Elaine Pesky

New York, New York Travel Agent

Cruising the Galapagos

One of my favorite trips was a family cruise through the Galapagos. As many grandparents often do, we hosted our children and grandchildren. Sometimes we take only one or two grandchildren; sometimes everyone. Years later, everyone agrees this was one of their favorite trips, and perhaps that’s because we were all together.

We all learned a lot on this trip. There were great lectures about wildlife and photography. And the people they had to help you understand the environment were excellent. My grandsons, who ranged in age from about 10 to 16 at the time, were interested in everything, so it was a great education. 

They especially loved all the outdoor activities. We traveled on a large boat, but on most days, everyone went out in small dinghies, and our family was a large enough group to fill our own dinghy. We would go snorkeling, or land on an island and go hiking or biking, and in some places, we were able to go on a glass bottom boat. 

Among the highlights was hiking up a volcano. It was a lot of fun, and we all learned a lot about the area’s fiery past. Another fascinating experience was visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station. It offers a great overview of the conservation work being done here.

We also went to a private ranch in the highlands where we learned about and interacted with the Galapagos giant tortoise. These amazing creatures can grow to four and five feet, weigh over 450 pounds and live more than one hundred years. The tortoises didn’t seem to even register our presence so we could get quite close to them.

We also got to see boobies, large birds that are quite awkward on land, but graceful in the air and when diving for food. Their name comes from the Spanish “bobo” which means foolish and describes how they look when they walk. We didn’t get to see them courting, but we learned that their courtship is picturesque and they mate for life.

One of the boys was very into photography. At the time, he was a bit hyperactive. One day, he wanted to take pictures of sea lions on a beach where we stopped. The guide told him if he was very still, they would approach him, but it could take an hour. We were all amazed that he was able to hold still—and his pictures were astounding. I think it helped him see what he was capable of when he put his mind to something.

After every trip, someone in the family pulls together everyone’s photos and creates an album that we print for every family member. Last Thanksgiving, we pulled out at our Galapagos trip book, and everyone had fun reliving the memories.