Yachting in the Galápagos Islands
When you think yacht, do you think about rap videos featuring scantily clad women sunning themselves idly for hours under the tropical sun, with margaritas in hand and shirtless men wearing gold chains? (No? Just me?)
When I looked at realizing my life-long dream of travelling in the Galapagos Islands, I realized how ideal an adventure would be via eco-yacht! My preconceived idea of a “yacht” was reframed when I realized the amount of activities we would get to engage in, and the number of places we would get to explore in a week! The experience would be heightened by this unique way to travel and cover more area in this vastly fascinating destination.
In November 2017, I had the opportunity to take part in Wild Women’s Galápagos Islands Eco-Yacht Adventure. It was an unforgettable experience. Travelling by a hybrid solar powered Ecoventura yacht, I got to explore many islands with rare plant and animal species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Each day was broken up into portions where we would participate in activities such as snorkelling, walking, stand up paddling, and kayaking. We had multiple once-in-a-lifetime experiences a day! How do you process that?
A typical day on the trip consisted of a delicious buffet breakfast, followed by a short panga ride from the yacht to our morning activity, such as a naturalist-led walk featuring marine iguanas and nesting blue-footed boobies. We would then have lunch back onboard, and relax for a couple of hours. After anchoring at a different location, we’d embark on a coastal paddle or snorkelling, exploring the water world where the sea turtles, playful sea lions, and colourful fish could be seen close up. At days end, we’d have a delicious dinner and head to bed, while our trusty ship navigated to a new location. The next day, we’d be greeted by a new playground!
All the activities were optional, but I never opted out, even with the deep -water snorkelling, which made me nervous. I had a total FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), which isn’t a bad thing as long as one is not overextending oneself. Likewise, unless they were feeling under the weather, nobody else in our group opted out either. We could have skipped activities to sip margaritas in a chaise lounge, gaze out at aquamarine waters, and read trashy romance novels. What made this experience so special, was sharing it with my fellow Wild Women. With the support of knowledgeable guides, I felt safe snorkelling. With a group of women of various ages, ability levels, and a common kindness and openness, I felt supported.
Every time we stepped foot on an island, or put our snorkel masks underwater, there was something incredible. One day we had snorkelled in the morning and were planning another snorkelling session in the afternoon, which I was planning on skipping to catch up on journaling. However, my fear of missing out made me haul on a wetsuit, hop in the panga, and go anyway. Even after jumping in the water I was thinking, “nah, I don’t think I’ll last long”…
But the moment my mask hit the water, I was immediately transfixed. There, not six feet below me, was a pacific green sea turtle the size of my coffee table. It was peacefully munching on plants from the ocean floor. She allowed me to stay above her as we drifted together in the current for 30 minutes, with her coming up for air and looking me in the eye just an arm length away. I could have stayed with this graceful creature for the whole afternoon, but I was eventually forced to bid her farewell and join our group. Yep, I was convinced to say YES to every opportunity here!
Every day is a new adventure. In the morning, we head to Española Island for an interpretive walk. We can’t land the boat because a sea lion has given birth only moments before, and the pup is nursing right on the pier. We land elsewhere and start our walk, with red-breasted great frigate birds swooping down to grab the nutritious sea lion placenta (apparently a favourite food item for them!). We happen upon groups of marine iguanas, black with pink hues, huddled together soaking up the sunlight. Then we come to the only place in the world where couples of waved albatross are engaging in their regal courtship dance, while others have a baby in the nest awaiting its next morsel. Seriously?
In the afternoon, we snorkel a reef with bright schools of fish, sea lions and sea turtles. From the panga on the way back to the yacht, we spot a pod of 200 dolphins. Our guides excitedly ask: “who wants to swim with them?”. Not thinking twice, several of us slap our snorkelling gear back on and go for it! We’re immediately greeted by playful faces, swirling quickly up to us before leaping above the waves to the cheers of our cohorts in the boat.
And that was ONE DAY.
Our days were filled with encounters with nesting sea turtles, pink flamingos, baby sharks (and bigger ones!), playful penguins, and blue- footed boobies. It was the perfect balance of adventure, rejuvenation, awe and reflection. I am so happy I didn’t miss out on this incredible experience!
Fear of missing out can be negative when we overextend ourselves, but in the Galápagos, saying YES means experiencing more! A yacht trip in the Galápagos took us to this land of bold discovery! By saying yes, we open the door to possibility and connection with our child-like wonder. When we say yes in a Wild Women Expeditions group, we have the support of our sisters who are with us every step (or flipper slap) of the way!
*Photos: Julie-Anne Davies