The islands are 1000km off the coast of Ecuador and we had a 2 hour flight to get there. At the jetty waiting to be picked up and taken out to our boat (a 33.5m motor launch, our home for the next 5 days) we encountered pelicans, sea lions, boobies, sea iguanas, and diving frigate birds and gannets. And the trip hadn't even started! Once it did we encountered new and interesting wildlife around every corner, and there was an absolute abundance of it. We would cruise from one island sanctuary to the next, basking in the sun. Access to the islands is limited, and we had to stay onthe tracks - but this wasn't an impediment to getting brilliant photos. Those albatrosses and blue footed boobies just would insist on nesting in the middle of the tracks :-) Colourful land iguanas and flamingos were other fabulous wildlife we got up close to. On our final morning we visited the Charles Darwin Research Centre to see the giant land tortoises. We would love to go back and see the other Galapagos Islands we missed out on, 5 days just weren't enough.
The snorkeling was also fantastic, much better than I anticipated. Twice a day we'd hop in the water and this proved to be the highlight of my trip. I got to see golden rays, spotted rays, reef sharks, sea turtles, all sorts of fish, and to "play" with the sea lions.
Once back in Quito we had 4 days at our leisure before we flew out so we managed to spend a day shopping, picking up some great jewelry and presents for those back home. We went out to the "Centre of the World", and stood with one foot on each side of the equator line. On our last full day we went to Mt Cotopaxi, a 5911m volcano where Di climbed up to a glacier at 5000m and I mountain biked from 4500m downhill for 35km, fabulous!!
The following day had us departing back home, a two and half day ordeal with interminable waits in airport lounges, and an enforced night of luxury at the Santiago Sheraton when our plane failed to materialise. We were away for a total of 28 days, and have a lifetime of memories (and 100's of photos ... anyone???)