The Galapagos islands, Ecuador

Km 14 931

We dreamed about it, but it was always very far away. Would we really go there one day? Then we were in Ecuador, we knew it would be now or never. It wasn’t easy between the rule changes (only vaccinated people are allowed on the islands anymore, so we did a last minute single dose vaccination, but a few days before we left they dropped that rule again), the rather expensive last minute plane tickets and the bikes and our bags to store for a week. But we made it and in the end it was even better than we had imagined!

We landed on the island of San Cristóbal, the easternmost island of the archipelago. It’s sunny when we leave the airport and the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (the provincial capital) is only a few hundred meters away on foot. We put our stuff in our room and go for a walk, we quickly understand that we are in paradise, especially an animal paradise! While going along the seaside, we notice that all the points of shade are taken by sea lions, even the benches. We continue our walk to the Tijeretas bay for a first snorkeling session. And who accompanies us? A sea turtle! To finish the day, we walk a little bit more along the seaside and we meet our first marine iguanas sunbathing on the sand and volcanic rocks. Not bad for a first day! On the second day, we rent bikes to explore the interior of the island. The landscape is green again, shrouded in a dense fog. But while we eat our picnic at Laguna El Junco, we can see the Tijeretas, the typical bird here, flying through the air. We pass in a centre of protection of the giant tortoises. We admire them in all their stages, from baby to adult. Before returning, we go to Playa Puerto Chino, a beautiful beach with fine white sand. Have we got the wrong island and are we in the Caribbean? We can’t believe our eyes. Then it’s already our last day on this island. We go snorkeling again at La Lobería. In the water, we swim with a dozen sea turtles, a multitude of beautiful fish and of course, lobos (sea lions). We end the day with an asado (grilled meat), then it’s already time to say good bye to San Cristóbal!

The alarm clock rings early, our boat leaves at 7am. At 9am, we disembark in Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz, the most populated island of the archipelago. We put down our things at the hotel and after lunch at the hotel, we make a discovery tour of Puerto Ayora. We start with the Charles Darwin research station, the heart of the national park. The centre is dedicated to the protection of endangered species, notably the giant Galapagos tortoises. So in the centre we see turtles from almost all the Galapagos islands in various age groups, from 2 months (the last born) to 5 years. At the age of 5, the turtles are returned to their home islands and left to their fate. They are large and heavy enough to be no longer prey to their main enemies, raptors. At the centre, there are only a few adult turtles left that have been rescued from zoos or individuals and are too used to a domestic life. We love all the information on the turtles and the fauna and flora of the islands in general. We finish the visit by going to the two small beaches of the research station. As we still have some time before the sunset, we continue our walk along the seaside exploring all the small creeks, our objective is to see sharks and rays. But apart from crabs, sea lions and some birds, we see nothing. At nightfall, we try our luck in the harbour. We read that sometimes sharks are attracted by light. Indeed, we are lucky: we can observe a reef shark chasing small fish. It’s an impressive sight, the shark swimming along the pier chasing small fish. That made our day and we are ready to go home for dinner. The next day, we rent bikes again to explore the interior of the island. We first ride to the top of the island to see los Gemelos, huge non-volcanic craters. The environment is nice. The trees are all green and covered with moss. We go back down to Bellavista where we visit the lava tunnels. They were created during volcanic eruptions. As the lava flows, it first dries on the surface in contact with the cooler air, but inside it continues to flow, leaving huge tunnels and vaults. We walk through one tunnel for 850m and are impressed by the size and height. We can almost imagine the elements and the heat as it was created. Then there is one last stop, Playa El Garrapatero. We see a few turtles running free on the side of the road, it’s great, but the rain just after cools our emotions again. At the beach, it is fortunately not raining anymore, but it is grey. It’s nice anyway and we start to discover several small creeks and a salt lagoon where we see pink flamingos. For our last day on the islands, we go for another day of snorkeling. We start with Las Grietas, canyons with crystal clear water and several big fishes inside. On the way out, we stop at Playa los Alemanes for a picnic and a swim. We see a marine iguana swimming in the water (finally, we already had our doubts if they weren’t land iguanas after all!), but the highlight are the rays we discover in the bay! We are amazed by their elegance to glide in the water. We really saw all the animals we dreamt of, too good! For the end of the afternoon, we go to Playa Brava (or Playa Tortuga) where the sea turtles like to lay their eggs. But mostly it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches of the archipelago. We agree when we see the fine white sand and the pelicans flying over the sea and diving between the waves to catch small fish. We continue a little further to Playa Mansa, a beautiful bay with very calm water (it almost looks like a lake) where we see a small shark again. To end the day, we go to a restaurant to eat a fresh lobster. A first for both of us, it’s delicious, but with all the carcasses, it’s a bit annoying to eat too. We still let our experiences go by on the way to the airport the next morning. We are so lucky to have experienced all this, we are just happy!

To see all photos, please click here:
The Galapagos Islands

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