Carol Sheppard joins us again with her second post in the series: The Galapagos from a Photographer’s Perspective. This week she highlights her experience onboard and everything from the food she tasted to the unique animals she was able to see. We are already looking forward to her next post outlining what camera equipment she packed while exploring the Galapagos Islands!
Each morning, a ritual plays out aboard the Flamingo I. Awakened with a song selected for that morning and broadcast through the ship’s P.A. system, it is followed by the soft Spanish-inflected voice of our Naturalist Guide as he provides us with a cheerful greeting and invitation to breakfast. And so begins another day in Paradise.
The Galápagos Islands are a paradise that few people have heard of, and that even fewer have visited or planned to visit. It is a wild place of species not found anywhere else on Earth; it is a rough and challenging environment that spawned evolutionary transformations which sparked the attention of, and inspired, Charles Darwin.
My son and I set out for a one-week adventure in the Galapagos. Our transportation was arranged through the Galapagos Network, and we were booked onto Ecoventura’s Flamingo I. Flamingo I is a combination yacht and floating classroom. Elegantly prepared meals from fresh local ingredients are provided, as are the equipment and expertise necessary for exploring both underwater and island life of the Galapagos.
Our naturalist guides helped us to navigate daily through the necessary preparations to ensure safety and comfort during our travels to the various environments of the Galapagos. They provided historical perspective, evolutionary enlightenment, and numerous insights into the adaptation and behaviors of the native species.
On this trip, you will observe the natural habitats of several rarely seen birds and other animals. This is a photographer’s dream, as you are up-close-and-personal throughout, moving among animals that have not developed a fear of humans. Respect for the islands and the animals is continually stressed, with a minimum of six feel distance to be maintained at all times.
Each day begins with breakfast, served buffet-style, followed by activities including an island hike, a beach-landing and kayaking exploration, a snorkeling excursion or a visit to one of the research centers or other Galapagos park facilities. There are generally at least two activities each day. There is ample time to rest and relax between each activity, and the activities are organized to cover a comfortable amount of time.
Each time we reboarded the ship, our wonderful Dining Room Manager, Hugo, had snacks and either warm or cold drinks waiting on deck for us. Lunch is another buffet-style affair, and an elegant seated dinner is preceded by a briefing of the day that has passed followed by an outline of the day to follow.
The ships’ chef and sous-chef go to great lengths to provide alternate foods for those who have allergies or other dietary needs, such as vegetarians.
Snacks are provided on a 24-hour basis. You will not go hungry on this trip! The rooms are cleaned multiple times during the day, with fresh towels as needed.
At night, the Southern Hemisphere is a riot of stars. Due to Galapagos’ proximity to the Equator more of the Milky Way can be seen from that area. After a scrumptious dinner comparable to that of a five-star restaurant, you can relax in the lounge with one of the many books about the Galapagos that are provided for your perusal, or you can socialize with fellow passengers. Ours was a congenial group who proved to be very socially compatible, enhancing the pleasure of our trip with lots of laughter, along with the sharing of images and stories.
The crew posts a daily Itinerary Board near the library/lounge area, containing a synopsis of the briefing: times, activities, and what you will want to wear and/or carry for that activity. One of our shipmates was a dentist with an impressive talent for drawing; he provided us with wonderful drawings of the various animals we encountered each evening.
In my next blog, I will go into more specifics about conditions and the types of photography equipment I used.
Read Carol’s first post on The Galapagos from a Photographer’s Perspective: Part 1