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Exploring the Galapagos Islands Comfortably
"I met two large tortoises, each of which must have weighed at least two hundred pounds... These huge reptiles, surrounded by the black lava, the leafless shrubs, and large cacti, seemed to my fancy like some antediluvian animals." – Charles Darwin, The Voyage Of The Beagle

Have you ever visited paradise – twice? What mature adventurer wouldn't want to experience up close the natural wonder of the western hemisphere even once – Ecuador's Galapagos Islands? Being fifty years or older and in less than Olympic-Gold physical condition needn't deter you from such a unique and memorable experience!

My wife and I were fortunate to be able to travel to the Galapagos Islands twice in the last two years – each seven nights long. I bring up our good fortune only because I wish to compare the two methods of travel possible there. While both were pleasant, one might better fit your requirements than the other.

The Overnight Boat Trip

Our first experience was the most popular mode of travel – the overnight boat trip on a high priced yacht. On that trip the boat had 13 passengers and eight crew members. We were delighted by most of the trip! The scenery was magnificent, the crew friendly and competent.

Yet, there were a couple disappointments! First and foremost, travel from island to island occurred at night in order to preserve precious sightseeing time for the next day. Unfortunately, this meant sleep deprivation or nausea for some passengers due to boat sway and engine noise and smell. Not a good way to begin an active next day!

The second disappointment was the lack of alternatives (other than staying on the yacht) during strenuous snorkeling and hiking. Though in good physical condition and over sixty, I am no match for that twenty-five year old when it comes to snorkeling in cold, deep ocean water twenty feet and more below the churning surface!

I would have preferred the warmer water of a pristine coastal beach – with feet within touching distance of the ocean floor! This was not to be possible as the captain proudly announced: "an unanticipated opportunity to experience snorkeling on a deep outer reef, some thirty kilometers away" – from anywhere, as it turned out. As I said, being sixty plus with a bit of a paunch, this didn't prove to be my forte! On the other hand, I'm still alive.

Hotel Land-based Tour

Our second trip to the Galapagos involved a similar itinerary (minus ocean snorkeling and long hikes), but, rather than toss and turn in our yacht's confined bed quarters at night, we stayed in very comfortable island hotels in small towns each night, on two different islands. I'll call this the hotels land/water tour! For me, this made all the difference!

We saw the same kind of sights during the day by taking short trips around several islands or a nearby island by vehicle or motor launch. Then we leisurely walked or hiked only moderate distances to observe that island's hotspots, while always returning for a full dinner, local town activities and a comfortable bed in the evening.

Of course, each visitor's experience will vary and be perceived differently, but my wife and I agree that the Galapagos was clearly one of our top two destinations in over thirty year's of extensive, international travel! While exciting and adventurous, this entire trip proved to be both comfortable and engaging. The hotel land/water tour is truly a method of travel well suited to the tourist who seeks both adventure and comfort in the magic that is Galapagos!
About the Author
Author of this article is traveler John Champlin. More information about hotel land/water travel in the Galagapagos visit Cultural Adventures.
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