The Galapagos Islands

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December 3rd 2014
Published: December 22nd 2014
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The Galapagos Islands were one of our must-see destinations for the whole trip. Lots of hype and stories from people at home and while travelling had led to very high expectations of the famous islands that motivated Charles Darwin to develop his Origin of Species and convince the world of the theory of evolution. After a failed attempt to find a cruise before our amazon trip we headed back to Quito with the plan to grab a last minute trip and found a 5-day cruise abroad the San Jose (as booked for a discounted last minute rate through Ellen at

We flew from Quito onto San Cristobal island, to join to crew of San Jose at the port. We were greeted by a colony of sea lions lying happily on the seats, wharf, beach, street and anywhere there was shade in the town. We also spotted our first of many turtles on route to the San Jose and met our wonderful guide, Pedro. After a quick meet and greet with our fellow travellers we headed back to San Cristobal and visited the Galapagos Interpretation Centre where we were walked through the volcanic origins of the Galapagos islands, how land and sea animals and plants made their way to this oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the impact of humans on the islands; from pirates to whalers to the voyage of the Beagle through to more recent history with the introduction of agriculture, pest species, and it’s use as a penal colony up until the 1959. Day 1 finished with cocktails and dinner on board the San Jose and a briefing of the plan for our time exploring the islands. In order to give us maximal time at each island, overnight cruising was the way to get around, and a convincing attempt to make the entire group seasick.

The next three days took us to Española, Floreana, Santiago & Bartolome islands, where we spent our days exploring the islands and the oceans. Each island offered something unique and amazing, from underground natural lava tunnels to climbing volcanoes, beautiful beaches with nesting turtles and baby diamondback stingrays, massive lava fields, flamingoes in flight, nesting grounds of the famous albatross, blue footed boobies and hoards of land iguanas. We also spent plenty of time under the sea with at least one or two snorkelling trips each day to explore the coral reefs (recovering from El Niño) and share some extraordinary encounters with turtles, sharks, stingrays, penguins and many playful sea lions.

Due to a slight oversight in planning our flight home was booked early on day 5 with the rest of our group, which meant we would not have enough time to visit the giant tortoises on our final day. Luckily we (with significant help from captain and guide) hacked a rather bold plan to leave the boat late on day 4, speed boat to shore with the captain, meet a local friend of the crew’s on shore and hitch a ride to Puerto Ayora to stay the night before a very early morning to the giant tortoises and a very tight schedule to the ferry, bus and transfer to the airport to rejoin ours tour group in time for the 10am flight back to the mainland. Amazingly, the plan came off without a hitch and we had more than an hour alone with about 50 giant tortoises in El Chato at dawn before bidding the Galapagos Islands farewell.

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