Let us pretend that you have not been to Galapagos but the brand has always excited you and, hopefully, this elongated GirlAhead saga has whetted the appetite even more. What questions would you ask the gal? First, since you are investing heavily not only in money but in time to get to and from Galapagos, go for the best. The way the gal did it was perfect. Start and end at the luxury Swissôtel Quito or at its heritage sibling, Plaza Grande Quito (they will drive you to the airport for your early-early flight to Galapagos’ Baltra airport, where you are picked up by the Silver Galapagos team). Next, what should you take?
Basically, safari gear is perfect. You need flat rubber-soled shoes, ones that you have worn in – do not worry how you look as, put together, a group looks like a ragamuffin march out of a dressing-up cupboard, and your hair will be one big mess, thanks to incessant winds and climbing in and out of zodiacs. You need at least one hat that not only provides shade for your head, face and neck but must have a chin strap. The first time I saw the pair, above, I thought it was a hitherto undiscovered Jurassic animal. Miss Swansea bought along her Tilley hat, which reminded me of the time I flew back from Bhutan with Andrew Tilley who complimented me on MY hat, which was Hokianga from New Zealand.
Regulars know they look comic in their gear. Ernesto Vaca, a part-time firefighter and risk manager, was, if anything, the funniest of all our guides – he was also, as former teacher of a couple of his colleagues, among the most knowledgeable. One of Silver Galapagos’ great strengths is not only its food and wine, and its staff, but its guides. They seem to know everything, from mating habits to numbers of each kind of finch. They have all the tools to make trips perfect, like any-size wet suits and snorkels, to keep throughout the whole trip (everyone has loan of a backpack, and a water bottle to keep) and there are walking poles and walking sticks, if needed, for boulder-strewn walks.
On our final day, we must be out of our cabins by 7.30 am, and the zodiacs begin leaving at 9.30 am (to return with next week’s travellers, three hours later). Even heading home it is a case of wear whatever you want, you will not look out of place. Just be relieved that you have chosen the best ‘floating luxury hotel’ in the Galapagos, soon to be recognised as one of the best cruiseships in the world. The only trouble is that it has a mere 50 cabins and most sailings are nearly, if not completely, full, so book your trip quickly… lucky you! Silversea has, by the way, just announced they will be offering one-week Silver Galapagos sailings complemented by add-on visits to Machu Picchu. Now THAT will be an even better trip-of-a-lifetime