I had an incredible time in Ecuador and the Galapagos islands. They are really a unique environment that offers an unparalleled opportunity to see so many different animal species in their natural environment. The Galapagos remind us how much of what seems “natural behaviour” – for example, a bird flying away when approached, is actually learnt or socialized because of mean things people and other animals do to each other. I think this idea has a broader implication – that it is important to avoid making assumptions or take things for granted but always probe deeper, investigate what is driving certain behaviour and be open-minded about how things could be different under different conditions. The Galapagos is also a living example of the awesome power of nature to create new land masses through geothermal activity and uplifting of sea floor and the immensity of geological timescales – the islands are “only” a few million years old. Finally, the islands are a reminder of the resilience of life – the cactus plants standing tall on a lava plain show us that given enough time, life will find a way to take root in the most inhospitable places; its ability to adapt – the islands are home to so many species each adapted beautifully to the local environment; but also its fragility – the non-native species introduced by human settlers playing havoc in the local ecosystems. I was very gratified to see that the Ecuadorean government and the local government of Galapagos islands are very aware of their responsibility as custodians of this beautiful, unique and fragile ecosystem and are taking steps to preserve it.
Now that I’m back and have had time to reflect on my experience, would I do anything differently? The answer is (for the most part) no. I think Mike and I planned the trip very well. Spending a couple of days in Quito and combining the cruise with island hopping is really the optimal way to enjoy the full variety of experiences. We could have stayed longer in Ecuador and done some excursions in the Amazon rain forest to the east, but after 11 days we were both ready to come home. The Amazon will have to wait for another trip! I’m also very thankful to our tour agency for customizing the trip for us, picking excellent tour guides (thanks Daniel!!) and places to eat/stay and being available to answer questions when we needed more info/clarifications. I can’t recommend them highly enough!
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog! Please leave a comment if you did, I’d love to hear from you.