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Published: July 18th 2018
The Galapagos Islands, probably made even more famous by planet earth 2's incredible footage of the baby Iguanas first steps in to life by fleeing dozens of snakes.
We didn't see that kind of drama but we did see heaps of Iguanas, and I mean heaps.
The Galapagos Islands is a great place to visit, it's so unique and special and a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you're in the area, GO!
That said, the start of our trip to the islands was a little bit stressful as both our bags didn't turn up at the baggage claim for some bizarre reason which left us with no spare clothes and toiletries for 24 hours (apparently a common occurance).
Also our bank cards were blocked which meant stress levels were high as we only had $30 in cash on day one of 6 (several atms are available).
Long story short, we got it sorted out. We live to eat for another day!
And guess what?! The Galapagos Islands can be done without having to take a tour!
Of all the three inhabited islands, each has their fair share of accommodation, supermarkets, taxis and atmosphere.
There are heaps of
tour agencies too and they offer last minute deals if you do decide you prefer a tour or a cruise. They provide all the same tours you would do as a pre arranged deal.
You quickly work out who is part of an organised tour when you get off at the airport and suddenly there is only us and another couple waiting in an empty bus for the town as everyone else has organised transport.
Things to be aware of: in addition to the cost of the flights (which may be cheaper last minute) each person has to pay an additional $20 cash at the airport and $100 cash when arriving at the island. These are not hidden costs, all clearly stated in the guide books. Other small costs include water taxi boats and $10 to enter Isabela island.
We found ways to do things that people pay lots to do. Eg. to go visit Rancho Primicias for the wild giant tortoises on Santa Cruz by taxi costs $40. We used the free bikes from our hostel and took them on a bus to Santa Rosa for $1 each then rode 15 min to the place. We
enjoyed it so much that we stayed for two hours and rode back mostly downhill to Puerto Ayora. It cost us $2 total instead of $40 and was more fun!
We visited the Darwin conservation centre which we thought wasn't as good as Rancho Primicias as the tortoises were enclosed but still interesting to visit.
We walked to Tortuga bay, a stunning white beach with wildlife, we saw a sea lion, many marine iguanas and plenty of birds. Unfortunately we didn't have our snorkelling gear to swim in the lake at the end of the bay due to our missing luggage.
If you are travelling from June-December, the seas are rougher and I never get sea sick but I was quite nauseous on the bumpy 2.5 hr boat ride to Isabela (sick bags provided), boats leave early morning or 2pm. Don't eat before leaving just in case!
Isabela island, the town in itself is a lot smaller and less populated but is the biggest island. No atms on this island. Our accommodation was great and we got to do a much needed clothes wash for free.
There were more sea lions just hanging by the
port, swimming and sleeping, even a penguin.
We went snorkelling at La Concha near the port which wasn't great visability at the time we went but there were some baby sea lions swimming around. Sometimes you have to step over sleeping sea lions on the boardwalk to get to La Concha!
Flamingos also hang out in a lake on the outskirts of town.
A tour to Los Tuneles is a must (a snorkelling tour). We were lucky and had a rookie son of the agency owner who gave us the price of $95 each when it usually costs $120. The owner wasn't impressed when she found out!
On the 45 min trip to the tunnels we saw a humpback whale and its baby. I saw the baby jump out of the water.
We saw penguins and sea lions and navigated the impressive lava formations to an area where we viewed on foot and 2 meters away some blue footed boobies nesting. It's amazing how most of the animals here do not fear humans at all. When snorkelling we saw turtles, sharks, rays and a sea horse! We highly recommend this day trip!
The third and last habited Island
we went to was San Cristobal. A speed boat trip back to Santa Cruz in the morning and then to Cristobal in the afternoon, both about 2 hours.
To pass the 5 hour wait on Santa Cruz, we went to Las Greitas, a snorkelling spot flanked by high rocky walls. There wasn't too much to see under the water, only a few fish but a stunning location and clear water none the less. Watch out for the wasps, I got stung!
If you are headed to San Cristobal, consider booking the tour 360 ( a trip on a boat to various places around the island) before arriving, unless you have time. We unfortunately missed out as all the trips were booked out for the following day.
This would be the main thing to do on the island. The other trips would be to walk to Las Tijereras for a snorkel and a sun bathe with the sea lions on Playa Punta Carola, we did both and both were great to explore.
We also went to a lake up the top of the island but it was too foggy to see anything. Not worth going unless you can visibly see
the top of the island.
Our time in the Galapagos was amazing! 7 days was perfect for us, definitely worth going. Now that you know you can do it yourself and for at least half the price, why not think about going?!
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