We hadn’t booked anything for Galapagos prior to arriving in Ecuador. We liked the thought of serendipity… so we managed to get ourselves on the ‘Mary Ann Sailing Yacht’ for 8 days. It’s a unique ship in that it is fully powered by sails and can go round all the islands, even the most remote up in the West. We got this for over half price, but still a fortune. We are now over our budget. But, Galapagos is a once is a lifetime trip and we want to see as much as we can!
Our flight from Quito to San Cristobal with Tame, was of course, not listed… Tame is becoming unpredictable to fly with! We were sent through to an area to purchase/request the permits to allow us to enter Galapagos. We have read that they only issue 65,000 per year, so I guess we are lucky its only January! We paid US$20 each for the permit, then a further US$100 (US$50 for Jack) on arrival in Galapagos. We eventually got an later flight at 11am, which meant another 4 hour wait at the airport, which was fine.. we caught up with the blog and did some writing etc.
The flight going from Quito to Guayquil was really bumpy which was apparently the thin air at such high altitude. After an hour and half, we arrived in Guauquil, where most people got off. We had to stay on the plane for re-fuelling onto San Cristobal. The flight was smooth after this, and another hour and half.
The Airport was really cool. We landed in what felt like the runway in the middle of the ocean and there were 2 private jets parked up. We walked across the runway to collect our bags, and paid the $100 fee and left to get a taxi to our AirBnB. We had read that the white pick up trucks are taxis so we waited and got one. It was $2 for the ride and only took about 10 minutes to town. Our AirBnB was right in the centre of ‘town’. It was clean, had 2 beds and 2 bathrooms and AC. We immediately dropped out bags and headed out to explore. It was AMAZING! We didn’t see them at first, but we were faced with 100’s of Sea Lions! Right there on the beach! I opened the gate to the beach and even didn’t see the one asleep on the steps! I almost stood on a few walking as I thought they were rocks! There were some sleeping, playing on the rocks, swimming and diving in the sea… they were everywhere! At the other beach, a 5 minute stroll in the other direction, they were strewn across the pavements, park benches, gutters and even in a building site. It was like they had all partied too long, and just collapsed anywhere they could find! It was surreal! They were unafraid of humans but if you got too close, they would growl and ‘chase’ you away. They got aggressive with each other if they took their place and we saw some chase each other away as well as some getting ‘affectionate’ on the beach!
The next day, we got up early and got a pick up truck to the Giant tortoises up in the North of the Island. The journey was like going up in the Scottish mountains. It got misty, high and very green, unlike the dry, barren countryside of the coast. The minute we got there, we could see the giant tortoises and they were HUGE! We saw them eating in 2 groups and was amazing! Their shell is big and have a number carved into it, I guess to keep count of them on the island. They eat vegetation and can be quite aggressive with each other. They push each other out the way and rear their heads up. They look pre-historic but have no teeth. They re-coil their necks quickly if they sense danger. We are right next to them, and seem unaware of our existence. They are mesmerising to watch and spent ages with them.
We then drove 3 minutes down to the coast to a beach, Punto Pitt. WOW! I have never seen such clean, clear sand or water. It was surprisingly cold (not freezing) but then we found out the water comes up from the Antarctic. There were only a few other people on the beach and again, loads of sea lions! They caught us by surprise again! They were sleeping mostly and found them behind rocks and anywhere shady. We spent an hour there and loved playing in the waves. We headed back through the path between the lava rocks and cactuses to the truck to take us back to town.
It was unreal!
Tomorrow, we get a speedboat to Santa Cruz Island to spend one night before we get on the sailing yacht. We are loving everything about the Galapagos!