Cruising The Best Of The Galapagos Islands
South America Luxury

Cruising The Best Of The Galapagos Islands

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A luxury charter company in the Galapagos that caters cruises to your personal desires.

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When I was younger all I knew about the Galapagos Islands was Charles Darwin, his finches and that it seemed like an unattainable destination. When the wheels touched down at volcanic Baltra island, I still only knew everything but the latter.

After signing up for a four day cruise and media trip with Galapagos Luxury Charter, I didn’t rush to do hours of research and planning like I normally do. I figured our naturalist, the crew and Galapagos Luxury Charter staff had it covered. Lucky for me, I was right.

Galapagos Luxury Charter Boat The Majestic
Galapagos Luxury Charter Boat The Majestic

After going through customs and paying our $100 fee, donated entirely to Galapagos conservation, we  hopped on a bus and while traveling for just 30 minutes, we went from sunny, rocky, moon-like land to lush, green tropical Scalesia forests. I knew instantly it was going to be unlike any place I’ve ever been.

We stopped for a traditional Ecuadorian lunch of chicken soup to start, chicken and veggies and chocolate cake for dessert. Oh, and we ate all this in the presence of hundred year old giant tortoises. We were at Rancho El Manzanillo on our way to the yacht.

Traditional Ecuadorian home-cooked meal

 

Our mandatory and jovial naturalist or island guide, Billy, told us under no circumstances can we touch the ancient creatures but feel free to pose for as many pictures as you want. We even caught a few of these guys mating, obvious from the low grunting noises coming from the brush.

Hanging out with my new friend, a 120 year old turtle
Hanging out with my new friend, a 120 year old turtle

 

After that we boarded a dingy and met our yacht crew of about ten. The boat was gorgeous, it slept 16 with a sundeck, jacuzzi, dining tables and we even got our own bathroom, I felt super spoiled.

We spent the rest of the night eating sea bass, chicken, veggies and pie while getting to know the crew and the other bloggers including Globetrotter Girls, Exotic Traveler and The Bucket List Family.

Some of our fellow travelers
Some of our fellow travelers

Since there is absolutely no WiFi or service in the Galapagos, we had to totally unplug for the weekend and actually talk to each other, shocking I know…

The kitchen and common space area on The Majestic
Our set table for breakfast, lunch and dinner

 

The next morning we were up bright and early for a pancake breakfast and all the fresh food and juice you could ever want. We got on a dingy and had a wet landing on Espumilla Beach, a dark red clay sand full of turtle nests. Billy made it clear we were to stay away from the holes since the turtles often lay their eggs on the outer perimeter and crushing them would be traumatic for all. After the casual Galapagos Sea Turtle, Frigatebird and American Oystercatcher sighting we went back to the boat for a delicious pasta lunch with million year old volcanos in the background.

Wet landing on Espumilla Beach
Wet landing on Espumilla Beach

 

Then, it was time for the first of many snorkeling trips. When I jumped in the water I was pleasantly surprised at the mild temperature. We were warned that the water in the Galapagos is a little bit murky, but once you’re able to see the animals, it’s unlike anywhere else. Snorkeling off Sullivan Bay, we saw white-tipped reef sharks, don’t worry they never got close enough to bite, fur seals, actually sea lions (yeah it’s confusing) catching some sunlight on the cliffs and the biggest, fattest manta ray I’ve ever seen, at least six feet long and four feet wide.

After returning to the boat, greeted with towels, fresh strawberry juice and these fried cheese balls with honey (basically crack), we didn’t have enough time to trek on top of a volcanic island but our crew didn’t want us to miss out. So instead we did some more snorkeling near a place penguins go hunting for fish. Sure enough, a few of the world’s cutest penguins jumped in the water with us and started making figure eights straight out of an animated movie. We also saw some turtles and sharks, which normally would be crazy to be considered an afterthought.

Penguins in the distance catching some sun off the rocks

 

The next day we woke before the sun and were met with eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and toast we were ready to Las Bachas beach on the hunt for flamingos. Although we only saw one flamingo, it’s vibrant pink was stunning and something I never thought I would see in the wild. We walked along the beach getting up close with Marine Iguanas, the colorful Galapagos Crabs and snorkeled with a sea turtle, swimming behind it for over twenty minutes. That was my parter’s favorite moment of the whole trip.

Sleeping sea lions on Puerto Ayora

 

We had a much needed nap and in the afternoon we arrived at the small town of Puerto Ayora, where the Charles Darwin Research Center is located. More importantly, at the time, there were also tons of sea lions laying around the town. But, back to the research center…

A whale skeleton at the Charles Darwin Center

In 1964 the Darwin Station was founded off the Darwin Foundation in London. The research center’s mission is, “…to provide science that will help to conserve the environment and biodiversity of the archipelago and that enables decision-makers to work towards a truly sustainable Galapagos.” Through their efforts they single handedly saved the saddleback turtle population. If you’d like to donate to the center please click on the Charles Darwin Foundation.

I was so bummed to be leaving the Galapagos so soon, especially after our last dinner on board complete with dozens of delicious langoustines, fresh salad, vegetables and tres leches cake. We cruised all night until we got to the famous Kicker Rock.

Located a few hours off the shore of the most populated island, San Cristobal, is a massive and magical rock formation divided by a small channel. So of course we’re going to snorkel through the channel. For the first time ever, I saw a hammerhead shark up close and personal while my partner was just inches away from a pack of playful sea lions.

Kicker Rock at dawn

We said goodbye to our truly incredible crew and Billy led us into the tiniest plane I have ever seen, I’m talking like…comically small. I thought, no way are we all going to fit in this thing, it won’t get off the ground. Magically, the wheels lifted off the ground and we flew above the ocean and the volcanic islands to catch our plane from Baltra.

A white knuckle ride in the world’s tiniest plane

We jam packed as much as possible in to four days and I could have done at least ten more but I was so thoroughly impressed with the enthusiasm of our naturalist, the crew and Galapagos Luxury Charter for showing us all the highlights. When I say the Galapagos is incredibly unique, I’m not just giving you lip-service. It was my 25th country in 25 years, and it was one of the most unique and special natural experiences I’ve ever had.

Have you ever been to the Galapagos Islands? If so, tell me about your experience. If not, ask me anything!

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15 Comments

  1. Nikki

    This is so incredibly cool. Really a trip of a lifetime. I think I would like the sea lions the most!

    February 26, 2017 Reply
    • Katie Lockhart

      Thanks Nikki! Yeah, the sea lions were so cute but I really loved the penguins and the crabs. They were the coolest, brightest colors and they didn’t move no matter how close you got to them. The wildlife is really amazing!

      February 26, 2017 Reply
  2. Tereza

    This looks amazing – I wish I could just pack my bags and travel to places like this, it looks insanely beautiful! x

    February 27, 2017 Reply
  3. Anna nuttall

    This look amazing and it also look so beautiful. I wish I could be there. xx

    February 27, 2017 Reply
  4. Style & Life by Susana

    I want to go there now!! I need a holiday break and this just looks like heaven.

    http://www.susanalopessnarey.com/the-red-dress/

    February 27, 2017 Reply
  5. The Restaurant Fairy

    What an absolutely amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing. PS I love “The Bucket List Family” too – so cool you got to travel with them.

    February 28, 2017 Reply
  6. Anna nuttall

    How wonderful. I would love to do this one day. Beautiful pictures. x

    March 1, 2017 Reply
    • Katie Lockhart

      You totally should! Galapagos Luxury Charters was amazing!

      March 5, 2017 Reply
  7. HOWIMETMYSTYLE

    Wow, this looks and sounds like a wonderful, adventures trip! I personaly would love to meet some penguins! Beautiful captures btw!!

    March 1, 2017 Reply
    • Katie Lockhart

      Thanks so much, I really suggest going, great for a family trip and some R&R

      March 5, 2017 Reply
  8. Karin

    Your trip sounds amazing! I’ve been intrigued by the Galapagos islands since I was a little girl and would love to go there one day soon!

    March 10, 2017 Reply
    • Katie Lockhart

      It was a really incredible experience. I definitely suggest going in the near future before it becomes too overrun with tourists. Happy to give you more advice when you do decide to go.

      March 11, 2017 Reply

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Find Your Happy Plate

My name is Katie Lockhart and I launched Find Your Happy Plate in 2015 to offer adventurous wanderers the best advice for food and travel around the world. Find Your Happy Plate is a place for travel inspiration, food porn and tips on where to find the best of both. Whether you’re looking for luxury of budget, I write and photograph it all. Follow along!

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