There are some distant destinations of which the visitor does not know what to expect; where it feels more like you are travelling to another planet than another country. So it was for the 26 students who travelled to the Galapagos Islands during the Easter holidays for a Biology and Geography adventure of discovery. After a long journey, the group finally arrived on the island of San Cristobal, 1000 miles off the coast of Equador where we were met by the equatorial heat and very shortly after by our local tour guide, Jonathan, an expert naturalist and a National Geographic Photographer.
Over the following eight days we visited four islands to investigate the endemic species and consider their interactions with the barren volcanic littoral zones and the contrasting lush uplands. From cactii that have grown into trees, penguins in the Northern Hemisphere, recently active volcanic craters of 100 km2 to giant tortoises, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies, the islands presented a dazzling array of natural wonders to behold.
Perhaps the defining characteristic of the Galapagos is the level of trust the wildlife has towards people. Although we upheld the 2m rule, the animals seemed incredibly at ease in human presence. This is a phenomenon known as habituation.
Beautiful, unforgettable, enlightening – the Galapagos Islands were all this and more to the awe-filled Harrow Hong Kong explorers.