"" Writer's Wanderings: Tips for Galapagos Islands

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tips for Galapagos Islands

If all of my blog posts about our Galapagos trip have made you decide to put it on your bucket list, here are some tips for you.

Decide how you want to see the area. Cruise? Private charter? Land hotel? The Galapagos Islands Tours  has a site that shows a lot of different options besides the one we chose, the Celebrity Xpedition. This is one time when you definitely don't want to put off to tomorrow what you can do now. The tours, ships, boats, etc. fill up fast and you don't want to procrastinate too long.

Consider your physical stamina and your ability to get around. If you have a serious problem with balance and walking you might want to reconsider or find a tour that takes you only on the easiest paths if that's possible. The places we visited are for the most part just natural which means that the zodiacs landed on/near difficult terrain. While the ship provided walking sticks, sometimes those were even difficult to handle when they got stuck between rocks. We spent anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours out in the sun at a time which could be very hot depending upon what king of weather you have.

Needless to say, good walking shoes are essential. I had read recommendations for Teva and Keen sandals. Expensive, I know, but I managed to find a pair of Teva sandals on sale that had a closed toe and they were wonderful. They gave good grip on the rocks, provided an easy off and on shoe for wet landings, were still comfortable even when they got wet and a little sandy inside. [Just a tip, if you are like me and hate sand in your shoes, I took along thin socks to wear with the sandals but found that I used them more to brush off the sand instead of wearing them. I stuck one on my hand and brushed sand off my feet and from between my toes before putting my shoes on for the hikes.]

Another essential: a hat. Baseball caps are better than nothing but to really get some protection from the sun, you need to get something with a brim all around and that has a strap that will go around your chin to keep it on your head when you're in the zodiac and the wind is blowing.

If you have a camera that uses different lenses, take them along but know that you will probably only use the zoom more than anything else and there's little time for changing lenses. I also got a Ziploc Big Bag, one that is advertised to be used for storage. It fit inside my backpack and I could slip my Canon T1i into it and know that at least if we got splashed by a wave, it would stay dry.  Our Go Pro worked great with the snorkeling shots but was a little hard to get the photos of animals close up on land. Still it was a great little accessory for video.

Always, always, always take at least one bottle of water per person with you. The Xpedition provided as much as we wanted as we exited for our excursions. Be sure that whatever tour you hook up with will do the same for you.

We went completely through one spray container of sunblock. I'd suggest taking two to be sure you have enough. A very light weight shirt might help to keep the sun exposure down as well. There were some for sale in the gift shop on our ship with the Xpedition logo on the front.

Leave your bright colored orange, red, pink, neon green colored shirts at home or save them for your time on the ship in the evening. The colors attract wasps. The only person we saw get stung was a guy who had neon yellow colors as part of the design on his backpack. We didn't notice a lot of other bugs. Some mosquitoes and flies but a little bug spray would keep them at bay. I saw some people with those new repellents you wear on your belt. Don't know how well they worked.

Since we are divers, we already had dive skins that cover us up from the neck down. We took those along because it's easier to get in and out of a wet suit with them and provides more sun protection while snorkeling.

While we had only one day when it rained a bit, we did take plastic ponchos that we found in the dollar store at home. Nothing dries well or fast because of the humidity--even in the air conditioning. The cheap ponchos could be worn once and discarded.

Okay, that's lots of information and probably not all that could be said. Every person's needs are different. Leave a comment if you have a question about your trip and I'll try to answer it if I can.

Hope you can share in the joy of God's beautiful creation in Galapagos!

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