Alumni and friends of Whitman College embark on boat ride to Galápagos Islands
Bon voyage! Alumni and friends of Whitman College embark on a short boat ride to the island from their seagoing vessel.

Thirty-eight alumni and friends of Whitman College explored the unspoiled beauty of the Galápagos Islands this past January.

Whitman alumni and friends of the college had the opportunity to view giant tortoises and snorkel with sea lions amid the beauty of the Galápagos Islands in January 2013.

The Alumni Office organized the 10-day trip to the Galápagos, where participants traveled onboard a National Geographic boat and experienced the island’s natural wonders. Other activities included bird watching, hiking and exploring the islands’ extensive tide pools.

Professor of Geology Pat Spencer, who in the past has guided alumni to the Olaympic Peninsula, the Grand Canyon and northern Montana, led the trip.

“For me, the highlight of these trips is getting to know alumni in a different context and explaining to them some really exciting things about a place like the Galápagos,” he said.

Spencer noted that the Alumni Office had organized a trip to the islands in 2006, and decided to organize a second trip in 2013 due to popular demand.

“[The islands] are a rare place in the world where you can interact with big animals, like sea lions that weigh 300 pounds,” he said. “If you interact with these animals in a respectful way, you can see amazing things.”

Kitté Miller, mother of Marie von Haften ’13, went on the trip with the rest of her family and was pleased to tour the islands with the assistance of a geology specialist.

“The idea that we’d get to go on a trip based in an academic, college-level environment was a real draw,” Miller said. “And each island is so different. On Española, we had to be careful not to accidentally step on the marine iguanas. And on Genovesa, there were blue-footed boobies.”

Miller noted that traveling with companions who were all connected to Whitman made for an enjoyable experience.

“For Marie and Alex, [my son], it was really great for them to go on a trip with an older demographic to network and to see what life after Whitman is like,” she said. “It was nice to build an extended Whitman family.”

Shelly Le ’14