Turtle Recall: The Galapagos Islands

You will get bored of sea turtles” the appropriately named Darwin says as he outlines the week’s adventures aboard the Cachalote. Nods ripple around the group signalling agreement – it’s a risk we are prepared to take.

Sea Turtle Galapagos Sea Turtle, Galapagos

On day one of the Galapagos cruise our boat docks at Isla Rabida, a russet-sand beach supporting scrubland and thick, prickly cactus. Within minutes of jumping from the inflatable panga, someone shouts “SHARK!” This is a customary call for panic and yet I find myself swimming closer, each nerve tingling as I question my sanity. I reason; "if I stay with the group my chance of survival will increase". Ten metres below three adult Galapagos sharks are circling, their smooth grey bodies rising higher and higher with each lap like vultures in thermals. The adrenaline in my veins mimics their movements, urging me to swim back to the boat, but I am transfixed. Our seemingly fearless guide is free-diving below us, surrounded by a 3.5 metre mass of curiosity that seems to have developed an unhealthy interest in his clear plastic fins. A stream of oxygen bubbles escape, rapidly making their way to the surface, before Darwin follows suit: “Wow, that was close” he gasps.

Bartolome, Galapagos Bartolome, Galapagos

Further along the rugged bay, with the sharks at a respectful distance, I find myself face to face with a huge shoal of Black striped Salema. Thousands of tiny fish dart in unison, their humbug-striped bodies glistening as they are illuminated by the rays of sunlight above. As if startled, they disperse and the seabed reveals the rest of this underwater confectionary; brown chocolate chips appear to adorn the bright orange starfish, a coating of sugary sand sticks to the fuzzy sea cucumbers, iridescent fish glitter like shiny lollipops and beneath it all rests a giant, stingray shaped marshmallow.

Ray, Galapagos Ray, Galapagos

When a sea lion joins me in the water I really feel like the kid in the proverbial candy shop. With its gaze fixed on mine, it puts on a dizzying display of acrobatics, twisting and spinning around me, at complete ease in the water. I try to copy its routine, albeit more clumsily, and we flip and tumble together, each as intrigued by the other.

Swimming with sea lions Swimming with sea lions

Out of the water, basking sea lions seem to litter every part of the beach, snuffling, grunting, barking and honking to each other. At the landing site of Sombrero Chino, three Galapagos Hawks watch intently as a female sea lion carefully drags its new-born to the water, each laboured movement eliciting a mewing cry from the tiny pup. In the distance, waves crash on the shoreline causing fire-red Sally Lightfoot crabs to scatter across the black volcanic rocks. The wildlife curtain has only been up six hours and I’m already mesmerised by the theatre that plays out before me.

Sally Lightfoot crab Sally Lightfoot crab

1,000 photos of penguins, sea lions, fur seals, Eagle rays, pelicans, Flightless cormorants, Blue-footed boobies, giant tortoise, Marine iguanas, flamingos, dolphins and Frigate birds later I find myself surrounded by Green and Leatherback turtles, just as Darwin predicted. I count 32 giant shells suspended in the salty water, each leathery face occasionally gliding to the surface to take a rasping breath of air.

“Am I bored yet?” I wonder to myself. “Never”, is my instant reply. How could I be whilst floating around the islands that changed the world?

The Cachalote The Cachalote

Vicky joined The Galapagos Islands on board the Cachalote, a charming schooner. This first class motor-sailer yacht has eight air-conditioned twin and double cabins.

Learn more about trips going to...

Read our expert insights on...

Expert Blog Entries

Why explore the highlights of one country on a cycling trip when you could wheel through two, or three?

Related trips

Malecon road, Havana, Cuba

Cuba: La Isla Grande

Immerse yourself Cuba's intoxicating salsa beats on this comprehensive tour

Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures

Discovery & Wildlife
16 days inc. flights
From £2,227
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate
4.5 / 5
 from 
Add to wishlist
  • New

Cuban Family Fiesta

Family fun and relaxation on a revolutionary tropical island.

Family Group, Tailormade Adventures

Family Adventures
9 days inc. flights
From £2,049
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely
Add to wishlist
Cuba Image

A Taste of Cuba

A lively cultural week featuring the Island's must-see highlights and traditional homestays

Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures

Discovery & Wildlife
9 days inc. flights
From £1,649
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely
4.5 / 5
 from 
Add to wishlist
Call us on 0208 772 3936