Island Hopping Galapagos
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