The Galápagos must be one of the most preserved places on earth, if not THE most preserved. It started at the Quito airport with our bags being scrutinized by X-ray for any produce, dirt, sand or meat products. The bags were zip tied shut upon approval. Three different signatures were required giving our oath that we were not carrying any banned products. Several announcements were made on the plane punctuated by a through spray down of the overhead compartments to ensure we were not carrying any little critters from the mainland.

The warm arrival to the Galápagos Islands was a welcome change. Being at sea level gave many of our guests ease from the altitude pressure they had been feeling. Bags loaded onto a pickup truck for the hotel, we didn't waste any time diving into the island treasures. First to these great vine dripped sink holes in the Scalesia forest. The Darwin finches and unique birds fluttered around us.

Our guide was incredibly knowledgeable. Travelers from other groups hitched onto ours for the informative talk.

These giant animals live to 150 years old.

Visiting the tortoises at El Chato 2 Ranch was our next stop.The ranch has no barriers to keep the tortoises in. It is a simple piece of land where they naturally breed and roam. On wetter days there's a need for boots and rain gear, but we had a nice dry day. Wandering the trails we came across tortoises ranging from 40 to more than 100 years old. Why the rain gear you ask? The caves of course! The layers of volcanic activity over the years has created both the sink holes and lava tunnels that run up to 5 km long.

After checking into the hotel and finding our rooms... That are marked by animals rather than numbers, we wandered around the sweet seaside town with all manner yacht anchored in the harbor, dive stores every 10 feet, and the best part, a small fish market where a handful of people were carving up and selling tuna and some kind of snapper. Massive Pelicans awaited scraps and this beautiful seal saddled right up to a lady waiting for scraps like a dog begging at the dinner table. A full day to a quiet sleep out of the city and waking early to hit the sea.