I’ve been doing my homework for a couple of months about how to do the Galapagos on as small a budget as possible…but without sacrificing a good variety of sites. Most of the blogs, travel guides and online information says to buy a last-minute package from either Quito or Guayaquil in order to get the best prices. Some people even opt to skip an organized cruise or tour and do all their sight seeing by day trips from a base on the main islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal or Isabela. After taking in all the info. we finally decide that we will opt for a week on the islands, including a 4-night cruise. So we hit the online and in person travel agencies to hopefully find the right cruise for us.
We book a cruise and flights to Baltra (one of two airports in the Galapagos) with a travel agent and will take care of finding our own transportation and lodging for nights in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, and just a week later we are off…
Not far out of Quito we can see a small eruption from Volcan Tungurahua not far to the south. We felt a 4.7 earthquake the other day and there have been many others we haven’t felt, so obviously there’s some stuff a-brewing around here.
And after a short stop in Guayaquil, and a second short flight, we arrive in the Galapagos.
We take the airports complimentary bus to the Itabaca Channel and board the water taxi to head to a taxi on the other side. It’s a $1 per person to cross and then $18 for a taxi, regardless of how many people go for the 45-minute ride to the other side of the island, so we recruit two new friends to share the cost and cab.
There are lots of hotels, hostels and private rooms to rent on the island, and we don’t have any trouble finding a place to stay. We settle in and take a stroll down to the fisherman’s dock where there are pelicans and other birds begging for and stealing food.
Then off to the Darwin Research Station at the east end of town for a peek at some Galapagos Tortoises.
I think one pretty girl was working on making a nest for a batch of eggs…
On the west end of Puerto Ayora there is a path that leads through a cactus forest out to Tortuga Bay, and it was a beautiful way to spend part of a day.
I wander through the tidal pools and watch a small school of fish trapped by the receding water…and the small Sally Lightfoot Crabs coming to lick their lips until a big wave washes sets them free.
There are Marine Iguanas resting on the black lava rocks, which camouflages them very well. There’s a big Brown Pelican dozing in the sun…it’s all really relaxed.
Then back to town and later in the day we take a water taxi across the harbor to hike the trail back to Las Grietas, a small swimming hole in a deep crack in the lava field on this southern edge of Santa Cruz. I’ve seen signs saying it’s closed but the really kind workers let us cross over their work on the path at the entrance to hike back and take a peek.
We find a side street that sets up tables out on the street for dinner and we try Lobster Encocados – a creamy coconut milk sauce. And it’s delish. No doubt most of the fish here came through the market where I took photos of the brave birds the day before.
Finally the day has arrived to board the boat. We retrace our steps using a taxi, water taxi and airport bus to go meet the tour guide and other guests. I’m so excited!