Ever since we saw our friend’s pictures from his epic trip to the Galapagos Island we had wanted to go. “Of course, he still lives with his parents and has no mortgage to pay”, we kept repeating to ourselves. But with that last Christmas bono at work, we really did not have any excuse to keep postponing it anymore… ¡YEEEY… Time for our NatGeo- style adventure as we follow Darwin’s footsteps!
So, the time finally came. We couldn’t wait to come up close with those sea iguanas, see thousands of bird species, giant tortoises, the splurge of volcanic rock, snorkel, hike and kayak, etc. We arrived at Baltra Island and went straight to the Itabaca Channel to explore its turquoise waters… There’s no better introduction to the Galapagos than to get in the water upon arrival! Regardless of whether on a kayak, a stand-up paddle-board or snorkeling, this place feels like being part of an expedition to nature’s paradise.
After spotting blue-footed boobies, sea lions and other fascinating creatures, we continued over the channel onto the other side, the Santa Cruz Island, where we head up to the highlands for a trip to a prehistoric Era while we came face to face with the famous Galapagos giant tortoises.
On the next day we wanted to explore Santa Cruz at our own pace, so we got ourselves a map and put on our ultimate explorers attitude. We walked through a 5km long nature trail to Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay), a very beautiful beach that is a nesting site for black marine turtles and where we got our first up-close encounter with sea iguanas… After a nice refreshing swim and a bit of snorkeling, we just laid back and relaxed at what is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador. Don’t forget to take snorkel gear with you, as well as some snacks and twice as much water as you think you need to take!
We also visited the Charles Darwin Research Station, a nice little plan to do on your own, that adds a great deal of value to this journey as it helps you better understand how important these islands actually are. Ask your TC about the opening hours and guided visits schedule.
To finish off a fantastic day exploring the Galapagos, we had a marine banquet at the “Calle de los Kioskos” in Puerto Ayora. This street is a true feast of flavors and colors. You get to pick your fish (brujo is very popular) or lobster (make sure it’s not ban season), and enjoy! The “encocados” are an interesting traditional dish, by the way!
The next few days were an absolute blast!!! We got onboard a boat for a complete island hopping expedition. First stop was North Seymour Island, where we got to see the popular blue-footed boobies do their courtship dance, swallow-tailed gulls perch on the cliff edges and sea lions haul onto the beach. After the long day at sea, the soothing sway of the Pacific’s waters rocked us to sleep.
The next morning we were up bright and early, eager to keep discovering these amazing islands! We got to Genovesa Island early in the morning, to seize the cooler hours for walking on a volcanic rock trail to visit El Barranco, on the southern end of Darwin Bay and then come back to spend the warmer time of the day relaxing on the gorgeous white coral sandy beach of the bay. This area is every bird-watchers dream come true!! Storm Petrels, red-footed boobies masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, whimbrels, yellow- crowned and black-crowned lava herons and too many other bird species to remember them all…
On the final day of our cruising tour, we visited the stunning Santa Fe Island, where we played our own version of “Iguana Dundee” –don’t worry, we did not touch or otherwise disturb any of the iguanas!!! A number of endemic species inhabit this island, including different types of iguanas that dig the area because of the abundant prickly pear cactuses. After exploring by foot for a bit, we went for a well-deserved swim and some snorkeling, spotting many playful sea lions and colorful tropical fish, a perfect way of completing our extraordinary nature lovers’ expedition.
If you are still in doubt about where to travel on your next holiday… look no further!! The Galapagos Islands is a guaranteed mind-blowing experience!!!
Note: Respect the islands by complying with your guide’s instructions and leave nothing behind you… Remember, take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints!
Need an itinerary idea to get you started?