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