Is­land Hop­ping Gala­pa­gos

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By Felic­ity Pal­ma­teer

Ear­lier this year, Felic­ity Pal­ma­teer was in­vited to join Ce­line Cousteau on an un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­ture to pro­mote sus­tain­able tourism and pro­tect the world’s cul­tur­ally and eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive ar­eas. Team­ing up with Con­tiki, Felic­ity took part in this in­cred­i­ble ad­ven­ture and tell her story.

Our jour­ney to the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands started in Quito, the Cap­i­tal of Ecuador. From Quito we flew to Guayaquil and then on to the is­land of Bal­tra. The Gala­pa­gos Is­lands sit right on the equa­tor and they are like noth­ing I've ever seen be­fore. They are desert come trop­i­cal jun­gle, and they are ab­so­lutely stun­ning. I joined Ce­line as she is­land hopped her way around this amaz­ing marine re­serve vis­it­ing three dif­fer­ent is­lands in to­tal - Is­abela, Santa Cruz and San Cris­to­bal.

The seahorse shaped Is­abela Is­land was our first stop. Is­abela is made up of vol­canic peaks and it is the largest is­land in the Gala­pa­gos archipelago. What looked like foot trails, but which ac­tu­ally turned out to be roads, laced the is­land and Sally Light­foot Crabs and Marine Igua­nas, which are both en­demic to the Gala­pa­gos, were scat­tered across the shore­lines and basalt vol­canic out­crops. The vibe was very laid back and the cute lit­tle is­land- style beach bars were def­i­nitely worth a visit.

Next, we took a short boat ride over to Las Tin­tor­eras, which is a small stretch of lava is­lands just mo­ments from the har­bor of Is­abela. We were all ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the snor­kel­ing ad­ven­ture promised by the emer­ald green wa­ters of Las Tin­tor­eras and they didn’t dis­ap­point us. We walked out to what looked like the kids’ touch pools you see in aquar­i­ums, only this was su­per- sized. The wa­ter was so translu­cent that I could see all the way to the bot­tom. It was filled with all sorts of marine life in­clud­ing Marine Igua­nas. These unique crea­tures are found only in the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands and snor­kel­ing along­side them in the un­der­wa­ter world was fas­ci­nat­ing and some­thing I’ll never for­get. The Igua­nas live on both land and wa­ter and show all the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the myth­i­cal dragons that live in fairy­tales. These char­ac­ter­is­tics in­clude ir­reg­u­lar scales, a jagged crest that runs along their backs, sharp claws and a tail al­most longer than their bod­ies. A real touch of magic is added by the fact that the Gala­pa­gos Marine Igua­nas have crys­tals, called Wan­ina, be­hind their eyes. I am now con­vinced that dragons do ex­ist!

I dis­cov­ered that I shared my sense of myth and

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