It was a picture perfect day when we landed on San Cristóbal in the Galápagos Islands. Translucent blue water, sea lions lounging in the shade, marine iguanas swimming through the surf…yes, our home for the week would be pretty awesome. I checked the map to find our hotel and, uh oh, we must have taken the taxi to the wrong town. I looked at the map again…oh no…we weren’t in the wrong city, we were on the wrong island!
Somehow I managed to book a flight to one island and a hotel on another. Oh well, within 10 minutes we had jumped on a 2 hour boat ferry to Santa Cruz and in the meantime got to see San Cristóbal and had a good story about our arrival.
Our first day in the Galápagos Islands we walked to the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the giant tortoises. Then we rented bikes, dropped them in low gear, and started climbing into the island’s highlands. Two hours later we made it to the Rancho Primicias tortoise reserve where we were able to walk among giant tortoises and meander through a huge lava cave. The ride back to Puerto Ayora was much easier and all together we rode 28 miles and climbed nearly 2,000 feet. We were definitely ready for cold beer and a quick run down to Tortuga Bay to take a dip in the ocean!
The next day we booked a tour to Isabela Island west of Santa Cruz. We climbed aboard a boat and settled in for the 2 hour ride. Once on Isabela our guide took us to Centro de Crianza Tortugas Gigantes Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan where we saw tortoises from 10 days old up to 130 years old. On the way we spotted a flock of bright pink flamingos feeding in a lagoon near the road. After the tortoises we grabbed lunch and headed back to the beach.
A small boat took us across the harbor where we passed penguins and blue footed boobies sunning on the rocks. Through the clear water we could see sharks, rays, and turtles swimming below. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, we donned our snorkel masks and took the plunge. Under the water’s surface we followed schools of fish and watched the rays soar across the ocean floor. Twice when I turned around I caught a glimpse of a shark passing by, a little intimidating, but exhilarating!
The best part of the day though was swimming with the sea turtles. They swam under us and then circled back, inquisitive as to what we were doing there. They are majestic creatures and it is an incredible experience to watch them move effortlessly through the ocean water.
Our next adventure was a day tour to Isla Santa Fe where we snorkeled along the base of the volcanic island with schools of hundreds of colorful fish swimming below us. We watched the ecosystem flow beneath our fins. Later we motored into a lagoon and jumped back in the ocean to swim with sea lions. One playful pup entertained himself, and us, by chasing a school of fish in circles. Before returning to port we stopped by a hidden beach to lounge in the crystal blue water and watch marine iguanas crisscrossing the beach.
We woke early on our final day in the Galápagos to catch an early 2 hour boat ferry back to San Cristóbal to fly back to the mainland. We were a little sun burnt and totally exhausted from the constant activity, but very satisfied with our adventure. By the end of the trip we had actually set foot on all three major islands and saw all of the animals we had hoped to see. Most importantly, we came back with incredible stories and some pictures and videos to prove it! (see the video below)
Galápagos Islands Video
We landed in Guayaquil and headed to our hostel. It was nice to relax, drink some beer, and look over photos. We called it a night early and at 3:30 AM the next morning our taxi was waiting. Tyler had an early flight back to the United States and I caught an early bus out of town. It was great to see a familiar face and share the Galápagos adventures with Tyler, but it was time to get back to vagabonding solo.