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Day 2, in the morning, we walked the 50mins to Tortuga beach. Here, we got our first taste of some of the wildlife the Galapagos has to offer. We walked passed dozens of marine iguanas (these can't be found anywhere else in the world other than here), blue footed boobies (birds much like seagulls with bright blue feet) and giant sea turtles swimming in the protected bay. We rented a kayak and headed out into the bay to try and see the white tipped reef sharks that often lurk amongst the mangroves in the bay. After quite alot of searching, we failed to find the elusive sharks this time. Once back in the town, we got a taxi to an area 20mins outside of Puerto Ayora that had giant tortoise roaming freely. There was an empty shell of a deceased tortoise which was great for climbing into and getting photos in. We got really close to the tortoise and it was amazing to see how they function and to be fair they move much quicker than they are given credit for! After this, we went to a lava tunnel close by which was cool enough.
Day 3, we headed off to Isabella Island
Day 4, we all got up early and rented bikes (5 dollars per person-so cheap) to visit a few sites. We saw ponds with flamingos, beaches, a lava tube and mangrove forests. We also rode to the Tortoise Breeding Centre where it was so nice to walk around. There were so many tortoises and the baby ones were really eager to get up close to us. After handing back our bikes and going to a really nice bakery for lunch, we headed on an excursion to Tintoreras. This was one of the best tours we did and only cost 20 dollars each. It involved us getting a boat to islands right outside the port
Day 5, we decided to take a trip to Sierra Negro and Chico volcanoes. This was 30 dollars, took up most of the day and included lunch. We drove up to the highlands and hiked around the rim of the Sierra Negra crater. This was massive. After, we took in the views from Volcano Chico. The hiking lasted 4.5 hours but it was nice and not too demanding. After this excursion, we rented snorkel equipment from our hostel and headed snorkelling at Concha y Perla. This was right next to the dock. We saw fish, turtles, sting rays and had fun with the hyper sea lions. They like to swim right up close to your face before diving right under you. It was gas! That evening we went for a meal with Claud and Dean but didn't stay out to late as we had to catch a ferry back to Santa Cruz at 6am the following morning. Overall, we loved Isabella. Also, we stayed in a really cosy family-run hostel called Las Residencial Villa.
Day 6, after a very smooth crossing back to Santa Cruz, we hopped off the ferry only to get back on another boat out to Floreana
Day 7 was our favourite day in Galapagos. We booked a day trip from Santa Cruz to another volcanic island, Bartolome. This was the big spend of our trip costing 150 dollars each. It was so worth it though. We started the day, boarding a really fancy boat which holds 20 people. Straight away we sat down with an older American couple and a Polish girl for an amazing breakfast. We were in our element and blown away by the travelling stories of the American couple who were clearly millionaires. Going on top of the boat to sun bathe and take in the views was mind blowing. Very early on, we passed a little island covered in blue footed and Nasca boobies
Day 8, we had time to spare before our ferry to the last island- San Cristobal. We decided to head back to Tortuga bay with Claud and Dean to pass away the morning. The walk seemed double that of last time due to the blistering heat. Here, we snorkelled and took in the rays. The ferry to San Cristobal was at two. The sea was again amazing. When we arrived at the port, we couldn't get over the amount of sea lions. After getting sorted in the hostel, we got a taxi to La Loberia which is a beach overrun with sea lions and their babies. We got right up close to them but couldn't help noticing how smelly they were. We walked up the beach until we arrived at the edge of a cliff covered in birds
Day 9, we booked a 50 dollar tour to Kicker Rock. We set off early in the morning with a group of around 15. The tour guides were brilliant. We snorkelled once at Isla Lobos (shallow with lots of sea lions, mantra rays and sea turtles) and twice at Kicker Rock (deep water with strong currents, turtles and a few sharks). After arriving back from this tour, we walked to an Interpretation Centre which was really good. From here, we walked a little to the highest mirador/viewpoint. We kept walking down the hill from here, following paths, across rocks etc and found numerous beaches (including Punta Carola) with no people, just sea lions. We were wrecked from our days action!
Day 10, we finished packing our bags and just strolled around San Cristobal whilst waiting for the morning to pass until our afternoon flight. We were really sad to leave Galapagos. It was not on our list of places to see originally as we were under the illusion that you had to do a cruise which would have been well outside our budget. As can be seen from this blog, it is very affordable. You can base yourself at a cheap hostel on a central island and opt in or out of as many trips as you'd like. For us, Galapagos couldn't have been nicer and the experiences we had were unforgettable, the best South America has to offer.