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Galapagos Crusoes (cover)

Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides, Chalfont St Peter

Publication Year: 2022

Binding: Softback

Page Count: 264

ISBN Number: 9781784778859

Price: £ 11.99

Galapagos Crusoes: A Year Alone with the Birds

Galapagos Crusoes: A Year Alone with the Birds is an update to Bryan Nelson’s original 1968 book Galapagos: Islands of Birds, with additional stories from June, his wife. The two of them spent a year on two islands in Galapagos – Tower and Hood (known as Genovesa and Española today) - studying seabirds. As such, the book is a great introduction to the different species found on the Islands with in-depth chapters on the various mammals, reptiles, insects and birds that the Nelsons shared their islands with. These include fantastic descriptions of a range of wildlife from Galapagos Sea Lions to Lava Lizards. There is even more detail about the birds that they did their research on – the boobies (Blue-footed, Red-footed and Nazca) and the Waved Albatross – which is a treat for anyone who has an interest in seabirds, and much of it is still relevant today.

The book also provides incredible stories and insight into what it was like to live in the Galapagos Islands in the 1960s, both on the uninhabited islands that the Nelsons chose to do their research and in general. The Islands are 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador and, even with today’s technology, they are a tricky place to live. So imagine what it was like in the 1960s when almost everything had to be imported by boat from the mainland, and healthcare was almost non-existent.

June’s additions to Bryan’s initial book really bring to life the day-to-day reality of living on a deserted island, several hours’ boat journey away from even Galapaguenian civilisation. There were obvious challenges to overcome, such as the fact that the majority of the islands lack freshwater, which they planned for meticulously. Nothing could prepare them, however, for experiences including sharing their tent with curious birds and giant centipedes, constantly having to fix equipment that was not made for the harsh Galapagos environment, and working out what to wear when meeting HRH Prince Philip onboard the Royal Yacht Britannia at the end of their trip.

This really is a book for everyone, whether you’re interested in wildlife in general, birds in particular, the Galapagos Islands, or the idea of living on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere.

Book reviewed by Clare Simm

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