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Published: October 27th 2015
OK, I am back in Sydney and this blog update is about 3 months late, so my apologies for that. No excuse really except I was really busy and a lot of things have happened. Some good, some bad but one has to be positive. One door closes and others open up. But more to that later. Let’s get on with my adventures in Galapagos.
After some relaxing times in Mancora it was time to move on and what better place to go than to the Galapagos Islands. The last time I was in South America I missed to go there as I was not in the financial situation to do so. But I didn’t want to miss out this time. So I purchased a plane ticket online for US$400 and took the night bus from Mancora to Guayaquil in Ecuador. After the last bus trip this one was rather uneventful and that was a good thing.
Now the last time I was in Guayaquil I was a rather sick puppy with Malaria and spend some time in the hospital there and really didn’t see much. Not that there is much so see as I found out this time.
I had teamed up with an Aussie that carried a surfboard around with him as he wanted to catch a surf wherever possible. When we arrived at the bus station, that was direct beside the airport, we walked to the airport to check if there would be a problem in getting the surfboard over to Galapagos. No problem as it turned out, so we headed off to find a hotel near the airport as we had to catch the flight early in the morning. BTW if you are wondering what the currency of Ecuador is, well it is the mighty US dollar. Pretty screwed up and it took a while to get used to it….
The rest of the day we spend exploring the city and what a hole it was. Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest harbor city and pretty busy. The second biggest city in the country must also be the bleakest and uninspiring city in the country and it was pretty depressing. There was nothing there to see and it was a blessing that the flight went the next day.
The next morning we rocked up at the airport and our language was checked pretty thoroughly. Now
that is understandable as the eco system of the islands is pretty unique and the environmental organisations are very careful not to introduce more foreign plants and animals.
The flight was pretty short and only 1 ½ hours long. When we arrived at the airport at Baltra we had to pay a $100 national parks fee and then we had to wait for another language control, this time with a sniffer dog. All that was a bit of a show for the tourists, but such is life. After the control a bus took us to a ferry that dropped us after about a two minute trip on one of the biggest islands of the Galapagos, Santa Cruz. From there we took a bus to the biggest city of the islands, Puerto Ayora.
Now call me naïve, but in the past I thought that hardly any people live on the islands and that most of the people are biologists or other environmental people. But how wrong was I. 27 000 people live here and about 16 000 of them live in Puerto Ayora. There are farms everywhere and at the beginning it didn’t feel like the paradise everybody makes
it out to be. The Galapagos Islands have never been connected to the mainland and over many thousands of years it has developed a unique eco system. There are 6 main islands and 12 smaller islands and it must have been an amazing sight when Charles Darwin set foot on it and discovered all the animals and flora. Unfortunately all this got threatened when the first settlers arrived and now there is a constant struggle to preserve the environment.
I checked into a really great backpacker and I was pleasantly surprised by the low price. Again, I thought that everything must be super expensive here but it is not. I got myself a self-contained little apartment for US$25 a night. Winning….. After checking in I went immediately out to explore the town and have some lunch. And what a pretty little town it was and to my surprise not very touristy. OK, there are a lot of tour operators and restaurants direct on the beach strip, but walk a couple of blocks away from it and it is a normal town. Eating at the restaurants is pretty expensive, but at night food stalls open up at the back streets
and you get some pretty amazing seafood for next to nothing.
A friend of mine, who is a marine biologist and works on the islands a lot, told me the best way to see the islands are the 3 to 5 day ship tours and I was looking into this. But since I only had 6 days on the islands I decided to make to spend it on Santa Cruz as there was plenty to see and to explore. OK, I missed out on swimming with the dolphins and see lions, but I had a great time exploring the beaches of Santa Cruz and the amazing wildlife. Wherever you go on the beaches you find the land iguanas that look like miniature dragons and are completely black. There fellows have no fear and don’t really care if you are around them as long as you don’t get too close. Amazing animals. And there are of course the land turtles. Man, they are massive and just amazing to watch. They roam the island everywhere, but the best way to learn about them and the Galapagos eco system is to go to the Charles Darwin research station about a 10 minute
walk from the town. Here you will find all sorts of information and you can see the turtle breeding pens.
So I spend the next 6 days just exploring the island and visiting the amazing beaches. The water was pretty warm and there wasn’t a day I didn’t go for a dip and enjoying the ocean. I walked among the land turtles, explored lava caves, hiked up volcanoes and down into craters, went snorkeling with iguanas and ate the best seafood I ever tasted. Life was good. I was even lucky with my photographic ventures when I was taking some photos on a remote beach of the wildlife when I saw an iguana sitting on a rock and a pelican decided to have a rest about a meter away from him. You couldn’t have photo shopped the picture in any better way. Lucky me.
After 6 days in paradise it was time to go back to the mainland and I was a bit sad that I didn’t take more time to spend on the Galapagos. There is so much to see and do, but not enough time. I have to say that I envy my friend working in
such a wonderful environment, but as I always say you can’t have everything. One thing I want to say is that the Galapagos Islands are not as expensive as everybody things. I saw tour operators here in Australia that sell the experience of 10 days for over A$15 000 but let me tell you that you can do this much cheaper. Just organise everything by your own and don’t be afraid of looking for a hotel when you arrive on the island. There are a lot of choices and the last minute deals for the cruises are sometimes over 80% cheaper than when you book them in advance. Trust me, its worth going and money well spent.
So this is it for this update. I had a great time and hopefully I will return one day to see the things I missed. But I had other places to see and time was running out. Thanks for reading to the end and please remember that you only live once, so make the best out of it. This planet is an amazing place and you really miss out not exploring it. Until next time…….
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