Rylee Rose McGowan is a Travel Advisor at LAFL. Beaches and wildlife are two of Rylee’s passions and these interests are always key in deciding where to travel. And so it makes sense that the Galapagos would be at the top of her travel bucket list. In 2009, a friend and co-worker, Susana, won a free Galapagos Islands cruise and Rylee jumped at the chance to go along.
The pair of friends took a flight from Lima to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, which serves as a common point of transit before continuing to the Galapagos. Rylee was impressed with Quito for its mix of history and modernity:
“I really liked the historical district of Quito (it reminded me a lot of Cusco in Peru), but the modern section, Mariscal, was more like Lima.” In Rylee’s opinion, Quito’s top attractions are its great music scene, efficient public transportation system, and relatively inexpensive prices for dining, accommodation, and nightlife. These amenities make a Quito & Galapagos tour package a great option for travelers looking to see a bit of mainland Ecuador before launching on a cruise.
From Quito, Rylee and Susana flew to Baltra Airport to begin their 4 day/3 night adventure aboard the Galapagos Legend cruise ship. The tour included all meals and 2 daily excursions, during which they had an opportunity to get off the ship to explore amazing sites both on land and in the water.
Beginning and ending on Santa Cruz Island, the tour also included stops on North Seymour, Floreana, and Española islands. “The cruise was fantastic,” says Rylee. She thought that the best beach was Cormorant Point on Floreana, but adds that the very small, sandbar-like, North Seymour Island was awesome, too.
For a wildlife-lover like Rylee, the diverse fauna was definitely a highlight of her Galapagos tour. The type and number of species varies from island to island. “The animals on the islands are not timid at all,” Rylee says. “You can get quite close to the different species of birds, iguanas, turtles and seals.”
In terms of opportunities to observe and interact with wildlife, a Galapagos cruise cannot be beat. Rylee’s best memories include snorkeling with turtles and seeing blue-footed boobies doing a love dance just before mating. She describes these scenes as spectacular and amazing, and they transformed a memorable travel experience into an unforgettable one.
The natural setting of the Galapagos Islands is unlike any other on the planet, and in addition to gorgeous vistas, a tour to the archipelago is also tremendously educational. Some fascinating facts that Rylee learned include:
1) the incredible mix of life is due to the convergence of three major oceans currents around the archipelago,
2) the endemic Galapagos marine iguana is the only ocean-swimming lizard, and
3) the Galapagos is home to Lonesome George, the last remaining giant Pinta Island tortoise.
Lonesome George was still alive when Rylee visited. Sadly, the tortoise passed away at age 100 in June 2012, serving to remind us of just how important it is to preserve and conserve exceptional natural environments such as the Galapagos.
Anabel has been exploring the length and width of South America since 2010. Ditching preconceptions, settling into the local pace, and embracing the unexpected are the tenets of her philosophy of travel – and life.