Ecuador: Galapagos Islands

Last year my father-in-law visited the Galapagos Islands and he said it was one of the best trips he’s ever taken. Since we were already in Ecuador, he encouraged us to make it part of our travels. He generously gifted us the excursion so we could experience the magic of the Galapagos. Thanks, dad, we are so grateful!

The Galapagos are an archipelago of 20 volcanic islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was largely formed by his time spent on the islands. The Galapagos are special for numerous reasons, including the large number of endemic species and the protections put into place beginning in the 1930’s. It was amazing for us to observe the abundance of wildlife in their natural state. Since the animals live without the threat of humans, they are amazingly fearless in the close proximity of people. This allows for exceptional observation not found in most other places.

We loved spending 10 days in the Galapagos. The first five days we were on our own to explore Isabela and Santa Cruz Islands. Our last five days we indulged in the luxury of a boat, visiting numerous islands uninhabited by man. We found this combination to be an ideal way to experience the islands.

Blue-Footed Boobie

This guy won best in show.


Isabela + Santa Cruz Islands

There are numerous activities one can partake in without needing a tour group or a guide. We walked along miles of coastline, swam at quiet beaches, spent hours watching the crabs and black land iguanas co-mingle, and visited the turtle breeding center. We hung out with other backpackers and simply enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of the islands.


Los Tuneles Snorkeling

This awesome day trip consisted of an hour boat ride each way, speeding way out into the Pacific to reach our destination.  We snorkeled in and around lava formations with penguins, sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, rays and loads of other fish. Can you see the penguin behind my head? Whee!


Majestic Cruise

There were 16 of us on board the 117-foot long Majestic and we all had a fun time together. Our days were full with different activities designed to observe the wildlife from all angels like snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and walking along beautiful beaches. The landscapes on each island varied significantly. Our Ecuadorian naturalist was excellent and full of detailed information.  The food was delicious and plentiful. There was even fresh fruit juice or hot chocolate every time we came back onto the boat accompanied by salty snacks. We were spoiled —  and we enjoyed every minute.


We highly recommend visiting the Galapagos! Many of you have this destination on your Bucket List and I couldn’t agree more. If you have any questions, please ask, and if you’re looking for a travel partner we can probably work something out. Viva Galapagos!

Patagonia: Punto Tombo *Penguinos*

When I think of penguins I imagine a cold and snowy habitat, like Antarctica, with lots of slippery ice for the cute little penguinos and their pals to play on. It’s fun to be a penguin! Imagine how surprised we were to learn that penguins also live in the desert region of Patagonia. Given that 80% of Patagonia is actually comprised of the desert steppe I shouldn’t really have been surprised by this information, but it was still a mental adjustment to see it in person.

Punta Tombo

With an incredibly knowledgeable English-speaking guide named Faubion leading the way, we drove south of Puerto Madryn to Punta Tombo where the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America live. After a dusty, dry and visually mundane two hour drive through the desert, seeing the Atlantic Ocean in all its blue glory was a welcome site.IMG_5801

Magellanic Penguins

A well-designed wooden path wound its way for several kilometers across the barren land lending great views of the penguins and their habitat. There were thousands of penguins! Many of them were hanging out right next to, or underneath, the path so we were able to really see them and study their movements (or lack thereof). Such funny little creatures! Watching them walk was incredibly entertaining, and hearing a few yelling matches regarding territory was pretty amazing, too.

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Diverse Ecosystem

In addition to seeing thousands of penguins we were also lucky to see other wildlife as well. There were a number of birds in the area but seeing a rhea (a member of the ostrich family) was definitely the most remarkable. Guanacos are related to camels and it was really awesome seeing a bunch of them walking around coexisting with the penguins.

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Photo Bomber 

At first I yelled at Harry for stepping in front of my camera, but then I gave him a high-five when I saw what a great photo he inadvertently created.

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We truly had an incredible day chilling with the penguinos! They are amazing little guys, that’s for sure.