Here at IWC Schaffhausen, we often note that the rich heritage of our brand is due in large part to you, our customers and fans. It is for you that we strive for innovation and stay true to the craftsmanship that has been a hallmark of our product. To pay tribute to the relationship we have with our customers, we have created the Money Can’t Buy Experiences, truly one-of-a-kind opportunities.
This past year, we offered the chance to attend a part of the Volvo Ocean Race. More recently a lucky winner received a trip to the Galapagos Islands as part of our partnership with the Charles Darwin Foundation. That Money Can’t Buy Experience went to Michel Clessens of Belgium, and he wrote us a fascinating report of his trip, which we bring to you here:
Time, Time , Time. Get up at 5 in the morning to catch the flight Brussels Madrid. Then departure at 12.30 to Guayaquil, Ecuador for an arrival at 02.00 (cet) – 18.00 (local time). So in total we had a travel time of 21 hrs.
After a good night at the Hilton hotel we were ready to discover Guayaquil. Using this day to get rid of our jetlag, we enjoyed the local scenery : a walk along the river, the historical park where we learned about planting cacao & the iguana park.
Up to the islands
After a short flight to the Galapagos islands we boarded the Eclipse. A very comfortable mid size cruise ship. In the afternoon we already made acquaintance with Santa Cruz Island. In the Mangroves of Black turtle Cove we encountered the first sea lions and witnessed a Pelican chasing a flying fish. And from time to time we could see the head of a sea turtle breaking the surface of the ocean.
No, this seal is not dead. He is just relaxing.
On the 19th August we had a wet landing on Rabida Island, with is red sand shores. We had our first Galapagos magical experience with the sea lions, laying around on the beach and accompanying us during our first snorkeling. It’s really amazing how close the animals come to you without feeling scared or expecting anything from humans.
In the afternoon we drove to Santiago island where we saw lots of sea iguanas and crabs.
On the 20th , we went kayaking - and it wasn’t long before we were joined by some penguins that tried to race the kayak (actually they did more than try, because they easily won). We spotted our first whale: a Byrd’s whale. While hiking on Isabela island (Tagus cove) we saw lots of Blue footed boobies. My daughter immediately made me promise then whenever given the chance we would buy a souvenir of these birds with their magnificent blue feet.
In the afternoon we went to Fernandina Island, an island with a lava rocked bottom. Here we saw lots of young sea lions being fed by their mothers. A great happening to witness.
An Iguana at rest.
Day 4, back on Isabela island (Urbina bay & Puenta Vincenta Roca). Time to meet some new inhabitants of the islands. The guides said that if we were lucky we would see some, but it seemed we were real lucky. We saw several land iguana’s. We even saw two males ‘fighting’ for their territory. Again a typical Galapagos experience, once the animals have other things on their mind, they don’t notice your presence at all. Even the Galapagos Hawk stayed calm and nearly gave us a glimpse when we passed it.
It was a real top day snorkeling where we encountered lots of endemic Galapagos species : sea tortoise’s, Galapagos penguins, spotted eagle rays, golden rays & 2 giant mola mola fishes.
Day 5 we landed on Puerto Ayora. After visiting some giant land tortoises in the highlands, we visited the Charles Darwin foundation. We saw the breeding centers for tortoises and were warmly greeted by Roslyn Cameron our host during the visit. We met with Gustavo Jiménez, the scientist responsible for amongst other animals the Galapagos penguins. He explained the difficulties he was facing and the efforts needed to preserve the penguins in these difficult times (altering sea current temperatures). It was really great to see how driven and enthusiastic all the people at the foundation were. They don’t only take dearly the preservation of the animals but off course also the islands as an eco-system, and they also try to involve local inhabitants in all their projects. We also saw the team dealing with the shark tagging program, supported by IWC. I want to thank the people at the foundation again for the warm welcome they gave us.
On the 23th we went to Genovesa Island, an island flooded by birds. Not knowing any land predators they all nest on the ground without fear.
The evolution theory as developed by studying the finches became clear. Amongst others we saw the Nasca Boobies, red footed boobies, fregat birds, short eared owls, … Lots of birds were nesting, so funny to see the boobie chicks.
Already day 7. Time really flies by on these magnificent islands. While having a very nice sun we enjoyed the spectacular views on the volcano top on Bartalome island. 371 Steps certainly worth the climb. After snorkeling with some white tipped sharks, a magnificent animal that people give a bad name for all the wrong reasons, we visited Cerro dragon. Again some land iguanas crossed our path, and in this beautiful lagoon we could see some flamingo’s hanging around. A beautiful scene to never forget.
In conclusion, the Galapagos islands are a great place to visit. It lets you come close to nature, and makes you aware that as humans we have certain obligations. It’s magical how one can approach the animals and how the animals react to humans- not as their enemies or something they should be afraid of, but just as other inhabitants of our planet earth.
For all of his Galapagos adventures, Michel Clessens was wearing an IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Islands Edition watch. With water resistance to 12 bar, it is perfect for underwater exploring, and the luminescent elements on the face help you keep track of the time even in dim conditions. This timepiece was created in concert with and support for the Charles Darwin Foundation, which works to educate visitors on ways to protect and preserve the islands, and also advocates against poaching and overfishing.
The Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Islands Edition