Published: September 9th 2007September 8th 2007
So I have just returned from 8 days on the mighty Galapagos Islands. This may sound cheesy but words can not describe just how amazing the Galapagos Islands are. One of the most awe inspiring places I have ever been to. Where to begin ... well I flew from Guayaquil (more about that later) to the Galapagos on 31 August. Arriving at about lunch time we quickly made our way to the boat Golondrina which was to be our home for the next 7 nights. A quant home but nonetheless comfortable enough. Although I did spend the first 3 nights in a cramped bunk room which smelt bad and had a toilet i was not quite sure how to use ... thankfully I was upgraded on the 4th day to a slightly more spacious cabin with a flushing toilet.
The islands were in a word, breathtaking. Over the 8 days we visited the following islands:
Day 1: Baltra, Santa Cruz beaches.
Day 2:Genovesa Island and Darwin Bay.
Day 3:Bartolome Island and Black Turtle Cove
Day 4:Isla Plaza, Isla Santa Cruz including Puerto Ayora and Charles Darwin Reserach Centre
Day 5:Santa Cruz highlands, Isla Santa Fe
Day 6:Española and Gardiner Bay
Day 7:Floreana including snorkling at Devils Crown and Post Office Bay
Day 8: North Seymour
The animals are so awesome because they have evolved with no predators they are totally unafraid of humans and come right up to you. We saw giant tortoises, land and marine iguanas, sea lions, flamingos, lava lizards, red footed, blue footed and nascar boobies, albatross, loads of other birds and of course the world famous Darwin Finches. My favourite bird was without a doubt the blue footed boobie. It hobbles round on its little blue feet and goes through this elaborate mating ritual which involves a lot of whistling from the male. Boobies like to dance (as the tshirt says). I also loved the marine turtles. We went snorkling almost every day and the turtles are so graceful in the water. I love watching them. We also saw some sharks which was a bit of a bonus as well as a lot of playful sealions and millions of colourful fish! I will attempt to post some photos of the creatures I saw on here at a later date - still havent quite figured that out yet.
The people on the tour were great and the crew were amazing. I even managed to catch up with Mel again in Puerto Ayora which was a bonus. It was so sad to leave the islands and have to come back to the reality of Quito - noise, pollution and millions of people! Oh well back now at Secret Garden and its not so bad. Off to the Amazon tomorrow for volunteering project so thats something to look forward to.
Other than the Galapagos, since I last wrote I have been to a whole bunch of other places. After finishing in the Amazon I headed out to the coast of Ecuador to a tiny fishing (and surfing) village called Canoa. It was so cute! And the people were very friendly. I stayed at a beautiful little hostel on the beach called the Bamboo Hotel and drunk numerous cocktails during happy hour. Also tried my first dish of cerviche. Delicious it was. However, unfortunately we were there mid week and the sun was not shinning. For these reasons the town was quite dead and it wasnt really sunbathing weather. So I only stayed there 2 days. To get to Canoa I took another night bus - this time an Ejectutivo. Good decision. It was great. Seats that practically reclined into beds and everyone who got on the bus was patted down before boarding! Good security I think.
After Canoa I headed back inland to Guayaquil (8hours) and then straight on to Cuenca. Cuenca was lovely. Smaller city (pop about 300,000) very beautiful, full of colonial buildings. Really friendly and felt quite safe. I stayed at El Cafecito which was a great place to meet fellow travellers as had a cafe full of them. During my time there I made a day trip out to the Ingapirca Ruins (which are Ecuadors major Inca ruins), visited the muesem and explored the city. Oh, and I also had a rather interesting night out with a group of people I met at the hostel. We ended up in a bar called Pop Bar which though it took us about 40 mins to walk there turned out to be only about 5 minutes from the hostel... I had a feeling we were going in circles. There was a concert on there involving some band from Quito who someone knew... was a bit heavy for me but all the same good times had by all.
As luck would have it, one in our group, Andy from England also had the idea to head out to Puerto Lopez the following day to see the humpback whales. So the next day we loaded up our stuff and headed off on another 8 hour bus ride back to the coast.
Puerto Lopez was cute. Another small fishing villiage (although no surf here so a marked lack of young people and bars). We headed off on our whale watch the next day. That was pretty cool. Yes, I know I can go whale watching in NZ but for $20... I dont think so. Other than that not much to do in Puerto Lopez so we packed up that afternoon and headed to Montanita for a couple of days. Montanita is another coastal town but this one is the tourist town. Good surf and full of nice restaurants and bars. And hippys. Met my first kiwi in Montanita! Yes, the first one. Youd think there would be more but apparently not... So the weather wasnt too good there either but we did get one beautiful day so managed to get in a spot of swimming and sunbathing.
After Montanita I headed back to Guayaquil to catch my flight to the Galapagos. I managed to do the sights of Guayaquil in an afternoon. Guayaquil is the biggest city in Ecuador but theres not really that much to see... Port town so walked along the waterfront which has been done up nicely, climbed 400 steps through the ??? to see a great view of the city from the top and visited the iguanas living in Parque Simon Bolivar. Weird. There are loads of them there just hanging out. Checked out some markets and then spent the evening hanging in my hotel room watching english tv (yay!) saw an episode of men in trees even!
And the rest is history. Tomorrow I head to the Amazon. I am really looking forward to it. Will keep you posted.