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Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Fitzsimmons’s Galapagos Trip!

Trying to describe my trip to Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands is difficult- the amount of unforgettable memories that I made during those two weeks can quickly take up more than an hour of conversation. From beginning to end, the trip was an incredible experience, and I’ve never been so grateful to the people that I met who made my trip so memorable.

It was a little funny at first, when I met a group of twenty strangers that I was going to be spending the next two weeks with, but after a brief awkward period of ice-breakers, we all bonded pretty quickly. Visiting the hot springs in the Andes was the img_4424best way to relax after a day of traveling, and the travel day afterward provided plenty of airport time to get to know each other. I’d never met such a diverse and interesting group of people from every corner of the country, and it was so much fun getting to know everyone.

For a landlocked girl from Colorado, the highlight of my trip was definitely snorkeling and learning about the extraordinary wildlife that makes the Galapagos so unique. From Sea Lions to Manta Rays and Sea Turtles, I was astonished by the up-close & personal experience with the incredible wildlife that we had. Spending evenings playing beach volleyball, watching soccer games, and swimming in the ocean brought every night on Isabela Island to a perfect close. Aside from our non-stop activities, I learned so much about the importance of conserving the environment and rehabilitating endangered species like the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, thanks to our wonderful guides.img_4390

The last two days on Isabela Island were spent camping on and hiking the Sierra Negra Volcano: seven hours full of panoramic caldera views, moonscape lava fields, and dirt that wouldn’t come off of our skin no matter how hard we scrubbed. Camping at Campo Duro, an ecolodge and Giant Tortoise reserve, included lots of hammock naps, bonfires, and stargazing. The service we did the next day felt meaningful & fulfilling, as our group constructed an organic garden to support small-scale farming on the island and replanted vegetation to improve water retention in Giant Tortoise habitats.

The Galapagos was the craziest, most invigorating and awakening traveling experience that I’ve ever had, and I may have shed a tear or two saying goodbye to all the amazing friends I’d made. Global Works has instilled a new perspective on travel in me that will follow me wherever I go next, and I am so thankful to have participated in something that I will remember as one of my greatest adventures for the rest of my life.

-Rachel Fitzsimmons