23.10.2012 - 06.11.2012 26 °C
Ok we apoloigise in advance if we start to ramble and sound like a bird watcher dressed in khaki, but after a trip to the enchanting Galapagos archipelago we guarantee you'll be doing the same. The Galapagos consists of a cluster of islands 1000km away from the mainland, created from molten lava that's leaked from the earths crust, and filled with volcanoes and animals which migrated to the islands over time. Nowdays there are small townships on a few of the islands, supporting tourism.
One fantastic part of the islands is that the animals are fearless of humans, as the islands are for the most part uninhabited which means the animals don't run away at the sight of humans, and you get to see them in their natural habitat. To maintain this environment the Galapagos National Park, and passionate guides, enforce strict rules about keeping a distance of 2 metres and definately no touching of the animals.
We were super lucky to snag a last minute cruise on The Seaman II, a luxury catamaran! Our six days aboard will never be forgotten, the service and food was outstanding as was the breath taking scenery on the west coast of Isabella. We snorkelled and swam with many animals such as giant sea turtles, rays, sea lions and beautiful fish every day. Paul was even lucky enough to see a white tipped reef shark! We saw abundant bird life, blue footed boobys, (and yes all jokes aside, they're blue feet are awesome), pelicans, frigates and many more I don't quite recall the names of! Dramatic volcanic landscapes, where cactuses have managed to root themselves in the desolate rock. Beautiful sunsets, dolphins, marine iguanas and giant tortoises. A red beach and a black beach, resulting from different parts of volcanic eruptions. All this was topped off when Paul celebrated his Birthday aboard with our fantastic guide and group of 16 people!
Either side of our cruise we spent a few days on Santa Cruz Isand, in the guesthouse Los Amigos, with a friendly owner, two gorgeous huskies, a kitchen, and everything we needed. If you're in Santa Cruz it's a crime not to visit stunning Tortuga Bay. After a walk through dry bush land you arrive at a pristine white beach, with marine iguanas stretching themselves out to dry everywhere, we had to be careful not to stand on one! On a trip to the highlands, in the centre of the island we walked through some giant lava tunnels, gouged out by molten lava thousands of years ago. And no trip is complete without spending a couple of hours at one of the giant tortoise sanctuaries. The massive tortoises which can weigh up to 250kg roam through the grounds munching on grass, and no matter how many you see, they are still amazing creatures to watch. After this we rode bikes downhill into the town of Puerto Ayora!
To reach San Cristobal Island in the east of the archipelago, we caught a speedboat which cut through the waves and had us there in two hours. Another beautiful place to explore. We were stunned by the amount of sea lions making themselves at home along the shoreline along which the main street of town runs. They were lying under and on benches, not flinching at the human passers by, except the odd growl when someone got too close, I suppose thats how they got their name! We walked out to Los Lobos Bay, where there are yet more sea lions, and we even spotted some baby sea lions, very cute. The interpretation centre is also worth a visit on San Cristobal Island, well set up with succinct information. And the walks nearby are great, with animals appearing everywhere we looked!
What we didn't really realise before arriving is that there is so much to do on the Islands on your own and it can be very affordable. We easily filled in a few days in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands. There is also a market on each island selling fruit and veg, many corner stores and a supermarket, and the prices were very reasonable. So go on, no more excuses even if your on a budget....book a flight this place is a must see!
We've uploaded more photos at: http://www.thenomadway.com/galapagos-islands-ecuador.php