Sea lions at dock
After surviving several long days of travelling, people trying to rip us off at the border and a hellish, hot, humid bus ride on a a local Ecuadorian bus that stopped at every hole in the banana plantations on the way to Quito, we eventually made it to the capital at 3am in the morning. Luckily we had booked a hostal (the 1st one weÂ´ve ever booked in advance) with 24 hour reception and the taxi driver knew where it was. We discovered later that Quito is not a city that you want to be walking around in after dark.
Our first undertaking was to try and book a last minute place on a cruise to the Galapagos (highly organised as usual). This is definitely possible to do, but is much easier if you have a week or so to spare as most of the available boats we found were leaving one week or 10 days later. We were very lucky to get onto a luxury boat at a very reduced price departing the following day. The other difficulty we had with such short notice was getting the money together. The tour agencies accept only cash and only one bank
Our lovely boat
in Quito will do large cash advances free of charge, so we spent the day rushing back and forth across the city, and feeling a little uncomfortable carrying wads of American dollars. However all was forgotten the next morning (including the budget weÂ´d blown!) when we got on the plane to the island of Baltra.
The wildlife is evident almost immediately as you meet the resident sealions at the dock when you get on the boat. We spent 8 days on the cruise getting on and off at most of the different islands. We opted not to consider a 4 day trip as 2 of the days have some travel time leaving little time for the islands. The islands have designated areas for tourists and they must be accompanied by a guide. Most days we also had the opportunity to snorkel although the water is surprisingly cold. However it was worth it to see the penguins swimming underwater, sealions playing with us, white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles etc. The animals didnt seem to mind us being there too much and were very obliging for the hundreds of photos we took. We had to be careful not to step on the
Marine iguanas sunbathing
marine iguanas on the beach which blend in with the volcanic rock and there were many birds nesting in the middle of the trails.
This cruise was one of the big highlights of our trip so far and well worth the expense. Afterwards we flew back to Quito and decided to spend another week there brushing up on our Spanish and socialising (with a little bit of sightseeing too).
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