Galapagos Kayak Disaster

Galapagos Sunset

While I’m not a traditional outdoorsy kind of guy, I do love just about anything water related. Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, you name it, I’ve probably done it and had a blast in the process. That’s why when the opportunity arose in the Galapagos to go tandem kayaking with Scott, I was the first to sign up.

In hindsight, the fact Scott had never been kayaking and I had never done tandem kayaking was not good preparation. At the time though, I thought it would be about the same as normal kayaking and didn’t foresee any major problems. But what did I know.

We started off ok. The launch took us to a spot kind of far from the ship, but still within sight. It was also a gorgeous area, with endemic penguins swimming around and the sun about to set in the gorgeous Galapagos archipelago. It was truly stunning. The trouble started when we tried to paddle.

Being a methodical person, I wanted us to paddle at the same time, in order to get moving faster. Scott didn’t get the memo on this though and before I knew it, we were going in circles, literally. Every time we tried to correct and stop the almost vomit-inducing levels of spinning, the kayak would simply start spinning the other direction. Of course that’s when we weren’t crashing into rocks.

The truly hilarious part of this is that we were being filmed at the time. Our trip was part of a Jeopardy/Lindblad/National Geographic trip and we were being filmed and interviewed all the time. The footage actually shows us paddling about, looking at the penguins and looking pretty good doing so. What the film doesn’t show is that was the only time we had managed to go in a straight line and I’m also pretty sure we were about to take out a few penguins. (they’re fine)

Of course, while we were going in circles we were also entering into a hell of a fight. Both of us are fairly strong-willed and at times obstinate, and we were both yelling and blaming the other for going in circles. As this was happening, fellow novice kayakers where having a high time and were already halfway to the boat. The boat.

Galapagos Penguin

The boat now seemed like it was impossibly far away, especially since we had managed to move all of a few yards in 20 minutes. The gloaming was already upon us, and the thought of paddling in the dark, surreptitiously avoiding oar-dazed penguins, made me more nauseated than I already was.

Finally, the Zodiac pulled alongside, asked if we needed help and we gave up. We were no longer speaking to each other at that time, and I think I had stopped paddling altogether. They hooked us up to the Zodiac, and towed us back to the ship.

At the time I was upset. Ok, I was pissed. But in retrospect, that kayak disaster is one of my strongest travel memories from the Galapagos and Scott and I can finally laugh about it. It just proves that in spite of all of my good intentions and planning, it is usually the unexpected and frankly the bad things that make a trip memorable.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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