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An adventure cruise around the Galápagos Islands

Nowhere on this planet can possibly rival the Galápagos Islands for the intense wildlife experience on show. Such a small group of islands but boy you are guaranteed a big adventure.

Natural High recently organised a tailor made 15-night trip to South America that included a 7-night cruise on board one of our favourite charter yachts. Here is their personal account of their time at sea...

When you visit the Galápagos Islands you are left in no doubt as to who owns them - the residents! By residents I mean the thousands of birds, sea lions penguins and marine iguanas who call the Islands home.

It is a place like no other. While on trips to paradises like Tanzania and Borneo it is the humans watching the animals, in the Galápagos Islands the positions are reversed, and visitors are in the minority - something to be ignored by indifferent blue and red footed boobies as they tend their young, and investigated by curious sea lions,  unimpressed with these two footed strangers who can’t bark or chase them through the shallows.

News has not yet reached the residents of the Galápagos Islands of the dangers of man and so they have no fear. They do not run or fly away but simply get on with their lives oblivious of the humans that move amongst them armed only with cameras and long lenses. 

Piles of marine iguanas appear to stand guard as they mass on baking rocks staring out to sea. Whatever they are watching for, it is not the two-legged tourists who walk amongst them and step over them as they bask in their hundreds in the sun, before diving through the breaking waves to graze the sea bed.

Iguanas on the rocks in the Galapagos Islands

If the residents rule the land, then they surely have majesty of the seas that surround them. 

The frigate birds that soar effortlessly overhead must be laughing as they watch humans struggle into wet suits, fins and snorkels before crashing into the sea.

As they gasp against the cold and peer through the haze of the deep water they find themselves in a world where other than the sound of their own breathing and the far off throb of the outboard that dropped them off, there is silence. Then the residents start to appear. 

First the fish - huge shoals of them moving like clouds through the water, hundreds of them turning as one as they hurry to somewhere for some reason only they know. Then the turtles - massive and cumbersome but in the water as graceful as a ballerinas as they pass silently above and below you.

If the turtles are the ballerinas in this marine theatre, then the sea lions are the gymnasts; twisting and turning and teasing tourists with close up encounters before darting away with a “catch me if you can challenge”.

The Galápagos Islands puts on one hell of a show, and just when you think you have seen it all and are drunk with what you have seen and done and can take no more, it sends on its star turn - a male Orca who glides past. Just another day for him but a moment to remember forever for the wide-eyed girl struggling not to swallow her snorkel.

Thanks to Andrew and Jane for all their pictures and your incredible orca video.   

Posted by: Alex

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