After the trip to Cuyabeno, we asked our students "If you could go anywhere in Ecuador, where would you go?" They said without hesitation "Galapagos" (we should have known). We always tell them that anything is possible. So we had to make good on that philosophy. Our organization has a tiny budget and the trip cost more than we normally bring in in one year. But it was so worth it. In August of 2015, we boarded the plane to the Galapagos Islands with our students.
The students worked all year volunteering in the Cosanga community so this trip didn't include any volunteer component. Our first stop upon arriving was the hotel Deja Vu, nicknamed by the kids "nos dejó el bus"- "the bus left us". Then it was off to the Charles Darwin Research Station where we got our first look both marine and land iguanas and the giant tortoises.
Over the next few days we explored the Santa Cruz Island. We hiked to the "grietas" where the students could try their hand at snorkeling. The area is a fissure formed by lava flows, now filled with ocean water and fish. After that we headed to the bay for more snorkeling, the water was a bit murky, but the highlight was seeing a see turtle! We also caught sight of some amazing manta rays as we were coming back to the dock.
We got to spend time hanging out at the beaches and on one occasion saw a baby hammerhead shark rolling around in the surf. One of the days we took a trip to the high part of the island to see the giant tortoises in their natural habitat. In the same area we explored some beautiful tunnels formed by lava.
This trip was certainly a once in a lifetime experience for our students. Many people from Ecuador never have the opportunity to explore this unique place.