For a generation of teenagers brought up on a TV diet of Sir David Attenborough and with conservation on every geography and biology syllabus, it is no surprise that along with the African safari, the Galápagos is one of c+l’s most popular family trips.

I’m not sure as an adult without children that I would have put it on a short-list of my personal ‘must see’ destinations – I find natural history endlessly fascinating but I am not a huge fan of ocean going boats – give me terra firma or, at the very least, a flat river over the ocean waves. I was also unsure of a week aboard a ten cabin yacht with eight of those cabins taken by goodness knows who.

The Galápagos by boat- an eye opener in every way

I was wrong, of course. It was magical and awe-inspiring and every bit as special as has been fed back by endless clients over the last 25 years. I even enjoyed being on the ocean with a boatful of complete strangers for a week.

The first evening on board was a bit sticky as we eyed up our fellow travellers and they us. As in the natural world, however, by the second day everyone had established territorial rules and behaviour that worked for all. Days are busy and twin kayaks often need to be shared as does the application of sun cream and the odd tug on the leg of a wetsuit, we were soon fully teamed up and bonded. All soon learned that the top deck hammocks after lunch were for silent types with books and that the lower deck hot tub in the early evening was for teenage chat. The adults also learned that in the mortal combat of the chess board age and experience is no match for a quick and nimble young mind.

The Galápagos by boat- an eye opener in every way
The Galápagos by boat- an eye opener in every way

Every day was not just very full but very different- and each family member had their own different highlights. I loved the bird life particularly seeing the Waved Albatross both up close and in flight but I also really loved snorkelling with the sea lions. For others it was the sea kayaking or the sea turtles or the leaping rays or that breaching humpback whale we saw in the distance or those dolphins in the wake of the ribs as we went to shore. Some of the beaches themselves were also a revelation, none of us had really anticipated their beauty and solitude.

The Galápagos by boat- an eye opener in every way
galapagos by boat

I still can’t believe that it was just a week that we had on board. It was the perfect length of time.

I had never seen the mating dance of a waved albatross just as my son had never supped with American teenagers. We all returned in a state of wonder. Thrilled we had been, happy with all that we had experienced but also thrilled at the prospect of dry land and our own company in mainland Ecuador.

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Caroline Maber
Flora Sweeting
Auriole Potter

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