this was beyond incredible. The snorkeling was easy and we had fantastic guides explaining the types of coral, sharks and fish we were seeing. I wasn't just being treated to a spectacular show of multi-coloured fish and stunning coral; I was learning about the marine biodiversity and developing a sense of appreciation for it. Snorkeling in the Galapagos was filled with breathtaking splendor, it was like an underwater wonderland that thrilling with every breath.
I went into caves and snorkeled with golden rays, hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, black tip sharks and more. At one point, I had five giant sea turtles swimming around me so closely I couldn't even move! I was blown away by the magic underneath the water; by the stunning fish and coming nose-to-nose with sea lions. I was terrified of swimming with sharks before, but honestly now I want to do it on every snorkeling vacation!
Hiking in the Galapagos
The hiking was a bit challenging, but there were different group levels I could choose. We definitely worked up a sweat on the longer hikes. Some were long steep climbs up the volcanic islands with tricky terrain, and you have to be pretty agile to manage them, but there were dedicated groups for those who couldn't do the super physical hikes.
Encountering the Blue-footed boobies made me feel like I was on another planet. Nowhere else in the world can you see animals in such abundance; everywhere I looked there were florescent coloured crabs, marine and land iguanas, sea lions sunbathing, frigate birds flying overhead and dancing albatross. It's the best wildlife encounter experience I could have had.
There's something there for everyone, at any life stage, at any level of activity. The kids on our voyage were fascinated and took part in the educational lectures as well. These were well-traveled kids and they said this was their favorite trip ever!
Nothing Can Prepare You For The Galapagos
I thought I had an understanding of what I was about to experience when I arrived in the Galapagos, but it's really beyond words. To begin with, there's nowhere else on the planet to have wildlife encounters this intimate. Every day was packed with newfound knowledge, as we hiked, snorkeled, explored and interacted with our guides.
By the time I got back on the boat every afternoon, I really just wanted to relax and take in the sunset. Every day, all day, my senses were on overdrive.
If you love adventure, the Galapagos should be high on your bucket list!
Contact one of Quark Expeditions experienced Polar Travel Advisers to discuss your Galapagos holiday today.
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