A paradise for nature lovers
Galápagos are volcanic Island, off the west coast of Equador. About 40 different islands, but not all of them are living areas, and most of it is wildlife and nature. There is almost no natural predators, that’s what makes those islands such and exceptional place to be, and observe the environment.
How to get there?
Most flights goes from Guayaquil or Quito, on the continent to Baltar Airport, on the Santa Cruz Island. Then there is a bus that take you to a boat that take you to another bus, and after 40 minutes drive, you finally arrive into town.
A lot of tourists go there, and do a 1 week or 2 weeks cruise on a boat. With my partner, we decided that be stocked on a boat with hundreds other people, not being able to do what we wanted, when wanted, was not our prefect journey. So we took a plane to Santa Cruz, and then found a place to stay for a week. The hostel we chose is Morning Glory, on the east part of the town (close to the Darwin center). I recommend this place. Comfortable toom, great location, and the owner is really helpful. One of the inconvenient of not doing a cruise, is that some islands are inaccessible, but we still could visit the principals.
Walk on the turtle bay beach
Our first full day on Santa Cruz, we went to visit the turtle bay. It is a protected beach, one hour outside the city. You access it by walking on a stone trail, and arrive in front of the pacific ocean. White sand, shining sun, blue water, a normal pacific beach… after hundred meter we see our first real wild life: iguanes. Those big black lizards just hanging out on the beach, going for a swim and taking the sun. There are many of them, and some specific part of the bay are protected especially for them. So there is the bay, where people come to surf, and nobody swims, because it is too dangerous, but if you keep going through the beach, there is another part, hidden, where you can swim as the water is completely flat. It is the official “people beach” and you can rent canoes or just tan on the sun. We could not stay too long, because rain was coming, and the way back, isn’t short.
We also did some diving. Amazing experience! If you like diving, Galápagos has a really good reputation, and there is a reason why. You can observe turtles, rays, sea lions, sharks, all sorts of fishes… The most famous spot is Gordon Rock but require at least 20 previous dives, which is not my case. But there are many others dive spots, and they all offers great wild life observation!
It is an expensive activity in general, and even more in Galapagos. It is about 150 usd for 2 tanks in one day. And we were there for the low season. From what I understood, high season prices are near 240 USD! We went through the company called Iguana, because they were close from our hotel, and recommended. Professional and safe, nothing to complain about.
After 3 days on the first island, we decide to change, and go to an other one :
How to get there?
You can buy your way on the dock of Santa Cruz, it is around $25 us for one way. It is a 2 hours uncomfortable boat ride from an island to another, but Isabela worth it. The island is wilder, and you can see it as soon as you get off the boat. Sea lions and seals are everywhere! Just sleeping in the shade, in small groups, waiting the night to go back to the water and hunt. When we arrive, there is a $5 fee to pay to enter the new island, and then, taxis waiting for tourist. The city is not really far, but it is a 30 minutes walk, and when you are not sure where to go, it can be much more. As soon as we arrive, a taxi drive us, and take us to a tour company, because we wanted to do something the same day.
We drop the bags in our hotel, and we leave for a day out at “Los tuneless“. First, they take you to do some snorkel in a nice bay, with mangroves to see sea turtles, recife sharks, and sea horses. After that, we head to “Los tuneles”. It is an area of naturally dragged underwater tunnel. It is volcanic stone that creates a beautiful effect in the water. The boat stops, and you can observe some blue foot boobies, and walk on this crazy landscape.
The following day, we go for a trek at the volcano Chico. The landscape looks like what we could imagine as the moon. Dry, dark, rocky… It is an exceptional place to be, really hot, but it offers a view on the north wild part of the island. On the way, you can observe the 2d world biggest crater: Sierra Negra, that erupt last in 2005.
Back to Santa Cruz
The last activity was the “turtle trail” on Santa Cruz Island. The best way to do it, is to rent bikes and go all the way to the tears wall. There is a Mirador there, that offers a view on the entire island. The trail is about 1 hour, and on the way you can see huge land turtles. There are a lot of places to stop and enjoy the beach, but also the lagoon that is right behind the trail.
To sum up : Expensive but so worth it!
Galápagos is an expensive destination, as it is 100 USD fee just to enter the park! The wildlife is amazing… from pelican, sea lions, sharks, turtles, crazy looking birds and iguanas… If you are a nature lover, Galápagos is a place you need to go and spend time, even if that mean spending money.
There are many activities I could not do, because of lack of time and money, but whatever you decide, my advice would be to not go for the more touristy attractions, and do as much as you can by yourself.