The Galapagos Islands have always been a mythic place to me. Back in 1999, we were travelling Ecuador up and down and we managed to get a 8 day trip to the famous islands in the Pacific. I had seen numerous documentaries and was excited to set foot on the islands.
What impressed me most was the fact that all these wild animals showed no fear. You could get really close to watch them. No tele lens needed.They checked us with one eye and accepted us in their world. The only place where I have a similar feeling is underwater. I love diving for a lot of different reasons but the fact that you can get face to face within touching distance with wild animals in their habitat is one of the main reasons.
Some of the habitants of the Galapagos islands seemed to have skipped several stages during the evolution. Oh yes, Darwin was here and put up his famous theory!
Well, watch for yourself!
As we entered the year of the dragon…here are some of them
meeting up with friends…
This huge old turtle is the king of the island : Lonsome George
Here one of my favourite encounters. A young Galapagos albatross. He still has to wait a bit to get rid of his teenager face and to be able to fly :-
I can’t but think that it is a huge privilege to witness nature that way : close up but with respect. The balance is fragile…
I will never forget the look in these eyes…
These animals never had a reason to fear men . Let’s hope we don’t prove them wrong!
More pics : Ecuador&Galapagos 1999
In 1999 Chris and I decided to travel down south from Santiago de Chile to the Strait of Magellan. During this trip we had planned a 7 day trek of the “circuit” in the Torres del Paine NP.
The hike circles around the famous Torres del Paine . At this time there were a few “campamentos” along the trail to put up a tent and you had to bring all your food supply as nothing was available while on the road.
Weather was another issue. It could change from winter snow storm to summer sun at cyber speed and most of the time the temperatures were close to freezing at breakfast.
Halfway was the John Garner Pass at 1200m above sea level. For most of us the highlight of the trek. After an altitude difference of 800m you were supposed to have a view on the Grey glacier.
We started early in the day and the weather was nice. Arriving close to the top of the pass was exciting. We were walking up and I had lots of images in my head… how would it look like?
Then finally I can see the flag and slowly the glacier comes into sight, partially…a bit more and then!
All the exhaustion disappears. I watch from my right to the left and all I see is GLACIER GREY!
What a panorama! Ice all over as far as your eyes can see!
Unfortunately we cannot stay for too long up there. There is no protection from the strong winds and there are still 5-6 hours down to the camping. (Actually the camping is situated at Lago Grey, lake Grey which you can see on the 3rd photo of the glacier.) 🙂
There is only one way to earn this view : 2-3 days hiking (either way round)
After the one week trek all our bones were aching, our feet were full of blisters. We didn’t have a shower at all. But we were happy. And the view of the Grey Glacier never got out of my mind…
When I’m scrolling through the photos I took over the years many fond memories are coming back into my mind. Perfect moments…
Some really stand out and it’s almost impossible to describe the feelings I had at that moment even though the feelings are still as strong as they were at the moment I took the picture. The word which I like a lot and comes closest to it in English is the word bliss : a state of profound satisfaction, happiness and joy, a constant state of mind, undisturbed by gain or loss (Wikipedia).
I decided to upload a picture and its story on a regular basis here.
This week’s perfect moment is from our trip to Myanmar (Burma) in 2003. Our guide did his best to find the perfect place for a sunset around the ancient city of Bagan southwest of Mandalay. He first chose one of the guidebooks’ favourites and we climbed up. The view was breathtaking but the number of tourists wandering around in order to find the perfect spot for the perfect shot made my hair stand on end. There was no way to enjoy that moment to the full. When we told our guide about our feelings he gave some thought about the situation and smiled : “I might have a place for you but I’m not sure. Come quick!”
We went down as fast as possible through the still growing crowd and jumped in his car as the sun started its descent. He drove us to another smaller ruin with no people around. The place didn’t catch the eye, but it was not the place itself which was important but the view we would have…in peace and silence.
As we arrived on top only a handful people were sitting there contemplating the view… Yes, that’s it!
Our guide was relieved! Why? The sun only appears at a certain time of the year in that constellation, that close to the ruins, almost “rolling” down. Sometimes it’s far away and sometimes the ruin (the one we were standing on minutes earlier) completely hides the sun. But it was our lucky day…and a perfect moment!