Welcome to the Galapagos!

Trip Start Oct 01, 2012
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Trip End Oct 01, 2015


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Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos,
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

After a non eventful night in guayaquil we headed to the airport for our flight to San cristobal island in the Galapagos!!!
As we were flying to the Galapagos it turned out to be a very long check in process, our bags had to be scanned and confirmed they were free of anything that could contaminate the land, we had forms to fill in and taxes to pay. By the time we'd checked in our bags and got through passport control it was time to get straight on the plane. Our second flight of our trip so far and although it was only 2 hours it so was much better than the first- we even got some snacks much to Tai's delight and for me we had a spate seat so I could lie down and sleep leaving tai in peace! And so 2 hours later we landed in the Galapagos, as we came into land we noticed some rocks jutting out of the sea like little islands. A welcome to the Galapagos sign complete with pictures of turtles and sea lions hung from the wall as we stepped into the tiny room that made up the entire airport. Passports stamped and more taxes paid we scanned the room for the baggage reclaim, what we saw was a little different - a pile of bags were on the floor next to an open door where they were literally taking the bags from the plane and throwing them through the door onto the floor! Next thing was to get to the centre of town and find a hostel, with no map, no guide book and no appreciation as to the size of the island we hailed a cab (which was just an open backed truck) and asked to be taken to be taken to puerto baquerizo Moreno - which we knew was the centre. Little did we know the airport was about a two minute drive from the main road and was already in the centre- its a bit like getting a train to Waterloo and jumping in a can and asking to be taken to London (or temple meads and Bristol for our Bristol readers!) except on a much much smaller scale. He gave us a look of pity and said that's where we are but I'll take you to the main road! So we jumped in and he ended up helping us find a cheap hostel too. We dumped our bags not wanting to waste a minute and headed out to explore. Our hostel was right on the harbour front and we figured this was a good place to start - as we wandered the board walk (completely different to jersey shore) we noticed it was full of sea lions, they were everywhere, on the pavement, the board walk, the rocks even the seats that lined the front, we looked around and noticed there actually seemed to be more sealions than people! Then we headed to a few dive schools and enquired about trips for the following day - in my continuous search for manta rays we chose an aptly named school called Los mantas! Our friends from huanchaco had given us some tips for each of the islands and they'd recommended a couple of beaches you could walk to for the afternoon - 1st stop though was a taxi back to the airport do we could extend our flights. We'd decided we didn't want to miss out on anything and a week just wasn't long enough here so we pushed our flights back a week - we now had 2 weeks on these beautiful islands. We spent that afternoon exploring the area surrounding the town including the beaches of plays Mann and punta carola beach - both white sand beaches with bright turquoise sea and lots and lots of sealions, some were on the beach, some were under the trees and others we watched swimming in the waves. We soon realised sea lions were pretty lazy animals and although we did see some swimming the majority were just slobber about in a variety of different positions- we also noticed they smell, really really bad! On our way back to the main town we passed some trees whose branches you could break off and apparently burn and it would be like using incense. We passed through an interpretation centre which showed how the islands had changed over the years since they had been discovered. That evening we sat on the benches alongside sealions and watched the sunset before getting dinner - the only cheap food here seems to be burgers and toasties so another few dress sizes are going to be gained I think. The next morning we had to be at the dive centre at around 8.45 and after having our makeshift breakfast whilst watching sea lions splash around in the waves we headed over there and got ourselves kitted up. Our first stop was a dive site called la loberia where I had to check my weights and equipment before snorkelling over to the rocks where sealions and marine iguanas lounged around in the sun and little blue spotted rays and schools of fish swan beneath us. All the while tai was getting kitted up and briefed for his discover scuba dive.
As I (tai) sat there waiting for the instructor to get kitted up I was wearing what seemed like a ton of equipment. I started to think this might not be such a good idea. I mean people shouldn't be able to breath under water. However after some words of encouragement from one of the Brazilian divers I managed to jump into the water. As soon as I got into the water I felt much more comfortable and went under with the instructor and received my first under water fist bump. We swam around under water for about 30 minutes and it was incredible. There were loads of sea lions (which auto correct just changed to seal ions - which i imagine is mind blowing ) twisting and turning around us, moray eels and some blue spotted rays. After the dive I was buzzing - just can't wait to do another one now.
When I saw tai come up from the dive smiling I was so relieved. Next stop was the dive site - kicker rock - which just happened to be the big rocks we saw towering out of the sea as we'd landed the day before. This time I was diving and tai was snorkelling as you could only dive here if you were certified. We jumped in and went off on our dive- it was awesome, we swam through a channel between the rocks and dropped down to about 25mtrs, drifting past beautiful coral as it swayed back and forth in the current. The dive lasted about 40 minutes and a few times we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of fish, as we looked up towards the surface we saw the shadows of a school of sharks passing over our heads and every now and then we even saw a solitary sea lion swimming past ( they kind of look like a big whale poo we decided! ) The best moment for me though was as we were swimming back to the boat and about 5/6 eagle rays passed just underneath us so close that if we reached out we could of touched them! Tai had been snorkelling with a couple from Ecuador (who I'm sure we're the owners of the best photo albums in the world judging by the way they were posing all day - think Ricky gervais in speedos) and had seen the sharks and eagle rays and also saw a turtle!
We were all buzzing and chatting about the marine life we'd spotted as we made our way to puerto grande - a beautiful cove with a white sand beach and turquoise water - the sun was shining as we sat on the front of the boat and ate our freshly caught fish lunch whilst little birds ate rice out of the palms of our hands - very Mary poppins!
We spent the next couple of hours splashing in the water as yet more sea lions swam around nearby! If you haven't guessed it already there are a lot of them here!
Then it was back to kicker rock for our last dive of the day which was just as fantastic as the first, this time I saw a turtle as well - tai saw 2! As we ascended we saw another huge school of sharks this time they were swimming right by us, there must have been at least twenty of them, luckily tai was snorkelling nearby which meant he saw them too! The current was so strong on this dive that at one point I was kicking and kicking and not going anywhere, everyone has so tired by the time we reached the surface. It had been an unforgettable day and had seemed like we were just swimming in an aquarium the waters were so rich with marine life! No manta rays but hopefully we'll see one in Malaysia when tai and I will be diving together. The following day was cloudy and we decided to take a taxi to a few sites around the island. Just as we'd negotiated a price for the next 5 hours a family of ecuadorians jumped in and it turned out they joined us for the day as well! The first stop was el junco lagoon - a fresh water lake in the crater of a dormant volcano. We climbed to 600m above sea level and higher and higher into the clouds. We then climbed a small hill to the top and found a view of nothing but white - the sound of water splashing somewhere beneath us - it seemed a little like something from a horror film! A little disappointed we retreated back to our waiting taxi and our ecuadorian family and headed to our next spot - a giant tortoise breeding centre. We learnt that years ago there used to be around 100,000 tortoises on the island and because of introduced predators the numbers soon fell to around 2000 which is when they began the breeding program. We saw tortoises ranging in age from 2 months to 100 years and were told you can't tell if a tortoise is a boy or a girl till they are around 25years old! The size of the tortoises was incredible and they were just walked around - slowly - around us! We also noticed they make a weird deflating noise when they go inside their shells!
After an hour or so we again went back to our taxi (and family) and headed to our last stop puerto chino beach , another tropical beach home to lots more sea lions! Unfortunately the weather was still quite bad so we only stayed here a little while before heading back to town. After lunch (more burgers) we headed to a little cove to go snorkelling and swam for a while amongst schools of stripy fish and beautifully bright coral until the cold got the better of us and we walked back towards the town. Despite the weather it had been another stunning day on San cristobal and tommorrow we are off to explore Santa cruz!
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Comments

Sarahs Mum on

Sounds amazing, lucky you!

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