Last November, BikeHike’s own Meghan Burton hopped aboard the Galápagos Multisport, BikeHike’s most popular Galapagos adventure tour. I sat down with Meghan shortly after to discuss her first Galápagos experience. Here’s what she had to say.
Why did you choose to go to the Galápagos Islands?
Meghan: I’ve always wanted to go. It was one of my must-do destinations. I love wildlife and birds and that’s exactly what the Galápagos is known for. I’m not a crazy birdwatcher or anything, but there are birds there that are found nowhere else in the world. I knew I had to see it for myself.
What was the process of getting to the island and the subsequent beginning of your trip?
Meghan: The Galápagos islands are one time zone west of mainland Ecuador. I left Quito with the tour group for a two-hour flight to Baltra Island. From there was a five-minute ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island. This is the main island and where our adventure began.
What surprised you most about the Galápagos Islands?
Meghan: From the pictures I had seen, I wasn’t expecting it to be so lush and green. I had been exposed to the dry and brown terrain and was surprised to see forests of green plants and trees. Also, being such a popular destination, I had thought it would have been busier. It wasn’t. In fact, our group was completely alone for most of the excursions. No tourists.
What were the biggest challenges associated with the Galápagos Multi-Sport?
Meghan: Elements of the mountain biking were challenging for me. Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, there is lots of incline. Fortunately, there was always a support car available to assist bikers to the top. The downhill part was a blast as usual. One of the biking days ended on a white sand beach so we could all jump in the water after our day of biking!
What was the most rewarding activity?
Meghan: That’s tough, but I’d have to say the snorkelling. We got to swim with manta rays, sea turtles and sharks. Sea lions were so friendly – they would play and bite on our fins! There was also loads of fish. You can get so close to the wild life!
Were the animals abundant everywhere, or only on specific parts of the islands?
Meghan: There were actually more animals than I thought there’d be – everywhere we went. Even in town. So much so that locals probably find it annoying. But not us! For instance, at the market there are pelicans and seals poking their heads in and out of operations – making their voices heard! Specific animals are regionalized like the marine lizards and blue-footed boobies, but there is always some form of life around.
Can you comment on the hiking?
Meghan: We did many hikes. Some short – some long. One hike was 16km where we hiked along the rim of a volcano. Walking on actual lava rocks is an experience. This particular volcano last erupted in 2005. We could see in the caldera and where it all went when it erupted. From there were fantastic views of the other islands. Another hike took us through a lava tunnel where we needed headlamps – very exploratory.
Can you comment on the kayaking?
Meghan: The kayaking was great. We went through a region called “The Love Crack.” There were turquoise waters and little cliffs on both sides. This is where we spotted the blue-footed boobies. Later on, we were startled by a crashing noise. Shortly after we discovered that a pelican had just dive-bombed right in front of us! It was wild.
How many people were on your trip?
Meghan: There was seven of us on the trip – plus our guide Jorgen.
What was it like to finally meet Jorgen?
Meghan: It was great to meet Jorgen. I’ve talked to him for years, but never met him in person. He is so easy to get along with. He always goes above and beyond for our travellers.
What were some other trip highlights?
Meghan: Jorgen got us invited into a local home for some home cooking! They served us a delicious ceviche. On another occasion they made us traditional Ecuadorian barbequed chicken and beef. Their home is a sight to be seen. Although the outside is very unassuming, the inside is cozy with elaborate homemade furniture – the owner is a carpenter. He had made all of the furniture including the table and chairs that we ate on!