Ecuador - Galápagos Islands
Our flight from Guayaquil to Isla Baltra was short and sweet. We landed in Seymour Eco Airport mid morning and were instantly impressed with how beautiful the scenery was. Upon arrival at the airport we had to pay $100 each for entrance into the Galápagos Islands National Park which goes towards protecting the park and animals. We took a short bus followed by a 5 minute ferry over to Santa Cruz.
We then took another bus which took us to Peurto Ayora which is the main tourist area.
After checking into our Air Bnb we took a stroll into the main area which is full of tourist shops and restaurants.
Straight away we saw heaps of sea lions and pelicans.
We walked along to the end of town and stopped to have some ceviche.
And were joined by a little iguana...
Later that afternoon we went to the Charles Darwin Research Station where they have a giant tortoise conservation area.
There is also a land iguana breeding area. In the 70’s the land iguanas were almost wiped out by wild dogs that were brought over to the islands. Out of 500 they managed to save 60 and are still trying to rebuild the population.
In the morning we woke up early and jogged to the beach to watch the sunrise where we were joined by a marine iguana.
We decided to spend the day at Tortuga Bay which looked amazing in the photos online. We got a taxi to the beginning of the track and had to walk the rest of the way. The walk takes about 30/40 mins which is quite tough, especially on the way back in 30’c + heat.
The beach is absolutely stunning. White sand, the clearest turquoise water and lots of wildlife. It’s like a postcard!
We both surfed, sunbathed and watched the marine iguanas chilling on the beach.
It’s amazing how close you can get to all the wildlife. They have no fear of humans! I guess it’s because they live in such a protected environment and we’ve never caused them any harm.
The next morning we both woke up feeling a little under the weather. Sam was much worse than I was and I was worried he wasn’t going to make the ferry trip over to San Cristobal that we had planned. Luckily, after numerous trips to the bathroom he said he was ready to leave. Getting the ferry is a huge palava. The queues are long, disorganised and no one seems to have any idea where they should be. Finally, after nearly an hour of standing around in the mid afternoon sun, with Sam sweating and looking like he was going to collapse, we boarded the taxi boat that took us to our ferry.
The ferry took around 2.5 hours and was quite bumpy at times. San Cristobal is another picture perfect island. When we got off the ferry I was surprised to see how many sea lions were basking in the sun!
We had to wait on the pier for the taxi boat to bring our luggage from the ferry. As it approached we noticed sams surfboard bag wasn’t on it. After all the luggage was unloaded sam started panicking shouting “plateu de surf! Senor plateu de surf!”. Finally after another 10 mins another taxi boat came with sams surfboard. We later found out sam should have shouted tabla de surf instead of plateu de surf which actually means surf plate. Once we had all of our luggage we headed to hostel suiza where we had booked 9 nights. Sam was really unwell so we went straight to the room and didn’t leave. The following morning I woke up feeling terrible and we spent another day quarantined in the room. Finally, when we were both feeling better we could go explore. We walked over to the surf spot el canon which is on a navy base. It’s pretty cool that they let you in, you just have to leave a form of ID at the gate which you get back when you leave.
There are so many good places to eat. The places along the seafront tend to be more expensive as you would expect, but there are plenty of backstreet options that serve local food for next to nothing. Our favourite place was Rustica where they did an amazing breakfast for $6. We spent a couple of days at La Loberia beach where Sam got some good waves.
We also spent a couple of days at Playa Punta Carola where you can snorkel with turtles.
Playa Punta Carola is a beautiful white sand beach with an abundance of marine iguanas and the clearest water I have ever seen. It takes about 20 minutes to walk there from the main strip.
One day we watched an iguana dig a hole to lay her egg less than a metre away from us.
We saw another iguana approaching her and suddenly a fight broke out. We cheered on our iguana and thankfully she won and successfully protected her egg.
One morning we woke up really early to beat the crowds at a beautiful snorkelling spot called Tijeretas Cove. When we arrived the rocks were covered in red and black crabs who all scarpered when we got close. Sam dumped his stuff on a rock and jumped straight in while I waited a little longer for the sun to rise. While I was waiting a big sea lion emerged from the sea and flopped down on the rocks with his head right next to sams clothes and flip flops. I didn’t think much of it at the time and hoped the sea lion would move before we wanted to go.
Soon enough the sun was up and I jumped in to join sam. We saw lots of fish, a stingray and sea lions playing with each other.
Just as I was about to get out I felt something bite my toes. At first it didn’t hurt too much and I thought it was just a territorial damsel fish. Then within seconds it started really hurting and was quickly getting worse. By the time I got out of the sea I was crying and shaking. My toes felt like they were burning and throbbed with pain. We were both panicking and wanted to get back to civilisation as quickly as possible but realised the sea lion was still by Sams stuff. Sam walked towards it and the sea lion growled and started waving its head around aggressively. Sam tried coming from another angle and again the sea lion got angry and this time went for him.
Seeing how much pain I was in Sam said we should leave and he’d come back later to get his clothes. As we were hobbling up the path I said something about how ridiculous it was that we’d been beaten by a sea lion. The next thing I know Sams walking back down the path carrying a huge stick. He walked towards the sea lion waving it around. The sea lion was going crazy roaring and waving his head around but finally he backed away and flopped into the sea. We grabbed our stuff and hobbled home.
Thankfully the pain got better and within an hour I could walk almost normally. The lady who ran our hostel looked at my toes and said it looked and sounded like a jellyfish sting! Should have got Sam to wee on my foot!
On my birthday, after 9 nights of chilling, we got the ferry back to Santa Cruz. I used my birthday money (thanks to everyone at home) treat myself to a full body massage which was amazing! In the evening we went to The Green Tortoise which is run by a lovely Russian guy called Efim. He cooks delicious vegan food! He cooked us a special menu which we preordered and he joined us for dessert.
It’s so nice meeting likeminded people and hearing their stories. By the end of the evening we had an invite to Russia. He even gave us some leftovers to take for our breakfast as we had to leave so early for our flight!
The Galápagos Islands are paradise! I feel so lucky to have spent time there. Despite what lots of people think it’s definitely possible to visit on a tight budget and still have an awesome time.