One of the phrases that quickly gained traction in the Remote Year program was "side trip". Since Remote Year offered a planned 12 city / 1 year itinerary; we considered all this destinations to be the main portion of the trip and any city/country that we decided to venture to, on our own, was considered a "side trip". And one of the major side trips I did was heading over to the Galápagos Islands. I have wanted to visited these islands forever but the desire only deepened after I had recently heard a Radiolab podcast about the islands and all the amazing wild life that only exist on this unique archipelago.
So, I took a week off from Lima to hop over to Galápagos with a couple of remote friends. We had absolutely no plan after our arrival which is a common trend with all the people I've been traveling with throughout the year. We have no trouble just figuring it out as we go. And luckily, it just so happens that the person sitting next to me on the plane ride over was a marine biologist that worked for the Charles Darwin research station. She was able to give me a history of the islands, tell me all the different places/islands we should visit, and, to top it off, she even arranged for us to take a small yacht cruise so we could hop around the islands and visit sites that you can only trek if you have a licensed guide.
On this cruise we met other travelers who were in just as much awe as my group due to the fact that, every few minutes we were surrounded by all types of wild-life including: HUGE tortoises; large iguanas; finches; albatrosses; blue-footed boobies; sea-lions; sharks; and even penguins. And i'm probably missing some of the things we saw as we hopped from island to island in this place that has a name that sounds like you are making it up. That's what I think when I hear "Galápagos". It has the kind of name that friends may not even believe you when you say you visited there.
One of the most memorable moments took place on the last night of the cruise. Our boat was suddenly bombarded and attacked by hundreds of flying fish that were able to fly so high that they landed on the 3rd deck of the boat. Once we were just getting acquainted with our aquatic flying friends; we then noticed our boat was quickly being circled by 15+ medium sized sharks that were now in the neighborhood to get a late night bite. And, in a Disney movie like fashion, we then noticed that a few sea lions had teamed up with the sharks in the late night hunt instead of being hunted themselves. Now, I will admit; we were all quite a bit drunk this night but this event TOTALLY happened and was a perfect way to wind down our "out of this world" adventure on our last night. Galápagos is a collection of islands off the coast of Ecuador but, honestly, it feels like a different planet where wild-life is given the priority and humans are the foreign invaders.
- Snorkeling with sea lions, sharks, tortoises and all the other various wild-life
- Touring the Charles Darwin research station
- Visiting the "mailbox" on the island of Floreana that requires that the letters be hand delivered, all over the world, by those come to visit. So, you look through all the letters and if you find a letter marked for a city you plan to visit soon; you take the letter and personally deliver it to the recipient.
- Visiting the El Chato Tortuga Ranch which is a large farm with thousands of HUGE tortoises
- Island hopping all over
- Meeting new international friends on the cruise
- Meeting Salome