Oh My Galápagosh!

Yes, the Galápagos was so incredible that it warrants 4 – yes four – posts! Fourmidable! How fourtunate!

Four the love of God….

First, a few reflections on why Galápagos is such a special place. Then, if anyone is interested, I’ll post the day-by-day itinerary and how we found and booked it. Finally, there’s an alternative ‘Man Baby’ blog… the itinerary in the life of another Encantada (our boat) cruiser.

So, why is Galápagos a special place to visit?

1. Remoteness

You fly out from Guayaquil across the sea, for a couple of hours. Just sea. A lot of sea.

You land precisely on a tiny island in the middle of the vast ocean, and step off the plane into a desert. Rock, dirt and cacti in +35 degree heat. This place has driven men mad. It used to be an American military base purposed with protecting Panama. Protection was never actually needed, but many a military man has spent weeks and months on the barren, flat land rising from the azure sea… drinking themselves into coping.

All this, of course, just adds to your sense of adventure.

2. Flora and Fauna Continue reading

Diary of a Man Baby – 43 and 3/4s

12th February 2015

I have a flight at 7.05am from Quito to Galápagos. I see a massive queue lining up to pay the tax and have their bags checked for plants/animals/contaminants, so I reckon I’ll queue jump… I don’t like to have to wait, especially when I have a flight to catch. I get up to the counter ahead of everyone in the queue. Bingo.

I see most of these people on the same flight as me.

13th February 2015

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A Lap of Galápagos

Here’s the run-down on our lap of the Galáp.

SANTA CRUZ

After flying into Baltra, having your bags sniffed by dogs for contaminants (foreign plants/animals), declaring your pepper, curry powder and maggi stock cubes in case the dog finds you, you take a little ferry over to Santa Cruz and you can grab a bus for $2 down to Puerto Ayora – the main town. We stayed at Gloriá Galápagos, just a few mins from the centre of Puerto Ayora. Huge room, no safe, and wifi only in 2 specific spots.. much to the delight of a cleaner who accidentally opened our door whilst Jim was standing in a tight corner using his phone without the encumbrance of clothes.

Spent the first day at the Darwin Centre and Playa Estación – looking at giant land tortoises and land iguanas in breeding programmes, and marine iguanas at the beach. They stink, poo on each other and look like devils, but it’s interesting to see them swim and nest, and generally stare at you. Slept a lot in the afternoon.

“Oh dear, it appears I’ve been asleep for most of Valentines day.”
“And that’s the greatest gift you could have given me.”

Spent another day at Tortuga Bay – about a 40min walk away – a huge, long white sand beach with surfing waves and marine iguanas, and a little bay at the end where we swam and read.

On our final day we walked to Las Grietas – a water taxi and 30min walk – an amazing cavern between volcanic walls that’s filled with water but cut off from the sea. It has huge parrot fish and eels in it that were deposited as eggs but cannot escape as adults, interesting snorkeling but very busy.

Every evening during our stay there was Carnival – children’s bike parade, live music, fashion show, the crowning of the islands Queen, kids throwing water bombs and spraying ‘espuma de carnival’ at each other, the adults dancing and drinking. Every morning around 7am I’d see revellers walking home with their shoes off – they know how to party!

“There is a Miss Galapagos competition, alongside a wood modelling display at the same time. A bit ironic.”
“Hope your wood isn’t on display”
“It came second”
“There’s a change you old romantic”
“It’s that time of year”

CRUISE ON ENCANTADA

In this photo above, we did a route from the central island (Santa Cruz) down and around the sea-horse shaped island (Isabela) to the left.

Day One

Picked up at the airport on Baltra and taken to the boat. Lunch (tuna soup with potatoes, croutons and rice) and shown to our cabins. Great – bunk beds, wardrobe, bathroom with shower, air con. Different class to the San Blas boat!

Sailed to Cerro Dragon (Dragon Hill) where we did a walk and saw Marine & Land Iguanas. Also passed by a salt pool and 2 flamingoes (there are only 400 in Galápagos) – very lucky. Lots of Opuntia cacti which the Land Iguanas and Donkeys (introduced) rely on for food. On some islands without tortoises, iguanas or donkeys, the Opuntia does not have spikes – it had to evolve them to protect itself.

Dinner was chicken in sauce with beans and sweetcorn, and afterwards we watched a Galápagos shark (about 6ft, can be dangerous) looking for the needle fish that were attracted to the light of the boat. As the boat took off we had a sea lion swimming alongside for ages – incredibly fast, like a torpedo, and you can’t work out how they are propelling themselves, they don’t seem to move anything. We also had a nocturnal gull flying alongside the boat.

Great first day spotting!

 

Day Two

Overnight sail to Villamil town on Isabela, but everyone slept well. There were a number of other boats around – a popular stop for cruises and day trippers.

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Booking a Last Minute Galápagos Cruise

So, adventure seekers… here’s how we planned our time on the islands.

We flew into Quito on the 8th Feb, a Sunday. We hadn’t done any research but had designs on an 8-day Galápagos cruise. Our first day was pretty much “internetting” at Posada Tambuca (a friendly family-run hostel just a 5min walk from Plaza Foche where a lot of the last minute agencies are based).  Turns out there is a LOT to consider – length of cruise, the type of boat, the actual boat (there are 120), the itinerary, are flights included, how much is snorkel gear rental etc. You could spend months researching.

Here’s how I recommend you approach the task for a quick result:

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