Ever since I had heard about Darwin and the Galapagos Islands I wanted to go! A lot of people I had met on the way had skipped the islands as they thought it was too expensive but you can do it on the cheap and it is definitely worth going! I booked a 1 way ticket with Tame from Guayaquil that cost US$195. Not super cheap but not ridiculous either. You then have to pay US$100 National park fee which I think is a little extreme but apparently goes towards conservation but still expensive. Thankfully I met a cool french guy on the bus called Guillaume (took me forever to learn!) who also didn’t have any accommodation booked or knew what he wanted to do. We thankfully found a cheap room that was US$20 a night for 2 beds and a shared bathroom called Los Amigos. It was a really nice room central and cheap!
We then set off to find a cheap cruise. I was pretty set on doing a liveaboard dive trip but they were all fully booked and ridiculously expensive. I soon gave up on the idea of finding a dive trip and just settled for a cruise that we were going to see the most on. After walking around to a few places we found an awesome travel agent, Jorge, that planned out our whole time on the island. We booked a 5 night 4 day (as we got on the boat at night and left early in the morning) cruise on the Aida Maria for US$950. It was an awesome boat and the food and staff were amazing! We also got Jorge to throw in a go pro and some wetsuits (I would def recommend the wetsuits as the water was pretty cold). We also booked in some day dive trips seeing as we couldn’t get onto a liveaboard and wanted to check out some of the underwater life.
The next day we were off on our first dive trip. We were heading out to North Seymour as Guillaume didn’t have too much experience diving and hadn’t experienced diving in currents. The dive really wasn’t that exciting… We saw a few reef sharks a turtle and that was about it. I was pretty disappointed but i guess you can’t predict what is going to be there. The next day we headed up see the giant tortoises. They were amazing!! You got to get pretty close to them and really see how big they were. Apparently they never stop growing. That night we were off on our cruise. The boat was way flashier then I thought it was going to be. I was in a cabin with a girl from Belgium named Katia who was awesome! We had an awesome dinner and met everyone on our boat. Most people were young who had bought the last-minute deal but there was an older Swiss couple that had booked their trip way in advance and I’m sure paid a lot more than any of us had. They were nice enough but didn’t really socialize with us throughout the trip. Everyone went to bed pretty early that night as it was going to be a bit of a rough crossing to Isabella island and no one wanted to be sick.
We woke up nice and early at Isabela island. After an awesome breakfast we headed to the island to go and see the Wall of Tears. This was built when the island was used to host convicts. As there wasn’t much to do the Convicts were forced to carry rocks from far away to build the wall in the middle of no where. I don’t think there was any purpose to the wall as you could easily climb it and it wasn’t containing anything…. After checking out the wall we headed back to the harbour and went snorkeling. It was so much fun. We saw some penguins and a huge turtle but the best part was the seals! They are so inquisitive and playful and would come up so close to you. After lunch we went to the Tortoise breeding center. Almost all the tortoises are bred in captivity. When wild tortoises lay their eggs rangers go and dig them up and bring them back to the center and they are kept there for the first few years of their lives. We got to see a baby tortoise that had just hatched a few days ago and it was so small!! It was the cutest thing ever and hard to believe could grow to be as big as the adult ones.
The next day we were on the west coast of Isabella at Punta Moreno. We landed on a lava field that didn’t have too many plants except a random cactus here and there. After a bit of walking around we arrived at a lake that had a bunch of flamingos feeding in it. They were pretty far away but was still cool to see them. That afternoon we did some more snorkeling and saw a bunch of penguins swimming around. They are so cool to see underwater and they go by so fast!
On our third day we were at Tagus Cove which used to be a favourite spot for pirates and whalers and there are hundreds of names carved into the rocks there from as far back as the 1800s. We were then off to Punta Espinoza where we saw thousands of marina iguanas, loads of seals and some flightless Cormorants. While cruising to our next destination we saw a huge school of dolphins that were doing massive flips out of the water and even saw some whales!
Our final full day on the cruise was spent snorkeling and seeing even more seals! The seals were my favorite and it was breeding season so there were baby seals everywhere! They were sooooo cute and took so many photos of them!! Not as many as Heiko though. He was a German guy on our cruise that was like the paparazzi! He would take 100 photos of each bird, seal and iguana we saw!!
The last day was a short one. We were at North Seymour Island to see all the birds. I was pretty excited as we go to see the Frigate birds with their puffed up red chests. They were so cool and you could get really close to them as the weren’t scared of us at all. It was then back to the mainland to drop everyone off at the airport. There were quite a few of us staying for a few more days so we all headed back to Los Amigos for another night. That night we went to bbq street (not sure if that is what it is called) and got Lobsters for dinner! It was my first lobster and it was amazing! The best part was it was only $15!!
The next day Guillaume, Heiko and I were off diving again. We were off to Gordon rock which is famous for its crazy currents and schools of hammer-head sharks! It was an insanely rough trip out there. 3 out of the 8 people on the boat were sick. Both of the dives we did sucked. We didn’t see anything except a few fish and a sting ray. The second dive was the worst as the visibility was nothing and we literally had to pull ourselves along rocks and the current was pretty strong and I think we maybe saw 1 fish. The sucky thing about diving in the Galapagos is its expensive ($130-$150) and if you don’t see the amazing big schools of fish and sharks there really isn’t much to see. We were pretty unlucky with our dives as most people i talked to, did see the big schools of hammer heads.
Our final few days were spent on San Cristobal island. The boat ride over there was awful!! The boat was slapping down so hard on waves for 2 hours and jarred everything in your body. We finally arrived and found Katia who had found a nice cheap hostel which I think was called Louis House or something like that which was about $10 a night. We spent all of our time here just lying on the smelly beach with the seals working on our tans. After an awesome time on Galapagos it was time to head back to the mainland! I found a cheapish flight with Avianca ($152.50) back to Guayaquil to meet up with Kirsten.