Our CW Adventure Charter trip, hosted by Quasar Nautica, one of the better tour companies serving the islands, began with a flight from Miami to Guayaquil, Ecuador; then we took a Quasar charter flight 600 miles west to Isla San Cristobal, one of the oldest islands among the Galapagos. We loaded aboard Alta right away in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, one of two developed ports in the islands, and were soon watching frigate birds soaring above Kicker Rock. We then hit a nearby beach to test our snorkel gear. Thirty-six hours later, we'd circumnavigated halfway 'round the islands and found ourselves hiking on the black lava rock of Isla Fernandina, one of the newest islands-about 500,000 years old. Still a work in progress, Fernandina erupted in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2005 and has little vegetation. The rocks by the shore teemed with sea lions, flightless cormorants, brightly colored Sallie Lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas (which swim at low tide to feed on algae and seaweed, then spend the rest of the day warming up again in the sun).