August 18, 2003

Galapagos Islands

Sooo.. how do you describe a heaven on earth in words? I don't think it can be done, but I'll try and paint you a vague picture..

I just returned from a week aboard a yacht cruising the Galapagos Islands around 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador. For those of you who haven't heard of this place, 97% of the area of the islands makes up one of the most amazing national parques on earth. It was the wildlife at Galapagos which inspired Darwin's theory of evolution through survival of the fittest. Animals and fauna here have evolved through time to adapt to the conditions on the islands, and thus there are countless endemic species which have evolved differently from the original species found elsewhere today. That's the basic story.

So what did we do there for a week?

Just to name a few things we swam and snorkelled with sealions, turtles, sharks, penguines, rays, and countless other forms of marine life. We hiked on the islands and observed the incredible world of Galapagos birds, walked around fields full of giant tortoises (around 4-5 feet long), climbed volcanoes and we even got to see dolphins playing around the yacht. Last but not least I even saw a killer whale one day.

These things in themselves are not all that special, but what makes the beauty of the Galapagos Islands is that man is not a predator to the animals living there, and thus they know no fear. That the reason why we were able to lie down in the middle of a groups of sealions, play with them in the water (they are sooo cute and sooo playful!), snorkel eye-to-eye with sharks, turtles, rays and penguines, and literally sit next to massive land and marine iguanas. Even the birds showed no fear what-so-ever. We were able to closely approach (and by that I mean to about a foot away) and observe blue-footed boobies, pelicans, albatrosses, and flamingos to name a few. Not even in the presence of new born chicks or when feeding their young ones did they seem bothered by our presence.

Galapagos definitely goes to show the extent of damage that man can cause by his treatment of other species.

As I said, words can't describe what you experience on the Galapagos during a week. If you ever get a chance to go there, I encourage you to take it. You won't come away disappointed!

Posted by markus at August 18, 2003 06:14 PM
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