Located over 500 miles or 900 km from the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are world-renowned as the Latin American destination for nature lovers. Famous since Charles Darwin's 1835 historic voyage on the HMS Beague to the islands, I wanted to witness the raw beauty that led him to the development of the theory of natural selection.
My plane landed on Baltra Island and then it was just a short ride to my hotel. I had done my research ahead of time and for this vacation I chose a 7-Day cruise aboard a luxury ship that would take me on a tour of eight of these fabulous islands.
I was immediately impressed by the decor and luxury of the cruise ship. My suite was modern and spacious, every cabin enjoying an ocean view. I enjoyed a hot burger at the grill, a delicious repast at the lunch buffet in the main restaurant, and I topped off every evening with a drink in the vivacious atmosphere of the ship's well-equipped bar.
Originally I didn't think I would be making much use of the Fitness Room, but I soon discovered the pleasure of doing my workout on the treadmill while enjoying the view out of the full-length windows as the ship threaded its way between the islands.
I was awed by the vast stretches of pure white sand. Snorkeling was available for passengers who wanted to explore the crystal clear waters, however I eagerly explored the short hiking trail on the island, well-marked for visitors, and made my way through a tropical forest where I marveled at the colorful variety of birds.
I was immediately entranced by the very high-tech Interpretation Center, opened in 1998 to educate visitors on natural history, human history and conservation.
While on the island, I got to see giant tortoises, kept in captivity so that ecological scientists can study them in order to preserve them. These gentle giants, which can weigh up to 400 kilograms, were nearly hunted to extinction in earlier times.
I was privileged to see baby tortoises - just 3 inches across - being carefully tended in their first few formative days of life. Many of the older tortoises are used to visitors, especially the one known as Lonesome George, who has learned to stretch out his head for that perfect photo to take home or share with your friends.
South Plaza Island
Home to one of the largest sea lion colonies in the entire Galapagos Islands, it was an amazing sight to see large herds of sea lions covering the rocky beaches as we approached the island.
From there it was just a short jaunt back to Baltra Island, where I reluctantly had to disembark. After this wonderful cruise, I would strongly recommended my friends to book a vacation cruise through John Mitchell-Adams to the Galapagos Islands, the perfect Latin American destination for nature lovers.