Aracely has a birthday deal with herself. Every year she travels to another country. So, we wondered, what could she do to celebrate her big 30th birthday?
Assuming you don’t know Aracely, I can tell you, she takes her birthdays very seriously. You know the kind, where the birthday typically lasts a week with several celebrations. Maybe a month if she can find enough things to do and justify it as a “birthday expense.” We asked our Jason and Aracely Travel Facebook fans for some ideas, for a memorable trip lasting nothing more than a week off from work. An African safari, Thailand, Italy and Hawaii were all great suggestions. We were settling on Hawaii when it struck us. The Galapagos Islands!
Our First Trip to the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are on everyone’s bucket list, and they have a special place on ours. After backpacking through Central America and South America for a year and spending a considerable amount of time in Ecuador, Aracely’s home country, one would have thought Galapagos was checked off our list. It wasn’t.
At the time we were surviving on a minimum budget and we also had concerns about the sustainability of the Islands, and the impact of tourism. If we were going to tour the Galapagos Islands, we wanted to be sure to do it right. Right for us meant being able to experience the islands how we have always dreamed of, with consideration of the environment.
We chose G Adventures…well, because they are cool. That’s right, the very difficult attainment of being cool. As travel bloggers, Aracely and I are well aware of who runs a good tour and who doesn’t.
G Adventures is a well known, culturally and environmentally conscious tour company. For that reason, we chose them. And they offer many different Galapagos tour packages, including a land tour.
Aracely gets sea sick very easily, and neither of us wanted her spending the evenings hanging over the boat rail. We have done that before sailing between Panama and Colombia. The Galapagos 10-Day Multi-Activity Tour was booked, and we set off to Quito, Ecuador for the big 30th Birthday trip.
That was our priority. We wanted to hang with some big giant Galapagos turtles, and tortoises, as we later learned. The second day in San Cristobal Island and guess what… we were hanging with turtles. These sea turtles are big! I had no idea that their shells could be so wide and necks so thick. Floating near with our camera, we were able to get some incredible footage.
Galapagos Island Adventures
Snorkeling was a big item on the trip, not only because we did it 4 times, but also because I wanted to do it another 4 times. The underwater scene in the Galapagos is just as incredible as the volcano land that has escaped the sea.
Sea lions have claimed the Islands as their home, which also includes park benches and boats. Sea turtles are everywhere, and sharks and rays will occasionally try to sneak by unnoticed.
We consider ourselves adventurers and always try to add some activities, challenges or hikes to our trips. Our multi-activity tour included some kayaking, biking, lots of snorkeling and some day hikes.
As volcanic islands, the Galapagos offer incredible landscapes with different wildlife throughout.
Home of the World’s Wildlife
After swimming with the Galapagos Green Sea Turtles, we went to higher ground to walk amongst the Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the highlands. These giant, but calm reptiles don’t mind an up close encounter as long as you stay in their sites.
Blue-footed Boobies lined the volcanic cliff faces that reached towards the ski as the Magnificent Frigatebirds swarmed over our heads with their bright red necks blown up like balloons. Of course, males trying to woo their females, typical in their world and ours. Not the red necks, I am referring to wooing part.
We moved from one island to the next on a comfortable speed boat during the day. Trips were never longer than 2.5 hours, but sometimes those rides provided the most memorable experiences ever.
Schools of Galapagos Bottlenose Dolphins joined our journey twice, lasting about 10 minutes each time. From the bow of the boat, they turned sideways to see us, jumping up above the water to breathe and then dipping back down again to keep up with us.
The connection we felt with those dolphins will last with us forever, just as Aracely’s 30th Birthday will. Now, my only concern is, “What is Aracely going to expect on our 10 year anniversary.” I guess I better start saving now.