Time for a bit of luxury
Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
36Trip End Mar 09, 2012
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Where I stayed
Cruise ship Galaxy
We spent a bit of time walking along the seafront on Avenida De Charles Darwin, which we noticed every town in the islands has, and just on our little walk we saw Sealions sun bathing, Brown Pelicans hanging around the fish market and Frigate birds cruising the skies. After going into and finding no joy in a couple of tour agents we walked into Moonrise Travel with a perfect English speaking owner. Within half an hour she had found what we wanted at an amazing price, sounded too good to be true so we said we'd think about it and left to do a bit of research. It didn't take long to find out that it was just an amazing deal, with the tour operator appearing in Lonely Planet and the ship we'd chosen looking fantastic on the website
Puerto Ayora isn't the largest town in the world, though it is in the Galapagos, and compared to Puerto Villami it's a metropolis and it is however tourist central. There are a myriad of restaurants and cafes, and the obligatory shops full of trinkets and souveniers, as well as a thriving arts and crafts scene and fashion boutiques. Well Hannah would be happy. However first things first, and Hannah needed to visit the hospital to sort out her tummy bug which was now running into its 6th week. Off to the Hospital we go and a strange encounter with a receptionist and a doctor, who gave Hannah a prescription for 2 vials a needle and a syringe! After walking across the road and paying the extortionate sum of $4 for the appropriate medicine, Hannah had been stabbed and kebabed and given another scrap of paper for the pharmacy for some pills, thinking about spending 4 days on a boat we were very hopefully that it would sort everything out
Most of our time waiting was spent wandering round the town, in and out of restaurants and cafes. The fashion shops even got a look in, as Hannah didn't have a posh outfit for the boat, a situation that had to be resolved, and Neils trouser selection left something to be dedsired as well. But we didn't really do a great deal, with the the exceptions of 2 days before the cruise we visited the famous 'Charles Darwin Research center', well apparently it's famous. There the sole surviving member of his sub-species 'Lonsome George' lives with his 2 female companions. The research center is quite a large place and isn't working with Giant tortoises alone, they perform a myriad of experiments and observations on all the flora and fauna on the islands. The Galapagos Islands are apparently an invaluable resource for scientific study for Biologists, Geneticists and the like.
The next afternoon we also took a wander to Tortuga Bay, a nature reserve in walking distance from the town which takes you to the beach and a natural shallow bay with calm warm waters. We walked through a Giant Cactus forest with the oddest Cactus trees and a plethora of beasties including yet more Sea Iguana's and Lava Lizards. It was hot but the trek isn't too long, less than an hour, and the lagoon/bay is a really nice place to relax and catch a few hours of sun
Saturday came and our boat was in the harbour, like excited children we prepared and booked out of the hostel. Having been told we had to be at a certain Hotel in town for 11.30am we obviously arrived over an hour early, time for breakfast and a sneaky view of the boat in the harbour, beautiful. We met the half of our shipmates and our Guide Juan Carlos in the Tortoise sanctuary out of town where we ate lunch. After a while the rest of the passenger list was with us directly from their flights into the islands, and all 14 of us set off. We were then taken to one of the many lava tunnels that cover the island, and finally before we got to the boat we visited 2 huge extinct volacanic craters, or Calderas.
We set off for our home for the next few days with trepid anticipation wondering if it was going to be as good as it looked in the brochure. J C (our guide) as he like to be called told us we wouldn't be touching our luggage again and it would be taken to the boat and would be waiting in the cabin for us when we get there, ohhh lovely things are looking good.
We boarded and our jaws dropped, it was quite amazing, there was even the brief moment of 'Is this the right boat?', it was beautiful, and when we were taken to our rooms we giggled like excited children
After we all had chance to make ourselves comfortable and after the first of our delicious meals we had our first briefing by J C. We were informed as to the next days activities, where we would be as well as what we could see. J C came accross very quickly as a passionate and enthusiastic man, and obviously loved his job, and we found out as the days passed was very very good at it to boot. We mingled and met the rest of the passengers with the usual name exchange, which Neil managed to forget withing seconds of each introduction. That evening the boat rolled quite a bit in the harbour as there was quite a swell, but Hannah's sea legs seemed to be holding, though not the same could be said for all the passengers.
The next day, we had cruised overnight to the Isla Floreanu and we would be snorkelling and having a guided tour after breakfast. we jumped in the RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and headed for shore via the cliff face and our first introduction to some of the life around, including Blue Footed Boobies, Sealions and a Blue Grey Heron
After lunch we headed to 'Post Office' bay an inlet on the main island were the strangest post box exists, no stamps required. A rum barrel which was place there in the 18th century so that passing whalers and pirates could leave letters that would be taken back to their respective countries and delivered on the senders behalf! Of course we all had postcards to leave, as well as obligingly taking any that were close to home, for delivery upon our return, and so keeping up the tradition. On our way back to the boat we took a diversion to an outcrop J C hoped would have a rare Galapagos Penguin on
That evening J C gave another lecture on the followings days activities and we all sat like excited children in anticipation. After a fine meal we supped lightly and slept soundly in preparation for our next day and the Isla Espaņol, the oldest Island in the chain with the clearest waters and the whitest sun kissed beach.
We awoke at the island and a glorious sunny day, time for some sun bathing and snorkelling on a beach which was populated by a myriad of Sealions. Again the snorkelling didn't dissapoint and we saw a host of Rays and Sea Turtles as well as Sealions while we swam in the crystaline waters. Even the beach held a varied collection of life, much of which seemed completely at ease with our presence. Later that morning we returned back to the boat for a snack before we set off for an island a short ride away and our second snorkelling adventure, with yet more fish of all colours and even a few White Tip Sharks and Sealions.
The afternoon saw us heading to the far side of the island to the breeding grounds of the local sea bird population.
We returned to the boat thrilled with the days activities and slightly saddened at the fact this was going to be our last night of luxury aboard the vessel. Still it had been so exciting and surpassed even our wildest expectations, with not only the tours, snorkelling and fellow travellers but the ship and her crew as well, and not to forget the amazing J C.
A little after dinner we went upstairs for our first real clear night and an amazing view of the night sky, J C even had a laser pointer and demonstrated his knowledge of the night sky pointing out constellations and stars. After the stargazing we ended spending most of the evening chatting with Raphael and his girlfriend Luciana. We had brought a bottle of champagne Neil had been given in Arequipa, so we opened it up and discovered the reason Neil had been given it. It was disgusting, bubbly Muscat, and extra sweet to boot, over the side the liquids went and in the bin the bottle, back to the Cuba Libres.
Bleary eyed we awoke the next day at Isla Cristobel where we departed the ship after breakfast. We headed to our hostel and waited for Neils return of a poorly stomache to calm down. That afternoon the heavens opened leaving us with little opportunity to do a great deal, mind you there isn't exactly a lot to do on Cristobel. We headed to the airport the next day and bid a fond farewell to the Galapagos islands, what a time we had, still Quito next and the promise of another crazy city.