The Galapagos. Images and thoughts by Margot Raggett Photography

Our friend Margot Raggett has been on her travels again.This time to the fascinating Galapagos. In this article she shares her experiences and some of her stunning images on the blog:

Blue Footed Booby mating dance

Blue Footed Booby mating dance – Margot Raggett Photography

When two of my favourite photographic guides, Jonathan and Angela Scott (www.jonathanangelascott.com) mentioned to me that they were going to be leading a trip to The Galapagos in 2013, I leapt at the chance to sign up. The trip was organised by upmarket UK events company Prestige Promotions (http://www.prestige-promotions.co.uk) who were chartering a ship for up to 40 passengers. The Scott’s are patrons of The Galapagos Trust and having visited before would prove excellent guides when it came to making the most of the photographic opportunities.

We flew in during April, supposedly the best time of year to visit the islands, with a couple of days initially in Ecuador’s capital Quito to get over the jet lag. Although Quito has a bad reputation for petty crime I saw none of that and found it to be a charming city and its historical centre, where we stayed at the newly opened and very trendy Casa Gangotena, was particularly attractive. Narrow streets, restored colonial architecture and an abundance of historic churches meant there was plenty to explore. A few of the group felt the effects of the altitude but thankfully I felt fine and was able to make the most of our time there.

Our flight to the island of Baltra (where we would join our ship and home for the next seven days) took just a few hours so we were able to be on board for lunch on our first day.

I had long dreamed of visiting The Galapagos and yet felt totally unprepared when I arrived for what I encountered. I can best describe it as like visiting Jurassic Park, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. The islands feel remote, often barren, forbidding and of course virtually unoccupied apart from the wildlife and therefore eerily silent.

The national parks has a great system of organising the schedule for every ship and yacht, dictating a strict timetable of which island your particular vessel can visit when, which means you rarely encounter people from other groups. This gives the wonderful feeling of exclusivity and isolation, that it is just you and the wildlife when you land each day by panga. You can almost imagine how the original sailors felt when they first visited the islands they were reputedly scared of.

The wildlife experience is of course literally like nothing you’ll encounter anywhere else in the world. Totally unfazed by human contact due to careful preservation and many generations of isolation, they allow you unprecedented closeness. From giant tortoises (though sadly the famous Lonesome George had sadly passed away before I visited) to Sea Lions, Iguanas, Blue Footed Boobies, the list was endless of unique species I could finally see in real life, in a proximity I had never really even imagined. It is a wildlife lover’s paradise and I imagine even more exciting for those twitchers among us.

One of my favourite moments each day was getting up on deck early enough to see the sun rise and see the mists part on whichever new island we were exploring that day. Our ship La Pinta (www.yachtlapinta.com) was comfortable and staffed by an incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgable team who made our stay on board a pleasure. I felt that the size of the ship, which was neither too small or too large, was just right and food was plentiful and delicious.

Would I go back? Probably not although I am so glad that I went and would recommend it to anyone. I’m not sure the sense of wonder would be quite the same the second time around however and regardless, I’m still allowing the whole experience to sink in. l think the memories will last me a lifetime.

Quito's historic centre

Quito’s historic centre – Margot Raggett Photography

Brown Pelican swallowing

Brown Pelican swallowing – Margot Raggett Photography

Playful Sea Lion

Playful Sea Lion – Margot Raggett Photography

Stunning landscapes

Stunning landscapes – Margot Raggett Photography

Giant lizard

Giant lizard – Margot Raggett Photography

Panga transfers

Panga transfers – Margot Raggett Photography

La Pinta

La Pinta – Margot Raggett Photography

Rare Tropic Birds

Rare Tropic Birds – Margot Raggett Photography

Colourful Red Rock Crab

Colourful Red Rock Crab – Margot Raggett Photography

Young Sea Lion pup

Young Sea Lion pup – Margot Raggett Photography

Misty sunrises - Margot Raggett Photography

Misty sunrises – Margot Raggett Photography

 

Blog author Margot Raggett with Angela Scott

Blog author Margot Raggett with Angela Scott

 

Further reading:

 

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