Katie Stevens works in the Accounting Department of Zegrahm Expeditions. Having worked here for two years, she was thrilled when she got the opportunity to join her first Zegrahm expedition to the Galápagos Islands.
When I first began working at Zegrahm Expeditions, the idea of experiencing one of our trips in person sounded so farfetched; imagine my joy when I found out I was headed to the Galápagos Islands this past July! After months of preparing, I couldn’t believe my luck—my adventure of a lifetime was beginning.
From the moment we landed in Baltra we were constantly on the go, riding in a panga as we explored the coastline, experiencing volcanic rock formations, scouting for birds, going on hikes, snorkeling—it was exhausting. And the most exhilarating 10 days ever!
Snorkeling in the Galápagos
For me, the snorkeling was incomparable. The water was warm and beautiful—not just blue, it was blue, green, and every shade in between. And the marine life; there were fish of every color, it was like a rainbow under the sea! The sea lions were one of my favorites; they loved to play with anyone in the water, just as curious and interested in us as we were in them.
We even had the opportunity to swim with sharks! Some guests found this truly terrifying—and who could blame them?—but this was a highlight for me. When I looked down and saw a gorgeous, four-foot long white-tip shark barely three feet below, close enough to touch, I was mesmerized. It was just one of the experiences from this expedition that I will cherish forever.
Hiking in the Galápagos
When we stepped ashore, I was equally blown-away by my surroundings as when we were in the water. Everything from beaches of all colors—including red, white, and black—to lava fields covered in marine iguanas and whale skeletons. We were in the same regions Charles Darwin once was, and we learned more about his impact on the islands from both our local guides and the leaders on our ship, the Isabela II.
Our landings were varied; sometimes we landed right on the beaches and stepped into the surf, while other times we would land on a dock, climb a flight of stairs through mangroves or lava fields, and begin our land explorations.
We always had incredible hiking opportunities, both flat and easy with gorgeous surroundings, as well as harder treks through steep terrain and in hot and humid weather—though the view from the top was always worth it! No matter your skill level, there were always options available.
What I Didn’t Expect
While this trip was everything I could imagine, there were a number of things that surprised me:
- Our Guests. Every single day our guests impressed me; the Galápagos Islands tend to attract people of all ages, and our expedition was no different. On my voyage, guests ranged in age from 10 to 85. The eldest kept up with the group on even the most difficult hikes—even when I found myself lagging behind! And the youngest among us asked the most inquisitive questions. Among everyone, there was an incredible thirst for knowledge and adventure.
- Jack Grove. Jack’s passion for the Galápagos is evident in his every movement—from sharing details about the islands and being an advocate for the environment, to inciting conversations on board and shouting out which species we’re snorkeling with. I would follow Jack anywhere!
- Every Day Knowledge. Whether it was how El Niño was impacting the archipelago, or the extensive history of each individual island, I learned something new every day. Jack and our local naturalists answered any question that came their way, and always elaborated to ensure everyone understood. And this isn’t to mention the lectures! We enjoyed a lecture series that covered everything from conversations on Charles Darwin to watching a documentary about Floreana Island, The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden. The trip was not only a nonstop adventure, it was a nonstop learning experience.
- Unexpected Excursions. While we had scheduled daily itineraries, Jack looked for any unplanned opportunities to enhance the trip. My personal favorite was the night we were anchored near Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galápagos Province. After dinner, Jack arranged an excursion into town; getting to explore this small town at night was an incredibly unique experience, and wouldn’t have happened if Jack didn’t go above and beyond to offer the most memorable experience to everyone onboard.
The Galápagos Islands were truly paradise. I often joked that I wasn’t going to leave the ship, but would happily continue my work at Zegrahm remotely aboard the Isabela II! Alas, I am back to reality. I’m so thrilled to have had this opportunity, and even now, when I look through my pictures and think back, I’m stunned it’s not all a dream.
For more information on our upcoming expeditions to the Galápagos, visit our trip pages: