Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
118Trip End Feb 18, 2007
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From Guayaquil, we take a flight to The Galapagos Islands, which are some 1000 kilometres from the mainland. Even before arriving, the scenery from the plane confirmed to us that we were about to land somewhere quite special. The Galapagos Islands are like no other place on earth. Because of the island's isolation, it has more endemic species than any other place on earth. The landscape itself makes you feel like you've traveled back to prehistoric times, that's even before you witness some of the amazing wildlife.
After arrival at the airport, we head straight to Puerto Ayora, the largest settlement in the Galapagos. The reason we've come here, is that it's supposed to be the best place to find a last minute deal for a cruise around the islands
So with some time on our hands to explore the island of Santa Cruz, we first visit the famed Charles Darwin Research station, a centre dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the island's endemic species. Here we are amazed at the size of the turtles we encounter, some of which are bigger than Patricia. Here, we also see some colourful Land Iguanas.
Our last day on land, before we sail the high seas, and we walk for an hour to reach Tortuga Bay, to visit what is supposed to be one of the best beaches in the Galapagos. The walk there took us through a really unique volcanic landscape, where various plant life had simply popped up out of a huge lava field. One of the most successful and distinct species was a Catcus plant which looked like a cross between a standard cactus plant and a tree, complete with a thick trunk and bark. As soon as we arrived in Tortuga bay, we were amazed that the wildlife we came across was so approachable. Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, huge Red Crabs and dozens of birds. Unlike wildlife in most of the rest of the world, here the creatures have not had man as a predator until fairly recently, so they still have very little instinctive fear of man
Before we know it, it's time to start our cruise. We ride in a small dingy out to our yacht and meet the crew and other passengers. We're a multinational group of 13. The boat is very nice indeed and we have a small cabin with a bunk bed and a private bathroom with a hot shower. We have our first meal on board, and are impressed. If the food continues to be this good then we'd have eaten better on the boat than on the mainland. That evening, at about 11pm, the boat sets sail. This is the first time we've slept on a small yacht. The boat rocked a fair bit and Marc nearly fell off the top bunk a few times, but apart from that, we slept fine. Waking up, moored next to a spectacular island, made getting up that bit easier.
We set off in a Dingy to Rabida island. The island is red in appearance and has a large dark red beach which has been completely taken over by Sea Lions. We've never before seen so many Sea Lions in one place. Looking up to the middle of the island reveals a unusual phenomenon. Apparently, although the island receives very little rain, the centre is just high enough to catch some of the mist. So near the sea, the trees and plant life are lush green because of the sea water, then there is a huge barren patch full of dead trees, until the island reaches a certain height where the trees turn green again
We hop back on board the yacht and head for Puerto Egas, an island teeming with Fur Seals, Marine Iguanas and Red Lava crabs. You need to be careful not to stand on these Marine Iguanas, as evolution has made them the same colour as the lava, which makes them very difficult to spot.
That evening we set sail again, and wake up next to Bartholome Island. This island is better known for it's spectacular scenery than it's wildlife. After climbing up to the highest point of the island, we discover a view that looks like it's straight from a cover of National Geographic. There are two beaches separated by a narrow spit of land, backed by crystal blue water and with a backdrop of a much larger volcanic island.
After further snorkeling, we spotted Sharks and Sting Rays. Then, our guide spotted a couple of Marine Turtles mating on one of the beaches, so we all ran over to take a photo.
After lunch, we visit Sullivan Bay, and walk across the island's recent lava flow, where Patty buries herself in one of the island's many lava tubes. Later that afternoon, we return in a small dingy to Bartholome Island and to the distinctive Pinnacle Rock, where we spot Blue Footed Boobies and Penguins
It's our last night on board, so out comes the guitar, and everybody takes it in turns to sing a song from their own country. The worst thing about being Welsh, is that you always end up having to sing on your own:-). After a well earned rest, we wake up at the crack of dawn to take a tour in a dingy around Black Turtle Cove where we view Pelicans, Marine Turtles swimming, Schools of Golden Mustard Rays and a couple of White-tipped Sharks.
Our trip to the Galapagos has been outstanding. We've never before seen such a great display of unique wildlife and scenery. Though, there has been a downside to visiting these special islands, as the cost has made a huge dent in our budget. We've literally spent more in a week here than what we've been spending in a month in the rest of Latin America.
Just quick break of journey in the colonial city of Cuenca, before we head for the Peruvian border.
Ecuador, The Good, Bad and the Ugly
There are some major Latin American highlights located here in Ecuador. A visit to the Equator, the Devil's Nose train ride, and the outstanding Galapagos Islands were our favourite three.
People in general have not been as honest as in other Latin American countries
Those Marine Iguanas have to be amongst the ugliest creatures that we've ever seen:-)
We've got an INC(A)-lination that it's time for Peru!