The story goes like this: In early July when I had no clue what I was going to do with my life after completing a 2 year MBA program and no more apartment or job lined up after early August. I had to decide what to do. That somehow became very easy when LAN (airline is now LATAM) had a sale going on air travel. It took me until the end of the deal to make the decision but I decided why not, I have friends there, I´ve never been, it is cheaper than Chile, I probably wouldn´t have a job in August even if I looked, and if I could go to the Galápagos too, it would be well worth it. SOLD!
Ecuador, would soon become one of my favorite places in the world!
First stop was Guayaquil overnight because most flights to Galápagos go through there or Quito. An Ecuadorian friend from Seattle, Cinthy, lives 3 hours from there and had decided she would come show me around with her boyfriend, who had an apartment for us to stay. It was really too bad I only had a short stop and that the return didn´t go through there because I would have loved to see more of the city and would have loved to see her city and family. Guess I´ll just have to go back! But we got to catch up and see some of the city, plus I had my first yummy food and beverages. Beer was Ecuadorionamente refrescante and fruit juice was completely juice from fruit!!!!! NO SUGAR – delish 😀
Early next morning I was off to the Galápagos. A crazy bunch of islands, kind of like Hawaii because they are volcanic and in the Pacific Ocean…plus many animals here could only be found on both island groupings. Galápagos were fantastic, animal heaven! Plus the beaches were beautiful, it was warm, and untouched for the most part. I only stayed 5 days, do not do that, stay LONGER! I went to 3 islands, snorkeled only 3x, hiked 2x, tanned 3x, spent a good day on boat transit, met a lot of cool people and maximized my time. I flew to San Cristobal (great for snorkel and in general great all around, heck they all were) then made my way through Santa Cruz and then to San Isabela (least populated of populous islands, and the largest and most beautiful).
Highlights include (because I could write forever about liking it all):
1- Seeing sharks and spotted rays and so many beautiful fish, and sea turtles swimming within arms reach.
Particularly – losing my breath while snorkeling at the sight of a spotted ray so close just after jumping in and then again when I swam next to sharks for the first time even if I knew they were harmless.
The fish with purple lips that stopped and stared at you when you swam by or stopped and stared back.
Watching sea turtles peacefully swimming, arms up, arms down like birds but more gracefully, and then swimming after them.
2- Seeing the ground turtles that I once rode (as a kid) in South Dakota. Not able to touch any animal in the Galápagos so that was not going to happen this time…booo. Might I mention they are some of the oldest turtles on our planet!
3- Being surrounded by sea lions that in my mind have always been dangerous…nope not here. Best is when the young want to play with you and you just have no clue what you should be doing or how to not touch the cute little guys.
4- Seeing black marine iguanas on the white sand leaving a trail…as opposed to on the black rocks where you barely see them and almost accidentally stepped on them and break your sandals.
5- Meeting some locals through my other friends who helped me a lot, were super nice, gave me housing, and introduced me to more friends.
6- Getting my ticket for the ferry late and having to stay another night…even if that meant I missed out on hanging with friends and crashing at their house
7- Always the water – so pretty
8- Contrasts abound! Animals and scenery.
Not snorkeling more or going scuba diving
Not staying longer on each island
Not planning my short 5 day trip in advance
Not going up to a volcano on any island
Not seeing a hammerhead shark
Not finding a boobie to get a close up foto
Things to know:
- They say the Galápagos are expensive, they definitely are, just like any island is, but they are no where near as expensive as say Hawaii.
- You can not bring foods onto the island.
- You should sign up for tours early, get ferry tickets upon arrival for the day you plan to change islands (in high season for sure)
- It cost 110 USD to enter the islands (worth every cent, I´d even pay more).
- Underwater cameras would be highly useful here!
- There are plenty of hotels but do find one or reserve it quick. You can stay in a nice place for 20 USD or MORE if you want!
- Food can also be cheap, know that seafood is expensive, most is not from the island…concha al agua is on the street and yum.
- Islands are safe.
- Go to the Darwin Reserve!
- You do not need to do a live aboard tour (which will cost an arm and leg) to visit the Galápagos but you do need to go on a boat (in water) as much as possible.