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Trip Blog

The Galapagos gives, and it’s non-stop giving.

By Marlys Cappaert , 18 April, 2017

As a lifetime open water devotee, I was intrigued when I stumbled on a advertisement for a SwimTrek holiday back in the early 2000’s. It seemed like such a fantastic idea. I had been on many self-supported bicycle tours, open water events, and competed in local triathlons, but what I really liked was swimming. Each time I’d come across a body of water, the running conversation in my head was “I think I can swim across this.” I kept looking at the SwimTrek website and explaining to all my friends that we really needed to do this. I must have talked about it a lot, even my Mother’s friends starting giving me travel guides to Greece. Finally, in 2009, we had a group formed and scheduled a trip. My first trip was to the Greek Cyclades. It was everything I’d hoped for. Get up, swim, eat, swim, eat…..take a boat ride. It was clearly the best thing I’d ever done. We immediately began planning for the next trip…. this went on for several cycles and it was then clear to me, I really wanted to be part of it. The guides I met were all gracious and accomplished. They wanted us all to succeed in our swimming goals, and managed all the logistics to make this possible. They were both inspiring and comforting. Somehow you wanted to please them, yet they clearly wanted to please you. It was perfect.


I worked toward getting my qualifications and was surprised with an opportunity earlier than I had anticipated…. next thing you know, I’m jetting off to Turkey as a SwimTrek guide. Best month of my life… until my next trip, the next best month of my life. I did as many trips as I could over the following years and was happy to see expansion into the US. I was guiding in Arizona when I received an email from the office… would I be interested in guiding in the Galapagos? It doesn’t take long to say yes to that.

Many of the places we swim provide a nice combination of culture, beautiful landscapes, iconic swims, warm water….in the Galapagos, you get all that, but there is no other place I can imagine where so many things are happening in the water. The density and diversity of wildlife is unmatched. You can hardly swim a stroke without seeing large schools of fish, playful sea lions, friendly sharks, graceful turtles, perky penguins, lazy iguanas, and magnificent manta rays. At the end of my time in the Galapagos, I could only say “this place is ridiculous.” I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite moment, but to be swimming along and have a manta ray with a 7 meter wing span appear below you, and then continue to gracefully swim along with you as if not to notice your head was blowing up. The Galapagos gives, and it’s non-stop giving.


The Galapagos islands are well protected with over 97% of the land in National Park and over 70,000 sq km in the Marine Reserve. Everywhere we went we were accompanied by a Naturalist Guide. This is a requirement to travel in the park, but also extremely valuable to help interpret our trip. The training to become a naturalist guide is strict, including being a Galapaganean. The guides and all our local partners were rightfully proud and protective of their home. There was visible and active conservation all around. The markets, did not provide bags, recycling bins were on every corner. It was rare to see trash in the water. We had days where we did not even see another boat.


Nearly all of the guests on these trips were SwimTrek veterans. It seemed to take a quick commitment to book this trip, as the trips sold out very quickly. Swimming in the Galapagos was an ideal way to discover the area. Swimming was a bit novel here….people took interest in what we were doing. Swimtrekkers were among the first to circumnavigate Daphne Major, a small island north of Santa Cruz. Visitation to Daphne Major is limited to scientific researchers. A 20-year study was conducted on this island investigating the life cycle of finches, supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution and chronicled in the book The Beak of the Finch. This trip was designed to experience the location. It did not disappoint. Each day brought new discoveries and experiences. Just when you thought you had seen the most amazing thing, the next day would bring a new most amazing thing. If it’s on your bucket list I’d recommend checking it off in 2018.



Life in and out the waters of the Galápagos

If the lure of the water and the golden beaches isn’t enough to get you to the Galápagos, then maybe I can convince you with the insane wildlife it has to offer. With and abundance of land and sea creatures the Galápagos is a never ending treat for us nature lovers. Galapagos Fur Seal Let’s...

Day 2: A Glorious Galapagos- Fran in the Galapagos

When you have a big day ahead it’s a good idea not to miss breakfast. So at 7am we headed to LoLo (the cafe next to our hotel) for the standard swimmers breakfast. Eggs, bread, juice and coffee. By 8 am we were on the bus for the 30 min ride across the island to board our boats. There are two...

Day 3 : Isola Isabela- Fran in the Galapagos

Breakfast was a 7am at Deli Cafe next door to our hotel. Better than yesterday’s at LoLo Cafe. A good coffee is a definite when we have a long day planned. Then it was luggage downstairs ready for the trip across to Isola Isabela our next stay. The swimming group are bonding and it’s fun and...

Day 4: Isola Isabela- Fran in the Galapagos

Tortuga is the remains of a collapsed volcano. It’s shaped like a horse shoe. The water was delicious. Perfect temperature. Nice little current and plenty to see along the way – both above and below the water. Frigate birds, sea lions, masses of fish, and of course marine iguanas. And of course...

Day 5 Tintoreras- Fran in the Galapagos

This morning it was hot as we headed to Tintoreras, a bay made up of lava channels and home to assorted wildlife. Predominantly the iguana. The water here is yet another shade of blue. More a beautiful emerald colour. We got off the boat and walked along the rough path, lead by Fernando. We saw...

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Fran Maitland @brisbanefrannie

Thank you Marlys for a beautifully written piece. I was fortunate to be on the first swim trek to Galapagos with you and gorgeous Kelly and you have summed up the feeling and the experience so well. An unforgettable experience. Hope you are still there having fun. Fran

posted almost 6 years ago

Josh Sale @joshsale

Thank you Marlys!

It seems so long ago that I was bumping along with you on the ride from the airport to our hotel and our first swim in the Galapagos. So much anticipation.

The trip was just wonderful. Thank you so much for making it so memorable!


p.s. I think I recognize my yellow mask, pink cap and black rash guard in the photo above.

posted almost 6 years ago