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My sister and I have wanted to visit the Galapagos since we were kids. The volcanic island archipelago that straddles the equator is considered by many to be a living laboratory of flora, fauna and geology—perfect for the adventure traveler. We’re not exactly rugged adventure types, and at this point in life we like our creature comforts. But we didn’t want a sedate cruise with a bunch of retirees, either. Was it possible to find a compromise where we enjoyed adventure and creature comforts on the same trip?
As we disembarked from the plane on San Cristobal Island Cecibel introduced herself. “Ceci” was a naturalist and one of the certified guides to the Galapagos National Park who would oversee our adventures for the week. But despite all her experience hiking and diving and spotting wildlife she still managed to keep her toenails painted green. This was a promising sign.
It turns out the answer is YES . . .it is possible! You can have a mid life adventure in the Galapagos. My sister and I spent a week exploring the islands and managed a hike to spot blue-footed boobies, swam with sea lions and more—all without making total fools of ourselves or requiring a rescue from the Ecuadoran Coast Guard.
The key was seeing the islands on a mini cruise: a boat that was large enough to offer creature comforts, yet small enough to offer plenty of opportunity for adventure. We sailed on the motor yacht Letty, which is part of the Ecoventura fleet. At just 20 passengers, the Letty provided us with two certified national park guides, enabling us to have personalized attention on various activities, and address all experience levels. Ceci helped us newbies squirm into wetsuits for our deep-water snorkel excursion as her colleague Gustavo began to identify fish and sea turtles with the experienced divers already in the water.
A blue-footed booby sporting the official pedicure of the Galapagos
During a visit to the island of Espanola, the agile among us took a two-mile trek across a rocky volcanic path in search of baby boobies and marine iguanas. (And we were very glad we invested in some Keen hiking sandals for the process!) Meanwhile our guides arranged a morning hike-free beach outing at a bay filled with baby sea lions for a fellow passenger who was recuperating from knee surgery.
By day three, emboldened by our snorkeling and hiking success, we were the first two in the water in the cove to frolic with sea lions. Amid squeals, splashing and giggles we marveled that our friends back home would never believe the Mazurek girls were diving and cavorting with these playful marine mammals (and happily looking like two drowned rats in the process). Later that same afternoon, having slathered our skin with SPF 100 (no typo—this is the equator, after all) we skimmed across the waves in a sea kayak, semi-surfing over swells that had us whooping with joy.
Best of all, after an exhilarating day of adventures, we returned to our cabin and a refreshing shower with plenty of pampering toiletries, fluffy towels and a hair dryer. We had a few minutes to touch up the red polish on our toes before heading in to our dinner of freshly grilled sea bass. We had done it: we had become adventure travelers who still managed to dress for dinner!
Showered and gussied-up, but ready for another day of adventure!