White people discovered the Galápagos Islands in 1535 when a Spanish ship came upon them after being blown off course by a storm… [T]he Spaniards found…a sailor’s nightmare where the bits of land were mockeries, without safe anchorages or shade or sweet water or dangling fruit, or human beings of any kind… They did not claim the islands for Spain, any more than they would have claimed hell for Spain. And for three full centuries after …, no other nation wished to own [the archipelago]. But then, in 1832, one of the smallest and poorest countries on the planet, which was Ecuador, asked the peoples of the world to share this opinion with them: that the islands were part of Ecuador. No one objected… It was as though Ecuador, in a spasm of imperialistic dementia, had annexed to its territory a passing cloud of asteroids. But then young Charles Darwin, only three years later, began to persuade people that the often freakish plants and animals which had found ways to survive on the islands, made them extremely valuable…(Kurt Vonnegut, 1985, Galápagos, pp. 17 – 18)
And the rest is history.
This site offers information about our trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands in September, 2009 and our return trip in May, 2013 (still under construction—I’ll be adding pages slowly!). We initially decided to take this trip in a shared celebration of our 60th birthdays—Zell’s, in 2009; mine, in 2010. We had the money; I still had a job (no small consideration in these economic times); our health and physical fitness were good. Who knew what the next year might bring?
The return trip in 2013, unintendedly, coincided with my retirement in June, 2013.
The year 2009 was a fortuitous year to visit the archipelago: the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the origin of species, the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the establishment of el Parque Nacional Galápagos. Here you’ll find pages for our Galápagos outings as well as three about the day trips we took: some areas in northern Quito, Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve, and el Centro Histórico in Quito. I’ve also written a few “overview” pages that transcend our specific trip. You can read about the decisions we faced (and how we resolved them) when starting our planning, some of the issues one can consider when choosing a cruise, what life on an 8-day/7-night cruise is likely to be like, and some things to keep in mind when you’re actually getting ready to travel. These pages also have links to other Web sites that can provide more up-to-date and comprehensive information. These most popular pages are also listed at the top of the page, for a variety of options for truly easy access.
If you’d like to read about the Galápagos activities, click here for some background about Ecuador and the Galápagos. From this page, you can click on links to the pages about each day’s activities and photos. Or just use the links to various pages in the column to the right. They’re arranged there in chronological order, from top to bottom, broken into morning and afternoon outings. NOTE: I am just now finishing up the reports from our return trip in May, 2013. So you can read about our experiences on the eastern islands by starting here; if you want to read about the western islands, you can start here. A nice opportunity to compare the 2 itineraries to help you decide which one you might prefer—unless you’re lucky enough to be able to do a full 15-day cruise, that is. 🙂
Even though our trip was in 2009, I have kept the general pages updated as new links, suggestions, and regulation changes have occurred. In fact, since we were planning a return trip in 2013, I spent a lot of time researching that trip. As a result, I’ve become very familiar with the latest news from the archipelago. So check out the links to the general pages noted above for up-to-date information.
As you’re reading this, you may come across a broken or misdirected link. By all means—please let me know by filling out the contact form below (which will come to me privately) or sending me a comment! Also, if you have any questions I might be able to help with, feel free to fill out the contact form or write a comment. (All comments are e-mailed to me before they are posted. If you say in your comment that you’d prefer a private reply, I’ll just write back to the e-mail address you leave.) Also, your questions help me know what other topics folks might be interested in, so I can add that information. I welcome any and all questions, clarifications, musings, typos—whatever! Note, though, that if your comment contains a link to a commercial Galápagos-related Web site, it will not be approved. I need to maintain the “nonprofessional” or consumer orientation of this site. (Also, comments from posters who don’t include an e-mail address or Internet URL will be deleted, since I want to be able to know that the posters are who they say they are.) But feel free to include links to your own trip report, photo gallery, personal recommendations, or anything else from your personal experience with this marvelous archipelago!
Thanks for stopping by!