The Galápagos archipelago, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is like no other place on earth. More than a hundred islets, rocks and 13 main islands make up the Galápagos. It is home to strange creatures found nowhere else. This is one of the few places in the world where you can scuba dive and snorkel with animals which remind one of the dinosaurs of ages past.
The main reason for diving Malpelo Island is the sharks. The area is known for large schools of hammerheads, silky sharks, Galapagos and whitetip sharks. In the winter there is a population of sand tigers, and in late summer and fall, whale sharks call these waters their home. Other large pelagics can also be viewed. Tuna, jacks and eagle rays are not uncommon, with the occasional manta ray making an appearance.
If I were to tell you about a special place where no one locks their doors at night, where crime is virtually nonexistent, where the number of tourists is intentionally restricted to preserve the ecological balance, and where each visitor must pay a daily fee of 15 Euros (approximately US$20) to protect the environment, would you think about Brazil? Probably not!
Seen from space, Isabela Island—the largest island of the Galápagos archipelago— reminds me of a giant seahorse facing the great blue yonder of the Pacific Ocean. As one approaches land, the cap of thin white clouds dissipates. Isabela’s majestic landscape is a perfect alignment of shield volcanoes, rising above 1,000 metres, which stretches from the southeast to the northwest. Among them, Wolf Volcano reaches 1,700 metres.
Unlike Max in the children’s book by Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, I hadn’t worn my wolf suit, or made mischief of one kind or another. I hadn’t been sent to my room before it transformed into an island of magical monsters only reachable after a year of sailing.
I wouldn’t want to spend that long on a boat, so I behaved(ish) and looked forward to being on Galápagos and spending my nights tucked up on dry land.