Rockjumper Retraces Darwin’s Footsteps, with Forrest Rowland at the Helm

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Rockjumper Retraces Darwin’s Footsteps, with Forrest Rowland at the Helm

Straddling the equator, some 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador, lies perhaps the planet’s most fabled archipelago, the Galápagos. In August of 2019, we offer a spectacular new cruise, chartering our own boat (the Nemo III) for 14 people as we cover all of the islands’ best wildlife hotspots aboard a comfortable catamaran.

Swallow-tailed Gull
Swallow-tailed Gull by Dušan Brinkhuizen
The Nemo III
The Nemo III
Forrest Rowland

Rockjumper guide Forrest Rowland took his first trip to the Neotropics at the tender age of 9, and this blossomed into a lifelong love affair with the region’s birds and wildlife. He will lead the 2019 Rockjumper cruise through ‘Las Islas Encantadas’ (the Enchanted Islands), and in advance, we thought it would be fun to ask him a few off-the-wall questions.

So, Forrest, why birds? How did you end up looking at birds?

By accident, almost. When I was 9, my father thought he might lose his job. So he devised a trip to Trinidad & Tobago to scuba, snorkel, and….since it was included in the package…spend 3 nights at the Asa Wright Nature Center birding. So it was, that my family and I found ourselves staring at bellbirds, trogons, toucans, coquettes, motmots, and manakins, asking ourselves: “How did we not know about this before?!?!”

Tufted Coquette
Tufted Coquette by Adam Riley

If you could be reincarnated as a bird, what would you be?

Osprey! I love fish and living in Montana, I also tend to migrate south for the winter.

What is the most exciting part of this Galápagos Cruise? What are the highlights for you?

The most exciting part of a cruise in the Galápagos is the unknown. While there is the expected and spectacular flora and fauna, incredible endemics, and unique lifeforms that are some of the most studied and revered on Earth, we never know what we will encounter or how. Will a booby land on someone today? Will a curious sea lion pup wander up onto my shoes, again? How long will these penguins cruise alongside us, swirling and darting around us as we swim with them? How will I react when that sea turtle comes swimming up? Will we enjoy yet another perfect sunset on the sea? These are the sort of unknowns I mean: the kind that aren’t quantitative in nature, but entirely about quality. Few places offer such experiences as the Galápagos, and these are what I look forward to the most.

Galápagos Sea Lion pup
Galápagos Sea Lion pup by Dušan Brinkhuizen

Who inspired your interest in nature?

My parents, and several mentors over the years who supported and urged on my ever-waxing interest.

What is your most wanted place to see?

Szechuan/Yunnan China, and Ethiopia. I love mountains and montane habitats and I’ve spent time now in a variety in Africa, North America, South America, Papua New Guinea, Europe, and India. I have yet to experience the Eastern Himalayas or Tibetan Plateau, and the highlands of Ethiopia are home to some of the most spectacular birds and mammals on earth.

Do you have a jinx bird?

Jet Manakin.

Apart from birds, what other kinds of wildlife do you most enjoy?

I’m into herps big time and love frogs, anoles, and geckos. Most of the lot for very similar reasons to why I love birds so much: aesthetics. The shapes and colors on each are fantastic! And, also, I could watch African Wild Dogs all day, forever. They are stunning.

Marine Iguana
Marine Iguana by Dušan Brinkhuizen

Have you ever experienced an adrenaline rush while on tour?

Often! I’ve enjoyed countless moments of exciting finds and special encounters with birds and wildlife. Almost tripping over a female Jaguar in the Pantanal, while ducking into the bush for a rest stop was quite memorable, indeed.

To learn more about Forrest and his tours, check out his guide page. There are still some spots on next year’s Galápagos cruise. Join Forrest and friends in August 2019 for the ultimate Galápagos experience, and see Darwin’s finches, commune with Waved Albatrosses, swim with sea turtles and sea lions, and zodiac alongside penguins.

Contact us today and discover more.